Picking trash is illegal in Japan, even for the large items, because often times folks paid to have the items removed, and if you took it then they would still be charged. That left a few other venues for second hand stuff:
Since most folks in the cities do not have yards, flea markets were the alternative in Japan for getting stuff direct from the previous owner. I went when possible, but I was not reselling then, and it was just for stuff for ourselves. I picked up home decor, toys, clothes, and all the basic household yardsaley stuff.
We went twice to a HUGE antiques fair in Tokyo. Here's a link with some pictures.
Recycle Shops/Resale Shops
These shops buy your items and resell them. They do not consign, but just pay you (nearly nothing), for items to resell.
Online Yard Sales
I only used an American one because I don't speak Japanese, but I made quite a bit selling stuff to other Americans. It was through a resale Facebook page.
My husband and I really enjoyed going to all the above places. Imagine going to your favorite thrift store, and you have never seen any of the items before. Ever. It was so cool. Also there were walls of Louis Vuitton behind glass cases, that I would look at and laugh, I just don't get the idea of keeping up with the Jones' - but in Japan keeping up appearances is very important. (Here is a very interesting albeit somewhat off topic book review on The Cult of the Luxury Brand by Radha Chadha and Paul Husband).
I got these original paintings at the aforementioned antique fair , and the frames at the resale shop in the photo above. It literally used to be called "Hard Off Book Off, House Off" - luckily someone told them that doesn't translate well and they've changed there name. Sorry for the poor photos, but I'm being lazy. I paid about $3 for each painting, and $5-$10 for the frames.
I love these paintings because they are original, vintage, recycled, and beautiful.
Japan burns much of their trash, we bury most of our trash, or let it rot on a barge in the river...all methods are pretty awful in their own ways. The best method is to waste less. So, what do you do with your trash and your unwanted goods? Do you have problems throwing things out or donating things? Or like me, are you a minimalist at heart, but often find yourself asking where the heck did all this stuff come from? If you haven't checked out the blog on my sidebar Things I Find in the Garbage. Let me know how waste makes you feel, and how it relates to you as an eBayer, thrifter, or lover of vintage.