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Secondhand Books & Manga in Japan

Once I lived in Japan, I amassed 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 manner that was gratifying (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. At any time when I visited, I imagined all of the queer girls in Nagoya passing the identical few volumes of manga round to one another. It was like an unstated lending library taking place on the hilariously tiny homosexual shelf of each Ebook-Off on the town. Each e-book had a historical past earlier than me and a future after me, hopefully having a constructive affect on everybody it touched.

However it doesn’t matter what style floats your boat, I need that feeling of group reuse for you too. So how do you get began shopping for secondhand Japanese books? Fortunately, it isn’t too powerful. On this article, I am going to provide 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 train you some useful Japanese phrases for the method. I hope that after studying, you are feeling extra snug throwing down some yen at your native secondhand bookstore!

Why Purchase Secondhand Japanese Books & Manga?

In fact, there are tons of fine causes to purchase Japanese books and manga. Possibly you need to stage up your Japanese studying comprehension with some in depth 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 manner 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 will not be 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 seen any flaws important 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 via secondhand resale, or 買い取り (kaitori). Earlier than I left Japan, I resold all however one among my sixty-six volumes of LGBTQ+ manga, partially as a result of I believed 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 bags 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, think about this a pleasant invitation to not less than examine whether or not the books you need can be found secondhand. And you realize what can be a good way to start out trying?

Japanese Phrases to Look For

…That is proper, studying some vocabulary! In case you’re solely in search of translated books, you most likely will not want a lot Japanese. However when you’re in Japan, shopping for books written in Japanese, or utilizing Japanese websites, you will have to be hip to some frequent phrases. First, listed below are just a few normal phrases for purchasing 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 recommended 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 may go to waste if not put up on the market)

Acquired these phrases down? Effectively accomplished, my fellow cheapskate. Now, listed below 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 previous 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

Fortuitously, Japan has no scarcity of secondhand booksellers, from international chains to native retailers to on-line marketplaces. So the place do you have to begin? Effectively, it is dependent 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 can be already in your nation,
  2. import books from retailers that ship internationally or via a third-party forwarding service, or
  3. dwell in Japan.

In case you do not dwell in Japan, you could be in for a tough time.

In case you do not dwell in Japan, you could be in for a tough time. Choice #2 may be wallet-bustingly costly, so I extremely advocate going with #1 every time attainable. Severely, it is the import charges that’ll getcha! However when you should import, attempt ordering issues in bulk to avoid wasting on worldwide delivery. Or you’ll be able to all the time purchase e-books in Japanese, eliminating delivery prices totally. (Are you able to inform that is my most well-liked technique after leaving Japan?)

Alternatively, are you in search of secondhand books which can be translated into English or one other language? Excellent news — that tends to be simpler, assuming you do not dwell in Japan. All you have to do is purchase from sellers inside your nation or Japanese retailers with a world 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 grasp your hat. Darn you, dimension of the world!

Shops with Each Japanese and Worldwide Web sites

Exterior of Japan, it may be fairly straightforward to seek out new, translated manga. Even untranslated books and manga aren’t exhausting to trace down when you’re fortunate sufficient to dwell close to a Kinokuniya or Ebook-Off. Nonetheless, shopping for Japanese books/manga which can be each secondhand and untranslated is by far the hardest permutation when you dwell abroad.

It isn’t not possible, although! You may simply must boot up the great previous web, which is why I’ve targeted on on-line shops right here. For analysis functions, I went so far as the delivery display at every service provider to match worldwide delivery prices. (Stay up for 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 provide methods to purchase from inside Japan and internationally. So regardless of the place you reside, try 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, in my view, it is Suruga-ya. Most of my leaning tower of secondhand manga in Japan got here from me and my pockets letting unfastened on their on-line retailer. Like numerous 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 underneath 1500 yen, and free for orders 1500 yen or extra. This low threshold at no cost delivery makes it dangerously straightforward to simply hold crawling again for extra.

I would actually solely advocate Suruga-ya if you may get home delivery inside Japan.

The delivery charges on their worldwide website are fairly a bit steeper although. My fake buy of 1 160 yen e-book would’ve price 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 when you spend 10,000 yen or extra, they usually’re fairly measly (500 yen off for spending 10,000 yen; 1,000 yen off for spending 20,000 yen). Thus, I would actually solely advocate Suruga-ya if you may get home delivery inside Japan or are determined for sure untranslated titles and keen 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 odd individuals purchase and promote their used items. In case you’ve by no means heard of it earlier than, try our normal article on secondhand procuring for extra detailed recommendation on utilizing the platform successfully.

In case you’re not choosy about what you learn in Japanese, this could be an attention-grabbing method to roll the cube in your studying materials.

On the subject of 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, because of 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 obtainable for buy from some Joe Schmorimoto on the market. Is sensible, for the reason that languages match the variations of the app.

