What are your options when buying from Japan?
You’ve got your eye on the endless bounty of anime merchandise available in Japan. Once you decide you’ll go to the source and buy direct from Japan, where do you start?
Buying Direct - Major online shops in Japan like Amazon, Rakuten, and AmiAmi may ship certain items internationally, but still a lot of items don’t have that option. Additionally, there may be some stores that sell authentic Japanese goods in your country, but items often come with huge markups.
Forwarding Services - There are companies that will give you a shipping address in Japan to use so you can shop on Japanese sites yourself. Once your items arrive they’ll forward them to you as is. If you are comfortable using Japanese this could be a good option for you. But be careful, sometimes foreign credit cards are not allowed, and auctions might not even allow foreign buyers.
- Shopping Proxy Services - With a proxy service, you can actually bid on auctions yourself, and shop from virtually any Japanese website. The proxy service helps communicate with stores, buys everything, repackages items, and ships quickly. You can consolidate multiple items from different stores. And it’s cheaper than you think!
ZenMarket Shopping Proxy Service
We’ll show you how to use ZenMarket to get anime merchandise that is only available in Japan. But first, here’s some information you need to know:
How much does it cost?
ZenMarket has straightforward fees. There are no tiers, or plans, or percentage based commission fees based on weight or price. And no extra charges for auctions.
ZenMarket only charges a flat service fee of 300 yen (~$3) per item.
300 yen is all it costs! You’ll need to pay for international shipping of course. And depending on the seller, you sometimes have to pay for domestic shipping (from the seller to ZenMarket’s warehouse in Japan).
ZenMarket requires you to add funds to your account before you can start shopping or bidding on auctions. There are small fees charged by the payment processors when adding funds to your account. However you’ll get reimbursed for any of these fees along with your unused funds when you withdraw what’s left.
What does ZenMarket’s service fee include?
- Purchasing and receiving your items.
- Any domestic (Japanese) bank fees.
- Storing items in their warehouse (free up to 45 days).
- Repacking if necessary.
- Consolidating multiple items into one package.
- Shipping insurance.
Contacting ZenMarket, asking questions, and inquiring about certain items is always free.
So where can I shop?
The best part about using a proxy shopping service like ZenMarket is that you can buy from virtually any online store in Japan. ZenMarket has integrated Japan’s biggest stores on its website so you can search and shop Amazon Japan, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Auctions without even having to visit those sites. In the case of Yahoo! Actions, you can even bid, set up watchlists and more right from your ZenMarket account.
For other Japanese sites, you’ll just need to find the URL of the item you want to purchase and the proxy service does the rest. Try checking out the following sites and see if you can find something good!
Animate is one of the most popular stores for anime fans in Japan. They have over 140 locations in Japan, and they recently opened stores in Taiwan, China, and Thailand. They are famous for the abundance of manga, anime related goods, CDs, magazines, voice actor goods, and DVDs. Many products are only available at animate. They often collaborate with different anime to open limited themed cafes. It’s highly recommended that you to go to animate if you have a chance to come to Japan. But for now you can shop their online store easily with ZenMarket.
Lashinbang often has a shop near or next to Animate. Like Animate, they sell manga, anime related goods, DVDs and a lot of other stuff. Lashinbang is a used goods store, so people sell their old stuff, and things they think they can sell at a high price. It’s like treasure hunting here. You may find what you can’t buy at a regular store, such as rare posters and limited items.
Toranoana mainly sell Doujinshi, which are fanfiction works published by fans. Doujinshi have the same characters as the original work, but they have their own stories and different art styles depending on who made them. Many doujinshi writers only sell their work on their own online shop or at Comiket (the biggest semiannual event for fanfiction works in Japan), but some writers also sell their works on Toranoana. You can also find CDs DVDs and Blu-rays here.
Let us introduce a very interesting book store, Village Vanguard. Village Vanguard has the concept “A bookstore where you can play.” They insist that they are a bookstore, but also admit their main financial resource not books. They sell cute, interesting, or weird stuff, as if it only exists for entertaining people. They also have abundant anime goods of all kinds, including things other stores rarely have now. Things like Sailor Moon, shows from the 1980’s to the 1990’s, etc. Village Vanguard is called a holy place of Japanese subculture (Anime, Japanese rock, Visual kei...), and it is very popular among fans of these subcultures.
Japan’s biggest auction site by far, you can buy almost anything here from old to new to rare and exotic. Because it’s an auction site, you may be able to buy what you want at extremely low prices. *Yahoo auctions is actually integrated right into ZenMarket so you can search, bid, set up watchlists, ask questions and more right from your account on ZenMarket’s site.
Everything on ZenMarket is automatically translated and the important information is well organized too. You can still get help from ZenMarket staff when needed.
See the item on Yahoo! Auction sites, and the same item viewed on ZenMarket’s site. It’s fun to browse for things this way.
How to purchase using a proxy:
Once you find something you want, you’ll need a free account at ZenMarket to get started. If you are a new user they even put 300 yen in your account when you join, so you don’t have to pay the service fee on your first purchase.
To buy from Amazon Japan, Rakuten, or Yahoo! Auctions:
You don’t even have to leave ZenMarket’s site. You can search or browse these stores, and just add items to your cart. It’s really easy. Or you can copy and paste a URL of an item into the search bar and you’ll be able to see the product page translated on ZenMarket.
For Yahoo! Auctions, you’ll need to add funds to your account before you can start bidding.
To buy from other online stores like the ones listed above**:
Search or browse. Feel free to use Google translate to help you navigate a site. You can always type what you are looking for into a search bar on any site. You may need to enter it in Japanese for the best results.
Add to cart. Once you find something you want. Copy the URL of that item’s page, and paste it to the search bar on ZenMarket.jp. You should see a window pop up where you can add any notes about the item you want (color, size, etc.) before you add it to your cart. (See below)
Pay. You’ll now see the item in your cart! ZenMarket operators check the price, availability, etc, and once it’s confirmed, you can pay for the item. It will be purchased for you and will soon be on it’s way to the warehouse. You’ll be notified every step of the way.
International Shipping. Once ZenMarket receives your items you can create a package for shipping. From your account you can choose which of your purchases get packed and shipped together. Consolidating multiple orders into one shipment is always free and can save a ton on shipping fees. Once ZenMarket staff packs and weighs your package, you can choose and pay for the shipping method.
There is a calculator on the site you can use to estimate shipping costs. See the difference in price between Japan Post, UPS, FedEX, DHL, etc.
Here’s an estimated cost breakdown of a typical purchase:
Price of product: 12,000 yen
Domestic shipping fee: Free
International shipping fee: about 3,000 yen (to US)
ZenMarket service fee: 300 yen
Payment processing: 500 yen
Total: about 15,800 yen
Here are things you may see on product pages when searching Japanese sites:
X円以上で送料無料free shipping over X yen
Buying products from Japan was not that hard, was it? A few extra steps, but worth it if you can find something special! Using a proxy may take some getting used to but it means you can find some really great items that you can’t find anywhere else.
Words will not be able to describe how you feel when you open the package with your new Japanese products inside. Enjoy shopping!