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Secondhand Books & Manga in Japan

Once I lived in Japan, I accrued fairly a tower of secondhand yuri manga. I wished to enhance my studying velocity for the JLPT, and I felt decided to do it in a approach that was fulfilling (learn: sapphic) and pleasant to each the surroundings and my checking account.

Suffice it to say, I acquired very conversant in the yuri sections of my native used bookstores. Each time I visited, I imagined all of the queer ladies in Nagoya passing the identical few volumes of manga round to one another. It was like an unstated lending library occurring on the hilariously tiny homosexual shelf of each E-book-Off on the town. Each e book had a historical past earlier than me and a future after me, hopefully having a optimistic affect on everybody it touched.

However it doesn’t matter what style floats your boat, I would like that feeling of group reuse for you too. So how do you get began shopping for secondhand Japanese books? Fortunately, it is not too powerful. On this article, I am going to supply my suggestions on the place to purchase secondhand Japanese books and manga, each in Japan and abroad. However first, I am going to wax lyrical in regards to the wonders of secondhand e book shopping for and educate you some useful Japanese phrases for the method. I hope that after studying, you’re feeling extra snug throwing down some yen at your native secondhand bookstore!

Why Purchase Secondhand Japanese Books & Manga?

After all, there are tons of excellent causes to purchase Japanese books and manga. Possibly you need to stage up your Japanese studying comprehension with some intensive studying, or 多読 (tadoku). Or maybe you are simply an otaku in search of some manga translated into your native language. However why exit of your approach to purchase them secondhand?

Used manga is notoriously cheap in Japan — we’re speaking lower than 100 yen per quantity typically.

The reply is fairly easy: cheapness, child. Used manga is notoriously cheap in Japan — we’re speaking lower than 100 yen per quantity typically. And used books aren’t that far behind, with some nice finds priced at lower than 1,000 yen. Plus, it is usually not possible to inform the distinction between a brand new e book and a secondhand one in Japan. Personally, I by no means observed any flaws vital sufficient to hinder my studying expertise among the many used books I purchased there.

On prime of that, you are doing the surroundings a favor by reusing a pre-owned merchandise, so you will get some self-congratulatory emotions out of the deal. It additionally feels nice to cross on a narrative or assortment of ideas that affected you to another person in your group by secondhand resale, or 買い取り (kaitori). Earlier than I left Japan, I resold all however certainly one of my sixty-six volumes of LGBTQ+ manga, partially as a result of I assumed they’d do extra good being learn by another person than on my shelf gathering mud. (And partially as a result of I used to be out of baggage house.)

If you wish to help your favourite authors or mangaka by shopping for their work full-price, I completely perceive. I like to do this too! However in any other case, take into account this a pleasant invitation to a minimum of test whether or not the books you need can be found secondhand. And you understand what could be an effective way to start out wanting?

Japanese Phrases to Look For

…That is proper, studying some vocabulary! If you happen to’re solely in search of translated books, you in all probability will not want a lot Japanese. However for those who’re in Japan, shopping for books written in Japanese, or utilizing Japanese websites, you will must be hip to some widespread phrases. First, listed here are a number of common phrases for getting something secondhand in Japanese.

中古 (chūko) secondhand
通販 (tsūhan) on-line procuring, mail order
リサイクルショップ (risaikuru shoppu, “recycle store”) retailer that sells used items
フリーマーケット (furī māketto)
フリマ (furima)
flea market
フリマアプリ (furima apuri) flea market/e-commerce app
買取, 買い取り (kaitori) trade-in, buyback
定価 (teika) common retail worth (new)
参考上代 (sankō jōdai) producer’s steered retail worth, MSRP (new)
もったいない or 勿体ない (mottainai) wasteful, a waste (typically used to explain items that might go to waste if not put up on the market)

Obtained these phrases down? Effectively achieved, my fellow cheapskate. Now, listed here are some extra particular phrases for all of your secondhand (and common) book-buying wants.

中古漫画 (chūko manga)
中古コミック (chūko komikku)
secondhand manga/comedian(s)
中古本 (chūkobon)
古本 (furuhon)
secondhand e book(s)
古本屋 (furuhon’ya), 古書店 (koshoten) used bookstore
単行本 (tankōbon) single quantity/standalone e book
X巻セット (X maku setto) X-volume set (e.g. 8-volume set)

And that is it! Fairly straightforward in comparison with shopping for secondhand garments. Subsequent up — the place do you discover these musty outdated tomes anyway?

