Buying items from Japan

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Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose » 15 Jan 2013, 18:43

If you've ever lusted after an item on Yahoo! Japan Auctions, such as one posted in the official Yahoo! Japan Auctions thread, you may have wondered how to obtain it. Obviously it's easiest if you live in Japan and can order it directly. If you live outside of Japan, check the auction description to see if there is any information for foreign buyers. Some sellers will have some English text explaining what to do, and perhaps include an email address.

If the seller won't ship outside of Japan, which is the norm, options include ordering it while you or a friend/relative is visiting Japan, or to have someone you know that lives in Japan order it for you. Unfortunately, friends and relatives might get tired after ordering a few items for you, which is no good if you want to buy a lot of stuff. There are people and companies who have stepped in to fill this need by serving as an intermediary or proxy bidder. A variety of intermediaries have been mentioned on the forums in various threads, so let's consolidate the info here. Post if you know of any intermediaries, especially if you have used one. Here are some that I have heard of:

Rinkya

Japamart

Shopping Mall Japan

Buyee

Japonica Market

Tenso
Last edited by MentholMoose on 24 Jan 2015, 20:37, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine » 16 Jan 2013, 18:28

I have used this site http://www.japonicamarket.com/ at least 10 times over the years. They are the only courier site I have used as I try to buy from Japanese sources that do ship overseas when possible. When I originally found them I did my research and they were the cheapest for most scenarios (what you will buy and how much), however things may have changed so maybe by now there are some cheaper alternatives.

Something to watch out for is customs tax. It can be outrageous, if you ever get charged for it. It has only ever happened to me once in about 1000 overseas purchases, so I did not know it could exist until the first time. The reason you usually don't get charged is that most items that people like us buy are exempt (toys, books, CDs). However other items might get taxed. Whether they actually get taxed or not is random (depends on the mood of the customs inspectors). I don't know offhand if electronics get taxed. If you are purchasing something that you think might get taxed, check first, and if it might get taxed, then your best bet is to keep the total package under $200 in value, because those don't get taxed regardless of the contents.

This might not sound like a big deal but trust me, the customs tax is painful. It could more than double what you paid depending on what the customs inspector valued your items at.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose » 16 Jan 2013, 22:37

Thanks for the info! It is good to have more options. Thankfully I haven't been hit buy a customs tax. I haven't purchased that much from overseas, though.... I'd guess somewhere between 100 and 200 transactions.

I recently tried out Buyee. The process was smooth and the costs reasonable. The fee structure is fairly simple. You pay Buyee the greater of 10% of the item price or ¥500, plus anything else you would have paid. As with any intermediary, you have to pay for shipping twice... 1) from the seller to Buyee, and 2) from Buyee to you. The transaction is charged as two transactions; the first is when you buy the item (item cost plus fees), and the second when they ship it to you (shipping charges).

Registration was simple and they send status emails whenever there are updates (e.g. when they receive the item, when they ship it, etc.). I emailed their support with a question and they replied promptly (within one business day). Based on my experience I would recommend checking them out.
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine » 09 Mar 2013, 22:35

I noticed a few days ago that Yahoo Japan Auctions now directly links you to Buyee at the top of every auction listing. I don't remember it being like this when you first told me about Buyee. I don't know how they managed that arrangement but if it is permanent, Buyee will surely monopolize the Yahoo Japan Auctions courier service market.

edit: I was recently looking to buy something on YJA and took a closer look at Buyee's fee structure.

It may not be as wonderful as I once thought. There is a Payment Fee, which is a fee incurred by Buyee when they make a bank payment to the seller, which is passed on to you. This is typical of many courier services but Japonica has always waived this fee.

There is also a significant fee for repackaging services and consolidating packages together. Japonica has always done this for free.

As for the main fee, the page states that the current rate of 10% is only for a limited time, and may later rise to 15%. Japonica's fee has always been a flat 10% (temporarily, it is lower, possibly in response to Buyee) with additional discounts if you buy multiple items from the same seller.

