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5 Thrift stores to get the bang out of your buck in Tokyo

5 Thrift stores to get the bang out of your buck in Tokyo

I love thrifting. I love finding unique and creative gems which can add that extra dazzle to my abode and wardrobe. And Tokyo (東京) has proven to be a paradise for avid thrifters like me! With so many well-curated thrift shops scattered across the city, you’ll always be spoiled for choice when the thrift bug hits. Here are five thrift shops which I really enjoyed during my few thrift adventures in Tokyo.

 

1. Harajuku Chicago, Inc

(Image credit: Jen Gellardo / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Like its namesake suggests, this thrift shop lives and breathes in the spirit of the great United States of A (or at the very least, the Japanese nostalgic idea of it). Think of an aesthetic reminiscent to the 1980s/90s with funky graphic tees, tie-dye apparel, and Hawaiian print shirts. 

 

I myself have been to their branch in Shimokitazawa (下北沢) and bought myself an oversized Hawaiian shirt! The quality was great and it has been in my closet until this day for a few years now. They have multiple branches scattered around Tokyo, you won’t miss their bright storefront with a neon light screaming “Chicago”. Check it out the next time you’re in Tokyo for good vibes all round. 

 

Harajuku Chicago, Inc. Shimokitazawa Branch(原宿シカゴ下北沢店)
Address: 5-32-5 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0032
Nearest station: Shimo-Kitazawa Station (下北沢駅)
Opening hours: 11am–8pm (Daily, except on New Year’s Day)
Tel: +81-3-3419-2890
Multiple locations in Harajuku, Kichijoji, and Shimokitazawa. 

 

2. Hard-Off Group 

The Hard-Off franchise. (Image credit: davemc500hats / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

The Hard-Off (ハードオフ) group consists of a range of second-hand shops located all across Japan which sell a variety of items. They have different types of shops for a variety of items, such as:

 

  • Hard-Off: for second-hand electronics, audio related items, and instruments
  • Off-House: for furniture, sports gear, and outdoor gear
  • Hobby-Off: for figurines, games, models, and other hobby-related items
  • Garage-Off: for cars, bicycles, and transport-related items
  • Mode-Off: for fashion items
  • Book-Off: for books, CDs, DVDs, and other miscellaneous items 

 

Book-Off. (Image credit: Andrew Subiela / CC BY 2.0)

 

I’ve personally visited Mode-Off, Book-Off, and Hobby-Off. At Mode-Off, expect to dig! The selection will not be as curated as the other thrift shops in this list, but the prices are relatively cheaper. The effort is worth it, if you manage to find a good bargain! I bought a second-hand Bump of Chicken CD from Book-Off before (back when CDs were a thing but already at the precipice of fading into oblivion) and it was their very first album so I guess it could be considered a rare find. At Hobby-Off, I scored myself a mini replica of the Raising Heart wand from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (yes, my inner nerd is showing). At these shops, you’ll never know what you can find so do take some time to browse through and you might be rewarded with some neat surprises. 

 

Hard-Off Group
Multiple locations across Japan.

 

3. Shimokitazawa Garage Department

Inside the Shimokitazawa Garage Department. (Image credit: Yohei Yamashita / CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

More than just a thrift shop, this garage-themed (yes, like it’s literal namesake) place gathers multiple small shops consisting of thrift stores to small makers in one warehouse-esque space. Designed to be reminiscent of a good ol’ garage sale, expect hipster vibes with warm lights and cool kids hanging around. This place can get pretty crowded, and the stores are packed closely to each other, so do take note of that. Otherwise, this is also an awesome place to buy unique souvenirs for your friends and family back home.

 

Shimokitazawa Garage Department
Address: 2-25-8 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031
Nearest station: Shimo-Kitazawa Station (下北沢駅)
Opening hours: 12pm–8pm
Tel: +81 3-3468-7000

 

4. New York Joe Exchange

(Image credit: naokomc / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

I remember this place clearly because I bought a really good and sturdy pair of jeans here. I also almost bought a Prada bag for a really decent price but decided against it because I’m not a sucker for big-name brands... (I totally am.) I spent quite a fair bit of time here during my last visit to Shimokitazawa because the shop was spacious with the clothes being well spaced out. There were no claustrophobic vibes which the smaller, more cluttered thrift shops may give. 

 

There were even seats so if you are travelling with your family, friends, or reluctant partners who don’t give a hoot about shopping, they can sit and wait for you without complaining every 5 minutes or so (maybe it will now be 10 minutes instead!). I went with my dad and sister who aren’t avid thrifters during my last trip so the seats were a God-sent. 

 

NEW YORK JOE EXCHANGE Shimokitazawa Branch (NEW YORK JOE EXCHANGE 下北沢店)
Address: 3-26-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031
Nearest station: Shimo-Kitazawa Station (下北沢駅)
Opening hours: 12pm–8pm (Daily)
Tel: +81-3-5738-2077
Multiple locations in Shimokitazawa, Shibuya, and Kichijoji.

 

5. Panama Boy Remake and Vintage

Panama Boy’s entryway! (Image credit: Celia Lim)

 

I always find myself dropping by Panama Boy’s Harajuku branch whenever I’m in the area. It’s the only shop worth visiting along the touristy Takeshita Street, in my (not so humble) opinion. Located in one of the side alleys, you won’t find any other tourists in this shop—just a whole bunch of gems and the cutest little shop layout ever. Panama Boy specialises in vintage and remake fashion—think quirky little sweaters and coats, patchwork skirts and pants, vintage pyjamas, super unique button-downs…just really cool stuff to spice up anyone’s wardrobe. I’ve always wanted to get something from this amazing shop but somehow I always visit in the wrong season. I guess I’ll have to settle with getting massive inspiration from their lovely Instagram page for now.

 

Panama Boy Remake and Vintage Harajuku Branch (パナマボーイ 原宿店本店)
Address: 1-16-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Nearest station: Harajuku Station (原宿駅) / Meiji-jingumae ‘Harajuku’ Station (明治神宮前〈原宿〉駅)
Opening hours: 11am–8:30pm
Tel: +81 3-3402-2425
Multiple locations in Kyoto, Nagoya, Sendai, and Sapporo.

 

This list is only SCRATCHING the surface of all the second-hand gems in Tokyo, but I hope these stores serve as a great launchpad for your next great thrifting adventure! And even if you aren’t an avid thrifter like I am, I’m sure just browsing these stores at least once will create another great Japan memory for the books. Have fun shopping!



Header image credit: Jen Gellardo / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

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