The place to Discover Secondhand Books & Manga from Japan

photo of an aisle in a book off store showing two shelves of books

Happily, Japan has no scarcity of secondhand booksellers, from world chains to native retailers to on-line marketplaces. So the place do you have to begin? Effectively, it depends upon the place you reside and what sort of e book or manga you are in search of.

Would you like secondhand books written in Japanese? Then your choices are:

  1. purchase Japanese books which might be already in your nation,
  2. import books from retailers that ship internationally or by a third-party forwarding service, or
  3. reside in Japan.

If you happen to do not reside in Japan, you might be in for a tough time.

If you happen to do not reside in Japan, you might be in for a tough time. Possibility #2 may be wallet-bustingly costly, so I extremely advocate going with #1 each time potential. Severely, it is the import charges that’ll getcha! However for those who should import, attempt ordering issues in bulk to avoid wasting on worldwide delivery. Or you possibly can at all times purchase e-books in Japanese, eliminating delivery prices solely. (Are you able to inform that is my most well-liked technique after leaving Japan?)

However, are you in search of secondhand books which might be translated into English or one other language? Excellent news — that tends to be simpler, assuming you do not reside in Japan. All you have to do is purchase from sellers inside your nation or Japanese retailers with a global presence.

First, I am going to introduce shops which have each Japanese places/web sites and worldwide web sites with abroad delivery. These are nice locations to search for each translated and untranslated books/manga. Then, I am going to get into some Japan-only retailers that promote primarily untranslated works. Reference whichever sections are most helpful to you, relying on the place you dangle your hat. Darn you, measurement of the world!

Shops with Each Japanese and Worldwide Web sites

Exterior of Japan, it may be fairly straightforward to search out new, translated manga. Even untranslated books and manga aren’t arduous to trace down for those who’re fortunate sufficient to reside close to a Kinokuniya or E-book-Off. Nonetheless, shopping for Japanese books/manga which might be each secondhand and untranslated is by far the hardest permutation for those who reside abroad.

It isn’t not possible, although! You may simply should boot up the nice outdated web, which is why I’ve centered on on-line shops right here. For analysis functions, I went so far as the delivery display at every service provider to check worldwide delivery prices. (Look ahead to the juicy exposé within the following sections.) I put them so as from those I am most conversant in to least conversant in, however they’re all value perusing.

Relaxation assured, all of those shops supply methods to purchase from inside Japan and internationally. So regardless of the place you reside, take a look at these accessible retailers for all of your secondhand e book/manga wants!

Suruga-ya (駿河屋)

screenshot of the suruga-ya landing page

If there is a one-stop store for secondhand Japanese books and manga, for my part, it is Suruga-ya. Most of my leaning tower of secondhand manga in Japan got here from me and my pockets letting free on their on-line retailer. Like a number of secondhand books/manga in Japan, one quantity is commonly solely 100-200 yen. Suruga-ya additionally has the most affordable delivery costs I’ve seen inside Japan: lower than 500 yen for orders below 1500 yen, and free for orders 1500 yen or extra. This low threshold free of charge delivery makes it dangerously straightforward to only preserve crawling again for extra.

I might actually solely advocate Suruga-ya if you will get home delivery inside Japan.

The delivery charges on their worldwide website are fairly a bit steeper although. My faux buy of 1 160 yen e book would’ve value me over 2,000 yen to ship, and 4 books would’ve run me about 4500 yen in delivery charges. Moreover, you solely get delivery reductions for those who spend 10,000 yen or extra, and so they’re fairly measly (500 yen off for spending 10,000 yen; 1,000 yen off for spending 20,000 yen). Thus, I might actually solely advocate Suruga-ya if you will get home delivery inside Japan or are determined for sure untranslated titles and prepared to shell out for worldwide delivery.

However uniquely, Suruga-ya additionally sells secondhand video games, merchandise, toys, CDs, DVDs, electronics, and extra that additionally are usually fairly low-cost. So if you wish to throw any of that into your cart whilst you’re at it, Suruga-ya could be helpful for you! It is definitely my best choice for secondhand manga.

