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Examples of Deals from Japan


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#1 22samurai

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 05:29 AM

Hey all,

This is my first post into CAG. I love getting games cheap, and only in rare cases (Zelda:WW pre-order) do I buy a game for the full $50. So I'm looking forward to sharing knowledge here.

Having lived in Japan for 2 years, I can most assuredly tell you that there are great deals to be had there. The trouble is, you pretty much have to be there or know someone over there who is as into gaming as you are to get them. For those of you planning a trip, I will tell you the tips I gleaned while searching for deals over there, as well as a few of the things I managed to buy for real cheap.

As with everything, research is key. Knowing your subject matter makes this a lot easier. Which games are rare? Which games didn't come out in the US? Which ones have differences between the original Japanese version and the US version? What kind of Japanese proficiency do I need to enjoy this game? The more you know, the smarter and more discriminating your search will be.

In the same vein, learning Japanese is pretty useful, unless you're going to find games by their cartridge and box scans. :) Some games have an English title on them, but beyond that, you're going to have to know some Japanese. It's not as hard as you think to get started. First off, learn katakana. Katakana is angular, phonetic and hides a powerful secret: Nearly all the words written in katakana are really English words! Learning the 50 symbols of katakana is not so hard - with dedicated study of a few hours a day, you can learn them in a week or two. And practice makes perfect - it took me a while to get used to the Japanese adding extra vowels to the words (McDonald's becomes ma-ku-do-na-ru-do), but it comes naturally for me now.

So once you've done some research, and you've gotten okay at Katakana, it's time to go shopping. Where to go to find games? Well, unlike America, the Japanese have a deep respect for old things, even games. They still play and respect the old NES, the old gameboy games, the PS1, the Saturn, and more. Sometimes, especially in the early days of gaming, people would throw their games and systems away when they got a new one. Whereas people in America use somethig until it breaks and then they throw it away, perfectly good things get thrown away in Japan simply because of space. If you have the guts and patience, scouting the trash on trash day can get you some good finds. Anyway, someone along the line got smart and started "recycle shops" where you can sell your old games/electronics/whatever for cash, instead of throwing them away. They clean it up and sell it again. Basically, it's a thrift store - not a revolutionary concept, to be sure, but there are a few big differences between the US and Japanese concept of thrift store.

First off, the Japanese take care of their stuff. Used games are practically new. Scratch-free, with manual, papers, and box intact, and if it's a special edition, all the special pieces will be there. We're talking immaculate here. If there's a scratch ("kizu ari") on the disc, or no manual ("setsumeisho nashi"), they will give you a discount ("waribiki").

[Currency exchange made easy: $1 is roughly 100 yen]

Secondly, walk into nearly any recycle shop, and you'll see a "junk corner" where they sell older VCRs and computers, laserdiscs, power adapters, controllers, game consoles, and games, all at ridiculously slashed prices. One thing to remember is, just because it's in the Junk Corner doesn't mean it's broken, but you take your chances - there are no refunds on junk. I have bought several several games, peripherals, and even systems from junk bins, and they all worked perfectly. This is good if you are interested in buying a Japanese console. Instead of buying a pre-packaged collection of console, parts, and accessories for 3000 yen($30) and up, you can search for the parts piece by piece and save money. I did this with my Famicom and saved a bundle: console: 1000 yen; AC adapter: 500 yen; TV cable: 350 yen... a great memento and conversation piece: priceless. Everything worked on the first try, too. This is also where your research pays off- knowing what each part looks like is really helpful.

As a rule of thumb, the more flashy the store, the easier it is to find what you want, but the more expensive it will be. If you are willing to dig around in junk bins, there are tons of deals to be had. The best deals come from local shops where the owner runs the shop, sometimes connected directly to his house. If you can talk to and bargain with them in Japanese, you can get some good deals. Bargaining also depends on location. The larger places have a set price. But even there, don't be afraid to ask for a discount.

Finally, as an incentive to encourage customer loyalty, many stores give you "point cards" - these cards give you a percentage of the amount you spent back to you as "points" which let you buy things. For example, if you go to Yodobashi Camera and buy a 300,000 yen laptop, you could possibly get up to 30,000 points (percentages vary from store to store and item to item) that can be redeemed on the next business day same as cash. So in the previous example, you could get a nice printer for your laptop with the points. It is definitely important to consider whether or not the store uses point cards if you are buying a big purchase.

