thrift shopping in tokyo was not on my to do list but one can hardly refuse what the city has to offer when it comes to previously owned stuff. as in many other cases, the japanese have great taste and they offer exquisite service. so, even if you look down on second hand, i can assure you that tokyo can hypnotize you and make you change your mind!

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i spent a weekend in the harajuku/aoyama neighbourhood, wandering around takeshita street, cat street and all the other little streets of that wonderfully stylish maze. actually, most of the pictures i took for my japanese street style post were taken there.

while waiting for a friend, we found junk, a newly opened thrift store somewhere behind the design festa gallery. it had just been opened for a couple of days when i visited (most probably, the 1st of june). i loved the iron sculpture that starts at the entrance and continues inside. i am quite sure it’s the work of emerging artist yusuke kamata but unfortunately i can’t find the link to prove it.

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what i didn’t like so much was the selection. it was varied and all, but i found it a lot overpriced. they were selling american sourced stuff. i remember we checked out a worker’s boilersuit and it was about 100 usd. but the place was packed and the staff very nice, so i guess we were just not their target audience. fair enough!

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later, i came across what i believe to be one of the best value for money stores: rag tag. it is a chain with about 15 stores all over japan. they sell second hand designer clothes and they do it right. namely, the prices are actually affordable.

the first one i saw was rag tag harajuku. opened in the summer of 2012, it has three levels: two for the stuff on sale and the third for adjustments and for handing over your own no longer wanted items.

tip: the really good stuff is on the first floor. they had ann demeulemeester, prada, margiela, you name it!

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after seeing the prices and the selection, i’m pretty sure this is one of the secrets of tokyoites’ super cool wardrobes!

here you have a few versions of the super flashy jeremy scott x adidas kicks.

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here, men’s shoes by prada and margiela (63,000 yen = 467 euro= 646 usd).

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if margiela was selling new tabi boots in their omotesando store for 131,000 yen (972 euro = 1,346 usd), here, you could get a pristine pair of tabi boots in super soft cream leather for 83,000 yen (618 euro = 852 usd). it’s true, the only available size was a 41, but still…

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we found more thrift stores in kichijoji, in the neighbourhood of the ghibli museum.

we loved new york joe exchange so much we actually bought some stuff there. i got a black tee with the face of the guy in eraserhead and my bf got a norwegian ski hat. they had lots of cool and very varied stuff. most looked like they could be used to recreate a 90s grunge outfit. note: the prices were very friendly!

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for instance, they had a pair of vivienne westwood shoes. brand new, size 36, on sale for 3,500 yen (26 euro and 36 usd). i doubt you can get a better deal anywhere else!

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in harajuku, i checked out closet child, a thrift store selling exclusively vintage vivienne westwood. the selection was amazing but the prices were a little scary! not to mention the fact that a (shoe size) 37 is considered large in japan…

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unfortunately, the only picture i took in rag tag kichijoji is this bad one. it’s a dior homme tie pin from the hedi slimane era, i think (7,250 yen = 54 euro = 74.4 usd). but i can tell you that they had an amazing selection, both for men and women. the location is not central but the area has a lot to offer, so it’s worth making a day trip of it.

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one day, we actually took a little trip to go to a flea market. but it was disappointing: lots of junk. the only thing i bought was a set of ice cubes in the shape of baby heads. i just had to get it!… i believe i was unlucky but flea markets were not a priority and their schedule seemed a bit chaotic to me. maybe next time i’ll do better!

last, but certainly not least, is a narnia of a thrift store that i stumbled across in ueno. it was called expo, after the expo 70 in osaka. actually, the store was full of replicas of okamoto taro’s tower of the sun.

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a collection of real stag beetles! wow!expo thrift store ueno9 expo thrift store ueno10

lots of vintage japanese toys: i would have definitely taken some home…

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here you have a toy replica of godzilla (or godjira, as the locals know it).

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a life sized colonel sanders next to a collection of russian matryoshka dolls!

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there were many taxidermy pieces. here you have a rare stuffed pangolin.expo thrift store ueno22 expo thrift store ueno23 expo thrift store ueno24 expo thrift store ueno25 expo thrift store ueno26how cool is that red vase? i’d love to have it, i love bright colours.

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it was amazing!!! and it held everything and anything you may think about! the pictures are not so good because of the poor lighting but i hope you can see how cool this place was!

i bought fans for two girlfriends and a plexy surfboard key chain for a friend. but there were so many things i would have taken home. sigh!

tokyo time out has a top 20 thrift stores that you can check out here.

i hope you enjoyed my random insight into tokyo thrift stores as much as i enjoyed ransacking them!

photo credits: little aesthete