I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d find ourselves in a place quite like this, but here we are: Courtesy of the Weeaboo Witch herself comes this well-timed guide for buying your favorite idol’s merch from Japan. Kerrie, take it away.
So, you wanna buy some idol goods? I’m sure this has happened a few times; you look on your favourite idol’s Twitter, and they have made an announcement: They’re going to be releasing some shiny new merchandise!
You rub your hands like a gleeful grasshopper at the concept of finally owning a t-shirt of Hanako-san crawling out of her toilet cavern. But wait! The site will only deliver within Japan! Damn it! I guess I’m gonna have to stick to getting t-shirts with terrible fanart instead.
Sadly, many online stores in Japan refuse to ship overseas. Your only real options are checking sites like CDJapan or Tokyo Otaku Mode if they have the item, which is usually very limited, especially when it comes to alt-idols. Or you could go on eBay and buy a t-shirt for a highly inflated price, if there is even anyone selling t-shirts at all!
OR SO YOU MIGHT THINK!
Thankfully, there are a range of proxy buyers and shopping services willing to buy the item for you for a small fee. Said fee will usually be around 2-10 percent of the item price, in my experience. The downside to this is that the shipping is often quite high, but that’s what usually happens when you order from another country, regardless of whether you’re using a proxy service.
METHOD ONE AS PROVIDED BY HELLO! PROJECT
Hello! Project (Of Morning Musume, C-ute and Angerme fame) have become increasingly aware of their overseas fans as of late and last year they published a video on how to order merchandise overseas, helpfully demonstrated by Morning Musume’s Nonaka Miki and ex-Momusu (and love of my life) Mitsui Aika:
[Maniac: I can’t believe I watched that whole thing]
Of course, this just highlights how to order specifically Hello! Project merchandise, and homicidols tends not to dabble in H!P unless I’m involved. However, Tenso can be used with most Japanese shopping sites, so it’s worth a watch anyway.
METHOD TWO: ANYTHING ABOUT JAPAN
If you would prefer to know just who is buying your product, Nozomi is the person for the job. Once again, she specializes in Hello! Project merchandise, but she can order most items for you. It is incredibly easy to order with Nozomi. Simply send her an email with a link to the item you want (and other details like size, style etc.) and she will send you a reply back, usually within a day, with either a spreadsheet detailing the price, or any concerns like “this size is sold out.”
Then, once you’re happy with the quote, you send her the payment through Paypal, wait a little while, and she’ll email you again once she’s received the goods so she can request the shipping costs (which in my experience, is usually a little bit cheaper than shopping services) She is incredibly kind and helpful and I could not recommend her enough.
METHOD THREE: FromJapan
FromJapan is the primary service I use for ordering items from Japan. There’s two ways you can use this:
- To buy second-hand merchandise and take part in auctions
- A regular ol’ shopping service
FromJapan has a nifty little search bar so you don’t have to go browsing site-to-site for what you want. Just like eBay, you type in a keyword (and select a category if you want to narrow it down) and FromJapan will generate links to items related to your search from a variety of sites, including Yahoo! Auctions, Rakuten, Amazon and more. Simply click on whatever catches your eye, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can read more information and the option to buy or bid on the item. Handy if you are looking for something that’s not being sold on an idol’s official website!
From there, you can either use FromJapan to buy directly, or to bid on an auction. You have to provide a deposit in order to bid on auctions, but that method is fairly straightforward; you add enough money to your account to cover the price of the bid or sale. You can then use this deposit to buy whatever you want. Sort of like adding money to your Paypal balance.
The other option is as a regular shopping service. Say you want an item and you know exactly what site to get it from…
NOW WATCH IN WONDER AS I BUY MYSELF A NEW SHIRT
Because of course I’m gonna buy that SiS t-shirt. Do you know how long I was in mourning when they were brutally murdered by management? Since I’m buying it, I thought I might as well show you so that you have a better idea of what to do.
Okay, so if you already know where to buy your items from, just go on the webpage with the item you want…
Copy the URL and paste it into FromJapan’s search bar, then click the search button.
You’ll then get an order form where you can add more details about your order. Copy-paste the name of the item you want, and if needed, put the size/style/etc. you want in the comment box. They prefer the orders to be in Japanese, but don’t worry if you don’t understand it.
There, they will take you to a page where you can upload images of your item. This is optional, but it helps to give the service a better idea of the product you want (and for you to know what you’re getting if you bought lots of stuff in one go and now have a queue of items waiting to be ordered).
Usually, FromJapan automatically picks up the images from the website for you to upload right away, but in this case it only brought up the logo for the SiS movie and not the shirt itself, so I’m going to pick the manual upload option, save the image of the t-shirt from the website and upload that from my computer.
Click add to cart, and then all you need to do is wait until FromJapan emails you (or you can log in and check) with their payment request. This usually takes between a couple of hours to a day or two, depending on how busy they are at the time.
Now you’ve got the request for the first payment, click on that, confirm everything looks good and then proceed to checkout, where like most online stores, you’ll be given options of payment (and sometimes options regarding the domestic shipping, aka from the seller to FJ’s warehouse). Choose whichever you prefer and complete your order.
Congratulations, you’ve just ordered and paid for some shiny new idol merchandise!
Then, you’ll have to wait a little longer for them to order and receive the item to their warehouse. Once that’s sorted and ready to send to you, they’ll contact you requesting you provide shipping instructions. Go ahead and fill in your address, and what kind of packaging you’d like your item to be in.
Here’s one I made earlier (and by that I mean as of writing my t-shirt hasn’t arrived at FromJapan HQ yet, however I did win an auction on some CDs last week that just showed up):
Then pick which shipping option you’d like. This is mainly for packaging purposes, so you’ll be asked again once you have to pay the second charge.
Wait just a little bit longer and you’ll be requested for your charge 2 payment, which will cover shipping and handling. Luckily, all of the shipping options will show the price tag, and some will also show the estimated delivery time, so if you want to choose the cheapest or the fastest delivery, you’ll have a bit more of an idea of what option to choose than when you were first asked about shipping.
Choose how you want your item to be shipped, pay the shipping fees, and you’re done! Depending on what shipping option you chose, you’ll have your idol merchandise delivered very soon!
So I hope this helps you, and if you have options of ordering idol merchandise from Japan that I didn’t cover in this article, please mention it in the comments, because the more options us foreign fans have, the better. Have fun guys!