Living in Japan Survival Guide Point One – Second Hand Stores

Hello! Today I am starting a series of points that will form a sort of informal ‘Survival Guide’ for those thinking of living in Japan. My time in Ichinoseki is almost up as I type – tomorrow I say goodbye to my apartment, Friday night I am off to Yokohama via night bus, so things are coming to a close here, so I hope I can depart some information.

Hard-Off - best call for big things!
Hard-Off – best call for big things!

A lot of people come to Japan to teach English, and probably half if not more stay just the one year. If you are coming or going from Japan, you either need to buy a lot of stuff for your apartment, or you need to sell a lot of stuff as it doesn’t make a lot of sense to post it back to your home country. Especially things like shelves, irons, printers or whatever.


So one thing to start with, which ever way you are using the second stores in Japan, and there are a LOT which is good news, you are not going to be a massive winner here. To be honest, when I arrived I didn’t buy anything from the stores, but I have sold quite a bit building up to the leaving. Simply, in my opinion, the stores sell at pretty much the same sort of price that you could buy something new for. For example, ‘Doki-Doki’ was selling a Lenovo computer, very similar to the one I have now, for 39,000 yen. I paid 42,000 yes for mine new, and it has double the memory.

Don Don Down Wednesdays - for clothes!
Don Don Down Wednesdays – for clothes!

Your main stores are Doki-Doki, which sells all manner of things, Hard Off, which sells most things too but seems to specialise in big stuff – like tables, sofas and the like. Then there is Book-Off, the main line there is books, don’t get too excited you’ll have a lot of trouble selling English books there though, Japanese books you have a chance, and finally Don-Don Down Wednesdays. Yes, it’s a truly bizarre name – I think there are special deals on Wednesdays. This store is only really looking to buy and sell clothes, and will give you a decent deal on name brands, otherwise they might not take what you’ve got or give you much for it.


I’ve found that Hard-Off gives the best payout when selling, but that are also more choosy. Yesterday I had to sell the bread maker that I paid around 5000 yen for ($50). Hard-Off wouldn’t take it, and I got 100 yen only from Doki-Doki – yes one lousy buck.

On the other hand, last week I sadly had to sell my guitar. I received over 3000 yen for that. And here’s the thing – I was just in Hard Off again where my guitar is now on sale, and the price it had was 12,960 yen! Yes, they make a BIG profit on what you sell. And to go back to my point about buying stuff from these places – I paid, in Tokyo, 9,980 yen for this guitar, bashed it around and used it in classes for 2 years, and here in Ichinoseki, they have added 30% to the price of it brand new! It is true that these second hand shops offer better prices in the big cities, we are in the sticks here, but still!

Doki-Doki – For everything else!

You may feel miffed sometimes – especially with what Doki-Doki offers you for your items. I suggest that if you’re looking to sell, leave Doki-Doki until last.

For books you’ll be lucky to get 20 yen for a small Japanese novel. It’s a mixture of surprise and mostly disappointment I must admit, with the occasional happy surprise.

Here are some examples from Hard Off of prices –




Here we have the oil/electric heaters. Second hand priced at over $100! In Australia they retail for around $30-$40.


This is a plastic container we sold to Hard Off. They are charging over $8 for it, they gave us 20 cents. It’s old and warn and dull, and I paid less for nicer ones brand new when I first arrived.


An old, faded, couch second hand – asking price over $300. Just insane in my opinion! Might get $20 in Australia for the same couch. If you were lucky. Most of them end up on the nature strip awaiting the hard rubbish collection!


So. When you’re leaving these places are your only choice really. There’s no room for negotiation as you would have in Australia, it’s what they offer you or nothing. One positive from Hard-Off is if they won’t buy it they will often get rid of it for you, which can be tricky in Japan.

For new arrivals, you might as well buy your stuff brand new. Look for a 100 yen shop for stuff like plastic drawers/containers, they will be cheaper and shinier than the stuff at a second hand store.

Thus endeth today’s lesson – more survival tips are coming in a week or so amongst budget recommendations, photos, life postings and more! Please stayed tuned!


My Short Jounreys: Japan is available on Amazon here!


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