Second-hand shopping in Japan changed my life. Where would I be without the 600yen waterproof I climbed Mount Fuji in? Or the 500yen fleece that hugged my skin like I hugged the coast, cycling the Izu Peninsular? Would I have survived the winter without my full-length, vintage, camel coat? Perhaps, but priced at 2,900yen it was too good to resist.
Allow me to let you in on the biggest second-hand secret in Japan. The secret to the used-book store chain, Book-Off is that it’s not just for books (shhh!)
At Book-Off Super Bazaar for example in Machida, clothes are arranged by brand, style, price and even by colour scheme. There is a 200yen rail and plenty of bottom of the basket bargains for rummaging enthusiasts. Mostly though, it’s highly organized. Coats, jackets, summer shorts, maxi-dresses, you name it, Book-Off sells it. For more vintage clothing, swing by Don Don on Wednesday in Shimokitazawa. The premise being that, well imagine if you will dramatic music don-don, the prices keep going down on Wednesdays. So if you’ve eyed a tweed jacket for 4,000yen let’s say, it might be reduced to 3,500yen on Wednesday and 2,900yen the following Wednesday, and so on until that trixie tweed tempts you into a purchase.
Japan is a fashion capital, so those looking for designer brands at discount prices should look no further than Mode-Off and Treasure Factory. The second biggest secret to second-hand shopping is that the “Off” chains include a Book-Off (clothes, DVDs, books), Mode-Off (clothing), Hard-Off (electronics and household goods), and Hobby-Off (household goods). Mode-Off has a slightly more high end focus. For example, the one in Shimokitazawa is home to a wide range of brand name bargains for men and women. If you’re searching for discount designer names then it is also worth checking out Don Don on Wednesday. And in the heart of hipster Shimokitazawa you are spoilt for choice in quirky cafes for post-purchase jubilation, or pre-purchase panic coffee. To top it off, Treasure Factory in Machida houses (amongst other things), a variety of designer accessories particularly shoes and bags.
It’s not just about the clothes either. My boyfriend rediscovered his love of golf. When a golf club costs 100yen, wouldn’t it be hard not to? Having never golfed before, even I was gifted with my very own full set of clubs and we’ve now played courses all over Kanto. I bought second-hand camp chairs for 500yen each, and he picked up a tent for the same price. Suddenly, we had a “Sports Corner” in the bedroom. Now there’s a curiosity. The “Sports Corner” features the 3000yen second-hand skis I took to the slopes in Nagano, a snowboard, a surfboard, a wetsuit, and a sleeping bag. What will your second-hand success story be? Find out at Treasure Factory, Book-Off or Hard-Off.
The key players are Hard-Off and Off-House which can be found in Fujisawa, and once again, the infamous Treasure Factory in Machida. These are ideal spots to pick up Japanese souvenirs such as traditional tea sets, plates and bowls. So if you develop a taste for Japanese rice wine, known as sake, then this is your chance to pick up that hand painted porcelain sake bottle with matching sake cups you’ve been pining after. Thanks to second-hand shopping in Japan, I spent the winter pouring hot sake from a traditional sake bottle which cost no more than 200yen. And the summer drinking smoothies, smug with a second-hand 500yen blender. Many of the items are still in their packaging, and in excellent condition costing between 200yen and 2000yen.
Games and Books
Thanks to Book-Off, I’ve never been so widely, nor so well read. Each Book-Off is different, so pop in to see if there is an English section. Even if there isn’t a designated English section, like at Book-Off in Shinjuku, you can find some gems if you are prepared to search here. It also has an impressive collection of Nintendo and Playstation games, manga, children’s comics, and CDs.
Travelling by bullet train? The first floor of Treasure Factory has a whole aisle of children’s toys and a couple of shelves of board games, which are ideal for keeping occupied on the train. You may even leave with more than you bargained for, I’ve spotted guitars, and digital cameras too.
For more information → http://www.odakyu.jp/english/course/machikama/index.html#map