However, Japonica had a much larger minimum fee you would be charged for small purchases, compared to Buyee, although they've temporarily reduced theirs as well to match.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine » 14 Oct 2014, 23:18

It seems that there is now another way to indirectly get items from Japan.

http://global.rakuten.com/en/help/servi ... rding.html

Instead of being a full courier service, this new type of service gives you a Japanese mailing address and they merely forward your packages to you. The cost for this is minimal, it is essentially free. ($1.50 per package but they provide a bulk discount on EMS shipping which will negate this entirely)

If this seems too good to be true, I think this is the catch: if you use this method, you must handle the entire buying process yourself, which includes payment. I am not sure if non-US friendly Japanese stores or Yahoo Japan auctions will accept US credit cards. If you use PayPal more places might accept it but PayPal will charge a hefty fee of 3% to 4% on everything (note: you generally paid this additional fee using the courier methods from before anyway, at least I did).

I have yet to try this out.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose » 16 Oct 2014, 00:57

Paying with PayPal should be avoided due to their extremely high fees for transactions in foreign currencies. But if you pay with a credit card, watch out for foreign transaction fees. You can check these fees for your credit cards in the card member agreement or by calling customer service. I normally use a Capital One card since they don't charge these fees for any of their cards.
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine » 16 Oct 2014, 13:37

I currently use a Capital One card for the same reason. My university credit card used to be the same but then they started charging foreign transaction fees, too.

When using Japonica Market as a courier service I always had to pay with a credit card through PayPal, as they don't have the means to accept credit cards directly. My credit card charges no foreign transaction fee but PayPal's 3% to 4% international transaction fee still applies. Greedy PayPal makes just as much money as Japonica Market does, which annoys me.

Buyee seems to be able to accept credit cards directly so overall it may be cheaper than Japonica Market, though their fees are slightly more expensive (they both have very cheap fees though).

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by limeylio » 23 Jan 2015, 19:07

I often buy items from Japan. I like Yahoo! Japan Auctions that constantly available at cheaper price than at markets.Yahoo Auction Japan is the most popular auction site in Japan. I have used this site http://www.jpbidding.com/. Because the customs tax is painful,they would teach me how to avoid.And the commissions are also very cheap.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose » 24 Jan 2015, 14:00

Welcome to the forum! The link you posted isn't working right now. When was the last time you used it?
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by ChexGuy » 24 Jan 2015, 18:06

A forwarding service I've heard of is Tenso. The only reason I know about them is because I needed an address for a Japanese PSN account, but I also plan on buying some C87 stuff that only ships inside of Japan sometimes soon. I'll let you know how it goes when I do.
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose » 24 Jan 2015, 20:54

OP updated with additional options.
ChexGuy wrote:I'll let you know how it goes when I do.
Thanks!!
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by twistedsymphony » 26 Jan 2015, 09:18

I've used Rinkya, Shopping Mall Japan, and Buyee.

One thing everyone should know is most of these places require you use a security deposit of sometime so if you decide to not pay for something they're sill covered. Also, most of these places also allow you to keep an item in Storage in Japan for an number of weeks so you can save money by combining shipping from multiple auctions.

Rinkya:
The first importer I ever used was Rinkya. I was able to bid and get my items fine but their pricing structure is horrible, it's difficult to figure out how much things will cost because they tack on substantial fees for every little thing. I used them for 15 items, mostly small car parts and books.

Shopping Mall Japan:
After getting sick of Rinkya's super confusing fee structure I switched to Shopping Mall Japan, I've used them for well over 30 items including large and heavy items (like a pair of model 3 VOOT PCBs with cages) and delicate items (like a curved plexiglas DDR marquee). Their fees are very reasonable and the bidding page shows you exactly how much they'll charge for the item right then and there (no guess work). Your security deposit will give you 5x times the bidding power (so my $100 deposit gives me 55,000 Yen of bidding power).
In addition to the low and easy to understand fees, the also automatically drop-ship light weight items to their US warehouse for free meaning you'll only have to pay for shipping within the US.

However, my favorite thing about SMJ is that they do an AMAZING job of packing items. That super fragile DDR marquee I mentioned was packed in a super thick cardboard box with lots and lots of padding, the thing could have survived a plane crash and come out unscathed. Everything they've shipped me has come packed this well. The last package I got from them was a suspension brace for one of my cars and 4 large arcade flight-sticks; it took me 15 minutes to remove all the packing material. I'm continually impressed by how well they pack things.

