by Kurt Chalmers

Ueno, known as the vibrant center of downtown Tokyo, is one of those places that has managed to keep its local Japanese charm. Always worth a visit is the Ameyokocho market, directly opposite JR Ueno station and running right along the railway tracks. As well as containing a plethora of clothing and footwear stalls, it also has a ridiculously low-priced fish market. Expect to see boisterous stall keepers screaming the deals of the day, with locals further haggling with them in a good-natured, cheeky way.

In contrast to the very Japanese bustle of the market, I found innovative t-shirt store graniph, which features collaborative designs from artists around the globe. Think edgy graphic design meets fashion in a funky and laid-back atmosphere. Graniph has stores all over Japan, but this one really stands out like an oasis among the bustle of the market streets.

Further along the narrow street which leads to the department store OIOI lies the legendary foreigner-friendly watering hole The Warrior Celt. Proprietor Andy has been running the Celt for over ten years. The bar stocks an impressive array of imported ales and beers and serves hearty pub grub (including haggis!). They also have live music from local Japanese and international bands almost every night.  weekender-0082