The colorful wolf

March 25, 2010

Japan’s biggest challenge: getting rid of all your stuff

Filed under: Daily Life,japan,Spirit of Japan — randy @ 21:50
Tags: , , ,

It’s been almost a week now since I quit my job, and most of the initial shock has passed. I’m getting used to the idea that from now on my life will essentially be a very long weekend. A lot of rain, a lack of purpose and a room that suddenly no longer feels like my home have made me feel bad for the past few days, but I’m slowly getting used to my new situation. I thought I’d post an update on how exactly I’m getting rid of my stuff, cause it’s proving to be quite a challenge.

When you first enter Japan you’ll already notice how difficult it is to throw things away: there’s no trash cans anywhere! Then, perhaps you’re on holiday, you have a nice encounter with Japan’s beautiful natural sights, only to find that along the way people have dumped their computers, refridgerators and whatnot, creating a very ugly scene. Recently I found out why.

You cannot simply leave any large garbage in your apartment’s central garbage collection point: you can only leave certain kinds of large garbage, and you have to call someone to come pick it up. In my case, the Atsugi Recycling Center can pick up all kinds of large things (closets, chairs, tables, microwaves etc.) if you make a reservation at least one week in advance. It will still cost you x yen a piece, and I believe there’s also a max item limit (I’ll find this out next week).

The worst thing is: the recycle center doesn’t take refridgerators, and it doesn’t take TV’s or anything computer-related, or anything large that has electronics inside, basically. (although they didn’t seem to have a problem with picking up my microwave oven, for reasons that I have yet to find out.) Apparently you have to contact the manufacturer (or a disposal company working with that manufacturer) and they’ll come and pick it up for a fee. In my case, disposing of a 5+ year-old tiny refridgerator will cost me about 7000 yen (56 euro’s). I now understand why there’s so many TV’s, refridgerators and PC’s at the side of the roads here in Japan…

Anyway, the specialized-refridgerator-pickup-service will be here on Monday to pick up my fridge and take my precious money, unless I can somehow find another way to dispose of it before then. No, I don’t mean driving into the countryside and dropping it off a truck. Today I went to the only reasonable second-hand store in Atsugi (two others: one is closing down, the other one is actually a chain store and only takes what is profitable for them without negotiating) to woo them into taking everything for free. They of course already know about the fridge disposal fee, so they won’t just take it and pay for it, nor will they take it for free. However, if I also give them my remaining furniture and a very nice microwave oven then it might cost me less than 7000 yen to dump everything. I’ll find out tomorrow if this brilliant plan will succeed or not.

In any case, all my bothersome stuff will be sold by next week, the question is just how much money it will cost me. I’m also selling some smaller things separately on this brilliant website called gaijinpot.com. Japanese people are pretty much allergic to anything second-hand, but foreigners in Japan jump at a chance to rip off a fellow foreigner just before he leaves the country. As such I am selling all my stuff that still has some value on here, and it’s super effective.

Some things though, are very specific and hard to sell. My anime/manga artbooks for example, are near impossible to sell, or at least impossible to sell for any reasonable value. I let my friends pick and take whatever they wanted, kept a couple of them myself, and brought the rest to book-off, Japan’s national second-hand chain bookstore. End result: 6-7 beautiful high-quality artbooks sold for 850 yen. Not very nice. I should have brought them to Akihabara instead, I might have gotten more. I went there today to sell two toys (Masterpiece Megatron and Masterpiece Starscream) and got a reasonable price: 9500 yen. I know that they go for about twice that much on ebay, but I can’t be picky right now. Those toys are huge and sending them back home would just be a waste of money.

So there you have it: websites like gaijinpot, niche markets like Akihabara, second-hand stores and official disposal services that cost you money if you use them. I also tried selling things on a Japanese website called Rakuten, but that website is pure evil and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Seriously, that website might be the vilest thing Japan has ever created. Good thing it’s Japanese-only.

It’s still cold! 2-3 weeks to go until take-off..

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