Camera shopping in Tokyo pt. 1 – Shinjuku

Posted on by Bellamy

So, you want to know where to buy a camera in Tokyo? This might help.
I get a lot of people asking me where to go shopping for a camera in Tokyo, and although it is my business to buy for people, I also want people to come and see Tokyo for themselves. So if you are in Tokyo, or coming to Tokyo this should help you find something. This will be in 3 parts, here is the first.

Tokyo, a metropolis of 13 million people, has often been described as a Mecca for shopping, and this is most certainly true if you are looking for a camera. Whilst there are the big mega stores like Bic and Yodobashi, I am not interested in telling you about them. What I am here to tell you about are the smaller stores, the specialist places and the places that will make your jaw drop.

Now, I am not going to tell you about every store in Tokyo, as that would not only take far too long, but it would also give away some of my secrets. I am going to tell you the most accessible places for a visitor and for people that (presumably) don’t have a lot of experience speaking Japanese.
Originally when I started writing this piece I was going to add pictures of the stores, but that would also make this far too long, so you are going to have to enjoy links and descriptions instead.

Buying rules
This is a subject that is close to my heart and something that I want to express to you all before you go shopping in Japan. The Japanese society is heavily governed by an unspoken set of rules, and one of the big ones is manners. In Japan manners are very important and they will make a difference in the way you are treated by shop staff.
In many countries the customer is king, but in Japanese camera shops you are merely someone who is interested in their fine wares, and if you don’t show them respect then will not show any to you. It can be quite an old fashioned atmosphere which may seem daunting, but it is worth taking you time as you will find things here that you cannot see anywhere else.
The rules that I have set for myself are quite simple and they may help you too:
Greeting A pleasant “Konnichiwa” goes a long way, even if you get no reply. Always say hello and goodbye.
Touchy feely Want to look at something? Then ask politely. Don’t point and grunt, apes do that. And don’t just grab at things, that is going to make people mad.
Quiet please Be quiet in the shop. Which means switch your phone to silent mode, don’t talk on the phone, don’t jabber to your mates, do take your headphones off. Watch the other customers, they will give you an indication of how the store expects you to behave.
No drinks  You wouldn’t believe how many people I have seen roll into a camera shop with a cup of coffee in one hand. It is a camera shop, they don’t want a stumbling oaf making a mess of their lovely counters and cameras. Same goes for food obviously.
Don’t ask  Don’t ask for discounts. A lot of these camera stores are small and they are trying to make a living, asking for money off is not really fair on them. If you have never been to a store before and you ask for a discount you are being rude to them. If you go a few times and show your manners they will offer you one without you having to ask. Be patient and be polite. The big stores will not give you one, no matter what.

Places
Tokyo is a big place, so rather than tell you all of the places, I am going to break it up into the areas and the train lines that you can take to get there. This will make it a lot easier for everyone. This first piece is going to be about Shinjuku and surrounding areas. We will cover the others in other articles.
Shinjuku
Shinjuku is the biggie, this is the place that all of the dealers come to and is the place that I would class as a base of operations. If you are looking for something special then you wouldn’t go far wrong by shopping here for a day, though you may need more than a day.
Shinjuku Station is massive and it is easy to get lost. The best thing you can do is look for the west exit (西口), this will take you to the main camera area. Here you will find the massive Yodobashi store in all of its glory. Now this is worth seeing if you have not before as it is huge and goes on forever, but don’t get caught up in there otherwise you may never leave.

Google Map
I have put together a little map of the Tokyo area. It is going to be updated with more camera shops until I consider it a complete piece of work. You can click here to see it, as google is dicking me around and will not let me embed it in the site.

Right around the corner You have several shops. MAP camera being the one that everyone knows. But there is also Kitamura, Lemon, Chuuko Box, and New Camera.

MAP camera
http://www.mapcamera.com/
This place has become one of the driving forces in used cameras over the last few years, and they have a wide selection. They also have a large selection of their own goods. One of the good things about MAP is their selection, it is extremely impressive. But, they do not discount, ever. They also are pretty difficult when it comes to the trade-ins, often offering way below market or even offering nothing and telling you it is junk (when it isn’t).
MAP pretty much sets the prices for the market now, so don’t be surprised if the prices are pretty steep in there. MAP has two stores, almost next to one another, check them both as they have different departments. The rangefinder section is incredible.

