Off to the Market

This morning I toured the Ohta Flower Market with a small group of women through the Tokyo American Club.  I had high expectations for this excursion, seeing as Ohta is the third largest flower market in the world, moving more than three million flowers daily.  And let’s be honest here, anything that necessitates my leaving the house dressed, wearing lipstick and deodorant at 6:00 in the morning really ought to be spectacular, don’t you think?

We first toured the actual auction floor.  Like most things Japanese this was extraordinarily high-tech {although we learned it was actually modeled after the Dutch Flower Market}.

This was a very serious crowd.  I’d have lost my sense of humor too I imagine, since these fellows had been there since the Market opened around 4:00 in the morning!

Here’s what they’re looking at ~

Actual flowers come down a conveyor belt and are opened up and held high for viewing.  A photograph of the species, as well as its Latin name, and the country of origin are listed on the monitors.  At the far right of the dial is listed a starting bid and then the dial starts to go down to the left.  Bidders have literally only a couple of seconds to hit their button and enter a bid before the item ends and the next item for bid is brought up.  When a vendor wins the bid the floor clerk electronically sees the name and attaches a sticker to the box and sends it back onto the conveyor belt.

Where it goes up, over, around and back down to end up here.  And eventually will be loaded onto trucks at the loading dock and shipped out to hotels for events and individual flower shops all over Tokyo.

Because one of our tour guides is a floral vendor we were able to shop at the end of our tour.  Generally speaking, the markup from the shops at Ohta to a regular Tokyo Floral Shop is about three times, making these prices much closer to what I was used to seeing back in America when I would buy flowers at Whole Foods and make up arrangements whenever we entertained.  However, at Ohta, the quality and quantity of the flowers ~ and the sheer variety of them ~ is far superior to anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else.

Flowers are priced by the stem, and bundled into bunches.  You must buy the bunch.  So a tag might read ¥120/10.  That means you’ll pay ¥1,200 for the bunch before tax.

I showed restraint, I really did.  Mostly because I don’t have a car and I was lugging two cameras in my big purse, thus limiting my ability to schlep home everything in sight!

Here’s what I started with ~

And here’s what I ended up with ~
And somehow when I wasn’t looking, this pretty little girl snuck her way into my bag.

I have no idea how that happened.

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10 Responses to Off to the Market

  1. gena says:

    I’m really loving following your adventures in Japan… you all have adapted so smoothly and really seem to be getting the most out of this new life!!!

    Question? Why are some of the men wearing masks? The smell of the flowers or allergies maybe? Just curious…

    thanks for taking us along on all of these fun field trips!!!

    gena in nj

  2. msumissa says:

    Beautiful! I love the pink round ones, are they peonies?

  3. feltsocute says:

    People in Japan often wear masks for a variety of reasons. Allergies are a big one, although people also wear them if they are sick and need to go out in public or if they are concerned about getting sick while being out and about.

  4. Kathryn says:

    I’ve been to a gigantic flower market outside of Amsterdam and yup, exact same auction and warehouse set-up! I love your peonies. My favourites!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    What is that massive book behind your vase??? 🙂

  6. feltsocute says:

    Our wedding album, plus some other smaller albums, stacked on top 🙂

  7. Kat says:

    So gorgeous! I could almost smell the flowers in your pictures. It really does look like they were all of the highest quality.

  8. Ashley P says:

    Beautiful! I love reading about your adventures!

  9. Nikoleta says:

    wonderful! and pretty much the same as here, in holland 🙂 thank you so much for sharing, you are writing so “cute” 😉

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