Buying from Japan

Find something from Japanese shop/auction sites you want? Here's a quick guide on how to buy from those sites while living outside of Japan!

Finding a Middle-Man / Proxy

There are a lot of sites out there that offer Japanese middle-man (aka proxy) services. They are all a bit different in terms of what extra fees they have, how they handle bidding for you, etc. Most of these sites all have an English version to them so you should do your research into what is best for you.

Here's what you should research:

  • How do you bid in an auction or purchase from a shop? Is this an automatic bidding service that interacts directly with the shop/auction, or do you have to wait until a person manually bids for you? This can make a big difference if you want to buy something quickly before another person, or if you want to sniper bid it.
  • Do you pay before or after? Some proxies require you to have a deposit stored on their website for you to bid.
  • What's the fee per item? Every proxy is going to have some sort of fee for using their service. Most of the time it's a percentage of the item value, but some sites have a set rate based on number of items.
  • How can I pay? PayPal is widely accepted on most sites, but there are few where it isn't.

Here are few recommended proxies:

From JapanZenMarketBuyeeTreasure JapanWhite Rabbit ExpressTensoOtsukai

From Japan

  • Good for any online shops or auctions.
  • Does not work for Mercari.
  • Fee Info

Yahoo Japan Auctions

You can either enter in a search term (銀牙 = Ginga) to find an item or the URL of the item you wish to bid on in From Japan's built in search. You should then see a page like this:

This listing has both bidding or "buy it now". You can decide if the cost difference of buying it now is worth it instead of bidding. Not all listings offer both these options.

  • Buy It Now: Purchase the item immediately at the price listed.
  • Real-Time Bid: Place a bid (will automatically be placed).
  • Sniper Bid: Place a bid, but wait till the last minute. This can be good to get items that have a lot of other bidders, unless the bids go higher than your submitted sniper bid.

You will see a summary of the cost of the item you will pay upon purchasing or winning bid ("charge 1"), along with an estimate of domestic shipping and proxy fees ("charge 2").

If you buy or win your item, congrats! Now you just need to wait for your items to be received by From Japan (more info on shipping below).

Amazon JP, Rakuten, or Popular Shops

Same as with auctions, you can either enter in a search term (銀牙 = Ginga) to find an item or the URL of the item you wish to purchase in From Japan's built in search. You should then see a page like this:

Easy enough! Just like shopping on a regular website! You can add the item to your cart. If you are buying from the same store, you can add multiple items to your cart as well.

Once you have everything added from that store that you'd like, you'll view your cart and make your "charge 1" payment. Note that you can only checkout from one store at a time.

Other Shops such as Booth, FaNeMa, etc.

Once you have a URL to a specific item, enter it into From Japan's built in search. If it's not a service that From Japan can automatically buy from like above, you wil see a page like this:

You will have to enter in the item name, but all other options are optional as-needed. You can type these out in English if you'd like, the staff at From Japan are pretty fluent!

If this is a shop that From Japan can purchase from, they will send you an email letting you know the item is ready to purchase. It will be in your cart just like the regular shop orders above. You will get another email later letting you know when they successfully purchased your item.

If you are wanting multiple different items from the same shop, you do have to submit each separately. This makes sure there are no mistakes or missing items from your order. The checkout however will have them all grouped, so don't worry about paying separate domestic shipping!

Shipping

Once all the items you have purchased have arrived, or you are close to the end of your holding period, you can submit for international shipping!

On your shipping page, you can see what items have been received by From Japan, and which ones they are still waiting on.

If you are ready to ship, select all the items you wish to ship and go to the next page! Here you will see a summary of all the "charge 2" fees, and shipping costs.

This is one of the best things about From Japan is they tell you exactly how much your shipping costs right away! Also if you use From Japan frequently, you may get discounts on FedEx and EMS shipping.

Once you pay your shipping and fees, your items will be boxed up and on their way to you!

ZenMarket

  • Good for any online shops or auctions.
  • Does not work for Mercari.
  • Fee Info

ZenMarket has created a very good tutorial video to watch!

