Used Lens and Camera Shopping Guide for Japan

Introduction

Sony A7rII | Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/4.0

If you are looking for used lenses or cameras, Japan can be a real dream destination. Having already been there two times myself I know from first hand experience that it isn’t easy to locate some of the more interesting stores though. My Finnish expat friend Juha Kannisto – who is living in Tokyo – has been helping out photographers from all over the world for years already when it comes to this topic.

I thought it would be useful to collect all this knowledge and turn it into an easy-to-access article, so here we are.

If you think a store is missing that should definitely be on this list leave a comment or get in touch on our Discord server.

General Remarks

Locating the Stores

If you are from the western world and it is your first time in an Asian metropolis it might actually be very hard for you to locate some of these stores – despite having the Google Maps coordinates.

We are used to stores having flashy shop fronts at the ground level, but for most of the camera shops in Tokyo (or Hong Kong) this is not the case. Most of the time they only have an unobtrusive door with a sign with only Japanese writing at the ground level. Sometimes they are also on a higher floor of a building, that from first sight definitely does not look like it will house a camera store at all.

Communication

The chance to encounter a salesperson in these stores that speaks English is very low. In Map Camera and Kitamura you should be able to find someone, but in the others stores you definitely need to be lucky for that.

Generally the Japanese people are very friendly and polite and will try to help you nevertheless. I often wrote down in Google translate on my phone what I was looking for in English, had it translated to Japanese and showed it to them. Every single time they were happy to assist.

Haggling is more of a no-go in Japan though and considered rude behaviour. The prices on the items are final, unless you are a frequently recurring customer, in those cases the salesperson may offer a discount.

Japan is a Cash Country

Only the bigger stores accept card payments. This means some of the stores on this list only accept cash. The smaller stores usually also don’t offer tax free shopping.

Tokyo – Shinjuku

Map Camera

Location on Google Maps
Website/Online Shop

Juha’s Notes:
Big selection of new cameras and lenses as well as used ones for all major Japanese brands. Good selection of rangefinder lenses.
Leica & other rangefinder cameras and lenses are available at B1 floor. Major Japanese brands at 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor, 5th floor is trade-in section. There is also a Leica Boutique at the ground floor, that makes locating the store much easier.
About 10% cheaper for new items than major chain stores like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera etc., but those chain stores give 10% store points instead for bonus point card holders.
The items that are marked as “Net limited” on their website are not available to buy at the physical store. They can only be bought online.
Tax free sales are available at the physical store.

Bastian’s Notes:
Map Camera also sells a wide selection of used lenses through their global ebay online store (affiliate link). Prices are often attractive, but if you live in Europe, keep in mind that you may have to pay steep custom duties (e.g. 25.7% extra if you live in Germany).
You can also order lenses through their actual website, but if you order from overseas the process is rather complicated and also comes with additional fees.
I asked and their used lenses are not checked for centering, keep that in mind, as returning a lens you are not happy with might not be economically possible, as you usually have to pay the return shipping yourself.

Shinjuku Used Camera Market

Location on Google Maps
Website
Twitter

Juha’s Notes:
Mostly focusing on old used film cameras and SLR & rangefinder lenses. Very good selection of Japanese LTM lenses and SLR lenses.
Lots of items are sold on consignment and it’s best to check the quality at the counter carefully before buying. They accept Japanese yen cash payments only, no credit cards.

Lemon

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
Good selection of used rangefinder lenses and SLR lenses and film cameras & some older digital cameras.
Some items are sold on consignment and it’s best to check the quality at the counter carefully before buying.
Some new Voigtländer lenses available as well, but generally very limited selection of new items.

Kitamura

Location on Google Maps
Online Shop
Website

Juha’s Notes:
Used cameras and lenses in 4th floor of this specific store. Very small store in this location but they have a much larger presence nationwide.

Used Camera Box

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
This shop is underground with lots of stuff packed in tight space inside glass vitrines. Difficult to assess what they have. Interesting shop to check out, but not the best for purchasing.

