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6 Ways To Find Furniture for Your Japanese Apartment

Need to furnish your new home in Japan? GaijinPot’s how-to guide has the best places to find quality and affordable furniture in Japan.

By 4 min read

Japan’s initial fees for a new apartment can be expensive. While some budget-friendly apartments come furnished, it isn’t the same for most places. You might not even have curtains. Every day, neighbors will get a birds-eye view of you walking around in your empty yet humble abode.

That’s no way to live!

Here are six good ways to find furniture in Japan that won’t break the bank.

1. Recycle shops

Photo:
Your typical local recycle shop.

Japanese second-hand stores are known as “recycle shops” and can be found pretty much everywhere. Most will have a sign saying リサイクル (recycle) and you can also recognize them by the product displays outside the front of the store.

There are recycle franchises too, like the hilariously named “Hard-off” (primarily electronics and musical instruments) and its sister branch, “Book-off” (for, uh, books).

  • Good for: Appliances. Recycle shops are the best place to buy hefty appliances like fridges, washing machines and microwave ovens. A second-hand washing machine will set you back around ¥10,000, which is half the price of what you’d pay for a new one. They will usually deliver, too.

2. Sayonara sales and classified ads

Sayonara sales are a great way to get furniture on the cheap and help out a fellow foreigner!

Look no further than your fellow expat for a cheap, or sometimes free, deal on second-hand furniture. Since many foreigners live in Japan only temporarily, there’s a constant flow of sayonara (goodbye) sales as people look to sell items they don’t want before they leave the country.

Sites like Craigslist (which has local subsites for major cities), Freecycle (where you trade stuff for free) and our very own GaijinPot Classifieds are excellent resources for finding one-off bargains.

  • Good for: Everything, as long as you can pick it up or find some way to deliver.

3. ¥100 stores

Photo:
Just don’t expect to find a sofa for ¥100.

Japan’s answer to the “dollar store” provides all the small household items you’ll need.

These stores also have an array of ergonomic storage solutions—things you only really see in Japan, like magnetic hooks for your kitchen and bathroom, portable shelves and foldable chopping boards.

  • Good for: Cutlery, utensils, dishware and cleaning supplies.

4. Furniture chains

Photo:
You can buy cinnamon rolls while shopping for a lamp!

The two biggest furniture retailers in Japan are Swedish brand, Ikea, and the Japanese equivalent, Nitori (ニトリ). Both sell affordable furniture that you have to assemble yourself along with other items such as bed sheets, pillows, curtains, bathroom needs and kitchenware.

Ikea is generally further away from the city and busier. Especially on the weekend, when it feels like a furniture theme park. For Tokyoites, new stores have recently opened in Harajuku and Shibuya.

Nitori is typically better located, but many foreigners will argue that the quality isn’t as nice despite the prices being the same. However, Nitori can be a better choice if your home is Japanese-style and, for example, has tatami floors.

A good tip is to look online for specific pieces before you go to the store (because the choices can be overwhelming) and make sure to measure windows, rooms and doorways, so you know it will all fit.

  • Good for: Larger furniture such as sofas, mattresses, futons, lights, closets, tables, chairs, bedding, curtains and more.

5. Lifestyle stores

Photo:
The discount chain Don Quijote.

If you’re not looking to turn your home into a Swedish sauna, try finding a few unique pieces of furniture from Japanese lifestyle stores such as Loft, Tokyu Hands, Muji and everyone’s favorite discount store Don Quijote—all of which have furniture sections.

You can pick up cool, decorative pieces for a reasonable price that could also make a good souvenir when you leave Japan.

  • Good for: Cushions, clocks, storage (Muji has some great plastic boxes) and decorative pieces.

6. Online

Who needs to leave home?

Furnishing your apartment can be stressful and time consuming. Sometimes just choosing between curtains can feel like the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make. So sometimes it can also be a good idea to just shop online from the comfort of your new home.

Amazon JapanRakuten and Kakaku are popular websites where you can spend hours just browsing different categories to find what you need. For big discounts on used furniture (and plenty of other near new and used items), try the Mercari app (Japanese).

  •  Good for: Specific furniture pieces that are hard to find. And indecisive people.

How did you furnish your place when you moved to Japan? Did we miss anything good? Let us know in the comments!