Buyee

  • Good for some online shops, auctions, and most Mercari.
  • Does not work with less popular shops, only ones within its network.
  • Fee Info

Yahoo Japan Auctions

You can either enter in a search term (銀牙 = Ginga) to find an item, or click on the Buyee banner directly on a YJA item page. You should then see a page like this:

This listing has both bidding or "buyout". You can decide if the cost difference of buying it now is worth it instead of bidding. Not all listings offer both these options.

  • Buyout: Purchase the item immediately at the price listed.
  • Bid: Place a bid (will automatically be placed).
  • Snipe It: Place a bid, but wait till the last minute. This can be good to get items that have a lot of other bidders, unless the bids go higher than your submitted sniper bid.

You will see a summary of the cost of the item you will pay upon purchasing or winning bid including fees.

If you buy or win your item, congrats! Now you just need to wait for your items to be received by Buyee (more info on shipping below).

Mercari

You can either enter in a search term (銀牙 = Ginga) to find an item, or click on the "buy this item" button directly on a Mercari item page. Note that not all sellers allow proxy-buying. If they do you'll see the top button, if they don't you'll see the bottom:

If the seller won't let you buy through Buyee, try Treasure Japan!

If you can purchase, then you should see a page like this:

After adding to your cart or purchasing now you will see a summary of the cost of the item you will pay upon purchasing including fees. Note that Mercari items from different sellers will have to be purchased one at a time.

Now you just need to wait for your items to be received by Buyee (more info on shipping below).

Amazon JP, Rakuten, or Popular Shops

You must enter a search term (銀牙 = Ginga) into that site's specific search on Buyee's website. The item page will look like this:

After adding to your cart or purchasing now you will see a summary of the cost of the item you will pay upon purchasing including fees.

Now you just need to wait for your items to be received by Buyee (more info on shipping below).

Shipping

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make extra certain all the items you want to ship have arrived! Buyee only shows the items that haven't arrived on the Auction and Shopping pages in your account, they do not show on your package information page!

Once you have confirmed all your items are ready to ship, head to the Package Information page. If you want to ship more than one item at once, select them and click the Add Package Consolidation button. There is an extra fee for this service, but often times shipping multiple at once will be significantly cheaping international shipping cost than one at a time.

Once everything is consolidated or ready to ship, you can then select which shipping method you'd like to use. Sometimes Buyee gives the shipping cost directly, but other times you may have to wait for a quote back.

Treasure Japan

  • Good for any online shops, auctions, and all Mercari.
  • Non-automated buying.
  • Fee Info

Make sure you login or sign-up before submitting orders!

Yahoo Japan Auctions

You will need to search directly on YJA to order. Once you have the link to the item, you will enter it on the Auction Order Form.

You are able to submit multiple auction orders at once before checking out (see "your cart" on the auction page).

Once you checkout, you will pay via PayPal for the value of your bids. Treasure will email you when they've successfully placed your bid, and if you've won the auction. If they are not successful, you will receive a refund for that bid.

If your bid wins, congrats! You will then have to wait for Treasure to receive your item.

Mercari

You will need to search directly on Mercari to order. Once you have the link to the item, you will enter it on the Flea Market Order Form. Note that most of the time, Treasure can buy even from those that say they don't work with Buyee!

You are able to submit multiple orders at once before checking out (see "your cart" on the flea market page).

Once you checkout, you will pay via PayPal for the value of your items. Treasure will email you when they've successfully ordered your item. If they are not successful (item is already sold), you will receive a refund for that item.

You will then have to wait for Treasure to receive your item.

Other Shops

You will need to search directly on the shop to order. Once you have the link to the item, you will enter it on the Shopping Order Form.

You are able to submit multiple orders at once before checking out (see "your cart" on the shopping page).

Once you checkout, you will pay via PayPal for the value of your items. Treasure will email you when they've successfully ordered your item. If they are not successful (item is already sold), you will receive a refund for that item.

You will then have to wait for Treasure to receive your item.

Shipping

Review orders you have placed on your Auction History, Flea Market History, and Shopping History pages. Treasure will hold packages for about 30 days if you want to combine shipping.

Once all your items are ready, you can request shipping. You will receive an invoice for the cost of fees plus shipping cost within a few days. Once you've paid, you'll get tracking if available!