Mercari (メルカリ)

screenshot of the mercari landing page

Talking of my best loves on this merciless universe, sure, I’m as soon as once more shilling for Mercari. For the uninitiated, Mercari is a Japanese e-commerce app/web site the place peculiar individuals purchase and promote their used items. If you happen to’ve by no means heard of it earlier than, take a look at our common article on secondhand procuring for extra detailed recommendation on utilizing the platform successfully.

If you happen to’re not choosy about what you learn in Japanese, this could be an fascinating solution to roll the cube in your studying materials.

In relation to particularly discovering secondhand books and manga on Mercari, your luck will fluctuate. On the worldwide English model of Mercari, most translated titles I seek for can be found, due to some Joe Schmo on the market seeking to do away with it. Equally, on the Japanese model of Mercari (メルカリ), virtually any untranslated title I’ve looked for is offered for buy from some Joe Schmorimoto on the market. Is sensible, because the languages match the variations of the app.

As traditional, although, the difficulty begins when the language would not match the model of the app; that’s, once you’re seeking to purchase untranslated works abroad or translated works in Japan. There is a stunning number of books and manga in Japanese on English Mercari — simply search 漫画 (manga), 本 (hon, “e book”), or another related Japanese phrase and no matter’s obtainable on the time will come up. You could not be capable of discover precisely what you are in search of, however for those who’re not choosy about what you learn in Japanese, this could be an fascinating solution to roll the cube in your studying materials. By the identical token, there are English variations of Japanese books/manga on Japanese Mercari typically.

In each of those instances, the “saved search” perform of Mercari may enable you to preserve a watch out for when that particular e book you need turns into obtainable. Of their bios, some sellers even supply to take requests to purchase sure titles you are in search of, though it may cost a little you somewhat additional.

Assuming you could find one thing you need, it’s going to in all probability be pretty low-cost on both model of Mercari.

Assuming you could find one thing you need, it’s going to in all probability be pretty low-cost on both model of Mercari. The most important benefit is that you just’re possible looking for gadgets which might be already in your area of the world, that means no must go bankrupt on import charges. This methodology can prevent some huge yen, so I particularly advocate testing Mercari for those who reside outdoors of Japan and are in search of translated titles or have an “something goes” perspective about which Japanese e book/manga you purchase. Plus, you are serving to individuals rehome their outdated stuff to keep away from a dreaded mottainai scenario.

E-book-Off (ブックオフ)

photo of the storefront of a book off store taken at night

If you happen to’ve achieved any secondhand procuring in Japan, you have in all probability heard of the “-Off” collection of shops. Japan’s most well-known chain retailer of used books, E-book-Off, falls below this umbrella firm as effectively. With over 800 places in Japan, you possibly can’t go various blocks in any Japanese metropolis with out stumbling throughout one. The daring colours and big 本 indicators make them fairly unmissable!

Not solely is E-book-Off nice for getting used books, it is nice for unburdening your self of them too.

If you happen to’re in Japan, you will have the pleasure of testing a E-book-Off in particular person. Once I lived in Nagoya, certainly one of my favourite actions was to wander into one and simply see what I might bump into. An enormous portion of their manga is within the 100 yen “nook” (which is outwardly what E-book-Off likes to name huge wall-to-wall cabinets). There’s at all times a big selection of books and manga obtainable at E-book-Off, so even if you cannot discover what you are in search of, you are positive to come back out with one thing fascinating.

Not solely is E-book-Off nice for getting used books, it is nice for unburdening your self of them too. Keep in mind my mountain of homosexual manga, largely from Suruga-ya? I resold all however one quantity to E-book-Off. They have a tendency to pay you about half the retail worth, and I used to be impressed that they really paid up for nearly the entire usually unusual, off-the-heterosexual-path manga I introduced them. Any used bookstore that gives buyback (買い取り) will in all probability be okay, however take into account this my testimonial for E-book-Off.

They’re one of many few retailers that promote untranslated Japanese manga within the US.