Kitamura
http://www.kitamura.jp/
One of the larger chain groups in Japan. They have immense buying power and the stores are all connected through their network, so you can order a camera from Osaka and pick it up in Tokyo without any trouble. They have a grading system, but it is often inaccurate. You need to inspect their cameras very carefully. Trading in with them is a total crapshoot, but they will try to fleece you unless you are on your toes. The Shinjuku used store is on the 4th floor through a small doorway, don’t miss it.

Lemon
http://www.lemonsha.com/
This store in Shinjuku was opened recently off the back of the success of the Ginza store. Lemon sell cameras, but also watches, pens and model trains. They are a consignment store, which means that they are selling the cameras on behalf of their customers, so don’t be surprised if the prices are sometimes a bit insane. They do not check any of the items either, so their ratings are often wildly inaccurate. Lemon has a strict no returns policy, so it doen’t matter if it breaks as soon as you have paid, too bad.
The Shinjuku store is inside a little doorway and on the 3rd floor. Check the map to get a general idea of the location, but don’t worry, you will find it.

New Camera
A tiny little store located next to a shoe shop. The entrance is concealed and hard to find, it is just a doorway. Go up the stairs to the second floor and it is there. This place has a huge selection, but again it is a consignment shop, so they don’t check the goods. They are grumpy bastards in this shop and don’t seem to ever smile. I have spend a ton of money in there and they have never even bothered to talk to me. Go here to find unusual cameras and classic medium format gear.

Chuuko Camera Box
Box is an appropriate name, this place is tiny. You need to go downstairs and you will find an Aladdin’s cave od cameras. There is a lot of junk in here and it seems to be entirely populated by old men, but there are some real gems here. A great place to visit. Be quiet and don’t let they see you take pictures, they don’t like it. There is basically only enough space in here for a couple of people, so don’t go as a group. They are friendly here, if you speak Japanese.

Lucky Camera
http://lucky-camera.com/
One of my least favourite camera shops in Tokyo. This place has been here forever and it seems to be one of the places on everyones list. They have a pretty good selection, but they are overpriced. They don’t discount and have sold me dud cameras in the past. The attitude of the staff there is horrible, they are rude and standoffish. This place is just for looking.

Miyama Camera
http://www.shinjuku-chuo.com/shop/miyama/miyama_e.htm
But this place is very much worth going to. The staff are friendly, the selection is not bad and they sometimes offer a discount. Miyama is a group of stores, with another store in Ginza. They used to have more stores, but the lack of business has meant they have had to downsize. A great store to check out. They are basically a Nikon specialist, but they do carry other items too.

Camera Alps
http://www.alpsdo.com/
Another wonderful little store, this place is not easy to find. Nestled in between restaurants and massage places, you might miss it. But do your best to find it, as there are all sorts of interesting items on their shelves. The staff are friendly and very used to foreigners. They sometimes ask for passports so you can get tax free (always nice). The selection is small, but worth seeing.


Now you are pretty much finished in Shinjuku, so you are going to need to get on a train for the next place.
Get back into Shinjuku station and get onto the JR Chuo line for Nakano. It is only one stop so if you are on the train for ages then you are on the wrong train.
When you get out of Nakano station you will want to take the North exit and head towards the KFC, as you are probably hungry….joking, but the KFC is just around the corner from the next stop….
Fujiya Camera
http://www.fujiya-camera.co.jp/
Fujiya camera is a funny place. It is a big store and well worth a visit, but it has faded in the last few years. The selection is not what it was. The staff are helpful, but don’t bother asking for a discount. Fujiya has a bit of a legend status amonst foreigners, but in all honesty JCH doesn’t got there all that often. Downstairs you will find digital, and upstairs you will find used film cameras and a wide selection of lenses.

Nitto camera
http://www.nitto-camera.co.jp/
This one is a bit of a trek away from Fujiya. You have to walk up the alleyway until you hit the main street, but the walk is nice as it is through the back streets, which are fully of fantastic restaurants. When you find Nitto you will be surprised, it is tiny. But they have a selection that is astounding, with my favourite item being the Nikon F USS Kittyhawk edition! They can be a bit grumpy, but as long as you are polite you should have a good time.

So, that pretty much wraps up this part of the series. In the next one I am going to cover Ginza, and some other parts of Tokyo.
Do you have any suggestions? What do you want to see? Leave comments and tell me how I can make this better for you.
Thanks
Japancamerahunter

54 Responses to Camera shopping in Tokyo pt. 1 – Shinjuku

Samuel April 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I travelled around Japan mid last year and visited some of the stores you mentioned.