  • Gomi-kun says:

    I was stationed for a while in Japan in the 1980’s.In and around Yokohama and Yokosuka at the time, when families would buy NEW furniture, they would place the old stuff on the curb for a day or two to allow anyone who needed anything to help them-selves. Some would even include a little sign that read “どうぞ” (douzo – which is said when offering something). The practice was pretty common back then and having a nice “gomi” (rubbish) table or gomi-vacuum cleaner was a badge of honor for the thrifty foreigner. So on the days when oversized items were to be picked up, residents in need would go gomi-picking for items they couldn’t afford to purchase new. To be honest, many items were in great shape, but because their homes were so small by western standards, their literaly isn’t enough room to hold onto old things when they buy new… and they love new. The whole practice of gomi-picking was definitely an “early bird gets the worm” scenario. Within a couple hours after sun-up, most of the best things one might need were usually gone.
    I’m still in touch with the culture enough — 30 some-odd years later — to know that rubbish regulation has become allot stricter throughout Japan, and I’m sure that in “some areas” gomi-picking is frowned upon by the local authorities, if not outright illegal… especially when it comes to over-sized items (which most furniture would be). These areas usually require residents to pay for the removal of their old oversized items and the government provides stickers to apply to those items they have arranged for removal. Logistics on a moving target would be almost impossible so I can understand their need to really crack down on it.
    All of that said however, there are some areas still that still do provide for large and oversized item removal for free (or rather paid for with tax money) on like a monthly basis or so. My friend that still lives in Japan mentioned this to me not long ago “if gomi has a sticker on it, that item is technically the property of the government. If items do not have stickers, but have been placed at a refuse pickup place, it is “understood” that they are probably free to take. If you are at all unsure, it is always wise and courteous to just ask”.. providing it is at a reasonable time of day. The stickered items can still be given away or sold by the owner but they would have to go through the hassle of canceling it with the pickup authority, and have likely already paid for that service… if there is one thing that is not taken lightly in Japan, it’s inconveniencing other people.
    So depending on the area this … uh …”community service” may be an option.

  • All Digital says:

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information its truly awesome post and They all look pretty amazing .The careful consideration of the right furniture will eventually boil down to your decision to make your room spacious with an edge that is provided with the selective addition of furniture. Furniture stores perth can perfectly compliment the customer’s need of the right furniture items for their bedroom use.

  • Nazreen Farook Rausan says:

    as we live in mie-ken we bought furniture from ikea and kimbulu recycle shop, electronic items from yamada denki, other household and decorative items from ikea,nitori,viva home depot and costco. all the stuff for organizing from 100 yen shops daiso and seria.

  • AZ-Zakwanul Faiz bin Zakaria says:

    what about kakaku.com?

  • Nitori and Yamada Denki!! I also got some things from Shimamura hehe

  • maulinator says:

    IDC in Odaiba is probably the biggest. most of their stuff seems to have a Colonial US bent to it, which was not to my liking but seems popular with the locals.
    Bo Concept is great. I got my TV media center there, They will let you design your own furniture, color schemes, specs (my TV weighs 105 kg so you need to specify) and various accoutrements. The results were execllent but pretty pricey- so know exactly what you want before ordering.
    Livina- great for high end appliances, lamps etc. Also Estnation has some good knick-knacks at their Hills store.
    Time&Style may hav gone out of business, bot sure, but also excellent selectio of wood furniture, mostly imported stuff.
    Daikinyama has some awesome small boutique furniture stores where you can find one of a kind items, some of it is quite affordable.
    Bisley is great for office furniture, if you want a good office in your home.

  • Ng Yin Cin says:

    For my experience in Sapporo as student, this is the the way I got my furniture,

    1.Junk yard: As many perople throw away usable thing like rack and table, and even their fridge and washing machine.

    2.University (International) Student: As they love to give away their furniture before they leave the school. Rather than paying a big amount of demolition fees, most of them give up their furniture for free.

  • Amazon has everything. They even have mech suits. Don Quixote chain stores are also an option. I’ve never tried to carry anything too large home, but there’s also Uber cab here now which might oblige.

  • Kamran Morovati says:

    Thanks for this information

  • Off House too!! Even asking your friends and even if you teach, asking Japanese staff or even adult students if they know where they can find used things for your apartment. Many times they will know people trying to get rid of things, I got a brand new leather recliner for FREE, my student came over and dropped it to my place as well!!

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