Let’s Go Shopping: Recycled Goods at Hard Off

Tessa the percussion student needs a little refresher on her piano skills. Which means piano lessons. Which means a piano with 88 keys. Since we already have a piano in our Washington house, I decided to search for a digital piano in a second-hand or recycle shop. And that means visiting Book Off, the 800 pound gorilla of Japanese recycle stores.

IMG_7803Book Off is popular chain of stores selling second-hand goods; stroll through any decent-sized Japanese town and you’re bound to pass a store or two. Most Book Off locations sell (surprise!) books, CDs, DVDs, and video games; slightly larger locations include clothing. Really large locations get different names to reflect their larger and more varied merchandise: Off House, Hobby Off, Liquor Off (!), and everyone’s favorite, Hard Off. I know. That’s OK, I’ll wait until you’re done laughing….

IMG_7804So last week my friend Malin and I drove down to our nearest Hard Off, which features a musical instrument department. I remember seeing keyboards there in the past, so I hoped to get lucky and find something appropriate for a decent price.

We started on the first floor, with its clothing, purses, sporting goods, and appliance departments.

Malin considered this pair of second hand underpants, but you’ll be shocked to hear that she passed on buying them.

That said she did buy this beautiful kimono-ish jacket, a steal at only 1000 yen (about $9 USD). It’s made of silk and we couldn’t find a stain, snag or any blemish at all.


Here’s a mystery to me: second-hand sweat towels. Everyone carries around little towels–washcloths, really–for dabbing sweaty faces or drying hands in paper towel-less public bathrooms. I buy them at 100 yen stores. Which means, you know, they’re worth about 100 yen new. Here’s a whole rack of used albeit washed and neatly pressed towels for 300 yen each. And who gathers up old ones to sell to the recycle shop, anyway? When mine get too gross to use on my face I use them as rags. But I digress.


Ooh, the old-school Japan “silk” jacket! I’ve been eyeing these for a while, but I took a pass on this one. At 10,000 yen (about $90 USD) it seemed a little high priced for what it is. It’s not a terribly high quality piece and pretty worn. Pass.


After some time on the first floor I headed up to the music and electronics floor. Ukuleles, cymbals, lots of guitars, looking good…..

And….what the…?!? Are those….BONGOS?!? And have they been on the shelf since June 2015? Loyal martayaki readers may recall my trip to Tokyo to buy bongos after a friend called *this very Off House location* and was told that they had no bongos for sale. I’ll take small consolation in the fact that these are grossly overpriced; a new set of this make and model would cost 4700 yen (about $45 USD), so the price of 7560 yen (about $70 USD) is at least double what it should be.

Grrr. Moving on.

Camera lenses, electronics, mobile phones, speakers, amps!

And Junk.


And finally, a keyboard. Yamaha, around 21,000 yen (about $190USD), looking good….but wait. How many keys is that? It looks like more than the 40 keys or so common on compact keyboards, but it doesn’t look quite right….


And it’s not, with only 76 keys. Who makes a 76 key keyboard? So no joy on the keyboard.

But I bought an ikebana container for 300 yen (under $3 USD)–or maybe an ashtray, as my husband speculated.


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