Sadly, for those who’re within the West, E-book-Off won’t have fairly the identical luster because it does in Asia. Their US web site primarily sells older collection of manga (not books), with free delivery solely kicking in for those who spend $150 or extra. Nonetheless, they’re one of many few retailers that promote untranslated Japanese manga within the US. Plus, the common delivery prices are fairly cheap, since their inventory has already been imported. My faux order of 9 volumes of manga would have value $8 to ship to the West coast — not dangerous in any respect! So for those who’re a retro manga lover who desires to learn in Japanese, American E-book-Off could be an excellent choice for you.


screenshot of an amazon listing for a used copy of yotsuba

Ah, Amazon. If you happen to should make the most of our web procuring overlord, you will have two choices: Amazon Japan or your individual regional model of Amazon. You can also make an Amazon Japan account (separate out of your common Amazon account) and purchase from abroad, as some sellers do ship internationally. And don’t fret, you should use worldwide credit score/debit playing cards, not like on some Japanese on-line shops.

Books/manga particularly may be pretty low-cost to import on Amazon Japan, particularly for those who’re shopping for a full collection set.

Books/manga particularly may be pretty low-cost to import on Amazon Japan, particularly for those who’re shopping for a full collection set. However, once you’re shopping for issues from separate sellers, delivery can add up rapidly. And for those who’re solely shopping for one quantity of manga at a time, the price might not be value it. In any case, it may be hit and miss, so undoubtedly plug your tackle into the checkout to see how a lot the harm is for optimum pockets well being.

You possibly can typically discover untranslated books and manga on non-Japanese Amazon too.

Curiously, you possibly can typically discover untranslated books and manga on non-Japanese Amazon too. They’re labeled as “Japanese Version,” in order that they’re straightforward to distinguish from translated editions. On each and, remember to search for “Used” choices and test them out — if there are any secondhand choices, you will discover them proper beneath the common non-used buy choice. Amazon sellers record the situation of the used books as effectively, so you possibly can determine how pristine or raggedy you need your new tome to be. Particularly on, “Very Good” tends to be principally mint situation, and “Good” is often nice too, so that you’re fairly secure to belief the analysis system right here.

Prices for untranslated books/manga is usually a bit larger on Amazon than Mercari, even for used volumes. However however, Amazon does are inclined to have a wider choice than worldwide Mercari. So if what you are in search of is barely obtainable on Amazon, you do not need to add it to a bulk order elsewhere, and/otherwise you need reliably quick delivery, Uncle Jeff’s cash emporium could be the one solution to go.

Shops Solely in Japan

Yeah yeah, worldwide delivery will rob you blind…however what for those who truly reside in Japan? You fortunate duck! In relation to discovering untranslated secondhand books and manga, the world is your カキ. You possibly can choose from any of the retailers I already talked about — the truth is, because you’re shopping for from inside Japan, you will have entry to higher costs and a greater diversity there than individuals utilizing their worldwide websites. Or you possibly can experience candy, candy exclusivity and discover the next shops which might be at the moment solely obtainable in Japan.

Take this part with a grain of salt, since I have never personally purchased from most of those shops. I did extensively comb by their Japanese web sites so you do not have to, although, so let’s get crackin’!

Native Used Bookstores

Do you will have morals? Would you moderately your hard-earned yen go to a mother and/or pop than the human equal of the Monopoly Man? Then take into account investigating whether or not there are any native used bookstores in your space. If you happen to’re in search of one thing extremely particular, shopping for on-line could be the extra logical alternative — however for a random browse on a sleepy Sunday afternoon? There’s nowhere higher.

To start out exploring, kind the phrase 古本屋 (furuhon’ya) or 古書店 (koshoten), each of which imply “outdated/secondhand bookstore,” into Google Maps. Google-sensei will then present you used bookstores near you, together with each unbiased retailers and large chains. In your subsequent journey outdoors, attempt going to 1 and seeing what you could find! You may help your local people, and even perhaps interact within the historical artwork of tachiyomi (立ち読み) whilst you’re at it. Simply bear in mind to possibly purchase one thing too, for those who’re gonna stand there respiration their air all day.

Internet Off (ネットオフ)

screenshot of the net off landing page

Alright, you have purchased some goodies out of your native used bookstores. However what for those who’re on the hunt for one thing they do not have?

If I nonetheless lived in Japan, Internet Off could be a go-to choice for me.

