Buying Used Stuff in Japan: Meiji Flea Market

 Japan is a land of new. When buying a house or renting an apartment, proximity to train stations is a big factor in price, but also important is the age of the building. Fashion changes quickly so wardrobes always have new clothes added. There's always some new, limited flavor or menu item at convenience stores and restaurants.

Apartments are tiny here, though. All that old stuff piles up. There are a few ways to get rid of it: throw it out (my city garbage collection also picks up reusable clothes and furniture), take it to a second-hand shop (and get almost nothing for it - sometimes you have to pay them!), or sell it at a flea market.
 Not too long ago, flea markets weren't too common, but their popularity continues to grow. My favorite is the Meiji Flea Market, held about once a month near Shinjuku. Hundreds of dealers (somewhere around 600, I understand) grab parking spots in a lot and lay out their goods. Unlike many flea markets I've visited in the US, and some here in Japan, the goods here must be used, and the sellers tend to be families, households, or groups of friends. Similarly, a frequent flea market held near Yoyogi Park has a lot of used but like-new clothing from families and younger adults.
 You can find almost anything at the Meiji Flea Market, especially household goods, toys, and clothing.
 Women's clothing changes often, so several people sell last season's fashions at pretty good prices. Those heels are 200 yen a pair. It helps to know some Japanese here - especially how to ask how much because not everything has prices, and an understanding of numbers. Don't expect to try anything on of course - other than shoes and jackets, but do expect to find amazing deals. Haggling isn't too common, but if you make a large purchase you might be able to round your total or you could be given a small discount.
As I said, you can find almost anything here. I've seen bowling balls, Americana and other collectibles, books, movie programs, movies and music, tons of clothes, surf boards and wetsuits, electronics, and even an accordion, seen in the photo above.

Things to look for in the pictures above: twin cameras, Winnie the Pooh, a wig, too many scissors, brand new sunglasses, a collection of desk lamps, pressure, a spoon set, a boot and a heel, three dogs in a row, and a handheld game system.

There is a Japanese-language website which has an up-to-date list of flea markets, with upcoming dates, times, number of stalls, and organizers. Some are held quite sporadically. If you really want to bring a lot of Japanese stuff home, you have time to browse, and you're in Japan at the right time, flea markets can be a great source of souvenirs and clothes - just be sure you pay attention to Japanese size differences!

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