In recent years, the rising influx of foreign residents in Tokyo has made it somewhat easier to find long-term accommodation. Some real estate companies are slowly adapting their services to be more foreigner-friendly by offering fully furnished accommodations. And if you don’t mind living in a share house, then you are all good to go!
However, those who prefer to live on their own might find it challenging to furnish their new home in Japan.
If you’re asking yourself the question, “Where on Earth am I supposed to find a desk?” then here’s a place to get you started: Recycle Gallery NEWS is a collaboration of several refurbishing and recycle shops spread throughout Tokyo. They specialize in finding furniture that incorporates practicality, affordability, style and, most importantly, delivery. Products are carefully examined by the staff before being put for sale, and all appliances come with a 30-day warranty period.
Of course, IKEA and OFF HOUSE have become well-known solutions, but furniture is one of those pesky things that you usually invest in once or twice at most, especially when living abroad. If you are looking for something with a bit more character, you will find it in Gallery NEWS in abundance.
The Karasuyama shop is by far the largest of the Gallery NEWS stores and entering the shop is an experience on its own. At first glance you might describe this store as organized chaos. Each item is carefully placed to the one adjacent, creating beautiful displays filled with the most unexpected items, like a geisha-wig-wearing spiderman bust.
Karasuyama Gallery NEWS is two whole floors of thrifting paradise. The first floor displays a mix and match of everything, from clothes and knick-knacks to musical instruments. You can also find any type of appliance that you may need for your life in Japan — no more coin laundry machines.
The second floor, on the other hand, is dedicated entirely to larger furniture, such as sofas, armchairs, tables, bookcases and even bed frames, mattresses and more. The space is large, and yet there are so many pieces packed tight that you could easily make your way across, hopping from one luxuriously gorgeous leather armchair to another.
6-18-14 Minamikarasuyama, Setagaya-ku
For those living on the east side of Tokyo, the Edogawa Gallery NEWS is your store of choice. Size-wise, it’s about as big as the Karasuyama store and offers nearly twice as many electrical appliances. Why settle for a regular refrigerator when you can find a one-of-a-kind design, like Winnie-the-Pooh? Or a cute vintage baby blue fridge with high resale value. They have new items coming in daily, so make sure to check the selection every once in a while.
2-50-11 Haruecho, Edogawa-ku
Specializing in vintage fashion, the Nishi-ogikubo branch is an excellent middle ground. While it’s nowhere near the size of its larger sisters Karasuyama and Edogawa, Nishiogi still manages to shine through with its small selection of carefully selected, miscellaneous retro goods. The store has a quiet and low lit atmosphere, so you can relax while searching for that one item to make your 1K studio apartment feel like home.
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Nishiogi also offers a more extensive selection of second-hand and vintage clothing, showcasing foreign and domestics brands alike. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find some luxury-brand coats that haven’t been snatched yet.
Despite the fact that it is konbini-sized, Nishiogi still manages to tuck in a few affordable fridges and washing machines. The selection might not be as vast, but if you live near the Kichijoji or Kokubunji area, Nishiogi Gallery NEWS will offer you the best delivery prices.
3-21-13 Nishiogikita, Suginami-ku
Are you living closer to the Shinjuku and Shibuya area? Make your way down to Indigo Shibuya, a much smaller, affiliated shop that still offers a good selection of furniture (tables, desks and chairs, as well as a few sofas and a variety of electrical appliances). While on the smaller side, they’ve used the space well, lighting it up with more than 20 hanging lights and chandeliers.
Here you will find a good mix of modern Scandinavian designs and heavy antique woodwork, as well as an abundance of Asian and American retro items, such as a fantastic wood-carved chess board made in Bali, or an oldies jukebox. Indigo also features antiques, vintage items and clothing.
2-22-2 Sasazuka, Shibuya-ku
All of the shops offer a delivery service, usually for larger items. Depending on the shop, some might have a minimum purchase requirement of ¥3,000 or so, while others will happily deliver anything. Delivery will cost you about ¥2,000 up to two kilometers, or ¥3,000 – ¥4,000 up to five kilometers, and so on. So make sure to find the shop that is closest to your area.
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If you have an international driver’s license
The Karasuyama and Edogawa shops both have a small delivery truck, which can be rented free of charge for about an hour. Usage after the first hour will be charged at ¥500 per 30 minutes. If you are not afraid to take the wheel, or know someone who is familiar with the streets of Tokyo, save yourself the delivery costs and drive your new couch home.
Sell your stuff at a Recycle Gallery NEWS
For those who wish to get rid of their unwanted furniture and other items, the Recycle Gallery NEWS shops would gladly consider purchasing them from you, as long as they’re in good condition and spark the owner’s interest. When it comes to larger furniture or appliances, it’s recommended that you first bring a photo of the items and provide a detailed description of their condition. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to empty out your apartment a month prior to your departure.