For those who are fans of Depop or Ebay, Mercari can seem like Japan’s holy grail — full of cheap Issey Miyake and Canon cameras. However, Japanese sellers are savvy, which makes getting a proper bargain difficult. That said, there are a few hints to secure a good product at a decent price. Let’s take a look.

How do you use Mercari in Japan?

Using Mercari in Japan is pretty straightforward. Sign up for an account, register your card details and start shopping, either through web or via the app on iOS or Android. Even though Mercari is only available in Japanese (in Japan) right now, it can be easy to navigate even if you don’t speak the language very well.

A great thing about shopping for second hand items in Japan is that the used items are almost always in excellent condition, especially compared to overseas. If a white t-shirt has a tiny spot on it, it’ll probably be half the price.

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Searching properly is the most important thing about Mercari. Finding the right search terms and using them effectively is invaluable.

Search on Mercari | Photo by Kim Kahan


The category search function is pretty straightforward, so we have a tip: don’t limit your results by selecting a specific category.

For instance, searching within the ‘half sleeve’ t-shirts category will reduce the results to only items tagged as such. But in reality, ‘half sleeve’ can mean several things, so one person’s ‘half sleeve’ is another’s ‘short sleeve.’

Mercari categories | Photo by Kim Kahan

Instead, search for ‘mens’ and so on and then on the search results screen you will be able to select several of the check boxes to refine your search. Always include ‘others,’ as well. If you’re feeling wild, simply select the ‘mens all items.’

Brand Search

Brand search | Photo by Gregory Lane

Finding your key terms and utilizing them appropriately is important to make the most out of Mercari. Be specific with what you want, and try in both English and Japanese.
If you are searching for a particular brand, one way is to use the ‘brand search,’ click through and narrow down from there.

Key Words

But don’t just limit it to that. Often the brand you want will be listed under another brand name so it is worth checking the descriptions by searching by keyword.

For clothes as an example, take Beauty and Youth, United Arrows brand. There is so much listed under this brand on Mercari but about one quarter of it is a different brand that might not be as popular or doesn’t have an official brand tag yet. Many overseas brands are examples of this.

So, to search for something from Nike, you’ll want to try a few searches.

  • Nike (brand)
  • ナイキ (keyword)
  • Nike (keyword)
Keyword search | Photo by Kim Kahan


And don’t forget that searches are saveable, too. Preparation (and by this we mean spending time deciding on your search points) is invaluable for not wasting all that time you’ve just spent. Simply select ‘save search’ at top right in a desktop browser or at the bottom (for the app) and head back to the search whenever you need to check the latest items.

You can save products | Photo by Kim Kahan

Liked Items

Once you have found a product you want, but the price is over even what you can realistically haggle down from (10-30%), save the item in your ‘liked’ folder. Often, if an item doesn’t sell quickly then the seller will gradually reduce the price.
You can check the status of ‘liked’ items on your homepage too, it’s easy.

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How do you get cheap Items on Mercari Japan?

The question on everyone’s lips. Now we’ve gone over the basics, below are some extra hints to help find the bargains.

1. Research

Find out what price the item you’re after usually goes for. An item that normally sells for ¥10,000 second hand is not going to be straight on the site for ¥1,000.

2. Lower your standards

As mentioned previously, buyers in Japan are discerning, and the expected standard of quality definitely trumps what you might be used to from using Depop and Ebay. Look out for items that are やや汚れ which means ‘slightly soiled.’ This ‘slightly soiled’ condition might constitute a microscopic mark on an inner seam, which will take the price of the item lower.

3. Haggle

Surprising as it may sound, haggling is a top tip in order to get what you want. Set your search requirement at a higher price than you would like to pay, then comment on the item with the price you’d like to buy the product for. A good friend once told me that she never ever buys anything without commenting first.

Key phrases (feel free to copy and paste):
(Excuse the comment. I’m considering buying this item, but is it possible to lower the price?)
Or, if you have a price in mind, it is a good idea to state it off the bat:
(Excuse the comment. I’m considering buying this item, but is it possible to lower the price to ◯◯◯◯ yen?)

◯◯◯◯円⇨ fill in your desired price here.

4. Saved search alerts

Make sure you refine your search and then sign up to receive alerts each time a product fitting that description pops up on the site. Great deals are often snapped up quickly so for popular items, it is important to act fast.

5. Refresh the page

If you are absolutely killing for the latest Yohji Yamamoto trousers, keep the search page open on your phone or laptop. Each time you check the internet, the page will refresh and you’ll be able to check the latest products. The people who set up the mail or push alerts will have the extra steps opening their phones and clicking through.

6. Check the time

The best times to check Mercari are evenings after work or during lunchtimes. Remember, the workforce in Japan has got work to day during the day, so chances are that they are not going to be on Mercari while at work.

Let us know how shopping for a bargain on Mercari goes.

If Mercari fails, it’s worth checking out some of the other options like Yahoo Auction, PayPay Fleamarket and Rakuma. Rakuma is Rakuten’s Marketplace, just like Mercari. Some sellers will also list on here, with lower prices than Mercari as the listing fees are lower.

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Filed under: Shopping
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