Five Star Camera West

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
Used cameras and lenses on 2nd floor, mostly film cameras and Japanese SLR lenses, but some newer ones as well. Also a collection of used rangefinder lenses.
They also have a junk item store in B1 floor in the same building with old junk film cameras and lenses at low prices.

Fotoborse / Gokurakudo (Toyama District)

Location on Google Maps Fotoborse
Location on Google Maps Gokurakudo
English access instructions
Website Fotoborse
Website Gokurakudo (old)

Juha’s Notes:
This pair of small stores that are under same ownership are more difficult to access than other camera stores since they are in a rather residential area near Shinjuku, away from the shopping centre areas.
They are however some of the most interesting shops selling 2nd hand cameras and rangefinder & SLR lenses so definitely worth a visit, and they tend to have items that other stores might not have.
The “Contax store” is Gokurakudo on the left side and Fotoborse is Rangefinder and non-Contax SLR lens focused store right next to it on the right side.
The main Website is the Fotoborse one, Gokurakudo site is quite old.
They have perhaps the widest selection of used rangefinder lenses available in Tokyo and they also have good number of interesting SLR lenses that other stores might not have.
Sometimes only the Gokurakudo (Contax) store is open and staff there can be asked to open the other side when a customer wants to see that one.

Tokyo – Nakano

Fujiya Camera

Location on Google Maps main store

Location on Google Maps junk store
Website

Juha’s Notes:
The best alternative to Map Camera. Lots of new and used cameras and lenses. Best selection of Voigtländer lenses along with Map Camera. Tax free available.
There are 2 floors on the main store with Sony, Canon, Olympus, Sigma & Panasonic on the ground floor and Rangefinder lenses, Fuji, Nikon at 2nd floor.
Typically same exact prices as in Map Camera for new items but used items can sometimes be priced better than at Map.
All the items found on their website are available at the physical store as they have no separate warehouse for online sales (unlike Map Camera).
Junk store on the same street is good for buying lens pouches, used and generic low cost lens caps, filters, neckstraps etc. Those items are not listed on their website.

Tokyo – Shibuya

Kitamura

Google Maps Location
Online Shop
Website

Bastian’s Notes:
This is much bigger than the one in Shinjuku. While the ground floor looks like this store is only selling accessories and instant cameras, there are three floors on top where you can find pretty much every modern lens and also a lot of rare rangefinder and SLR lenses. Prices were a bit on the high side, but if you are looking for something specific this one is worth a visit.

Tokyo – Akihabara

Lemon

Location on Google Maps located on the 3rd floor
Website

Juha’s Notes:
Akihabara branch shop of Lemon. Smaller than the stores in Ginza and Shinjuku, but quite packed with items.
Good selection of used rangefinder lenses and SLR lenses and film cameras & some older digital cameras.
Also here some items are sold on consignment and should be checked carefully.

Nisshin Camera

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
A moderate selection of rangefinder and SLR lenses as well as modern lenses and also used film/digital cameras.

2nd Base by Sanpou Camera

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
Fairly recent trendy / fashionable little shop for the younger crowd who are into film cameras and old lenses.
All items are presented in a nice looking way. Not so large collection. Fashionable old rangefinder and SLR lenses and film cameras.

Tokyo – Ginza

Lemon

Location on Google Maps
Website

Bastian’s Notes:
Interestingly this shop shares the building with a church and is at the 8th floor. Like the Lemon in Shinjuku a good selection of used rangefinder lenses and SLR lenses and film cameras & some older digital cameras. They also had one of the bigger assortments of (expensive) analogue film I came across in Tokyo.

Shimizu Camera

Location on Google Maps

Bastian’s Notes:
A small corner shop in Ginza that carries mainly old rangefinder and SLR lenses and also a lot of film cameras. When I was visiting there were a lot of LTM lenses at very affordable prices (compared to the stores in Shinjuku) available. Cash payment only, no tax free option.

Sukiya Camera

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
A nice but very small old shop at Ginza close to Lemon and on the same street as Shimizu Camera.
Good selection of used rangefinder lenses in M/LTM and some other mounts. Also new Voigtländer lenses mostly in M-mount.
In some cases better prices compared to other stores and some good finds can be made there occasionally. Most items are in very good condition.
Their current item stock cannot be found on their website.

