Apr 7, 2018

How to Sell Used Items to Hard-Off Stores in Japan

Space comes at a premium in Japan, so many expats invariably find themselves in need of off-loading some old items. There are a great number of swap pages online for folks who want to sell items that way, but if you live in the inaka like me, there may not be an expat market that doesn’t involve packing and shipping those old items.

Fortunately, the shops that make up the “Hard-off” group are fairly ubiquitous and can serve as an easy way to get rid of some old items while received some compensation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s often pennies on the dollar for what you originally spent to acquire the goods, but it’s often better than having to pay someone to dump it or the opportunity cost of having to clean, pack, and ship items to other places. 

How to Sell Used Items to Hard-Off Stores in Japan photo

The Off-House franchise is comprised of six different shops: Book-Off, Hard-Off, Off-House, Garage-Off, Hobby-Off, Mode-Off, and Liquor-Off.  Book-Off accepts books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray movies, and video games (console and handheld); Hard-Off is for hardware, instruments, appliances; Off-House for household goods; Garage-Off for vehicle equipment; Hobby-Off for toys, models, etc.; Mode-Off for apparel; and Liquor-Off for, well, I'm sure you can guess!

How to Sell Used Items to Hard-Off Stores in Japan photo

While the Hard-Off group offers instructions for selling goods on the website, I wanted to give you a quick rundown here to get you started.

Step 1: Identification

The Off-house stores require that people selling items be ordinarily resident to Japan (meaning that you reside here under any approved status). As such you must produce some form of Japanese ID when trying to sell items, whether that’s a driver’s license or alien registration card. They’ll use that to sign you up for an off-house membership card (no fee). If you don’t have Japanese ID (perhaps you’re here under the US-Japan SOFA or on diplomatic status), be sure to bring one form of ID and something that can prove your residence. I’ve used my car registration before, but bills can work, too. 

Step 2: Drop off the items at the counter

When you arrive at the store, the 売る “Sell Counter” will typically be right next to the entrance. Drop off your things, show your membership card (or ID to sign up for one), and then receive a number. At that point, you’re free to wander as they do an assessment on the items you’ve provided.

Return when your number is called. As soon as they call your number and you return to the counter, the staff will explain what can be accepted and what cannot, while also quoting you on the items. Assuming you accept, they’ll start processing payment.

Step 3: Payment and signature

To receive your payment, you'll need to sign the receipt and offer a phone number (they'll have your address in the system from when you register for the membership).  You'll have a choice whether you want cash or to use the payment towards new purchases.

Do you have any questions about selling items at Off-House stores?  Do you have any extra tips for those looking to unload old items at Off-House?  Feel free to use the comments section below!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).

1 Comment

  • BlueButterfly

    on Apr 7

    I really love Hard off! I´m going to Hard off and Off House mostly every month to sell and also buy stuff there. For me it is like treasure hunting and I often find some cool stuff. Also it is really the perfect place if you want to clean up your apartment. Just bring all to them and you will get some money. Even it is not much what you will get, I like the idea that it will be recycled and used by somebody else and will not just be thrown away.