As standard, although, the difficulty begins when the language would not match the model of the app; that’s, whenever 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 some other related Japanese phrase and no matter’s obtainable on the time will come up. You might not have the ability to discover precisely what you are in search of, however when you’re not choosy about what you learn in Japanese, this could be an attention-grabbing method 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 circumstances, the “saved search” perform of Mercari would possibly enable you to hold an eye fixed out for when that particular e-book you need turns into obtainable. Of their bios, some sellers even provide to take requests to purchase sure titles you are in search of, though it may cost a little you just a little additional.

Assuming yow will discover one thing you need, it’s going to most likely be pretty low-cost on both model of Mercari.

Assuming yow will discover one thing you need, it’s going to most likely be pretty low-cost on both model of Mercari. The largest benefit is that you simply’re seemingly searching for gadgets which can 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 when you dwell outdoors of Japan and are in search of translated titles or have an “something goes” angle about which Japanese e-book/manga you purchase. Plus, you are serving to individuals rehome their previous stuff to keep away from a dreaded mottainai state of affairs.

Ebook-Off (ブックオフ)

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

In case you’ve accomplished any secondhand procuring in Japan, you have most likely heard of the “-Off” collection of shops. Japan’s most well-known chain retailer of used books, Ebook-Off, falls underneath this umbrella firm as nicely. With over 800 places in Japan, you’ll be able to’t go quite a lot of blocks in any Japanese metropolis with out stumbling throughout one. The daring colours and big 本 indicators make them fairly unmissable!

Not solely is Ebook-Off nice for purchasing used books, it is nice for unburdening your self of them too.

In case you’re in Japan, you’ve got the pleasure of testing a Ebook-Off in individual. Once I lived in Nagoya, one among my favourite actions was to wander into one and simply see what I may bump into. An enormous portion of their manga is within the 100 yen “nook” (which is outwardly what Ebook-Off likes to name huge wall-to-wall cabinets). There’s all the time a wide array of books and manga obtainable at Ebook-Off, so even if you cannot discover what you are in search of, you are certain to come back out with one thing attention-grabbing.

Not solely is Ebook-Off nice for purchasing used books, it is nice for unburdening your self of them too. Bear in mind my mountain of homosexual manga, principally from Suruga-ya? I resold all however one quantity to Ebook-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 typically unusual, off-the-heterosexual-path manga I introduced them. Any used bookstore that provides buyback (買い取り) will most likely be okay, however think about this my testimonial for Ebook-Off.

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

Sadly, when you’re within the West, Ebook-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 when you 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 affordable, since their inventory has already been imported. My fake order of 9 volumes of manga would have price $8 to ship to the West coast — not dangerous in any respect! So when you’re a retro manga lover who desires to learn in Japanese, American Ebook-Off could be possibility for you.


screenshot of an amazon listing for a used copy of yotsuba

Ah, Amazon. In case you should make the most of our web procuring overlord, you’ve got 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 need to use worldwide credit score/debit playing cards, in contrast to on some Japanese on-line shops.

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

Books/manga particularly may be pretty low-cost to import on Amazon Japan, particularly when you’re shopping for a full collection set. Alternatively, whenever you’re shopping for issues from separate sellers, delivery can add up shortly. And when you’re solely shopping for one quantity of manga at a time, the associated fee 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.

Apparently, you’ll be able to 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, do not forget to search for “Used” choices and examine them out — if there are any secondhand choices, you will discover them proper beneath the common non-used buy possibility. Amazon sellers listing the situation of the used books as nicely, so you’ll be able to 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 protected to belief the analysis system right here.

Prices for untranslated books/manga is usually a bit greater on Amazon than Mercari, even for used volumes. However then again, 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 method to go.

Shops Solely in Japan

Yeah yeah, worldwide delivery will rob you blind…however what when you really dwell in Japan? You fortunate duck! On the subject of 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 — actually, because you’re shopping for from inside Japan, you will have entry to raised costs and a greater diversity there than individuals utilizing their worldwide websites. Or you’ll be able to enjoy candy, candy exclusivity and discover the next shops which can be at the moment solely obtainable in Japan.

Take this part with a grain of salt, since I have not personally purchased from most of those shops. I did extensively comb via their Japanese web sites so you do not have to, although, so let’s get crackin’!

Native Used Bookstores

Do you’ve got morals? Would you relatively your hard-earned yen go to a mother and/or pop than the human equal of the Monopoly Man? Then think about investigating whether or not there are any native used bookstores in your space. In case you’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 begin exploring, sort the phrase 古本屋 (furuhon’ya) or 古書店 (koshoten), each of which imply “previous/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 yow will discover! You may help your area people, and even perhaps interact within the historic artwork of tachiyomi (立ち読み) whilst you’re at it. Simply keep in mind to possibly purchase one thing too, when you’re gonna stand there respiration their air all day.

Web 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 when you’re on the hunt for one thing they do not have?

If I nonetheless lived in Japan, Web Off can be a go-to possibility for me.