With my budget I mainly stuck to the “junk” sections of each but found some good rokkor lenses. 28mm and 135mm to fit either side of my 50.

In one of the junk stores the guy started servicing my camera (minolta srt) while I looked around. He also shared my excitement when I found a matching case for the 135. I was a bit lost in translation but that was my favourite store, cannot remember the name though, it was a junk store down the road a little from it’s main store, near a small bridge.

Top Camera in Nagoya was good too, a bit expensive but huge.

Reply
    ruth December 9, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Top camera NAGOYA? I am amused that yr email about camera shopping in Japan and in nagoya in particular happened right after reading about the citys amazing festive photo parades…anyways: 1. Can I shop in English?2. Pay in trsvelers checks? It? And what are the chances of exchanging some lenses ( all NIKON analog, etc for others ( new or used?) If yu have the web site, cool. And thanks. I am in nyc so I have info for this part of the universe…I, too thought the article on Japan shopping was cool…is it really cheaper though to buy hap made cameras in Japan???will I save on taxes if I buy used upon returning here?

    Reply
Dai April 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for sharing.
I might check out one of stores you posted when I go this summer in Tokyo.
I look forward to viewing next 2 parts.

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Rommel April 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Thanks for sharing the information Sir. Looking forward to the next parts in the series.

The Network of Kitamura is definitely awesome! Find the camera in their website, if it’s at Fukuoka you can have it sent to the nearest Kitamura branch for you to inspect and (probably) buy all within one week. It’s all Japanese though. You need to have the right tools (translators) in Chrome :-)

A note about Lucky camera :-) they do seem to give buyers duds but I have only experienced that once. Got a GIII QL with a snappy shutter. The following day, the shutter won’t fire :-) hahahaha All is well though, I know how to open up the camera. Got a junk Olympus at their bin from the recent Matsuya show … paid 500yen … it turned out to be an OK camera after replacing the batteries and applying some Ronsonol.

Camera AlpsDo has a junk bin where one can find slip on filters.

Would want to know how to do the trade in :-) I have an unused digital RF that could be put to use by somebody else. Maybe a future write up??

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John April 5, 2012 at 11:18 am

Bellamy, how about offering a link to a google map and/or Street View for each store? Not all of the sites you link have easy to understand maps. This would help those coming to Tokyo for the first time. Camera Box and the shop above the ABC shoe store is rather difficult to find on its own.

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April 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Thank you for this — I am buying my first DSLR next week (probably Nikon) and have a couple of days off during Golden Week to look around. I had heard from a colleague that Shinjuku was better than Akihabara for cameras, so this was exactly what I was looking for to plan my trip!
 
どうもありがとうございました!!

m(__)m

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nathan October 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Hi, I read your article and this gave me some heads up. I might ask my cousin to buy me some of the lenses. however, do you know if they can ship products to other countries like in middle east through fedex courier or dhl?

thank you appreciate it.

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Tom November 23, 2012 at 12:13 am

Hi there!

Fantastic article. I will be in Tokyo in a couple of weeks and am looking to get my hands on a Fuji GSW 690 III. Do you know which store might stock such camera?

Thanks!
Tom

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Ylah January 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I saw a photo posted in one site (forgot which one) where it showed an aisle with a huge selection of film and a note saying it was in Shinjuku. Do you know which shops offer a huge variety of film selection in that area?

Thank you! :)

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Chip February 11, 2013 at 12:27 am

Hi – Thanks for the info. Just a quick note to say I had a very good experience recently at Fujiya Camera. Despite it being a very busy Sunday afternoon, the salesman was very helpful and patient. English speaking is extremely limited there, so it wouldn’t be a great place for a newbie with lots of questions. Prices – New stuff was OK, but you can probably do better in the U.S. on Ebay or Amazon. Used prices were variable but most were good to reasonable. It was a bit challenging to find, but the whole neighborhood was an interesting, fun experience to get “lost” in.

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Siri March 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Thanks for your contribution. I gathered a lot. I wish to buy a second hand (fairly used one) camera , probably a Pentax K series one, with a macro lens in addition to the standard kit it coms with.

Grateful if you can guide me further,

Thanks,

Siri

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hannah March 26, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Bellamy,

Thanks for loading all the great info into one post. I’ll definitely be kicking around these stores sometime soon.

I’m in Tokyo for a short 5 months and my kit lens on my Canon XTi is having trouble with its focus. Thought a quick fix would be to get a slightly nicer lens used, just a bit of an upgrade, before travelling around Japan and SE Asia when my school semester finishes up. My budget is flexible so long as it’s less than the cost of the new lens… Is there a store or two in the city you would recommend for this type of shopping?