Customer service at SMJ is awesome too, it's a small operation and everytime I've called with questions or concerns I've got a quick email and a clear answer to my question from someone who knew what was going on.

Buyee:
I used Buyee once shortly after they became the official exporter for YAJ because I wanted to see how it was conspired to the other services I've used. The integration with YAJ is nice it makes it just as simple as bidding on eBay, the fees were a little heaver the SMJ but not nearly as steep as Rinkya, and the packaging was ok, about what you'd expect from any online store, but nothing spectacular. One thing that stuck out to me is that there was no need for a deposit before you can bid. I don't remember if they offered combined shipping or not.


On a whole if it's your first time importing from YAJ and you only plan on buying one item give Buyee a try, it's simple and good service. But if you plan on buying from YAJ regularly and willing to put down a deposit, definitely sign up for SMJ; I can't say enough good things about that service.

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Japan shopping review

Post by limeylio » 30 Jan 2015, 22:53

Recently,I used yahoo japan auction agency service to buy Japanese goods that I've always wanted.

A guy highly recommend jpbidding.Because it was commission fee cheapest site that he used.

He said I can direct send them a mail to tell what I want to buy.Jpbidding will replay item URL to me after they choosed the item.Sometimes,they will choose item more than one.

I've attempted to send a mail to tell them that I want to buy a dvd of ayumi hamasaki complete clip box.Soon after,I received a mail from jpbidding.

I saw 3 item urls of rakuten,and ask me which one I want to.I choosed cheapest one to replay them.

Then they sent me a mail that I must register jpbidding member,input url on the jpbidding, payed it by paypal.

item price:2300yen

shipping cost in Japan:800yen

bank transfer fee:250yen

International shipping cost to USA:1500yen

commission fee:242.5yen

Oh,commission fee is really cheap.

And I'm so happy that International shipping is also fast.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by ChexGuy » 24 Feb 2015, 23:25

Figured I'd report in on Tenso since it's been about a month.

Item was 5680 yen, I entered the address wrong so they had to find it for me. Luckily, I only messed up the member number bit instead of the actual address. Took a little over a week between ordering and warehouse arrival.
Paid 1600 yen to get it shipped to the States, about a full business day for it to ship after payment.
Registered SAL, so another week for it to arrive. Not bad at all.

...I spent ~70 bucks on a t-shirt.
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine » 07 Apr 2015, 18:31

So I just now had a bad experience attempting to use this new type of package forwarding service for the first time. The one I tried to use was Tenso Japan, which was the one I had looked at earlier, which seems the cheapest, arguably being free. It is also in the link I provided earlier, which contains four competing package forwarding services. Some of the others weren't yet up at the time I had posted that link, but they are all up now.

Note that Tenso Japan is not the same company as Tenso. I am not sure what is going on, but all four of those webpages have a pissing contest going on against each other where they try to compare each other's schemes and prices and claim they are the best. I have seen this sort of thing in other industries and it's not that professional in my opinion, but whatever. :P

They can't all be the cheapest though, so when I looked into the pricing more carefully, I can say that at least Tenso (not the one I used) is a big liar in their pricing scheme. They will bury their actual charges into what they claim is the cost of international shipping, but it's a lie. In the end, Tenso will charge you around 500 yen for their service both according to what I extracted, and what Tenso Japan claims in their pissing page. Which is still very cheap, but remember these are package forwarding services, not courier services, so of course they are all going to be cheap, if they can be used for the product/store you are looking at.

But anyway my issue would have been the same for any package forwarding service. I was trying to buy from a store that I had ordered from many times before (where I bought my used copy of VO Force from) through Rakuten, but they also have their own website. Their own website never accepted international orders but their Rakuten site did. However, they regressed and their Rakuten site stopped accepting international orders a year ago. So I made an account on their own website (which I tried to do years ago but failed) with my Tenso Japan address and somehow succeeded this time, by simply entering my USA credit card. However, a week later, they reply saying that they cannot accept my foreign credit card, and they said they won't accept PayPal either (even though their website says they do now). So I basically had to cancel the transaction.