Places to go to get good deals:
Wonder Goo (an electronics chain, kinda like best buy)
Hard-Off (the most well-known recycle shop out there)
Book Tomato (sell old manga, games, and movies)
Famicom House (retro specialty shop)
Book Market
Book-off
Book Ace
Toys R Us
Tsutaya (video/music rental)
Yamada Denki
Hello Mack (not so good, but deals can be had)

Used Bookstores
Local recycle shops
Game specialty shops (also known as "Famicom" shops)

..and of course, Akihabara. definitely check out Super Potato for your retro needs and the little shop right by the train station for some great deals.

There are still tons of games out there in Japan, ready to be found and whisked away by collectors. I lived in the Ibaraki-Tochigi area, and there were tons of great stores within an hour's driving radius. My friend just moved farther north and he says the selection's not so great in Hitachi-Ota and its surroundings.

Online, there are a few import sites that are worthwhile checking out:
http://www.lik-sang.com
http://www.playasia.com
Of course, if you know Japanese, you can chekc out ebay's and yahoo's Japanese listings for some great deals.

Now, for Some more console stories: I went into a locally owned recycle shop. The owner was an older fellow. I found an A/V Famicom there, dusty and dirty. AV Famicoms typically run about 5000 yen to 9800 yen, depending on the condition and whether they still ahve their box. I asked him "How much is it?" ("ikura desu ka?") I was willing to pay 1000 yen for it - he said, "I don't know much about electronics... how about 300 yen?) I couldn't believe my luck. I cleaned it up and ran it - no problems at all.

I went to a Book Ace once and found a "junk" Twin Famicom - it can run the Famicom Disk Cards as well as the cartridges - for 2000 yen. The most I've ever paid for "Junk" but it worked, once I got the elusive AC adapter.

Nearby where I lived, there was a massive store, with the largest collection of games I've ever seen. they had so many Famicom and Super Famicom games that they started hanging them from the ceiling. Just amazing. And the most interesting peripherals and licensed items. I could write an entire post about that place - I loved to go there. I bought a copy of Rez there for 1000 yen. Later I found a new Rez "Trance Vibrator" in Akihabara for 300 - you were supposed to put it under your couch to give you that dance-house feel of the music. Apparently the designers didn't think the Dreamcast's rumble was good enough.

Finally, in Utsunomiya, I found a Family BASIC Keyboard - yes, you could program the Famicom in BASIC and 1K of RAM - with box and manual for 1000 yen. When I went to other stores, the same thing was 10000 yen. Later I found Famicom BASIC V3 (4K of RAM and improvements) and some preprogrammed game tapes at Super Potato for around 4000 yen - pricey but worth it, I think.

The deal in Japan is NOT dead - you just have to know how to look for it, and it helps to have someone on the inside. If you have any questions or comments about gaming deals in Japan, feel free to PM me anytime.

Again, it's nice to be here and I look forward to getting involved with CAG!

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#2 worx

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 05:45 AM

Very interesting read :D
Thanks for taking the time to type that out- its interesting to hear about how the culture differs over there from a gamer's point of view.

#3 22samurai

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 06:03 AM

Thanks for your comments. I was over there as an English teacher (JET Program) but in my free time I was immersing myself in the gaming scene. I found another JET who was even more into games than me and we would go hunting on the weekends. If you ever get to go, try to go with a friend - it's so much more fun that way!

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#4 CheapyD

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 06:08 AM

Welcome to CAG!
I took a few pictures of Super Potato in Akihabara and posted them here:
http://www.cheapassg...ead.php?t=78549

#5 Gameboy415

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 06:09 AM

Thanks for your comments. I was over there as an English teacher (JET Program) but in my free time I was immersing myself in the gaming scene. I found another JET who was even more into games than me and we would go hunting on the weekends. If you ever get to go, try to go with a friend - it's so much more fun that way!

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I'm actually doing the JET program right now!

