Guide on How to Buy Japanese Goods Online

Some of you probably know that I’ve already made a „How-to Guide“ about this, but since I’ve bought quite a lot of Japanese Manga, Doujinshi and Magazines lately, I thought why not update what I’ve written before and give you a more detailed and useful guide.

This guide will mostly focus on how to buy Manga, Doujinshi, Magazines and Visual Novels, but it will also be useful to those of you who want to buy Anime, Figures, Japanese Food etc.

Question: Where can I buy Japanese goods online?

There are tons of online shops, where you can basically buy anything your otaku heart desires but there are quite a few problems that you might encounter.
First of all, most Japanese online shops don’t offer international shipping and if they do, the shipping costs are usually beyond expensive. Furthermore, if you can’t speak/understand Japanese it’s really hard to not only find what you are looking for but also to actually make a purchase there. So in the following I will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding this topic and hopefully, this will be useful to some of you.

1.      Which shops offer international shipping?
Shops in English and Japanese:

Ebay I think before looking anywhere else, check if ebay got it. I found some pretty rare doujinshi there already.

JBOX This is probably one of the most famous online shops of this kind and that’s no surprise. They sell Anime, Manga, Doujinshi, Games, Magazines, Japanese Food, Cosplay, Figures and whatnot. But even though they sell stuff from so many different categories, their selection is quite limited. Also please note that the prices are a little higher in this shop.

Mandarake  This is one of the best shops when it comes to variety. They especially have a wide range of doujinshi that I thought I would never find in a shop like this and even if you can’t find what you’re looking for, just write them an email and ask for it. Sometimes you’re lucky and the items you’re looking for will be restocked within a few days.

Yesasia Best thing about this shop, free international shipping and trust me this will save you a lot of money. They have a large collection of Anime, Manga, Magazines and CDs, but at least I couldn’t find most of the stuff I was looking for. Still this is a great shop you should definitely consider using since free shipping is pretty awesome.

Hobby Search In this shop you’ll mostly find stuff like figures and Anime toys, but they also sell magazines of all kinds. Prices are fair and shipping costs are low (since you can also choose SAL).

HMV Online Here you’ll find books, magazines, Manga, Anime, games and CDs. The selection is not that wide but the prices are fair.

Akadot Prices are rather high and their selection is not that big, still check it out if you can’t find your desired items elsewhere.

Tokyo-Archive They mostly sell hard to find (18+) Doujinshi, Manga and Magazines, but their prices are pretty high.

Akibadaisuki They mostly sell Doujinshi there, but also other stuff like Anime, Manga and Games. I recommend this shop to those of you who are particularly looking for adult doujinshi.

NapaJapan Great candy shop

JapaneseTreats Another great candy shop that focuses on monthly candy box subscriptions.

AmiAmi This shop is the English version of Japan’s largest internet figure shop. There’s a HUGE selection of goods, so if you’re looking for something in particular, chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Otaku Republic Selling everything from doujinshi to figures to anime-related clothing, this shop is a pretty good choice for otaku everywhere.

Doujin Republic This is the sister-site of Otaku Republic that specializes in doujinshi. New, used, SFW, or R18; there’s a large selection to choose from.

Anime Dakimakura Pillow If you’re looking for an anime-related pillow or body pillow, this is our first choice. If your favorite character isn’t anywhere to be found, you can even upload a picture and have a custom pillow made.

Shops in Japanese only:

Amazon.jp I don’t think buying something from the Japanese Amazon is really a good option, since they never had what I was looking for and especially the shipping prices are pretty high, but still it needs to be listed here.

Mangaoh

Honto 

Palet Mail Service 

If you’re having problems searching specific items in these shops, use programs like “Rikaichan” or even “Google Translator”, which are both add-ons for firefox and have specific words or even the whole website translated into English.

2.      How can I buy Japanese goods from a shop that doesn’t allow international shipping?

If you can’t find what you are looking for in any of the above mentioned shops, then you should probably consider using a “mail forwarding service”, but please note that this will probably cost you quite a lot of money. 

So what is a Mail forwarding service?
In short, you give them a list of what you want (or order it by yourself); your items arrive at their company in Japan and then they just send it over to you. 

To help you decide whether to use a service like this, here are some Pros and Cons:

Pros: You can buy stuff from almost every single Japanese online shop; the prices in such Online Shops are relatively cheap; chances are very high that you will find any Japanese item you are looking for

Cons: High costs; you mostly need to speak Japanese to be able to buy anything from Japanese online shops (even though some forwarding services do that for you); it will mostly take long till your delivery arrives

And to give you an idea of what kind of costs you can expect by using such a service, here’s a short list:

  • Price of your desired items
  • Domestic shipping costs
  • Shipping costs from Japan to your country (You usually have the choice between SAL, airfreight and EMS)
  • Handling costs
  • If you can’t speak Japanese and need them to order your stuff, you’ll also have to pay for this service
  • Banking fee

So everyone that is not put off by the amount of costs, here are some forwarding services you can use:

Onegai Kaeru My personal favorite. They’re fast, competent and have fair service prices

JShoppers 

JapanToDoor 

SuToCorp I would not recommend this service, since they are neither competent nor fast, but their service costs are pretty low.

