For a lot of fans of anything that’s made in Japan, going to surplus stores is a cheaper alternative to buying your stuff online or getting a plane ticket to Japan and going nuts on buying stuff whether be it anime, manga, video games, or anything in between those lines.
..and today let me present you a guide on getting what you want out of Japan surplus stores because there is a lot of stuff in those stores and sometimes, you will have a hard time getting what you want.
Most of the photos you’ll see in this post are taken at Japan’s Best in Monumento, Caloocan City so the stuff you get may vary.
Tip #1 – Prepare To Get Dirty – Japan surplus stores, at least most of them, have a cavalcade of stuff that was pre-loved, used, and sometimes abused items that came from the land of the rising sun so make sure you have some wipes with you when you go dumpster diving. Don’t worry though, not all stores are unkempt messes.
Tip #2 – Know Japanese, or at least a bit of it – Since these items come directly from Japan, these come untranslated into English so if you want to get the most out of the stuff that you buy from these stores, be prepared to read some hiragana, katakana, or kanji or whip out Google Translate.
This comes in handy especially if you wanted to purchase manga in these stores. When it comes to music and audiovisual mediums though, you may not need to worry about it and I’ll be talking about it in a different section of this post.
Tip #3 – Be Prepared to Find Weird Stuff – Since Japan surplus store owners buy everything in bulk, don’t be surprised to find any weird stuff on the shelves. For instance, I found not one, but two PC games of the adult variety from the early 1990s and these came with floppy disks no less. Who uses floppies these days?
Tip #4 – It’s Not All About Anime and JPop – See, unlike most stores that focus on a certain niche in Japanese society, Japan surplus stores offer a wide range of entertainment selections, ranging from J-drama to yakuza movies to city pop to enka.
If you’re planning to get your Japanese music collection starting and you’re not beholden to anime songs, these stores would be your best bet.
Tip #5 – Be Wary of Anything Unlabeled – This is more on me being extra careful on not owning anything that can land you in jail than anything else but some CDs and videotapes have missing or no labels/cases at all. Of course, it’s still up to you if you want to take an opportunity to discover either a lost gem or get the cops on your tail.
Tip #6 – Make Sure Things Work – This piece of advice is something that I shouldn’t even bother pointing out but it helps when you’re about to buy second-hand goods from Japan.
Manga titles are usually unharmed and in complete condition but when it comes to cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and even Blu-Ray discs, make sure that you have the package in complete condition and that you have the equipment necessary to play those pieces of media.
As for action figures and toys, make sure that there are no missing parts and that you have researched the item that you’re planning to buy. Electronics though is a different story.
Since most surplus store owners don’t have the necessary equipment to test things out, take everything that they said with a grain of salt in terms of the quality of the appliance. Also, Japan’s standard voltage is 110 volts so either make sure that the place where you live has the same voltage standard or use a step-up converter to prevent the risk of equipment failure, or worse, burning down your house.
That’s all the tips I can think of for now when it comes to visiting Japan surplus stores. If you know any more stores like this, let me know in the comments. Unti
2 thoughts on “A Guide On Shopping at Japan Surplus Stores”
Great post, and thank you for sharing! This brought back memories of my visits to such shops to find props for cosplay. There used to be this shop along Road 20 (in Project 8, QC) called Japanimation — which specialized in anime and tokusatsu figures.
Sadly, the location had been closed by 2017. (I don’t know if you managed to visit it during its heyday.)
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Never visited that but I used to frequent a shop named Japan Selections back in 2018 near Starmall Edsa Shaw.
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