The incredible second hand market in Japan

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Unlike every other country I’ve previously been to, there is a huge 2nd-hand market for nearly everything in Japan. And all the stuff is usually in pristine condition. Books, games, electronics, clothing and magazines. Yeah used mags. You can just buy the latests issue of your favorite paper for maybe half the price you’d normally pay. Fun fact: All theses fashion magazines aimed at young women contain big supplements like a small, cheap pocket bag ,especially made for this edition, by a big fashion company. I bet that most girls (like my girl) buy these mags only for the little extras. And I can’t blame them.

Second hand shops in Germany have mostly old, worn down stuff nobody really seems to care about. In Japan, on the other hand, everything these shops offer is in very good condition if not like new.

For books, games and magazines there are several stores around which sell used copies. Mostly in excellent condition and for good prices. And the selection is always pretty good. You can buy current magazines and the latest tankobon of your favorite manga. Used and a bit marked down from its actual price.

book off

One of the most popular store-chains is Book-Off which you can find in every neighborhood in Japan. The selection depends on the location but is mostly pretty decent. I noticed that the prices don’t seem to be the same for every store of the chain, so it’s always worth to look aroudn a little.

You play through a game and then you sell it

Stores selling used videogames are quite popular in France as well, but on a whole different scale popularity and quality wise. In Germany there is only GameStop which are buying used games from their customers, but like in France this isn’t really an option if you’re not in desperate need for some instant cash.

used bookstore tokyo

In Japan on the other hand these stores are paying quite good for used games and manga. Especially for new releases, of course. Japanese kids like to make use of this offer. Many of them instantly sell their games when they played through them and use the money to buy a new one. And because second hand retailers pay handsomely, this is all possible in one store. Tsutaya for example is not the best place to buy used games, but even there you can sell your stuff for decent prices and can immediatly grab one of the new releases. I realise that all this might sound like they get as much for a used game to fully pay for a new release. That’s not the case. You need to add maybe 10-15kY. But it’s still a pretty good deal. If you’re especially looking for some retro-goodness then check out feature about the infamous Super Potato store with lots of (hopefully beautiful) pictures.

Used manga and helpful staff who introduce you to hentai

On my visit to Japan I went nuts buying used books. Every night I went out for a little stroll in our neighborhood. Taking pictures at nigth and exploring at the city at the same time is one of my favorite things to do. There was a little second hand book store just a few minutes walking distance away to which I went nearly every night. Yeah, they knew me there. It was the place where I picked up a big part of my first Japanese manga. A Book Off was close nearby but I usually skipped that one. The selection at eBooks was just better and it was somewhat a very cozy place to be at. So my favorite little place for buying used books was this little store on the picture below.

used book store tokyo

They had a big selection of manga but not only the more recent stuff but mostly older ones and a really big selection of fashion magazines. Added up, I spent hours in there, browsing through their bookshelves. I usually ended my visit with the purchase of a couple of manga which I then carefully stored in my bag.

The clerk was sometimes looking a bit sceptical in my direction because I was such a regular visitor. Or though I thought at first. When asking for a specific manga he was so kind to intruduce my to the stores hentai collection as well. You know, the comics with big breasted anime girls who have just one goal in their lives: To make men happy. After that day I had another explanation for the clerks curious looks: He probably thought I was too shy to visit the store’s hentai corner and just wanted to help my a little with this tough undertaking.

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  • I really enjoy reading this article. You put some humour into it that it really comes out as a special article, and it really made it more interesting. I started with Japanese movies then trying out the dramas and the anime (but I’ve been a ‘skilled’ Ghibli audience by now), so manga is supposed to be my next experiment/adventure.

    I just admire the layout of your blog, and yes, the big photos really complement the articles! :)

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. Really glad you like the design of the site and especially the big pictures. It’s a lot of work sometimes but totally worth it :)

  • よないこ

    Reminds me how I almost had a chance to visit the book off in NYC. :/

    • I heard that there is one in Paris as well, maybe you can visit this one sometime :)

  • hentaikamen

    Hi there! I’m in Japan now and I’m trying to find second hand bookstores like e-books. Could you tell me where this particular shop is and are there any others like it?

    • E-Books is located at 学芸大学駅 which is really a nice neighborhood and worth to check out on itself. It’s pretty near to Shibuya only a couple stations away. Here is a link to the e-Books website http://www5.plala.or.jp/e-Books/ with a short description where to find the.

      Also if you’re looking for Manga specifically manke sure to stop at Mandarake in Shibuya. Found it a little hard to find when I wanted to go there for a second time but it’s very popular so just ask for directions. Have a great time in Tokyo and let me know if you found the shops!