If I nonetheless lived in Japan, Internet Off could be a go-to choice for me, proper subsequent to Suruga-ya and E-book-Off. Internet Off’s manga costs are about the identical as these two, and their delivery costs aren’t that far off. Presently, delivery inside Japan is 440 yen for orders below 3,000 yen and free over 3,000 yen, with gross sales that cheapen it even additional. That is one other good spot to position bulk orders, particularly when there is a vacation particular happening.

Like Suruga-ya, they promote video games, CDs, and DVDs too, so you possibly can toss a 348 yen copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World into your cart filled with Demon Slayer doujinshi. To solely see secondhand stuff, simply seek for one thing, look below さらに絞り込んで探す (“filter your search additional”), discover コンディション (“situation”), and click on the checkbox subsequent to 中古のみ (“secondhand solely”). Internet Off may even purchase your used stuff, however solely by the mail. It does look like free although, so no cause to not give it a attempt!


screenshot of the tsutaya takuhai rental page

You could have heard of shopping for used manga, however have you ever ever thought-about renting them? How retro! Tsutaya is a big chain retailer in Japan that sells/rents out manga, CDs, DVDs, video games, and different interest stuff. It is like a library you pay for…okay, I am making it sound worse than it’s. Consider it as a solution to borrow newer publications than your common library might need in inventory.

Renting is nice for those who’d moderately not amass a mountain of books you will by no means crack open once more.

Renting is a type of secondhand reuse and nice for those who’d moderately not amass a mountain of books you will by no means crack open once more. However for those who’re not into the thought of returning what you paid for, you may as well purchase issues usually at Tsutaya. You too can discover used books and manga basically by typing 中古ランク (chūko ranku, “used [item] rank”) into the search bar. That’ll present you secondhand gadgets with their high quality “rating” listed, from S to C.

Listed below are some phrases to recollect when renting issues by Tsutaya (and doubtless different locations too!):

貸出中 or 貸し出し中 (kashidashichū) at the moment rented out
ネットで借りる (netto de kariru) lease on-line
まとめてレンタル (matomete rentaru) bulk rental (e.g. all volumes of a manga collection)
宅配レンタル (takuhai rentaru) house supply rental

On their on-line web site, books can solely be purchased, however manga, CDs, and DVDs may be both purchased or rented. If the merchandise you need is offered for lease, the itemizing ought to have a button that claims ネットで借りる (netto de kariru, “lease on-line”) on the precise of the display. However if you wish to see solely rentables, click on the tab on the prime that claims 宅配レンタル (takuhai rentaru, “house supply rental”) and comb by your choices. Then you definately simply wait on your merchandise to reach in your mailbox, get pleasure from it, and ship it again for another person of comparable style to devour. Similar to Ye Olde Netflix.

The rental interval is twenty nights and twenty-one days.

The rental interval is twenty nights and twenty-one days, and you then’ll be charged 55 yen per day as a late payment. Tsutaya leases have a set worth in Japan for each the gadgets themselves and delivery relying on what number of volumes you order (as much as thirty per field). You possibly can take a look at the total desk on their rental information. Delivery makes the costs somewhat steep, for my part, however they do appear to come back and choose up your gadgets free of charge once you’re achieved with them. So possibly it is a honest commerce?

There are some extra downsides to Tsutaya, although. Tsutaya would not have as many secondhand choices as different bookstores I’ve talked about, and lots of of these listings haven’t got photos. Additionally, there isn’t any worldwide on-line retailer, with just a few bodily places within the US. However for a sure kind of one who prefers renting over shopping for, Tsutaya can undoubtedly work out.

Public sale Websites

I am positive you are conversant in public sale websites like eBay. However what in regards to the Japanese equivalents?

You usually want a Japanese bank card, cellphone quantity, tackle, and many others. to bid on issues.

eBay truly would not at the moment exist in Japan — as an alternative, the most important public sale website is Yahoo! Japan Auctions, or Yafuoku! (ヤフオク!). They are often troublesome to make use of as a foreigner in Japan, as you usually want a Japanese bank card, cellphone quantity, tackle, and many others. to bid on issues. However so long as you will have this stuff, you could find some fairly good offers, particularly if what you need is not that can be purchased or add to a bulk order anyplace else. So individuals in search of restricted/collectors’ editions and out-of-print or hard-to-find books might need some luck right here!