Tokyo – Ueno

Shinbashi Ichi Camera

Location on Google Maps
Website

Juha’s Notes:
Interesting selection of used rangefinder lenses. Some attractive less common lenses could be found there, also analogue medium format cameras & lenses.

Kyoto

Camera no Naniwa

Location on Google Maps
Website

Bastian’s Notes:
A generalist store that has a bit of everything. Not that spectacular compared to most of the stores in Tokyo on this list, but your first address in Kyoto if you need an adapter, filter or some analogue films.

Conclusion

I hope this article will help you to find the most interesting camera stores in Tokyo in order to track down what you are looking for.

A big thanks to Juha for providing most of the information in this article.

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

18 thoughts on “Used Lens and Camera Shopping Guide for Japan”

  1. Dear Bastian and Juha,

    thank you very much for this fantastic compendium.

    Several times I wanted to buy something online from a shop that you have mentioned. Nevertheless, I was afraid due to the necessity of automatic translation from japanese to english (direcly buying from their website).

    Have you any experience in this sense ?

    1. Thanks Jorge! Which shop have you considered to order from (directly from the website)? I think most of these shops don’t ship internationally, with Map Camera being the exception and they use Buyee as a proxy for international orders on their site. There may be restrictions on items that the can ship internationally. From these shops I have personally only bought online from Map Camera and since it’s been locally in Japan I have no experience of their international shipping service and on how their website works with Buyee. This Buyee purchase option only shows up when accessing their website from outside of Japan. For domestic orders it’s all in Japanese and I have managed that without much need for auto-translation since I’ve learned certain level of Japanese over the years. With the other shops on this list, I’ve only purchased directly from their physical stores.

      1. I did manage to get pretty far in the ordering process of Map Camera with translation, but because of the high buyee fees I ended up not ordering anything.
        I did order several times from their ebay store.

      2. MapCamera has an Ebay online store and ships worldwide. Selection is huge, prices are incredibly low and shipping was very fast within 4 days to Germany. I can recommend them.

        https://www.ebay.de/str/mapcamera

        You have to keep in mind that you have to pay taxes when ordering though. With taxes you might end up with similar prices as in other stores.

        Ebay and Japan is another topic. I once read a rant on “do not by from Japanese Ebay sellers”. Unfortunately i can not find this article again. It was quite interesting because it described the US pawn system and how Asian “gold miners” scrape all vintage cameras and lenses from there. Camera stuff is bought without looking for condition and then brought by plane to China where it is filtered by condition. The first market are wealthy Chinese collectors that get offered the collectors items. The second market is Japan. Japanese buyers want Excellent condition. What is done with the B, C, D… stuff? This you could find at Ebay from Japanese stores as Excellent+++. There was a saying like “What is not good for Japanese customers is still EXCELLENT for US”.

        My feeling is that the described situation has changed something. But 2 month ago I bought a vintage lens with fungus and a misalligned aperture ring from a Japanese seller described as EXC+2 … 😀

        1. I have registered with Buyee and enquired in details.
          I didn’t proceed because they will charge the fully taxed price at MapCamera, pass that to me with their fees plus I have to pay GST for importing into Australia (where I live).
          I did ask them why can’t they charge duty free price at MapCamera since the goods are sent overseas. They said it’s not their policy.

          1. This matches my experience.
            Their ebay store is way better for buying from overseas.
            If asked nicely on their ebay page they may add desired items to their ebay shop though.

        2. Hi, and thanks for the answers.

          I have bought one item from Map camera in their ebay store. Item was as described. Item was shipped in between a week to Germany. All very satisfactory.

          The import taxes is something to be taken into account somehow independetly, depending on local prize, availability, and so on. Then one should decide if it is worth or not.

          If I was asking about the experience on direct purchase on the shop’s website directly, was because of the very large choice. I believe they have much more products direcly in their web than in ebay.

          Any idea about the buyee / direct ebay purchase difference in terms of fees ?

  2. This is a very timely article, a Japan visit is planned. Visiting camera stores can be fun, can you tell me if it is acceptable to look and not purchase?