I've been here since July of 2005 and I'm LOVING the gaming scene out here! Sure, new games cost an arm and a leg but you can find such wicked deals on slightly older games that it doesn't matter.

I recently bought a brand new copy of REZ for my friend for a patrly 500 yen (about $4). Woo ha!

#6 cag1000

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 06:22 AM

good info if I ever get there but..............

can someone tweak this info but make it geared to finding rare old Japanese Transformers?

#7 Aleryn

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 06:51 AM

Fascinating read... whether one means to use your tips or not, thank you!

#8 Staind204

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 07:52 AM

Great read OP. I'd love to visit Japan someday and go game hunting :)

#9 Deadpool

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 08:48 AM

awesome read. Welcome.
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#10 Death2Sanity

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 09:01 AM

I'll be working over there myself here in about a month (not JET, but with NOVA Group)...thanks for the heads-up!

#11 mykevermin

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 01:34 PM

I went to a Book Ace once and found a "junk" Twin Famicom - it can run the Famicom Disk Cards as well as the cartridges - for 2000 yen. The most I've ever paid for "Junk" but it worked, once I got the elusive AC adapter.

:drool:
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#12 the3rdkey

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 02:31 PM

Welcome to CAG!
I took a few pictures of Super Potato in Akihabara and posted them here:
http://www.cheapassg...ead.php?t=78549


When are the pictures of the hot babes gonna role in Cheapy?
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#13 ryosnk

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 03:04 PM

Thanks op for the info.

#14 Supercake

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 03:46 PM

Urge to go to Japan...rising! It's really only a matter of time, one day me and some friends will take a trip there, and be in gaming heaven. :cry: I'll definitly learn katakana first, but regardless I'll buy any game if it looks cute and absurd! (Good post OP, nice info, thanks)

#15 adamsappel

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 07:26 PM

Great post! Fascinating stuff.
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#16 Nirvanaguy777

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 07:50 PM

Very informative, thank you so much OP, when I eventually go to japan this info will be invaluable.

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#17 Deadpool

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 10:31 PM

When are the pictures of the hot babes gonna role in Cheapy?


Seconded!
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#18 22samurai

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 03:51 PM

I'm actually doing the JET program right now!

I've been here since July of 2005 and I'm LOVING the gaming scene out here! Sure, new games cost an arm and a leg but you can find such wicked deals on slightly older games that it doesn't matter.

I recently bought a brand new copy of REZ for my friend for a patrly 500 yen (about $4). Woo ha!

I agree - the price for new games is atrocious - but if you look hard and smart you can find such good deals it doesn't matter.

However, one thing I have noticed is the buyback price for games, especially popular ones, is much higher than over here. So if you play a game, beat it quickly, and sell it back, you can buy the next hit game for 2000-3000 yen plus your trade-in.

Since they don't have a rental system for games, I think this is what most of the gamers do. Not enough room to have a massive collection, unlike the 'states.

BTW, good job hunting down rez for 500. I'm impressed. :) Maybe you can find Hudson's remake of Adventure Island (Takahashi-Meijin no Boukenjima) and Bonk (PC-Genjin) for the 'cube for less than 2000? ;)

#19 22samurai

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 03:59 PM

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who replied. PM me if you get to go and I'll try to put you in contact with some of my gamer friends there. You're also welcome to take me along in your suitcase. ;)

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#20 oceanfr

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 07:11 PM

Sorry, Id have to somewhat Disagree with that. Being in Japan and also getting stuff on line. In Kyoto last year at one of the stores, chose my games and when "he" (recall this place only had 1 owner) got them from the shelf they all had scracthes, I ended up getting 2 (He became irratable that I didnt want to buy the rest so I left the store).
The other ones I get from Kanazawa Japan (thats 2 more places and no I've never been there), either had a smoke faint or many have marks and scratch. So you can't say they all take care of their games thats all. One didnt want to give refund or negotiate, just wanted me to send them back to Japan, so I forgot about it, and switched to some other dealers.


, the Japanese take care of their stuff. Used games are practically new. Scratch-free, with manual, papers, and box intact, and if it's a special edition, all the special pieces will be there. We're talking immaculate here. If there's a scratch ("kizu ari") on the disc, or no manual ("setsumeisho nashi"), they will give you a discount ("waribiki").


