Online resale sites are where you can pick up free or highly discounted items, sell items you no longer need, and reduce your environmental impact.
Japan might just be the best place on earth to shop secondhand. You can save lots of money in a rather expensive country, while at the same time getting mint-condition goods. And honesty throughout the transaction is pretty much guaranteed.
If you are moving house, keep in mind that in Japan residents have to pay to dispose of large home items. To save on costs and avoid the hassle of getting those collection stamps from the local convenience store, many people offer their furniture, appliances, decor, etc. on these resale sites at heavily discounted prices, or even free.
Here is our guide to the most popular and (some) English-friendly resale and recycle sites in Japan.
Mercari has quickly become Japan’s biggest online flea market. Folks peddle almost anything here—from designer fashion to furniture and electronics. To use it, you must first download the app. See our full guides on how to buy on Mercari (and other sites) and how to sell on Mercari to help you get started even if you Japanese isn’t fluent.
Besides the sheer amount of what’s offered, another pro of Mercari is the online payment system. You can choose from the following: paying by credit card, at the convenience store, via your Softbank or other mobile account, and other e-pay options.
Mercari’s method of delivery is shipping, not pick-up.
Who pays for the shipping depends on the individual, but usually sellers include it in the price. Whether the seller or buyer is required to pay is made clear on the item listing page.
Another benefit of selling through Mercari is its integrated shipping service—you simply print out a shipping label at the convenience store, slap it onto your parcel and leave it with the staff there.
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Mercari acts as the mediator to ensure that the item makes it to the buyer before handing over the cash and things generally go smoothy in Japan. For this service, Mercari charges sellers a 10% fee (buyers only pay the list price).
Rakuten bought the online marketplace Fril a few years ago, kept the Fril URL but renamed it Rakuma. In essence, it is almost identical to the more popular Mercari. So if you want to shop or sell on Rakuma, our guides (linked in the above section) for selling and buying on Mercari should come in handy here as well.
The structure of the site, system, categories and shipping service are almost identical—the biggest difference being that Rakuma’s sales commission is only 3.5%.
If you can’t be bothered with Japanese and Google Translate, head over to Facebook. The foreign community in Tokyo and all over Japan runs plenty of resale groups here. These are especially good for those moving house and wanting to cash in or snatch up some furniture and appliances. A long-standing favorite is “Tokyo Sayonara Sales“, but there are a couple of offshoots of the same concept too.
Also make sure to check out “Mottainai Japan“. Mottainai means “don’t waste” and this group only lists items that are given away for free!
Check out our interview with some of the Mottanai Japan crew.
The biggest difference compared to Mercari and Rakuma is probably that the site relies on pick-up instead of shipping.
You can search for items by area and even train station. See something you like? Contact the seller directly through the site to arrange pick-up details (note you pay upon pick-up). A peer-review system on the site keeps things safe and honest.
Tokyo Noticeboard, once only a free, little paper magazine, is still around and has an online bulletin board on its site. While not as well stocked as the other sale sites, Tokyo Notice Board is an English-friendly place to find some secondhand goods or to get rid of your unwanted items.
Besides goods for sale, the site also lists jobs, apartments, events and other services for English speakers like lessons, housesitting, babysitting, etc.
Tokyo Freecycle is a global movement with the aim to “reduce waste, save precious resources and ease the burden on our landfills”. Now that’s a mission we can get behind. The best part is that everything is absolutely free—no money should ever be exchanged for goods on this site.
Note: The official Freecycle page will have you join the Tokyo-specific community via a Yahoo! Group page.