If you're looking for a modded PS2, feel free to shoot me a PM or e-mail. Although I don't spend too much time looking at how much other people charge, I imagine my prices are reasonable enough since I get regular requests for them. (Lawrence, if you don't feel this is appropriate, feel free to kill this post).
Some general answers:
- Yep, they'll play Japanese PS1 games just fine. Some mod-protected games aren't too happy with the chips, however, but most mods have a disable function that can be used to get around this problem.
- It's true that PS2 mod chips are a royal pain in the butt to install. All of the properly functional models have at least 20 wires to connect, and the solder points can be extremely tiny (depending on the motherboard revision). Unless you're really good with soldering, I wouldn't recommend attempting it (ie if it takes you 8 hours to do, you are not good enough). That said, it's not rocket science and if you know what you're doing you should be OK. I've never broken a PS2 out of several dozen I've modded so far.
- You do need to be very picky with the sort of chip you get. So far, there have been ten different models of PS2, and each of them have their own set of quirks with the various brands of chip.