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#21 ianoid

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 08:25 PM

I'm pissing in my pants! Nice post. Thanks.

#22 Draykke

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 08:52 PM

Very interesting read. I'll be spending time in Japan either next semester as as sohpomore or during my senior year. Huzzah for studying abroad!

#23 Ecofreak

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 09:03 PM

Going to visit my friend who is working in Hanamatsu this summer. She has a Hard Off two blocks from her apartment! Man...I'm gonna spend so much money...
[thread=49233]Trade List[/thread]

#24 Jeoff

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 09:07 PM

R8 up. This thread wins at life.

#25 battleroyal33

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 09:19 PM

good info if I ever get there but..............

can someone tweak this info but make it geared to finding rare old Japanese Transformers?


The Japanese are not so blind when it comes to vintage toys( including TF's) and collecting figures/statues is very big over there, same as it is here in the states. I have been to Tokyo 2 times over the past 4 years and have never found a "great deal" on vintage G1 TF, they do know what they sell for and price them accordingly, You can find the rare guys no problem but again you will pay for them...

#26 Gameboy415

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 10:25 PM

BTW, good job hunting down rez for 500. I'm impressed. :) Maybe you can find Hudson's remake of Adventure Island (Takahashi-Meijin no Boukenjima) and Bonk (PC-Genjin) for the 'cube for less than 2000? ;)


I actually got both of those via a Play-Asia sale a few years back for $35 and $15 respectively! So I got them for about 2500 yen each.... ;)

#27 rabbitt

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 12:22 AM

Great post, OP. Thanks much for the info.

#28 Sarang01

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 08:58 AM

Interesting to hear the good B&M places to go but I have to be honest and can't stress enough that I was genuinely disappointed by Akihabara and their lack of love for the old school. At most I saw a Neo-Geo and the Duo model 2 around for Old School. 22 do you know any "Recycle Shops" where you were that had a good price for Marty's, like 10,000 Yen or under, as well one for PC-FX, see 2,500 Yen or under.
Also was wondering are there any "Recycle Shops" that show import systems love? One's that have good prices for those as well, I'm mainly thinking Philips CD-i.
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#29 22samurai

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 08:14 PM

I actually got both of those via a Play-Asia sale a few years back for $35 and $15 respectively! So I got them for about 2500 yen each.... ;)


Nice! I finally got PC-Genjin and Adventure Island for $20 and $30 respectively, so it turns out we got the same average price! ;)

...Now to find all those Golden Wheels in PC-Genjin!

#30 22samurai

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 08:26 PM

Interesting to hear the good B&M places to go but I have to be honest and can't stress enough that I was genuinely disappointed by Akihabara and their lack of love for the old school. At most I saw a Neo-Geo and the Duo model 2 around for Old School. 22 do you know any "Recycle Shops" where you were that had a good price for Marty's, like 10,000 Yen or under, as well one for PC-FX, see 2,500 Yen or under.
Also was wondering are there any "Recycle Shops" that show import systems love? One's that have good prices for those as well, I'm mainly thinking Philips CD-i.


I'm sorry to hear you couldn't find more old-school stuff in Akihabara; you have to be thorough and look into the nooks and crannies, so to speak. Sometimes the smaller stores will surprise you.

What do you mean by "Marty's"? If you have a chance to go to Ibaraki-Ken, there is that huge store between Oyama and Shimodate( now Chikusei ) that I recall having lots of Neo Geo stuff. Utsunomiya in Tochigi also has some huge recycle shops that might have the stuff you're looking for.

PC-FX tends to be harder to find, but I saw some at various Hard-Offs, so it depends on luck. From what I recall, The PC-FX still has a ton of fans, so you might want to look online for PC-FX clubs and see if one is nearby where you'll be/where you are. They would know the best places to get the hardware.

As for the import gaming, you'll pay a premium for anything Western. The prices are so laughably marked up that it would be cheaper to have people buy the game in the West and ship it to you. I say maybe one CD-i over there, and little if no software. Maybe other people have had better luck?

Wish I could be of more help! Feel free to ask more questions!

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