Ikebukuro’s yami-ichi (post-war black market), in miniature

A few years ago I went to the Toshima Ward Local Museum 豊島区立郷土資料館 (map). It’s similar to the many small, local museums in Tokyo and Japan: interesting, cheap or free, and not too large. I enjoyed one aspect of the exhibit in particular: a diorama of post-WW2 Ikebukuro, home to a large black market 闇市, pronounced yami-ichi ヤミ市Here are pictures of the scene:

Here’s a description from the Toshima ward website (translated):  池袋ヤミ市 Ikebukuro black market City (Ikebukuro yami-ichi)

“After World War II, in order to provide food and daily necessities to war-damaged cities such as Tokyo, so-called black market cities (yami-ichi) emerged. Ikebukuro, a key transportation hub, became a typical black market city. The museum has a model of the southern part of Ikebukuro’s black market city at the scale of 1 to 20.”

A longer description is included on the museum website: link (Japanese)

I believe the museum is now closed for renovations to the building. Hopefully the diorama will survive.


The museum also includes a diagram of one of the artist’s communities that sprung up in the Nagasaki district of Toshima-ku in the 1930s: Nagasaki Atelier Village 長崎アトリエ村:

Note, I recently wrote an article on the artists’ colonies of ‘Ikebukuro Montparnasse’ and Mejiro Cultural Village, published in Metropolis Japan (January, 2018). See: “Bohemian ghosts around Ikebukuro”.

The following page has maps and old photos:

Today, there is a small park on the edge of the old artist’s community with a map of the area. The park is located here: map.

Some information relating to arts movements in Ikebukuro:

Black market information:

Other current uses of the term “Yami-ichi”

See also:


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