Friday, December 5, 2014

The Japanese Waste Stream Part 2/2

You can find Part One of this post here.

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:

Flea Markets
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.

Antique Fairs
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. 

Waste Conclusion

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. 


  1. Interesting peek into the Japanese culture! As far as "waste" goes, it's a blessing and a curse. A curse for me because I love to hoard - I hold on to things for much longer than I should. I will eventually sell, but the stuff takes up space and it's coming to a breaking point as now my car is my newest storage area.

    A blessing because so many of us can make money from what others think is waste! I'm constantly amazed at what I find when I go to yard sales, thrifts, estate sales, auctions, etc. etc. Just today I found a little rubber stamp that I know will sell for at least $30.

    As far as garbage, I'm perplexed at how much my beau and I generate! I guess most of it is from the packaging from food and other items we purchase. He's a geek and buys a lot of computer components and they are packaged so well. I will save the bubble wrap and packing and have reused it to pack what I sell. I'm a bit shallow when it comes to where my waste goes - it's picked up once a week and taken to the landfill. If something is still usable, I donate to the VA Thrift or Second Chance. If it's very large I put it on the curb on the eve of garbage pick up and it's usually gone. Once we put a side by side fridge out on the curb and it was gone in less than 20 minutes.

    I love vintage from the 50s to the 80s so I do my fair share of keeping those items out of the landfill!

    1. Ree Cee let me come shop in your car :) hehe.
      Oh yea you made some junker very happy with that fridge. Email me beachthrifter@ Gmail and we'll set up our coffee date.

    2. LOL - you would have fun - I found my first ever J. Jill item - still in my car with some other treasures.

      And this strange but happy experience: I found one of my holy grails - a Cathrineholm item!!! I've never seen anything Cathrineholm EVER until last month. It's a blue and white dutch oven/pot!! It had no lid but I was still ecstatic. Four weeks later I went to the same CHKD thrift (Centreville) and found the lid!!!!! My heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to faint. Wouldn't you know it, it didn't have a price! I asked for the manager and told her the situation - that I bought the pot and the lid really belonged to it. As she was pondering what to do, I blurted out - I'll pay you a dollar for it. She told the cashier - 98 cents and I got my lid! I'm torn between keeping or selling. It's a lovely color combination.

      I'll email you to meet for coffee - maybe after the holidays?! Maybe I'll be brave enough to show you one of my storage units - it's scary full - we may have to stand at the door and peek in or you may have to wear a hard hat LOL.

  2. I love this series on recycling, garbage, and thrifting in Japan. Are there ever outdoor flea markets?

    1. Yes the flea markets were generally in a parking lot like "trunk sales" or a park area.. Sometimes they were inside.. My friend and I went to one that went the wh ole way around a sports arena it was so much fun.

  3. Thanks for the birds eye view of Japanese recycling. There isn't much not to admire about the Japanese and their thrift!