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Settling Into Your Japanese Apartment – Tips to Make Your New Home Cozy on a Budget

We know what it feels like to arrive at your room that is still completely empty with close to no livingware waiting for you (unless you took our advice in our last article and looked for an already furnished apartment). If you are looking around with disbelief and thinking,  “how am I going to make this place feel like home as soon as possible, and under a budget?”, then this specific list of shops with low-cost first purchases was made just for you!

We collected all the stores we shopped at or would shop at again when moving into a new apartment in Japan.


  • Local recycle shops


One of the many amazing things in Japan is how they made businesses for the recycling of household goods work successfully, especially since disposing of bigger furniture generally costs a lot of money. What may be trash to someone could be treasure to others – and you can find different kinds of treasures in these thrift stores. They accept everything that could still be repaired, cleaned, refreshed, and reused for a cheaper price – for our wallet’s great joy. Most of these stores give a few months of guarantee for the items they sell and even deliver them to you, whether for free or for a small extra fee, which might also include the setup of electronic goods that need some handywork such as washing machines, fridges, and many more.

Just try typing in リサイクルショップ and the name of the place you live in to the Google search bar to see the list of the local businesses and their conditions. (For example Kuru Kuru Recycle/くるくるリサイクル in Niigata or Treasure Factory/トレジャーファクトリー in Saitama.)


  • HARD OFF/ハードオフ


HARD OFF is also a recycling business that started from merely one thrift store for used musical instruments, but it has grown and developed to become a national franchise. Wherever you live, there will probably be at least one HARD OFF store nearby. Delivery and set-up conditions may vary from store to store, so it’s safer to ask a staff member about them locally. In general, the prices of HARD OFF are more expensive than the local businesses mentioned before.


  • Nitori/ニトリ


There are some items you may want to purchase in new condition, such as a mattress, a futon, bedsheets, bath towels, or items you had no luck finding in any of the recycle shops. That’s where Nitori comes into the picture. Nitori is basically the cheaper Japanese version of IKEA and has many stores nationwide. They also have an online webshop with different kinds of campaigns and delivery conditions if you don’t need a set-up service (for example, furniture set up is an additional cost). 


  • 100 yen shops/100円ショップ


Embarrassing or not, a lot of our own kitchenware comes from 100 yen shops like Daiso ダイソー or Seria セリア. 100 yen shops are exactly what their names imply – stores that offer a wide range of goods for a 100 yen coin (108¥ with tax, 110¥ from 2019 October). Besides Daiso and Seria, there are many more chains, such as Nan-ja-mura なんじゃ村, Can Do キャン・ドゥ, Watts ワッツ – these are the most common ones nationwide. They can be found almost anywhere relatively busy. I would highly recommend them for purchasing utensils, bowls, plasticware, some toilet and bathroom necessities, decoration, or even basic school supplies.


  • 300 yen shops/300円ショップ


We don’t think that 300 yen shops need much explanation either – all items cost 300 yen (324¥ with tax, 330¥ from 2019 October). The quality and design of the things sold in stores such as 3COINS or CouCou クゥクゥ may be higher, but there is not as much of a wide range of products as in 100 yen stores. You can mostly find 300 yen stores in plazas or inside train stations.


  • Don Quijote/ドン・キホーテ


We don’t even know how to describe “Donki” besides saying it contains basically everything one would ever consider buying at once. Don Quijote is a mega discount store and supermarket with an extraordinarily wide range of products and great deals. Personally, we would recommend Donki for the purchase of smaller items, such as a mirror, bathroom rack, bedsheets, futon, and for items you may not trust buying from 100 or 300 yen shops – like liquid supplies for cleaning, washing, or bathing. And while you are at it, you might also want to do your first grocery shopping there!
Donki stores can be mainly found near bigger train stations.


  • Mujirushi/無印良品


Upon arriving in Japan, it takes people quite some time to even remember how to pronounce the name of this shop and for a few months, people often refer to it as “the no brand store” – and actually, there is no better way to explain the nature of this chain. They are mostly selling good quality products that have basic, simplified designs with no specific logos placed on them. Some of the things sold there can be quite expensive, but cleaning supplies, bed sheets, stationery and decoration are at reasonable priced. Mujirushi stores are most common in malls in Kanto, Chuubu, and Kansai, but they also have a webshop for online orders with a low delivery rate.

Even if you are unable to buy everything you need at once, most of these stores can probably help you make initial arrangements in order to turn your bare room into your new, cozy, and unique home, step by step.