The Ultimate Used Camera Shopping Guide for Photographers Visiting Tokyo
Photography has become a popular hobby in recent years, but it's an incredibly expensive one. If you're visiting Japan anyway, consider doing used camera shopping! Secondhand stores in Japan only purchase items that meet stringent quality standards, which are then sold at ridiculously affordable prices, so it's easy to get even rare items at decent prices. Best of all, as a tourist, you can even get some purchases tax free! Here are some of Tokyo’s secondhand camera shops to include in your itinerary for treasure hunting the next time you visit.
Jul 11 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Fujiya Camera (Nakano)
Nakano is a renowned “camera street” in Tokyo, which means that it has many secondhand camera shops or photo labs that process film. Out of all the shops that call it home, Fujiya Camera is the one that's specifically recommended for tourists. Founded in 1938, this age-old camera store sells brand new and used camera and lens equipment at a lower price than many other stores, including everything from tripods and flash units to camera bags. No wonder this is often the first stop for those looking to buy secondhand cameras in Japan!
2. Map Camera（Shinjuku）
Shinjuku’s West Exit area is another well-known secondhand camera street, with more than seven shops on the same street. Map Camera is the most famous amongst them, as it not only occupies four floors of a building, but it also has English-speaking staff and offers tax exemption for foreign tourists.
Japanese camera brands are located on the first three floors, while medium format digital cameras and other classic camera and lens gear can be found in the basement floor. You'll find a wider selection of secondhand digital cameras than other stores, but just note that the same doesn't hold true for traditional film cameras. If you have a question, the knowledgeable staff are happy to answer you!
3. Lemon Inc (Ginza)
Lemon Inc has branches in Ginza, Shinjuku, Akihabara, and Nagoya. Its main branch in Ginza is spacious and has numerous products to offer. All the products, even used items, have to pass a stringent quality check prior to being sold, making this store a safe choice for tourists who aren't familiar with the different camera stores in Japan. Even better, this quality does not come at a higher cost as tourists can get tax exemption!
In addition, Lemon Inc provides photographic services for both identification and souvenir photos. Come experience a photo shoot in a Japanese studio!
4. Kitamura Camera (Akihabara)
Kitamura Camera has a total of 900 stores in Japan, and only those labeled "secondhand purchase center" (中古買取センタ) buy and sell used cameras and other equipment. There are English-speaking staff stationed in branches where foreign tourists often visit, such as Akihabara and Shinjuku. Compared to the other branches, the Akihabara branch has a larger scale with an extensive collection of different equipment, which makes it convenient for those short on time.
Another advantage of Kitamura Camera is that it offers price comparison and product transfer across all its branches. For example, if the price is cheaper in the Osaka branch, you can conveniently pay the Osaka price at a branch in Tokyo and pick up the product in a few days!
5. Camera No Sakuraya (Ogikubo)
Nicknamed “Ogisaku” among photographers, Ogikubo Camera no Sakuraya has two stores located in the shopping streets of Ogikubo Station’s West Exit. The main store sells brand new cameras and other equipment and has a gallery. The second store sells pre-owned equipment and provides photo printing services.
As both stores are surrounded by a lot of large parks, birdwatching enthusiasts and the like tend to stop by the stores to purchase telephoto lenses, so there is a lot of related stock available. For SONY fans, don't miss the SONY counter in the second store with lots of old and new products! The main store also regularly conducts seminars on new products and equipment, so if you know a bit of Japanese, consider dropping by.
6. Sanpou Camera (Meguro)
This shop is listed as one of the three most well-known secondhand camera shops alongside Fujiya Camera and Map Camera. As there are lots of photography studios nearby, the store is frequented by professional photographers. Besides the newest digital cameras, traditional film cameras and related equipment can also be found here. They also stock camera accessories, as well as different types of color and black & white film from all over the world. The young and friendly staff will teach you how to use the products, making this a good place for those just starting out to buy all the equipment they need.
7. Popeye Camera (Jiyugaoka)
After owning a camera, wouldn’t you also need to buy film, camera straps, photo albums, and other supplies? Popeye Camera is a specialty store for photography merchandise. Although they do not buy or sell used cameras, they have toy cameras like LOMO and various films to choose from, including black and white, color, and special effects. Sometimes you might even get your hands on a soon-to-expire film at a discounted price, which is a great opportunity to save money for film camera enthusiasts. In addition, there are camera-related lifestyle products that are all unique and cute, such as stickers, sticky notes, notebooks, photo albums, mugs, original camera bags, and camera straps.
Popeye also provides film developing and printing services, so consider visiting to develop the travel photos you took and print them as postcards for the most unique souvenir!
Tourists traveling to Tokyo can easily buy secondhand cameras and other equipment in the shops introduced above. If you want to buy a film camera or digital camera lens the next time you visit Japan, remember to mark down these shops before you go treasure hunting!
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Title Image: smolaw / Shutterstock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.