With a new year comes a new you. And what better way to start off the year than to be more green, more ethical — and more price-conscious. Yes, we’re talking secondhand shopping and how to do it in Tokyo.

The best place to start is with recycle shops — which you can find dotted all across the city. Don’t be confused by the name, they’re actually secondhand shops, not recycle centres like some of us may have mistakenly assumed (sweats). Basically, the Japanese word for them is risaikuru shoppu from the English words ‘recycle’ and ‘shop’, but they operate like secondhand or thrift shops. You can buy secondhand items like clothes, bags, shoes, electronics and other household items, and sell (or sometimes just give away) your unwanted items.

They are basically heaven for the newly arrived cheapo — especially if you’ve just dropped half of your savings on renting your apartment. So let’s talk about the different recycle shops you’ll find in Tokyo.

1. Your local recycle shop

Many residential neighborhoods will have at least 1 recycle shop. These places are usually small, cluttered, and are more likely to have household goods covered in a light layer of dust than clothes. Some will do delivery/pick up in the local area, and often run by surprisingly old or surprisngly young people. They’re often full of bargains too. We’re talking ¥50 for a brand new mug — at that price who cares if it was left over merch from a high school sports team you’ve never heard of. Not all of these shops will pay for your unwanted items though, and in some cases they will politely refuse them if they don’t think they’ll sell. But in most cases, if they do offer you something for it, it will still be more than the cost of disposing of the item via sodai gomi (more here if you don’t know what that is).

Visiting these shops is a great way to support local businesses, but know that opening hours and what items are available can be unpredictable. If you’re interested in finding your local recycle shop look for shops with ‘リサイクル’ (risaikuru, recycle) or ‘中古’ (chūko, used/secondhand) in their name or on signs. Alternatively, search those terms on google maps (but be warned, the online listings can be very out of date).

recycle shop
Recycle shop | Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

2. The Off Stores (branches across Tokyo and Japan)

The Off stores are a chain with shops all across Japan. Their stores come in a few different types, depending on what items they deal in, we’ve outlined them for you below. They range in size from medium-sized single floor shops to multistory buildings and sometimes you’ll find a combination of the different shop types in 1 store.

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Mode-Off: Accessories, clothes and shoes.
Off-House: Home/kitchen appliances, baby goods, clothes, purses, shoes, fine china, yukata/kimonos and toys.
Hobby-Off: Stuffed animals, figurines, collectibles, collectible cards, anime paraphernalia and stickers.
Garage-Off: Anything that fits in a garage (large appliances, lawn appliances and some small furniture)
Book-Off: Books, manga, movies, CDs

In general, all Off stores buy and sell. Prices vary depending on which type of store you’re in, but they are always quite reasonable — an English novel could cost around ¥500 at Book Off, while you could snag a thick winter jacket at Mode Off for ¥3,000. They also have online stores you can browse if there isn’t an Off store near you, but the listings are quite limited.

If selling you do need to realize that you aren’t going to gain big bucks — it’s not unusual for them to offer less than ¥100 for a book or around ¥300 for an entire bag full of clothes. Before finalizing the sale, a staff member will let you know exactly how much they’re willing to pay for each item and what items they won’t pay for but will dispose of for you. If you don’t think their offer is fair you can always decline — and lug everything back home.

Mode Off Musashi Koyama
Mode Off Musashi Koyama | Photo by Gregory Lane

3. Tanpopo House (branches in Tokyo and Chiba)

These secondhand clothing shops are for the cheapo-est among us. They stock a range of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, and are usually quite seasonal in their offerings — with yukata (summer kimono) and ski gear on the racks in summer and winter respectively. We’re not going to mislead you here, the clothing is cheap, with prices as low as ¥105 for a T-shirt or ¥300 for a knit jumper, but it’s a treasure hunt kind of place. While the clothes are definitely wearable, some pieces can be a little worn-out looking so be prepared to search through the racks. It’s a good place to pick up simple day-to-day items and if you’re lucky a ¥500 blouse for work.

This is also a good place to visit if you’re hoping to sell some clothes. They claim to purchase anything that’s in good condition — and looking at the stuff they have for sale that’s an easy claim to believe.

4. Bingo (Shibuya)

Bingo is a chain store with a couple of locations dotted around the capital. The Shibuya store is the only one where you can buy and sell at the same time. It is quite a huge store too with a massive selection of used items. You can find anything here from books, video games, DVDs and CDs. There are also a range of fashion items, such as watches, skirts, shoes, vests, sweater vests, parkas and long-sleeve shirts. If you’re into boy scout and USPS shirts and suede safari vests — you’re at a winner here!

colorful tshirts
Photo by iStock.com/gabe9000c

T-shirts are huge at this store with a T-shirt available in every color imaginable and all at a mere ¥680 each. You’ll see a range of brands here for great prices. You’ll see Abercrombie, Hollister, and Aeropostale, going for ¥500¥1,990 and Brooks Brothers button-down shirts starting from ¥990 and going up to around ¥1,990.

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You can find denim jackets for ¥300 with a vintage military-style jacket going for ¥2,990 — though you could find those types of jackets from ¥500 if you look hard enough. What’s great about Bingo is that everything is in excellent condition. You’re buying cheap for good quality here, which scores big cheapo brownie points.

5. Ragtag (branches across Tokyo and Japan)

Ragtag is a chain of clothing recycle stores, with the majority of their shops in the greater Tokyo area. Their branch in Harajuku is one of the biggest recycle shops in the Harajuku area. Ragtag has both men’s and women’s items of clothing, ranging from high-fashion brands to Japanese street brands. Because of the focus on brand name clothing the prices are higher — think at least ¥1,000 for a T-shirt — but if you’re into that kind of thing you’d know what kind of bargains you’re snapping up. They also have a good range of shoes, bags and other accessories for similar prices — a pair of shoes starts at ¥1,000 and goes up from there. If you’re worried about prices here you’d best stick to the sale racks.

If you’ve got some brand name clothes you’d like to sell, Ragtag is a good place to start. They are prettty discerning with what they’re willing to buy, again they like brand name stuff, but if you’ve got something they want they’re willing to pay a reasonable price for it. They also have options that allow you to post your items in for assessment, saving you the hassle of going in person (and potentially buying a bunch of stuff why you wait). Their website details the selling process quite well and what kind of brands they accept.

5. Kinji Used Clothing (Harajuku)

Kinji Used Clothing is a place where Harajuku-style fashion is sold. So if you’re in to that, and want it cheap, then look no further than Kinji Used Clothing. It sells clothes for both men and women and boasts a really impressive and wide selection of clothes, accessories, shoes and there is even some sports clothing.

Kinji Used Clothing buys a range of goods, but if you look at their Sell Me page, you’ll find out the specifics. You can translate this into English if needed. You can either sell your clothing for the good old cash option, or choose credits and use them in the store to buy other clothes there. It’s up to you! What’s also great abut Kinji Used Clothing is its super convenient location, only being about 50 meters form the Meiji Dori-Omotesandō intersection as you head towards Takeshita Dori. It’s also a huge store filled with all of those Harajuku guys and gals.

secondhand shopping
Photo by iStock.com/tdub303

Other options

This is Tokyo remember? There is an endless line up of recycle shops offering everything you could ever need from used bicyclesto secondhand kimono. That being said, some neighborhoods like Shimokitazawa and Koenji are better known for their secondhand scene. And if you still feel the urge to shop secondhand there are some excellent flea markets that you can check out.

While we do our best to ensure that everything is correct, information is subject to change. Originally published in January 2017. Last updated in September 2022 by Maria Danuco.

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