Jan 27, 2018
After living in Japan for nearly two decades, over time, I have accumulated a fair bit of stuff- clothes, kitchen goods, CDs, etc. From time to time I need to clear things out . . . and figuring out how is sometimes easier said than done. Here are some ways I have used to donate, or occasionally cash-in on things I no longer need.
This is by no means a complete list of places, but these are ones I have experience with and found most convenient or useful.
The Salvation Army
This has been where most of my unwanted things have gone. I have, especially, donated a lot of clothing to them over the years. I have also donated curtains, blankets, and kitchenware to them. They provide a pick up service within Tokyo. When you call to arrange a pick-up, the person answering the phone kind of speaks English but sounds to be using a script, so keep questions and negotiation simple and to a minimum. The times they gave me for pick-up have always seemed to be during my work day, but I left the things outside my door (with a note on them) and they happily picked them up. The last time I called them, I had four large bags for them to haul off.
If you do not live in Tokyo, or do not have much to donate, you can send the goods to them by post. You can also drop things off at their shop at specific times during the week (M,T,TH,F 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.).
They do not accept everything, so check their pamphlet (pictured below) for more details.
They also have a very limited website in English: http://familystore.salvationarmy.or.jp/english/index.html
Off House / Hard-Off / Book-Off
These are a chain of "recycle" or second-hand shops under the same corporate umbrella. They will buy used goods that you bring in to the shop . . . sometimes. I have had hit or miss luck when I have taken in CDs and electronics to one of the shops. On the plus side though, they were willing to keep what I brought in so I did not have to take the goods home with me again.
As the names kind of indicate, Book-Off is for books, Hard-Off, less obviously, is where you can take CDs, Vinyl, and electronics. Off House is where they have (and accept) a wide array of household good like dishware and furniture. I think all my plates come from one of these stores, actually. I have never donated large items, so I cannot share my experience on that. Information can be found on their website (in Japanese only but understandable enough with Google Translate): https://www.hardoff.co.jp/
According to their website, they will do pick-ups and accept things via the post as well and both of these services may be free.
Craigslist (https://geo.craigslist.org/iso/jp) is another place where you can put things up for sale or for free. In Japan, the following areas are covered: Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Okinawa, Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, Sapporo, Sendai, and Tokyo.
I have, personally, had hit-or-miss luck with Craigslist, but it has been worth my effort overall. I was able to get rid of a large wardrobe by using this site. A few other things never got bought or taken and they eventually went in my bag to the Salvation Army.
Mottainai Japan on Facebook
There are a large number of Facebook pages / groups for a number of areas in Japan. The one I have found most active and well run is Mottainai Japan. It is a Closed Group on Facebook and only people in Japan are allowed to join. You can search for the group and ask to be added. You can then, once added, post things you want to give away. This page does not allow selling goods. It has active administrators and some simple rules to follow regarding no selling, how to post, and how to claim items, so read the pinned post at the top of the page first. A lot of the posting is Tokyo-based, but people will ship to other areas (you cover the postage IF accepting the items), and so you can decide if you will only allow people to pick-up items from you or if you are willing to post things.
I am a hiker, walker, and abundant photo-taker. After spending my first many years in Japan in Tochigi, I relocated to Tokyo at the end of 2012. I love visiting the numerous temples, shrines, castles, and former castles that can be found in the mountains, rural areas, and tucked away within cities.