If you happen to’re in search of secondhand books and manga, simply pop the phrase 中古 (chūko, “secondhand’) into the search bar with the title of what you are in search of. Some retailers like E-book-Off and Internet Off additionally promote on these public sale websites, together with particular on-line storefronts like もったいない本舗 (mottainai honpo) that promote a number of used books.

For buyers outdoors of Japan, you possibly can search for gadgets that may ship internationally by looking the time period 海外発送可 (kaigai hassō ka, “worldwide delivery obtainable”). What you unearth this fashion could also be fairly random, however you possibly can nonetheless discover some fairly cool stuff. Once we appeared, we discovered a set of 110 random manga/books and a Japanese model of The Little Prince.

To make use of these websites from abroad, you will have to leap by some hoops.

To make use of these websites from abroad in any other case, although, you will have to leap by some hoops. One choice is to make use of proxy or forwarding companies that bid on/purchase gadgets, obtain them domestically in your behalf, after which ship them to you internationally. Yahoo! Auctions formally companions with a proxy service known as Buyee, or you should use different forwarding companies like White Rabbit Categorical, ZenMarket, DeJapan, and many others. This methodology could be helpful for those who’re actually in a bind, however remember the fact that the comfort and fee charges could make it pretty dear.

One other technique is to ask a buddy, acquaintance, or trusted member of the expat group to do you a strong and act as your proxy. Some expats run companies devoted to this, like No Nation for Tall Males Exports within the idol/anime group. If you happen to get deep sufficient into any Japan-related fandom, you will possible discover some sort Japan-dweller identified for delivery stuff at a fee that hopefully beats the larger proxy companies on the market. These individuals will usually personally purchase, bid on, bundle, and ship gadgets to you as a one-stop service, so it is value wanting into.

All in all, public sale websites aren’t probably the most simple approach of shopping for secondhand books/manga. Nevertheless it’s definitely an choice, particularly for those who’re in search of one thing particular and/or reside in Japan already.

Manga Zenkan (漫画全巻ドットコム)

screenshot of the manga zenkan secondhand manga page

Does the thought of shopping for only one quantity of manga at a time provide the shivers? Would you moderately have a look at some cartoons than learn precise literature? Then take a look at Manga Zenkan, an internet retailer that largely solely sells full units of manga collection. You should purchase single volumes of manga in e-book format, however in order for you bodily manga, it is all or nothing.

Manga Zenkan is an internet retailer that largely solely sells full units of manga collection.

Look within the 中古コミック (chūko komikku, “secondhand manga/comics”) part, separate from the 新品コミック (shimpin komikku, “new manga/comics”) part, to see solely secondhand manga. If you happen to’re in Japan, delivery will probably be straightforward, as the sunshine of Amaterasu shines down upon you. If you happen to’re abroad, good luck with that. You possibly can undoubtedly attempt to use their associate proxy service, Worldshopping, to get your items shipped, although it could be somewhat dear. Individuals in Japan can even interact in some 買い取り (“resale/buyback”), very similar to at different shops on this record, although it appears they solely pay you in factors to make use of on Manga Zenkan. Slick of them!

Sarcastically sufficient, shopping for all of the volumes individually elsewhere can typically be cheaper than springing for the pre-bundled set on Manga Zenkan. However if you’re in search of a set of untranslated manga that you would be able to’t discover anyplace else, Manga Zenkan might be a handy alternative.

Learn ‘Em and Weep

Now you understand how to buy secondhand books and manga in Japan or from abroad. Does not it really feel good to reuse? Can you’re feeling the earth wrapping its arms round you and whispering ありがとうございます?

Studying any type of Japanese literature can introduce you to new parts of Japanese language and tradition, and now you are able to do it somewhat extra sustainably. So I hope that after studying this text, you’re feeling extra snug galloping into your nearest native used bookstore, E-book-Off, or Mercari homepage and taking a gander at what they have. And if you would like to maintain studying about the right way to spend your yen greenly, take a look at our different articles on secondhand procuring in Japan.

Anyway, now that I’ve launched you to all these completely different bookstores, see you at Shopaholics Nameless!



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