There's a style of low profile office chair which I ran across at a second-hand items shop about 6 months ago. It was black and only about 3000 yen (about $30) and looked like it'd suit the CH's need for a replacement chair at his office. Unfortunately, my rickety old chair, which I had repaired 3 times and extended the life of for another year and a half, finally gave up the ghost and I ended up with the chair intended for my husband. (He was in need of a new chair because his company's president replaced everyone's comfortable chair with nicer looking, but very uncomfortable chairs).
Since that time, I've been checking the same shop every time I ride my bicycle past it hoping that another one would show up. This particular type of chair is well-suited to Japanese apartments because it is light and has a low back so it doesn't seem so large in a small space. It's also wider and has good lower back support and is more comfortable than most conventional office chairs.
Well, today was the day another one of these chairs showed up. The odd thing was that it wasn't there when I rode past it to the supermarket, but it was there 10 minutes later on my way back home. This one only cost 1890 yen (about $18) so it was a steal at that price. The only bad point was that this one is red and showed a bit more wear and tear. It's a little dingy, but I figured I could reupholster it. My husband can take the black one to his office and I'll use the red one.
So, that would be all well and good if that was the end of the story. Of course, then this wouldn't be an "adventure". The used items shop is about a 7-minute walk from my apartment and charges for delivery so I decided to just push the bike I was on with my right hand and drag the chair along the sidewalk with my left hand. It was noisy, and a little troublesome, especially with my bad back, but I got it home and was very pleased.
I put my groceries away, chatted with my sister a bit on Skype, and then decided to try out the chair. When I sat in it, it leaned forward any time I did. It was as if it was hinged. I turned it over and saw that two of the four bolts were missing. The front ones were there but very loose, and the ones from the back were gone. Given how loose the ones in the front were, my guess was that they were shaken out during the journey rather than absent all along.
The main problem with losing the screws is that the base of the chair is very thin so you can't replace them easily with other bolts. They'd have to be exactly the right length and width. Also, Tokyo is not exactly overflowing with hardware shops with a plethora of bolts for every need. In fact, I have no idea where to find a specific size bolt. Given the difficulties in replacing them, I though the best course of action was to retrace my steps and hope to find them.
Now, if I lived in the isolated countryside or in some quiet suburb, this wouldn't be a big deal, but this is Tokyo. There are people and cars everywhere. To add more fun to finding the lost screws, ginkgo leaves are all over the ground and blowing around. That means there are chances that they could be covered, swept up by the ever vigilant shop keepers sweeping several times a day in front of their stores, or ran over by a car. Yeah, I crossed a major street (Ome Kaido Avenue) full of traffic on my way home.
Still, I gamely retraced my steps and found one of the screws, sans its nut, at the curb where I crossed the street. I was actually surprised to find one at all and pocketed it. When the light changed, I crossed the street carefully scanning the crosswalk. However, I figured I'd be screwed if one fell in the street because tons of cars drive over the intersection every minute. It could be thrown, crushed, or stuck in some one's tire if it happened to fall on the crosswalk.
After walking all the way back to the shop, I came up empty on the second screw and decided I'd give up after one more pass over the crosswalk. Strangely enough, I found it lying in the middle of the street undamaged and with its nut intact. I must say that I felt really lucky to recover them under the circumstances.
Of course, my entire experience was two parts luck (finding the chair, then finding both lost screws) and one part bad luck (the loose screws). I can't believe that the people who assembled the chair were so careless as to leave the screws so loose that simply pulling it along the sidewalk for 3 minutes made them fall out. I guess it could have been worse. All 4 of them could have fallen out and the chair could have fallen apart before I got it home.
Note: This chair is obviously the Stockholm office chair sold by Walmart in the U.S. There are no Walmarts in Japan so I have no idea where this came from. I've never seen one like it in any shop. If anyone else knows where these can be bought in Japan, I'd appreciate knowing. I did find a Japanese version of this style of chair called a "Roco desk chair" (ロコデスクチェアー), but it's not the same exactly, though it still has the appealing low profile style.