Every time I visit a thrift shop in Japan, I’m shocked at the amazing quality of the second-hand products, and all for just a few yen! Nobody will want to buy poor quality used goods, no matter the price. This means second-hand shops have to keep their quality standard in order to survive, but most people in Japan typically take good care of the goods they buy in the first place.
With such market potential for used goods, it wasn’t long before you could buy or sell in just a few taps on your smartphone. The Japanese term for this type of app is called フリマアプリ, a contraction of flea (フリ), market (マーケット), and application (アプリ).
Mercari was the first to succeed in creating a flea market app, soon followed by Rakuten (with Rakuma, previously Fril) and Yahoo! (with PayPay Furima and Yahoo! Auction), amongst others. Using those apps has become the first step when I want something for my daily life without paying full price for it.
As these apps are only available in Japanese, it’s a big jump into the local culture–just as much as bargaining in Japanese at a flea market can be. Fortunately, this guide has you covered!
Buying and selling
Nothing prevents you from going to your local second-hand store to shop or sell your stuff, but the major appeal for all these apps is that you can do everything from the comfort of your home including controlling your price–and (hopefully) making some great deals!
Each app works pretty much the same and you’ll just have to press 購入 (kounyu) to buy something or 出品 (shuppin) to sell something. Here are some useful keywords to help you with your search.
Sell 出品 shuppin Buy 購入, 購入手続き kounyu, kounyu tetsuzuki Display items for sell only 販売中のみ hanbai chuu nomi A used item in excellent condition 美品 bihin Sealed product (seal intact) 未開封 mikaifuu A junk item (not functioning eg. electronics) ジャンク janku Item has been checked and is working perfectly (electronics) 動作確認済み Dousa kakunin sumi The body of an item (usually electronics) 本体 hontai Official product 純正 junsei Full length 着丈 kitake Sleeve length 袖丈 sodetake Waist size ウエスト uesuto The item was tried on only once to check the size (clothes) 試着 shichaku
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