And now you might wonder what kind of Japanese online shops you should brows to find what you are looking for. So let me name some of the ones that I found most helpful so far: 

Melonbooks  

Toranoana  

ZIN Comic   

Suruga-ya Definitely check out this shop, they mostly sell used goods but everything I got from them looked pretty new and unused to me. Also note that some of the Doujinshi they sell can be purchased for fewer than 100 Yen, some even for only 50 Yen and that is really really cheap.

3.      What do I need to purchase Japanese items?
  • In most cases you need a credit card
  • Paypal is mostly only an option when you’re using a mail forwarding service
  • Japanese language knowledge will come in handy but it is not necessarily needed as long as you’re either using English shops or a mail forwarding service

So I hope this was actually helpful to some of you~

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14 thoughts on “Guide on How to Buy Japanese Goods Online

  1. Hello L.
    Thanks for the info and your post.
    Just for curiosity, and if you can tell, what kind of items you usually buy?
    R.

    Like

  2. I usually buy Doujinshi, Manga and Magazines even though I can't speak/understand Japanese at all.
    All of the stuff I buy is usually related to either Touhou or yuri, oh and I bought some Japanese candy just a few days ago, so I'm gonna add that shop to the list as well 😉

    Like

  3. I thought a few times to buy some novels, magazines or manga, but as I cannot read Japanase I did not feel very excited about it, hope to learn it someday…
    Did you ever liked / tried to buy toys or figures? I bought some of them some years ago (FFX-2 Yuna, FF VII Tifa and some Evangelion ones – Yuri kind- ) and let's say that I did not felt what I thought it would be… They are cute, but it did not reach me, I do not know. Probably I prefer to “read” Yuri that have figures about it, hehehe.
    R.

    Like

  4. I just stared learning Japanese like 2 days ago, it will be hard but on the other hand, think about what you'll be able to read/watch/play when you'll actually do it, that's totally worth it.

    I never bought figures or toys, they are usually very expensive and I don't really see the point in buying them.
    All I can do with it is look at it and place it somewhere in my room where I can see it. So I think you're correct, it's way more “satisfying” to buy douijinshi or manga because they're just more entertaining.

    Like

  5. Hi Lena 🙂
    I just found your post and website!
    Thank you so much for introducing our Shopping Service. We are so happy that you call us competent and fast 😀
    We are doing our best to provide a great service!

    Like

  6. Oh wow, thanks for saying hi 🙂
    And no need to thank me, your service is way better than any other service I used so far.
    People should know about that.

    Like

  7. Scam and Fraud Company – STAY AWAY!!!!

    This company is fake and there are many reviews indicating exactly the same patterns:

    http://www.reviewstalk.com/complaints-reviews/japantodoor-com-l19097.html

    22 Marts 2012:
    fooled me by getting my items and disappearing
    I wanted to use this company to sell my items through Yahoo Japan Auctions. The items were delievered to them and they disappeared! They don't answer any attempt of a contact. Beware of them and don't be fooled like I was! Their good reviews are probably made by themselves..

    2 June 2012:
    http://www.japantodoor.com
    Yes; I have used JTD for a couple of years. However, no response prompted me to call the landline. I spoke to the landlord of the office. She confirmed that the owner had 'run away' with money and packages, and the police were looking for him.
    It would be great if you could provide contact details for the authorities.

    More issues are located here:
    https://twitter.com/yunamon/status/322300326642343936

    Personally I have experienced the same problems as above!
    They don't answer any emails, no signs of activity on Skype or at their Facebook-site!
    Currently they have an item I purchased in Japan, along with a payment for the shipment of this purchase to my destination country.
    As there are no signs of delivery or correspondance from them, I have raised a dispute via Paypal. Hopefully I'm able to get some of the money back, i.e. at least the payment for the shipping.

    I strongly advice EVERYONE to stay away from this scam company!!!

    Like

  8. That unfortunately happens a lot with other services as well.
    I had a similar problem when using SutoCorp a few months ago, even though everything worked just fine all the other times I used their service.
    I guess we just have to be especially cautious with stuff like this.

    Like

  9. Jshoppers is so irresponsible. I had a very disappointing experience with jshoppers recently. I am living in Canada. One month ago, I ordered from Amazon.jp to jshoppers for forwarding. But they sent the package to a wrong address(the address in my order page from amazon can show that I used the correct forwarding address), then when I asked them how they are going to solve the problem, they replied that I need to contact EMS myself to change the address to my correct address….Come on, as a receiver, how I can contact EMS with only a tracking number and ask them to send the package to me? Of course EMS rejected. I wrote emails to jshoppers many many times, but no one was helping. I had to call a lot of places, then the people in the wrong address was helpful and helped me to return the package to jshoppers…Actually they could just take the package for themselves. Then, jshoppers got the package, they asked me to pay a second time for the sending fee, or else they will return the package to the seller or just discard it…I feel very angry and disappointed.

    Like

  10. I know what you're talking about… Well, I can't say I had any experiences at all with Jshoppers, but I was in a similar situation as well (with another service I listed).

    In these cases all you can do is just write about it online, so other people know and switch to another service.

    Like

  11. Free shipping with YesAsia? mm…..for me, that was the most expensive site I ever got stuff from (I bought 1 Wixoss card box from yesasia and then found it on amazon for at least $20 lower including shipping)
    No CDJapan site? they're pretty good I think….(since I use them most the time)

    Like

  12. YesAsia is pretty expensive and you only get free shipping if you get over a certain purchase value.
    Up until now, I've only made bad experiences with them, so I wouldn't recommend them.

    Like

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