Mini Recycle Shop

Shop of serrendipitous finds

By Sherilyn Siy    - 2 min read

Mini Recycle Shop is named after the icon of 1960s British popular culture, the Mini Cooper. It is run by Fujiwara-san, who drives a Mini himself and loves all things Mini. You will find a lot of drawings, pictures and miniature models of this small economy car, which, unfortunately, are not for sale. The rest of the stuff in the shop are though.

Mini is also the perfect name for this shop, which is relatively small. Unlike recycle shops that specialize only in pre-loved clothes (i.e Harajuku), books (i.e. Jimbocho, or the popular chain Book Off), or electronics (i.e. Akihabara), Mini has all these and more. You never know what you will find each time you visit. This afternoon, on display is something you don't see everyday: old wooden tea chests or chabako. Traditionally handmade out of Japanese cedar and used to preserve and transport tea leaves, its use dates back to the Edo period.

I love the fact that I could purchase things we need at a fraction of the retail price. I have bought an unused jump rope that my daughter needed for school for ¥50. I've replaced my shabby wallet with a gently used pure leather one from Mini for ¥100. My favorite purchase, though, is a never used cona vacuum coffee maker that normally costs ¥6,000+ but was on sale at Mini for ¥1,000. Fujiwara-san likes to keep the inventory moving. If you like something but find the price still a bit high, come back later and you might find it marked down -- that is, if nobody else has taken it yet.

Japanese have an expression mottainai, which can be translated as "What a waste!" At the Mini Recycle Shop, things that have been outgrown or are no longer needed can have another chance at being useful. For the eco-conscious, reusing things is a better option than recycling and helps reduce waste.

Getting there

The shopping complex where Mini Recycle is located is best known by the small grocery within called Asadore Farm (朝採れファーム). It is a 6 minute uphill walk from Koma Station (serviced by the Seibu Chichibu Line). Parking spaces are available.

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Sherilyn Siy

Sherilyn Siy @sherilyn.siy

For Sherilyn Siy, Asia is home. Born in Hong Kong, Sherilyn spent time in the Philippines, China, and now lives in Japan. She speaks English, Filipino, Chinese (or putonghua), and Hokkien, her family's local dialect. Running is one of her favorite ways to explore Japan. She proudly finished the 2015 Tokyo Marathon -- her first ever full marathon -- in 4 hours and 37 minutes. She was absolutely psyched when she got selected again to run the new Tokyo Marathon route in 2018. She hopes to complete other races in Japan. 

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 2 months ago
Chabako are nostalgic and they’re also super useful. The cedar and the lining that protects tea also preserves precious documents and textiles. I’d love to have a few.
Kim B 3 months ago
The wooden tea chest is gorgeous!
Sherilyn Siy Author 3 months ago
I honestly didn't know what it was, just that it was beautiful and I took a photo of it. I only learned what it was when I did a bit of research when I got home.
nupur singh 3 months ago
I love how this creates such a deep sense of nostalgia !
One of favorite memories from a cramped shop in Penang was the sign board hanging outside which said
“We buy junk and sell Antiques,
Some fools buy and some fools sell”
Sherilyn Siy Author 3 months ago
I love that sign you shared Nupur! I will share that with Fujiwara-san. I'm sure he will appreciate it!
Sleiman Azizi 3 months ago
I think that these are the kinds of places that create personable memories for visitors.
Sherilyn Siy Author 3 months ago
It is. And if you find something you like, you take home your own personal souvenir as well.