Japan and second-hand goods have always been a perfect match. In Tokyo, specific areas are dedicated to the trade of second-hand goods. Akihabara stands out as the ultimate paradise for used electronics, where shops are brimming with computers, smartphones, and vintage video games. Koenji and Shimo-kitazawa, renowned for their thrift stores, offer a wide selection of used clothing.

At a national level, one of the major players in the second-hand market is Book-off, a chain with hundreds of stores nationwide. Book-off specializes in selling second-hand books, video games, CDs, and electronics. Meanwhile, online shops have gained immense popularity, with Mercari Inc., Yahoo Japan Corp., and Rakuten Group Inc. emerging as major protagonists in this sector.

These apps are witnessing a steady rise in popularity, attracting not only the younger generation but also senior citizens. Mercari announced that last year items from the Showa period (1926-1989), were among the users’ favorite choice for Christmas gifts. The popularity of these apps and the demand for Japanese vintage items have also spread overseas. The weaker yen has increased the purchasing power of international buyers, who exhibit a keen interest in vintage Japanese items, in particular toys, trading cards, and memorabilia.

This growing trend has prompted Mercari to seek new cross-border e-commerce partners. In April, they established partnerships with e-commerce services such as “Ritaoshiji,” “JPGOODBUY,” “Leyifan,” and “Masadora” to tap into the Chinese market. The potential for growth in this market is substantial, with the United States, Europe, and Taiwan as the next big target markets.