If I nonetheless lived in Japan, Web Off can be a go-to possibility for me, proper subsequent to Suruga-ya and Ebook-Off. Web Off’s manga costs are about the identical as these two, and their delivery costs will not be that far off. Presently, delivery inside Japan is 440 yen for orders underneath 3,000 yen and free over 3,000 yen, with gross sales that cheapen it even additional. That is one other excellent spot to position bulk orders, particularly when there is a vacation particular occurring.

Like Suruga-ya, they promote video games, CDs, and DVDs too, so you’ll be able to 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 underneath 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”). Web Off may even purchase your used stuff, however solely via the mail. It does look like free although, so no motive to not give it a attempt!


screenshot of the tsutaya takuhai rental page

You’ll 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 pastime stuff. It is like a library you pay for…okay, I am making it sound worse than it’s. Consider it as a method to borrow more moderen publications than your common library may need in inventory.

Renting is nice when you’d relatively not amass a mountain of books you will by no means crack open once more.

Renting is a type of secondhand reuse and nice when you’d relatively not amass a mountain of books you will by no means crack open once more. However when you’re not into the thought of returning what you paid for, it’s also possible to purchase issues usually at Tsutaya. You can even discover used books and manga normally 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 here are some phrases to recollect when renting issues via Tsutaya (and possibly 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) hire 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) residence 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 obtainable for hire, the itemizing ought to have a button that claims ネットで借りる (netto de kariru, “hire on-line”) on the correct 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, “residence supply rental”) and comb via your choices. Then you definately simply wait on your merchandise to reach in your mailbox, take pleasure in it, and ship it again for another person of comparable style to devour. Identical 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 then you definately’ll be charged 55 yen per day as a late price. 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 try the complete desk on their rental information. Delivery makes the costs just a little steep, in my view, however they do appear to come back and choose up your gadgets at no cost whenever you’re accomplished 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 plenty of of these listings haven’t got footage. Additionally, there is not any worldwide on-line retailer, with only some bodily places within the US. However for a sure sort of one that prefers renting over shopping for, Tsutaya can undoubtedly work out.

Public sale Websites

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

You usually want a Japanese bank card, telephone quantity, tackle, and so on. to bid on issues.

eBay really 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, telephone quantity, tackle, and so on. to bid on issues. However so long as you’ve got this stuff, yow will discover some fairly good offers, particularly if what you need is not that can be purchased or add to a bulk order wherever else. So individuals in search of restricted/collectors’ editions and out-of-print or hard-to-find books may need some luck right here!

In case you’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 Ebook-Off and Web 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 numerous used books.

For consumers outdoors of Japan, you’ll be able to search for gadgets that can 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’ll be able to nonetheless discover some fairly cool stuff. Once we seemed, 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 via some hoops.

To make use of these websites from abroad in any other case, although, you will have to leap via some hoops. One possibility is to make use of proxy or forwarding providers 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 referred to as Buyee, or you need to use different forwarding providers like White Rabbit Categorical, ZenMarket, DeJapan, and so on. This methodology could be helpful when you’re actually in a bind, however understand that the comfort and fee charges could make it pretty expensive.

One other technique is to ask a good friend, acquaintance, or trusted member of the expat group to do you a stable and act as your proxy. Some expats run providers devoted to this, like No Nation for Tall Males Exports within the idol/anime group. In case you get deep sufficient into any Japan-related fandom, you will seemingly discover some form Japan-dweller recognized for delivery stuff at a charge that hopefully beats the larger proxy providers on the market. These individuals will usually personally purchase, bid on, package deal, and ship gadgets to you as a one-stop service, so it is value trying into.

All in all, public sale websites aren’t essentially the most easy manner of shopping for secondhand books/manga. Nevertheless it’s definitely an possibility, particularly when you’re in search of one thing particular and/or dwell 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 relatively take a look at some cartoons than learn precise literature? Then try Manga Zenkan, a web based retailer that principally solely sells full units of manga collection. You should buy single volumes of manga in e-book format, however if you need bodily manga, it is all or nothing.

Manga Zenkan is a web based retailer that principally 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. In case you’re in Japan, delivery will probably be straightforward, as the sunshine of Amaterasu shines down upon you. In case you’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 just a little expensive. Individuals in Japan also can interact in some 買い取り (“resale/buyback”), very similar to at different shops on this listing, although it appears they solely pay you in factors to make use of on Manga Zenkan. Slick of them!

Satirically sufficient, shopping for all of the volumes individually elsewhere can typically be cheaper than springing for the pre-bundled set on Manga Zenkan. However in case you are in search of a set of untranslated manga you can’t discover wherever 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. Would not it really feel good to reuse? Can you are 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 components of Japanese language and tradition, and now you are able to do it just a little extra sustainably. So I hope that after studying this text, you are feeling extra snug galloping into your nearest native used bookstore, Ebook-Off, or Mercari homepage and taking a gander at what they have. And if you would like to maintain studying about how one can spend your yen greenly, try 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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