My guess is that a lot of Japanese stores that are not accommodating towards international orders will be the same. Some of them probably will take a foreign credit card but some won't. So it will be a small portion of stores for which package forwarding is useful. Either you'll have to go with a full courier service, or the store will be internationally friendly enough to ship to you directly, most of the time.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Viper2 » 09 Apr 2015, 08:08

I've had good luck with Shopping Mall Japan's Special Order service, to order items from shops whose online presence is no more than a mid-1990s looking ancient website.
Of course, the fees ain't cheap, but that is offset by the fact that those websites sell hugely discounted rare resin kits...

Usually it's not that they don't want to sell internationally at all, it's that there is a language barrier and that the shipping procedure is more complicated (same reason as some US sellers on Ebay, really...).

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Jonnydark » 26 Apr 2015, 09:58

I've dealt with Buyee two or three times now. It's a smooth and simple transaction. Reasonable prices too. I would recommend it.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine » 08 Jul 2016, 20:51

It's been a year now and I believe Buyee's lower introductory fee has long since risen to the normal amount, so as of now I think they are not even close to being competitive with Japonica Market, which I continue to use. Buyee also has all the hidden fees (bank payment, package consolidation) which Japonica Market waives.

In addition, Japonica Market ended up never raising their "temporarily" lower fees which were designed to match Buyee. Meaning that they now permanently charge an overall fee of roughly 5% per transaction, though it varies between 1% to 20% depending on the price of the items you buy. Japonica Market has also greatly expanded their operation in size over the last couple years -- I can tell by the style, names, and frequency of email updates while I have a package from them in progress.

Japonica also redesigned their web site completely a few months ago. It's now easier to use than it was before. I think it is as easy to use as Buyee now. In tradeoff, some things are more automated now, so it is harder to give them a huge chunk of cash (say $500) and forget about making deposits to them for a long time, unless you are creative with their new order form.

As a bonus, in response to the weak dollar, Japonica has been offering further temporary sales over the last half year. I thought it was too good to be true until I actually tried it. Roughly half of the time, Japonica will announce on Twitter and/or e-mail that they are offering a 5% discount on everything you purchase through them. This discount applies automatically as long as you place an order, you don't need to receive the e-mail or even have known about the offer. But the discount only applies half of all possible days, as they feel like it.

Turns out the discount is what they say it is, they give you back 5% of each of your items' selling cost. Since they often only make 5% as their commission, that means they are doing it for you for FREE. If you buy really expensive items, they are actually giving you money to use their service. I think they are bad at math, I feel sorry for them. Fortunately, most items that people order are cheap so they will still make commission in the end, but it's still a large discount.

The only downside to Japonica Market is that they are still dependent on PayPal to receive their payment. So you must pay an extra 3.2% + 40 yen as the PayPal transaction fee, every time you send them a payment. PayPal typically makes more from you than Japonica Market takes as their commission.

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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose » 09 Jul 2016, 17:43

Thanks for the update on Japonica. I haven't bought anything from Japan recently but next time I will definitely give them a try.
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by VOTwinstick » 11 Jul 2016, 09:29

Until a couple of months ago my experience with japan buying service was only Buyee. As far as I knew and know, Buyee is only good for the Yahoo auction and their retail contracted services. Anything out of that realm, would be special circumstances. So I searched for Japan buying service's to get some Ebten…Sega VO love.
I found White Rabbit. Checked out the website, it states its history and services it provides and I read reviews. I don't remember offhand about the fees but they must be minimal. Ordering items through them was so easy. It what is all copy and paste web page item, item title and number desired onto their site and immediately gives you a quote of approx what total cost will be, less shipping to your house. They have English chat on screen during business hours too. White Rabbit seems to be a very efficient service and very accessible. The fees? Feel I didn't take a hit, so fair enough. My only complaint is after you make your order and do a credit card payment They put "your order" On Hold. And I didn't know it on hold meant and I got a little upset with chat on-screen guy. It's just "their" business lingo meaning: your order is in process. But… there is a bad On Hold too! I don't know why, it is what it is. Yeah, I definitely be using White Rabbit again. If put On Hold or not.
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"White Rabbit Express is a Tokyo-based buying service. We can ship anything in Japan to anywhere in the world."
It's their advertising. Looked at a couple tweets, I guess they'll back it up
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