Just keep digging: junk on Yahoo! Auctions Japan

Today’s important Japanese lesson: the word ‘junk’.

ジャンク (janku), or ジャンク品 (janku-hin, more like ‘junk item’). If you’re into trawling Yahoo! Auctions for bargains, you’re gonna need this word.

Why buy someone’s junk? To you, it might not be junk at all.

Maybe they think it’s beyond repair, but you know how. Maybe there’s a bit missing, and you own it. Some sellers admit they don’t know enough about an item to value it. Their junk could be your treasure.

The great thing about junk goods is they don’t sell for much. You’re almost guaranteed a sweet deal. Auctions with bids starting at 1 yen stretch for pages and pages. (Don’t forget to factor in domestic delivery!)

What to know before buying junk items online

In 99.99% of cases, sellers list their junk ‘as is’, and you bid on that understanding. ‘No claims, no returns, no refunds’ is definitely on the page somewhere. You knew it was junk when you bought it, you’ve got no comeback. Keep that in your head whenever you bid.

Check the item description for the ‘why this is junk’ reasons, like damage, missing parts, and stuff not working. Come ask us if any wording’s not clear enough – we can contact the seller for you.

You’ll often see ‘evaluate the condition and buy based on the photos provided‘ written somewhere too. ‘What you see is what you get’ has never been more true. Look through all the pics for evidence of dents, scratches, holes and dirt.


This covers everything from PCs and tablets to smartphones, rice cookers and takoyaki makers, DVD/Bluetooth players, and the cables that link them up.

Expect lots of listings for computers and phones that won’t turn on, or don’t get past the loading screen. And some where the seller claims to be so useless with technology, they haven’t even tried the power button. *eyeroll*

Whenever you buy new or used electrical goods from Japan, don’t forget to check the voltage – and pick up a plug adaptor for your country.

Wristwatches and pocket watches

You might see these as individual watches on sale, or bulk lots of 20-30 pieces (and more – the most we saw was 387!). As if anyone’s got that many arms.

The obvious reason to junk a watch is that it’s stopped ticking. Or the cover’s scratched and dirty enough you couldn’t tell the time if you tried. Hey, at least they tell the right time twice every day!

Pocket watches tend to show up in better condition, and with fancier designs, than wristwatches do. So they make perfect cheap buys for cosplaying, LARP, and historical re-enactments.

Designer items

We like to call this stuff ‘over-loved’. Worn, carried and adored by fashionistas for years… sometimes until the material’s literally falling apart.

You can see the wear and tear, but it’s impressive how well designer goods hold up. Also interesting what sellers class as ‘junk’, and what they get rid of. Sometimes, they’re not all that damaged. We’d sew/polish them back up and keep on wearing… maybe that’s just us.

For more details, our blog on buying designer (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci) from Yahoo! Auctions has the info you need.

Toys and games

Whatever you were into as a kid, Yahoo! Auctions is gonna bring that nostalgia flooding back. Second-hand anime figures, dolls, Happy Meal toys, Gundam model kits, and miniature cars are all common finds.

Expect issues like scratches and chips, broken bits, missing bits, bits glued back on, and hand-painted finishes.

On the gaming side, collections of older handhelds and lonely console-less controllers are pretty common. And the most common reasons to list them as junk? Scratched screens and wonky joysticks. Yep, we know how intense an 8-player Mario Kart race can get.

Musical instruments and turntables

You could start your own second-hand orchestra from auctioned-off instruments. Just keep scrolling past all the rusty harmonicas…

It’s surprising how many sellers want rid of soundless electric guitars and vinyl record players for cheap. And within that, we’ve seen plenty of turntables with the needle missing – how are people losing those?

It shouldn’t be that hard to find junked LP records and junked speakers to go with, either.


As we were researching this post, we saw all this stuff too:

  • ‘UFO catcher’ crane game, missing the crane
  • Fancy toilet seat with power issues
  • Cash register that doesn’t open
  • 21.3 kilos of jewellery and accessories
  • Old school landline telephone
  • ‘Expired’ fire extinguisher from 1995
  • Aircon remotes (no aircon)

Proof you could find anything, if you search around enough.

Start digging, and start bidding

Hunting a diamond in the rough, from thousands of ‘junk’ listings on Yahoo! Auctions Japan, is gonna take time. So why not get going now?

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