  3. I highly recommend Camera no Naniwa personally if you travel to Kansai area (Osaka and Kyoto). It is my second favorite after mapcamera. I have picked up used voigtlander and contax c/y lenses at good price and nice quality. Also as mentioned they have a lot of adapters and films available. Their issue is there are relatively more local branches and each one is quite small. So the wise way might be to locate the interesting items on their website and reserve it to be picked up at a branch store close to you.

  4. Most of the used lenses are inside some glass vitrines and lots of customers are just looking and not buying. If you are really interested in a specific one you can ask to see it and then you can typically inspect it at the sales counter, try it on your camera on the spot etc. but it’s usually expected only if you are seriously considering to buy. Shop staff might not be happy to show too many lenses to a customer for close inspection if there is no intent to buy anything but otherwise it is usually possible to check them out. New lens boxes on the other hand can’t be inspected and the lenses can’t be checked before buying.

  5. Thanks for this! I will definitely use this list next time I’m in Japan.

    Some of the thrift stores in Japan have large camera selections too. If you’re around the Tokyo area there’s a chain of stores called Hard Off that usually have quite a lot. Like any thrift store the pricing is sometimes questionable but there are definitely some good deals to be found there.

  6. Thank you very much for this unusual but great and super exciting report, which I really enjoyed reading.
    I’ve never been to Japan myself, but I’ve bought photo stuff from Japanese dealers on ebay a few times, mostly medium format stuff from Pentax, Mamiya or Fuji.

    The only thing that takes some getting used to is the condition description, which sometimes confuses me as there are sometimes strange descriptions like excellent +4, excellent +5.
    I usually buy items described as “mint” or “near mint” and they have always been in great condition.

    1. When it comes to ebay offerings there is usually a description of the ratings in the item’s description.
      Excellent +5 is often actually junk with Fungus, Haze or other defects.
      In some rating schemes even “Near Mint” can still mean haze or “light” Fungus.
      This should always be checked for each item/seller individually!

  7. The current exchange rate for the Yen makes shopping in Japan very attractive. And depending on your shopping list, your savings may even finance the flight to Japan.

    Example: The Sony 24-70 GM II retails in Germany for around 2.400 EUR. Map Camera offers the lens for ¥277,200 or about 1.782 EUR at today’s exchange rate. You can buy it tax free for ¥252,000 or about 1.620 EUR, a saving of almost 800€.

    You need two lenses? It may be worth flying to Japan for that! 🙂

  8. This list is much appreciated. I’ve just returned from Japan – my visit to Map Camera in Shinjuku was a highlight as I was able to pick up a few M lenses (28mm Elmarit, 50mm Elmar-M, 90mm Elmarit) in super minty condition – the ‘mint’ lenses appear to have had almost no visible wear on them. As I was shooting my Sony gear over the trip, I’d asked if I could borrow an RF camera – to which they presented a brand new M11-P to test the lenses with. The staff were patient, knowledgable with pricing that reflects condition of the gear (eg. no box, range of scratches etc). Prior to going, it’d be helpful to check inventory on the eBay store as well as their website, which seems fairly accurate in relation to inventory/ pricing. Going to the big name electronic stores is a waste of time (if you’re only looking for bargains in used glass but fun to shop otherwise). And given how long you might be tempted to browse, do note that there’s plenty of great shopping elsewhere in the Shinjuku area where your non-photographer companions can while hours away.

  9. This is an excellent and very informative article! Saves me time from researching. I like going to Japan, and I love buying vintage L mount lens. I’ve been to some of these places before, and this article is pretty much spot on. If you like buying used camera lens, you’d love touring the places in this article. Once I was at a used lens store in Tokyo, was browsing and asking for some lens. A Japanese guy hung around nearby, and as I left the store (which was on the second floor), he came up to me and told me to visit another store, for a much wider selection. I went to the place he recommended, and whoa, a huge selection! For the life of me, I can’t remember either names of the stores. When I recall, I’ll come back and post here.

    I’m on the plane heading to Tokyo right now, will be there in three hours. So fortunate to have found this article, thank you!!

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