The Ota Flower Market is one of many flower markets in Tokyo but with one huge difference; its size is unparalleled. The Ota Flower Market hosts the largest flower auction in Tokyo and is the second largest flower market in the world. If you’ve never heard of a flower auction, it’s not altogether unsurprising. Only those in the know – who live and breathe flowers –willingly participate in this rigorous, gruelling experience.
With the size, early hours and vast nature of the Ota Flower Market and flower auction, it’s mostly florists, looking for good quality blooms with equally pleasing price tags that regularly put their best foot forward at this market. While visitors casually pass through to watch from the sidelines as the exciting events unfold, this auction is not for the faint-hearted. With an estimated five million flowers traded in a single day, and the last financial year’s results showing the sale of approximately one billion flowers and pot plants, it’s not hard to imagine the chaos that dwells within the auction walls. The two head honchos dominating this casino of a flower auction are the Ota Floriculture Auction and the Flower Auction Japan. As suppliers to all other wholesalers in the market, most customers will end up buying from either one or both of these flower giants. Bidding can be done in person (on average there are 1,600 registered bidders comprised of florists and wholesalers), or online while following the events via webcam. When it comes to variety, the Ota Flower Market has a wealth of floral options on offer.
Chrysanthemums (the Japanese funeral flower), are always in high demand and are available in excess, as are elegant orchids. As with all industries, the Ota Market tries to fulfil all customer needs, with flowers that are unique and different, and flowers that are undeniably on trend. One recent floral trend has been size. “Things have gotten bigger in the past 10 years – big hydrangeas, big Dahlias,” Mr Gotaro Fuwa, President of Plants Partners (one of the biggest wholesalers in the market), told Monocle magazine recently.
And when it comes to the quality, there’s really no better than the Ota Flower Market. Danish Florist, Nicolai Bergmann, explained to Monocle magazine that customers feel very strongly about quality when it comes to their flowers. “Customers are also very sensitive to quality,” he said. “They’re particular about the shape of the flower and they’ll complain if there’s a mark on the leaf or the flowers are too open”. As a result, special precautions are taken to ensure that every beautiful bloom stays at its most fresh. While the Ota Market began construction in 1955, the flower market’s operations only began in 1990. In addition to the flowers on offer, the Ota Market also houses fruit, vegetable, and fish in the same location.
Visitor centre times
Weekdays 9:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00 (closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays)
Flower Auction time
By bus: Approximately a 20 minute bus ride on the Keihin Kyuukou bus from the bus station at the East Exit of JR Omori Station, then on towards Ota Market. Buses going to the Ota Market are number 32 and 43.
By train: Approximately a fifteen minute walk from Tokyo Monorail Ryutsu Center.
* A special thanks to Alison Elford for supplying these photos that she took during a recent trip to the Ota Flower Market in Tokyo.
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