After asking for advice on my foreign wives' club email group, someone suggested looking in second-hand stores for the furniture I need for the girls' very-long-time-coming new bedroom. I had already looked in, and selected from, the Nissen catalog - kind of like Japan's ezibuy, but a little more extensive. The total for two bunk beds, two chests of drawers, and two study desks (an absolutely essential item for the Japanese child's bedroom) came to 120,000 yen, or about $1500. That's pretty much the cheapest option, and like the cheapest, will not last, I was warned. Then another lady suggested the second hand stores. Of course, I thought - and I was off.
As you may well know, second-hand items in Japan are much better quality than what you find in NZ, for much cheaper prices, since the market is not strong - people like new things, and most of them have the money to get nice new things. Which means good stuff left over for me. I remembered the location of one place that I have driven past numerous times, and stopped in there after lunch. Lo and behold, I walk straight in the door, and there on the left are two study desks, 6000 yen each - or a tenth of the price of a new one. They are in pretty good condition too, so I will go back with Kanji's van sometime and get them. What a good start!