Take our user survey here!

Tweet of the Week #97: A Guide to Japan’s ‘Off’ Stores

Book Off, Hard Off, Mode Off, Liquor Off!?!?

By 6 min read

Bargain hunters in Japan know all about the “Off” stores which are great places to find used and/or cheap stuff, from books, video games, phones, clothes, and even…cars and liquor.

All you need is a little bit of patience to dig through the messy aisles for treasures, but isn’t that the joy of thrifting? Let’s take a look at all the different outlets of the “Off” brand.

Hard-Off (ハードオフ)

Going back to the early 90s, Hard-Off has 897 stores around Japan as of February 2019. This chain deals with audiovisual equipment, PC, music instruments, and other electronic miscellaneous such as cables, batteries, and so on. It’s a treasure trove for vintage electronic lovers.



“I feel like I can spend the whole day looking inside a Hard-Off store.”

Book-Off (ブックオフ)

Perfect for avid readers looking for secondhand books, especially in foreign languages, Book-Off is Japan’s biggest chain for all things you can read and more. Indeed, most Book-Off stores also have video games, DVDs, music, and small electronics corners.

Contrary to regular Japanese book stores, books are not wrapped in plastic (unless they’re brand new), so Book-Off stores are notorious for their standing readers, oblivious to the surrounding shoppers.



“Since I passed by Tsuruhashi Station, I saw the famous ‘automatic ticket gate for entering and leaving the Book Off store’.”

Liquor-Off (リカーオフ)

Fancy some good old fashioned whisky or scouring for the cheapest wine on the market? With an amazing variety of alcohol of all sorts and origins, Liquor-Off comes to the rescue of both amateurs and classy drinkers. Brought to the world by Hard-Off in 2013, Liquor-Off is actually not that cheap and resells old stock of spirits from private collectors or other stores.

今日きょうはずっとこうとおもっていた、リカーオフ八王子はちおうじへ。 たかいおさけいっぱい!笑


“Today I went to Hachioji’s Liquor-Off which I had always wanted to go to. There are a lot of expensive liquors! lol”

Mode-Off (モードオフ)

Looking to renew your wardrobe without spending too much money? Mode-Off is the place to go if you have an eye for secondhand fashion gems and time to browse the cluttered shelves. You can also “sell” your old clothes for 20 yen every 10 kilos.

Remember you’re not in for the cash, but for the eco-friendly habit.



“Hello! We’re Akihabara’s Mode-Off. Our store has tons of items in our men’s and women’s ¥300 corners!  Please drop in when you come to Akihabara!”

Off-House (オフハウス)

Off-House (which fancies a slightly different name from the rest of the Off series) is kind of a mashup of Hard-Off & Mode-Off with a zest of chaos.

This particular brand focuses on secondhand clothes, bags, and all you need for your home. You’ll find everything including appliances, furniture, tableware, indoor & outdoor materials, and sports equipment. Basically, anything you can think of to furnish your home, kids’ toys included.



かわいいくまさんたちがいっぱいいます (^ ^) また、変更へんこうしております ^_^ まだまだ途中とちゅうですが、ものつかるかも


“Our bears welcome you! We have a lot of cute bears. Also, we’ve changed the sales counters. We’re still in the middle of changing, but you may find some bargain.”

Hobby-Off (ホビーオフ)

Not as famous and popular as otaku paradise Mandarake, but still convenient to complete your goodies collection, Hobby OFF provides secondhand figures, games, plastic models, and all things deserving to be preciously exposed on your shelves.







“I did a little tour of Hobby-Off after a while.

I was wondering whether to buy Keroppi goodies or not, but this time I’ll control myself.

I found something that could become a gift, so I got it.

I got zero points when I checked in.”

Garage-Off (ガレージオフ)

The only Off store missing from Hachioji’s infamous Eco Town is Garage-Off, the last (but not least?) branch specialized in car parts and accessories such as audiovisual equipment to do some mean tuning. They sell used bicycles too!



“Let’s willfully display a Garage-Off here!”

 Eco Town (aka all of the above)

Located in Hachioji City, in the Western part of Tokyo metropolis, Eco Town is a one of a kind mall dedicated to second-hand shopping and open all year round. It’s also the only place in Japan to list up all (but one) “Off” chains proudly brought by Hard-Off Group.

Their motto? “Reuse” to make the world a better, cleaner place.



“Wow! It’s got all of them lol”

While each store has its own specialties, they often kind of overlap creating a wonderful mess you’ll enjoy getting lost in.

Japanese vocabulary to resell stuff at “Off” stores

Selling your stuff at Book-Off, Hard-Off, and so on, is really easy and you actually don’t even need to know much Japanese. But of course, you’re here to learn some key vocabulary along the way!

When you come in, you’ll have to look for the counter, where you’ll hand out your bags to the staff. Quick sentence to start with:

ほん」をりたいです = I’d like to sell「books」.

You can replace by any item you want to sell:

  • ふく: clothes
  • ゲーム: games
  • スマホ: smartphone
  • フィギュア: model figures
  • If you’re looking to sell heavy stuff, such as furniture or home appliances, you’ll have to check (in person at the counter or on the phone) with nearby stores beforehand whether they’re interested in what you’re selling. From there, you can set the 買取かいとりサービス , “purchase & pick up service”, in motion. The store staff will come to your place to take your stuff away (you’ll be paid after appraisal).
  • Not sure how to say it in Japanese? Good old “これ” (“this“) will get the message across.

At the counter, you’ll be given a number. Prepare to kill some time in the store while the staff is appraising the value of your things (査定さてい), but don’t wander too far off if you’re not confident you’ll understand your number when they call it. When the appraisal is complete, they tell you the amount of money you can get. For stuff that has no value, you can opt to take it back or donate it to the store.

If you’re satisfied with the amount, you then need to provide an identifying document (本人確認書類ほんにんかくにんしょるい) that shows your full name (氏名しめい), your address (住所じゅうしょ), and your age (年齢ねんれい). Copies or expired documents are not accepted:

  • 運転免許証うんてんめんきょしょう: (Japanese) Driver’s license
  • 在留ざいりゅうカード: Residence card
  • 学生証がくせいしょう: Student card
  • 健康保険証けんこうほけんしょう: Health insurance card

Foreign documents, such as your passport or your home country’s driver’s license, are not accepted as they do not show a Japanese address.

Once your ID is cleared and you’ve signed up the receipt, you’ll get the money in cash on the spot. Happy bargain hunting and selling!


Japanese Romaji English
がする ki ga suru have a hunch
当店とうてん touten this/our shop
品物しなもの shinamono goods
そろえる torisoroeru put together
秋葉原におしのさいには是非ぜひください Akihabara ni o koshi no sai ni ha zehi o tachiyori kudasai Please, by all means, drop in when you go to Akihabara
出迎でむか o demukae welcome, meet
もの horidashimono bargain
勝手かって katte ni without permission, suit oneself…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA - Privacy Policy - Terms of Service



10 Japanese Textbooks for Advanced Learners for Business, the JLPT and Beyond

Discover Japanese textbooks for advanced learners in business, JLPT and more. Elevate your Japanese study with these essential resources.

By 6 min read


Understanding Mount Fuji’s New Fees and Rules

There are new fees and rules for hiking Mt. Fuji. Here is why, and if your plans to hike the iconic mountain will be affected.

By 3 min read


You Should Learn These Basic Japanese Job Interview Questions

Job hunting in Japan? Ace that interview by brushing up on how to answer basic Japanese job interview questions.

By 3 min read