Where to buy used furniture and appliances in Japan

You’ve finally signed the contract and are ready to move in to your own apartment in Japan! Congratulations!

Now comes another hurdle of furnishing your new place. This is, of course, unnecessary if you are staying at a furnished apartment – read our article on finding and staying at a furnished apartment.

Chances are that before you’ve signed the final contract, you will have had a chance to walk through the apartment on a room viewing. During this, you should note the various fixtures and appliances that you’ll need to make for a livable apartment.

Fixtures that are not always standard in a Japanese apartment

That’s right, I did mention fixtures. In some cases (usually older apartments, but some times even with newer ones), light fixtures are not provided by the landlord and instead must be bought by the tenant. If this is the case for your apartment, you’ll need to take note of the type of lighting fixture you need so that you can have it ready when you move in.

Along with this, there are apartments that don’t include a stovetop. Again, this is something to take note of during your room viewing. Your real estate agent can tell you what kind of stovetops the apartment is compatible with. Stovetops can be fitted for LP or city gas, so you’ll need to double check before making a purchase. Read through our article on the difference between LP and city gas to be prepared for moving into any Japanese apartment.

And on top of these “basic” fixtures that we might take for granted in apartments in other countries, if you’re moving into your first apartment in Japan chances are you’ll need to also buy furniture and appliances. In Japan, moving into your first apartment can also be referred to as shinseikatsu (新生活) which can be translated to “new lifestyle.” And clever marketing has created the shinseikatsu appliance set (新生活家電セット) which is purchased by many moving into their first apartment. These sets typically include 5 items: refrigerator, microwave, washing machine, vacuum, and rice cooker. Generally, these appliances will make for a much more pleasant life experience.

Usually you can find sets of all these appliances (or purchase them individually) from major electronics retailers. But we want to bring to light a few other ways you can save some cash and still furnish your apartment! Through used appliances you can save a lot of money when setting up your new apartment, which helps offset the typically high initial move-in costs.

Hard Off

Yes, you read correctly, that is the name of the store. You might be more familiar with the used bookstore chain called Book Off, which specializes in buying and selling used books, DVDs, CDs, and video games. Hard Off is the hardware-specific bigger brother, where you can find a variety of appliances, musical instruments, and even power tools (depending on the particular location). It’s often worth taking a look through a local Hard Off location before making an appliance purchase. You you never know what you’ll find and you can often save tens of thousands of yen with buying older models of appliances.

Similar second-hand appliance chain stores  include Mogland, Treasure Factory, and Yamada Denki Outlet.

Recycle Shops

Similar to Hard Off, these are stores that specialize in buying and selling used goods. Some terms that might be helpful in locating one: 中古 (ちゅうこ chuuko, “used”) and リサイクルショップ (risaikurushoppu, “recycle shop”). You will usually find them in local neighborhoods and shoutengai (pedestrian shopping streets).

A typical recycle shop (used goods store) in Tokyo. Photo: Scott Kouchi

As you can see in the photo above, you can find a variety of furniture and home goods at these stores. In most cases, the prices are very affordable as well.

When you move out of your apartment, you can also offer to sell your furniture to a recycle shop.

Facebook Marketplace

For sheer volume of users, even in Japan, Facebook Marketplace does deserve a mention. Purchasing things from people on the internet isn’t always a fruitful endeavor, and can even cause more trouble than you planned for. However, it is still an avenue for locating some cheap furniture in Japan.

With the number of foreigners who end up leaving Japan and can’t bring back their furniture/appliances, there tend to be some deals on these kinds of items. These end up as part of what have been given the loving name “Sayonara Sales.”

Embassy Connections

Your home country’s embassy in Japan might have some sort of marketplace for those who share the same passport as you. Diplomats and others leaving the country might also be looking for someone to take their furniture off their hands instead of paying the fee for disposing of oversize garbage. If you’re really looking for as much info as possible for any deals possible, this is another route you can explore.

Mercari and Jimoty

You’ll need good Japanese language skills, or someone who can speak Japanese to help you navigate these online services. Essentially, these are the Japanese-specific online marketplaces for selling/buying used goods (similar to Facebook marketplace or Craigslist in the US). On these sites you’ll be in direct contact with the sellers, so being polite and prompt with your responses will go a long way. Just keep in mind how exactly you’ll plan to pick up and deliver the item.

There are our starting points for scoring deals on used appliances and furniture. It’s always a good idea to inspect used appliances thoroughly before making a purchase.

Lead photo: Scott Kouchi

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