Sunday, September 30, 2012

Japanese thrift store shopping...

I was a huge fan of flea markets and antique stores when I lived in the states, and while I haven't really found anything quite like the sprawling, booth-filled treasure troves I could spend hours in, a fellow Marine Corps wife, Rachel, and I headed out in to the town of Iwakuni with vague directions to find two Japanese thrift stores, Recycle Mart and Dragonfly.

Our vague directions were: "It's down the street from Nafco." (Nafco is the Home Depot-like store in Japan.) These were the directions Rachel got from a woman who has lived in Iwakuni for a few years now, and is her go-to person for information. With these directions, we managed to find Nafco, but were at a loss as far as what direction to head to start our search for the thrift stores. About a quarter mile from the Nafco parking lot, we decided to pull in to another store's parking lot so we could call Rachel's contact. Turns out, that was the parking lot for the Recycle Mart.

Can you make out the tiny "Recycle Mart" in English on the sign? Yeah, we didn't at first, either.

This sign was in the parking lot. I am not sure if we aren't supposed to let our cars idle, or if there is no loitering and a language problem. We made sure not to do either one, just in case.
There were a lot of washing machines for sale, but no dryers. I am sure they exist but most Japanese hang their clothes out on their balconies to dry. I know the photo doesn't show it well,but these machines are about half the size of American washers.
There were a number of vinyl record albums for sale, like this KISS record.
Because of the lack of space, combines appliances, like this coffeemaker/toaster oven, are very popular.
Do not be confused by the Janglish label  - these are rubber bands, not gum.
A view down the center aisle of the shop. If I ever need a guitar, I know where to go.
 There were some items for sale that I found interesting:

"Melting" clock.

The power tool aisle - Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor would be thrilled. Ar, ar, ar...

A whole corner of baby stuff.

The only lamp with a shade I have seen off base. This used lamp is about $30.


The furniture corner featured a lot of cabinets and seating. The photos don't show it well, but the cabinets are taller than the average American dresser and the sofas are about 9 inches lower to the ground.

Lots of clothing for sale - if my kids were a little younger, I would have invested in this Lego backpack.
I had to get a shot of these men's shoes.
There were three of these for sale, this one for about $120. One of the brands is "Rodeo Boy" and this is considered an exercise chair. If you look it up on YouTube there are some interesting videos.

I bought a scrapbook album at the Recycle Mart, only it is not the American standard 12 x 12-inch size. It is actually about 11.5 x 13 inches and I hope to be able to find pages for it or create pages so I can put some photos of our Japanese adventures in it. But it was about $6.50, so well worth it it me.

The second thrift store we tried to find was what American call "Dragonfly." We  knew it was in the vicinity of Recycle Mart, but could not find anything that looked like a thrift store. Rachel called her directions contact, who basically told us to look for a big picture of a dragonfly on the sign. Turns out we had driven past it twice. I have no idea if the store is actually called Drangonfly or not, but since the sign didn't have any English on it, the Americans went for the hieroglyphic approach, I guess.

Dragonfly has some similar items as Recycle Mart,but also specialized in more traditional Japanese items, such as dishes and kimonos:

And instead of a lot of washers, they had a lot of refrigerators. These appliances were very skinny and were about 2/3 the size of American fridges. Here is what one looked like on the inside:

The furniture section of this store was larger that Recycle Mart's and featured a number of pieces,including dining room tables a and kitchen cabinets. And, yes, another lamp with lampshade.

 A dish dryer.

 A stylish teapot

 There were a lot of plastic storage drawers for sale, probably because it costs a lot of money to junk large, bulky items.

 I am not sure why there are two naked blond children on the front of this blanket.

 These traditional-looking lamps came with electrical cords for modern convenience.

 If there are any Austin Powers fans out there, you've got it made...

The metal shelf above is the purchase I made at Dragonfly - a gift for Rodney, who is lamenting his lack of closet space.

After we shopped the morning away, we headed to a local sushi restaurant... but that experience is a whole other post!


dorism6220 said...

I think some of the temples have rummage type sales once a month where people bring their stuff to sell. We happened on one when we were in Kyoto.

As my daughter keeps telling me, there are no California rolls in Japan - its an American creation.

Jessica Guthrie said...

We found something close - a fried shrimp roll with avocado...but you're right. Nothing exact.