Furnishing a new apartment.
If you do happen to be unlucky enough to find yourself lumped with a room that is unfurnished in Japan, fear not, there are a number of cheap and available options for you to get your hands on everything you might need, chairs, tables, table lamps, even a half-decent pc, without having to hold up a petrol station first.
The first thing worth mentioning to the insolvent newbie to Japan are the ‘Recycle Shops’ that are littered around most Japanese cities big and small these days. There was a time when the Japanese felt the buying of second-hand goods a little distasteful, but with the days of the super-economy long gone now, it seems as if the Japanese are lapping up things like 100 Yen stores (Pound shops), and the Recycle shops which offer
Small, independant Recycle shops can be found here and there and offer some great deals. More easier to locate perhaps is a chain called ‘Hard Off’ (they sell pictures of ugly biker girls...just kidding), and ‘Off House’ (...I can’t think of a joke for that one). Both stores are part of the same group so one can usually be found adjoined to the other.
Hard Off deals in electronics mostly. Televisions, radios, cameras, computers, cheap electronic dictionaries (worth getting a hand on) – but you can also find instruments, games, DVD’s, and some quite rare stuff that can’t really be found outside of Japan such as Kitty-chan Dreamcasts, laserdiscs and Gundam models at cheap and sometimes staggeringly cheap prices. All plastic-wrapped and usually looking as good as new. The Japanese don’t much around – even for second-hand stuff they have high standards. Hard Off also has a Junk section, mostly for items that have some problem or other and don’t work as well as they once did. However, in some cases you can find working items. Especially old NES games and the like, seem to be fine and go for as little as 50 yen sometimes. If you buy from the Junk section however, there is no guarentee, hence all the 2-digit price tags.
Off House is more of a brick-a-brack store where you can find everything from little shiny organettes that play Ava Maria to pine closets the size of a wall. At Off House there are plenty of bargains to be had, jewellry, furniture, crockery, clothing, jukebox-shaped clocks, designer purses, everything you might find at an Oxfam in England – minus the smell. Even reasonably well-maintained fold-up beds can fetched for prices as low as 3000 yen.