Thanks,
Hannah

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Justin March 27, 2013 at 10:46 am

The comment about finding the west exit from terminal was great! I’m pretty sure when I walked through the door of MAP I thought I was in heaven! It was hard to not walk out of there with a lens for the m9/m6, but having just picked up the x100s before stepping foot in there kept me from caving in lol.

Reply
    james March 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Justin,

    I am in Japan for 3 months starting in early April and was looking to buy a X100s do you mind telling where you purchased it and the price ?

    Thanks.

    Reply
N.R. March 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hi! I have a different question. I am coming to Japan in a few weeks, and will be buying a new camera. However, do any of the stores offer to buy the old camera from you? I would like to get rid of my old Sony NEX5, does a possibility exist to sell it to some camera shop in Tokyo? Thanks!

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ColSebastianMoran April 4, 2013 at 12:19 am

Bellamy, thank you for this excellent article. I had a great time in many of these shops a few years ago.

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Josh July 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Hey,
So I am going back to Tokyo for 2 months to chill and shoot some photos for my photo project I am doing and wondering if you know somewhere that sells film in bulk for really cheap, I know yodobashi is cheapest as far as I can tell but when I say bulk I’m talking 10 rolls of ilford 400 delta for $30-$40 price range?

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Alan July 17, 2013 at 8:39 am

Hey. I live in Tokyo and am hoping to trade in my canon 5d mk 2 with 2 lenses for a Leica mp(lightly used) do you know the best place to do that?

Thanks in advance :)

Reply
    Rachel Sato-Banks July 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Alan, any chance you’d be willing to sell your MK2 and lenses? I’m looking to upgrade from my 7d…. If so, let me know your price. Thanks, Rachel

    Reply
kinane July 22, 2013 at 6:20 am

Hi,
I have a friend that is staying in Tokyo for a month or two, so i asked him to look around for an Olympus OM 4-Ti.
After reading camerajunky’s blog article on this camera i got the idea that it would be a challenge to come across such a camera, but it would probably be a tedious negotiation process with a happy ending i.e. good bargain. After reading this article and checking the shop’s websites i am confused. On the one hand, it might be easier to find all different kinds of cameras, accessories and rarities. On the other hand, the friendly and magical element of hunting such a beauty is no more, meaning, it is now a well defined business aimed for camera hunters which leads us, as for what i am concerned from the other side of the world, to overpricing; up to the point of matching the prices of similar cameras in Europe for example.
I have a some questions and i would really appreciate any opinion, help or suggestion.
First, based on the earlier observation, does the assumption of finding this particular camera in good conditions and low price still stands? Or was i wrong from the beginning? Is it worth it to ask my friend to undergo this search and buy operation or should i just go and get one from ebay for the same price or maybe cheaper?
Second, what would be a reasonable price for an Olympus OM-4 Ti in good conditions?
Hope to get some replies on this comment soon.
Have a good day,
K.

Reply
    Bellamy July 22, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Hi,
    I am not really sure why people think that Tokyo or Japan are suddenly going to present them with bargains as that has never really been the case. Sure you can strike it lucky sometimes, but most of the time you will pay market, which is at least comparable to the west, sometimes more. It has always been this way. What you get with Japan is quality. This is the only place in the world that I know of where you can find unused classic cameras in abundance.
    It has always been a well defined business here, Japan is very good at that. But it is a well defined business with surprises and a selection that is completely unparalleled.
    To be frank, you are not going to find this camera for a low price. It is an expensive camera, and the collectors well know it. So the prices are high. I am not going to tell you where to buy it from, but perhaps e-bay would be better if you are looking for a bargain (chances are it will be in poor condition though).
    As for prices, I suggest you ask your friend to do a bit of research and to let you know.
    Thanks
    JCH

    Reply
      Kinane July 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Hi Bellamy,
      Maybe because abundance is proportional to not expensive.
      You are right, it is down to the camera condition.
      Thank you.
      K.

      Reply
Shameel Musthafa December 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hi Bellamy,
I stumbled onto ur blog when a tripadvisor user shared ur link as reply to a query.

There is sooo much info in here and thanks a lot for taking the effort to put all of it in one single place where ppl can refer to. I am definitely gonna share this blog a lot..

I am coming to tokyo in January and i am planning to purchase a used Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR2. U have given an extensive menu for camera hunting but did not mention any places for lenses or more precisely used lenses. So where should i start fishing?