White Rabbit Express

  • Good for any online shops, auctions, and all Mercari.
  • Non-automated buying.
  • Fee Info

Shops, Auctions, & Mercari

You will need to search directly on the shop/auction site to order. Once you have the link to the item, you will enter it on the item form.

You are able to submit multiple orders at once before checking out. You can also view your estimated service fees along with pre-approving any domestic shipping costs.

Once you checkout, you will pay via PayPal for the value of your items. White Rabbit will email you when they've successfully ordered your item. If they are not successful (item is already sold), you will receive a refund for that item.

You will then have to wait for White Rabbit to receive your item.

Shipping

Review orders you have placed on your account. White Rabbit will hold packages up to 30 days if you want to combine shipping.

Once all your items are ready, you can request shipping.

Tenso

  • Good for any online shops that accept international payment methods.
  • Gives you a Japanese warehouse address, you checkout and pay on your own.
  • Note that you will have to provide your ID to create an account, this is for legal reasons within Japan.
  • Fee Info

Using Your Address

Once you are signed up, you will get a shipping address to use. This address includes one key part you need to make sure you include always, it looks like this:

TS #######

This is your Tenso ID, and makes sure that your package gets attributed to you. You will enter this in any "apartment number" or similar fields when checking out.

Tenso has good instructions with how to fill out your address on various websites.

Remember that you do all the checkout on your own on the shop you are buying from. If that shop doesn't accept international payments, you will need to use a different service (Tenso is paired with Buyee, however you can't combine orders between the two services).

Shipping

Visit your package information page to see what packages have arrived. If everything you ordered has (remember you need to keep track of your own orders in the meantime), you can submit for package consolidation.

Once everything is ready to go, submit for international shipping!

Otsukai

  • Advertise the item you are looking for or need help purchasing.
  • A person in Japan will give you a price for the item.
  • Any fees including shipping are included in the offer.

Making a Request

Gather information about the item you want, such as image, a link where it was originally for sale, etc. It is absolutely okay for these to be items not available for sale anymore, or for ones that will be available soon (such as a pop-up shop).

In the description, you can make any notes on specifics, like a certain version of an item or a specific price range. Try to use as simple of language as possible as some people will only use machine translation.

Getting Offers

There's no guarantee someone will respond to your request, but if you do they'll look like this:

Note that a "friend" is someone in Japan who has or is offering to get an item for you.

Most requests will have a timelimit on how long you have to accept a request. I recommend waiting at least 24 hours before accepting a request, because as you can see in the screenshot above sometimes another friend will submit a better offer.

Remember that offers include any fees and international shipping! So the price offered is exactly the price you pay!

You are welcome to make a comment on an offer, such as requesting a lower price, getting more details, or clarifying anything. Most friends are very responsive within Japanese business hours. You can also check on a friends rating on their profile.

If you are experiencing any problems with an order or friend, Otsukai is very responsive about fixing issues.

Japan Post

Once your proxy lets you know they have the item, time to choose shipping! Some proxies will hold items for up to a month or more if you want to combine shipping on items. Along with FedEx or DHL, here are common Japan Post shipping methods:

  • EMS: Fast shipping. About a week.
  • Airmail: Fast shipping. 1-2 weeks.
  • SAL/Economy Air: A few weeks to a month.
  • Surface Mail: Very slow, but very cheap. 1-3 months.

Most of these can have tracking added on if not already provided, which is highly recommended for the cheaper shipping options.

Don't Want to Use a Proxy?

If you don't want to use a proxy, but still want to buy some Ginga merch, here are a few sites to look at:

  • CDJapan: Books, DVDs, CDs.
  • Urumi: Finnish merchandise (including PurePlastic).
  • Mandarake Auction & Mail-Order: Occasionally has cels and other rare items.
  • eBay: Don't think I need to explain this one, but be extremely aware of scam sellers!

Easy Yen to USD Conversion

Remember that you can search Google with "# yen to usd" (or other currency) to get a very accurate calculation with current exchange rates. But if you just want to eye-ball really quick how much an item is in USD, this works well. If you have a trick for other currencies I'd love to put them up here too!

Example: 40500 yen
What to do: Just add a decimal point! The result will be a bit higher than the actual cost, but I tend to like that as I can "pretend" it includes the proxy fees and some shipping costs. So 40500 yen is approximately $405.00 USD.