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Adam January 1, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I’m going to Tokyo in April. I’d like to visit the Nikon Store. I remember it from 15years ago however I don’t remember the location. It was a small shop on a corner. They had a nice selection of used Nikkor and NIkon. Do you know of any stores only dealing in Nikon? Sound familiar?
Thank you,
Adam

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    stephen April 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Hope you get to see this reply.
    I think the Nikon shop you mean is “Miyama,” (see link above), in Shinjuku.

    Reply
Roberto January 29, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I was in Tokyo few days ago. I would like to share some news with you, JCH’s followers:

MAP Camera: impressive selection of Leica rangefinder cameras and lenses at very good conditions. One of all M camera types is at disposal of customer just to taste it! They have almost every other brand in the shop with clear tags for price, and camera conditions, one of the most (if not The Most) professional store for used cameras in Tokyo. Also a huge selection of used digital stuff. Go there also for Contax Gs and Voigtlander Bessas.
Camera Ichiba: probably my favourite shop; a lot of stuff and well displayed; very good prices (I had a very good deal here); big selections of Japan cameras and some German ones as well. NOTE: they don’t accept any credit card, only cash.
Chuuco Box: their cabinets are so filled of cameras that it could be very hard to understand cameras’ condition and position. I suggest to go there with clear ideas of what to buy, this is not the shop to go and look for inspirations, you’ll only get confused. If you’re looking for a particular item you may find a deal.
Kitamura: their selection is small compared to the other shops of Shinjuku.
Lemonsha: they have a better shop in Ginza.

Yokohama: if you are in Yokohama I would suggest Camera Ohnuki located on the main street between Sakuragicho JR station and Hinodecho metro station; a very nice shop with a big selection of every brand and some rarity; very friendly clercks and good prices.

Note: have a good amount of cash to be exchanged at the airpot: ATMs don’t accept foreigner cards! You may try at 7eleven and Japan Post ATM but there is no guarantee you will success!

Have a good time in Tokyo!

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Martijn February 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm

“The Shinjuku store is inside a little doorway and on the 3rd floor.”
3rd floor of what?

“Check the map to get a general idea of the location, but don’t worry, you will find it.”
What do you mean by “the map”? Just Google or something?

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Lyn Hoare March 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Hi, I am coming to Tokyo in May. I am interested in buying a good set of binoculars, and was thinking of going for a really nice used set, hoping I can get something used that ismuch better than what I can afford new. I used to work in a camera shop and know that some also sell used binoculars. Would you have any suggestions for places I should go to please?

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steve April 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

Hi. Do you have a couple shops you could suggest in Yokohama? Besides wanting to see great camera gear I am specifically looking for a camera bag, and would like to know if there is a place with a good selection to choose from. Thanks for the info!

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stephen April 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

Hi Bellamy,

Thanks for all this information. It has been a useful resource for my research in buying a Leica CL body. I had a number of places to visit yesterday, and I decided to buy from New Camera. As you say, they ARE grumpy; but also condescending and unhelpful. I wanted to check the focussing of the camera, and asked in my politest Japanese if they would put a lens on so that I could do so. Not possible, was the stern reply. But I noticed that another customer WAS allowed to; and the grumpy gits’ attitude changed markedly when doing so. Make of THAT what you will…!
Anyway, I chose the body I wanted, even though it stated that the meter didn’t work as it was within my budget. Because of their surly attitude I almost didn’t buy it, but I KNEW the meter was working when I checked, I thought “Bugger you, you arrogant sod, I’m getting this camera at half price because YOU didn’t check properly. Why should I care??” (I think he thought I wouldn’t know the “sunny f/16″ rule, and wondered why I would buy a camera with a broken meter.) So the money I saved can be spent on film!!

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Ivan May 6, 2014 at 8:08 am

Hi,
I was thinking of trading off some of my old Nikon MF lense at Map Camera. From your experiences, do they take in such items? I read from your site that “Map Camera – They also are pretty difficult when it comes to the trade-ins, often offering way below market or even offering nothing and telling you it is junk (when it isn’t)”
So is it worth for me to bring all my items to Map?
Thanks.

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Aron May 6, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Good information. I have only one minor disagreement, it’s ok to ask for a discount, but you just need to do it in a smart way and work around to it. For example, if you’re buying a lens, after having a conversation with the clerk about the lens you are considering buying you can ask them to throw in something minor like a protective filter and sometimes you will succeed.

Reply

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