How to Buy Stuff from Japan

Once upon a time, the only way for overseas fans to buy idol music and merch directly from Japan was via CD Japan, Tokyo Otaku Mode or by using a byzantine network of auctions, buying services and proxy shippers. It was neither simple nor cheap.

Those days have largely passed. Now, major online Japanese retailers like Amazon.jp and HMV & Books not only accept foreign payments and offer overseas shipping, they even have English-language versions of their sites available to browse. If you can’t find who or what you’re looking for at one of the major retail sites, the vendor options for underground and independent artists without distribution deals have also greatly increased.

Spending all of your money on Idol merch has never been easier!! Try looking in the following places:

BASE

BASE is an e-commerce platform based in Japan that many independent and underground idol units have adopted for their online stores. Stores on BASE have the option of accepting foreign payment methods such as PayPal and offering overseas shipping. For those stores that don’t have these functionalities enabled, you may still need to use a proxy service.

Many groups use BASE including:

IDOL UNDERWORLD

IDOL UNDERWORLD is an English-language site offering goods and CDs from a large number of underground idols.

Chaotic Harmony Imports & Events

Chaotic Harmony maintain a web store of Idol and Visual Kei goods and often sponsor special opportunities to purchase autographed merch and cheki.

Bandcamp

Before there was BASE, there was Bandcamp, and some artists still opt to use this platform to reach their Western audience.

Proxy Services

I you encounter a site that requires a Japanese address, doesn’t take foreign payment methods or doesn’t offer overseas shipping, you will need to use a proxy to purchae and ship the desired goods. There are essentially two types of proxy services:

Proxy Address and Shipping Services

For sites that don’t do international shipping, a proxy like Tenso will provide you with a Japanese shipping address. The proxy will then receive the goods for you in Japan and re-ship them to you overseas. You end up paying for shipping twice, but for some items, it’s worth the price.

Having an address in Japan has some additional benefits. It will allow you to make donations on a site like Campfire, enter concert ticket lotteries or participate in other activities that require a domestic, Japanese address.

Proxy Buying Services

Proxy buyers take things one step further and both purchase AND ship items to you. They are especially useful for auctions, and there are proxies that specialize in concert tickets as well. Some of the more popular service providers are:

Remambo lets you set customs invoice charges (and may slip sweets into your package). This can be very useful if you live in a country with picky customs requirements.  FromJapan will similarly let you set the invoice charges but will only let you reduce them by 30%.  However they do offer free consolidation of packages and fee free ordering from Amazon and Rakuten.  They also give 5% off all Rakuten orders from Wednesday to Friday (Japanese time).

Here’s step by step guide on how-to use a proxy buyer from Kerrie:

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!

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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…

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(btw, if your Japanese is a bit rusty, I recommend Rikaikun for Chrome, it gives you helpful little translations if there’s a term on the site you don’t understand)

Copy the URL and paste it into FromJapan’s search bar, then click the search button.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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):

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Do You Want More Accessible Idol Merch?

Hello friends! You like idols, right? And you like idol merch, too, probably? But you don’t like how much of an expensive pain in the junk it is to acquire idol merch from Japan, do you?

I mean, some of you might be weird enough to get some kind of weird sex high from adding fee on top of time to your merch orders, but I think the vast majority of folks would prefer to:

  • Have an easier way to get idol merch
  • Have a(n arguably) cheaper way to get idol merch
  • Have a faster way to get idol merch

Fortunately, the anguished cries of gaijin wota have been heard by the fine people at Chaotic Harmony, who have been doing this kind of thing for a while with visual kei acts. They’re interested in meeting some of that Western market demand for loud, good, cool idols, too, but they need to hear from you all about what your interests and needs and whatnot are. Fortunately, they put together a survey! Continue reading

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Being a Babymetal Fan Is Basically an Insult at This Point

By which, I don’t mean that “you’re a Babymetal fan” is an insult, but that living life as a Babymetal fan means constantly being insulted by Babymetal’s management.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Fox Day countdown was an announcement about the next phase of the Metal Resistance (going on quite a few years now, gang):

And something about seven new (dark!) spirits:

The smart money so far seems to be on the seven spirits being the band (fair enough), though some people are speculating about new members, new units, and so on. This is the stock in trade of Babymetal fans, in fact — if we ain’t speculatin’, we ain’t happy. Continue reading

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(Pre-)Buy PassCode, (Maybe) Win (Signed) Poster

A very special delivery from PassCode HQ:

I am yet to win this despite twice trying in the past, though I do not suspect that it’s rigged against anybody other than me. Good luck, Hackers! Unless you live in North America, in which case you need to wait a few more days!

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This Insane Babymetal Merch Might Actually Be Worth the Price Tag

I was going to post this yesterday with an “angery reacts only!” attitude, but kind of came around on it:

If you follow the link, you’ll see that the merch on issue is a five-DVD set from each of the Fox God Festival shows held quasi-recently, plus the mask accompanying each (hand-made! painted with the blood of slain angels!), for right around $500 US (not including shipping, or potentially customs, and you still need to be of THE ONE to get into a lottery to be among the lucky 500 to buy it, etc.).

What a deal! Continue reading

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100 Days of Tsurezure, Day 39: Flaunted

Have you joined the fan club yet? They’d like for you to:

Oh, and also that several-times-teased announcement will happen tonight for most of us (noon in Japan):

Continue reading

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100 Days of Tsurezure, Day 33: Brevity

Fridays are looking like pretty dull days in 100 Days of Tsurezureville.

The Codomo family all got fancy new merch shops!

(here’s Zenkimi’s, too) Continue reading

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Rumor Has It That You Can Buy This Hanako-san Shirt Online

Just passing along info:

You can order from here, allegedly. I cannot vouch for that, nor that there is, in fact, international shipping, but it’s worth looking into if you’ve not only always wanted a Hanako-san T-shirt, but wanted a Hanako-san T-shirt that depicts here as one of the Garbage Pail Kid. Continue reading

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PassCode’s Member-designed Merch Really Makes Me Wonder about Them

Okay, first and foremost, this all is in fact pretty cool:

HOWEVER. Continue reading

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The Third Contest Begins

The first two contests are now CLOSED; only the below is currently open. I’ll get up a voting post for the others by evening time.

This is how you create an account and log in. WordPress will give you options; never listen to a CMS.

PassCode’s Nao said that she wants a world where there aren’t idol fans and band fans, but music fans. And it is the Official Policy of Homicidols.com to agree with that sentiment. In fact, idols and bands should work together as often as possible and make beautiful things happen. To that end:

I Want to Look Like a Babymetal Roadie Prize Pack

In honor of Babymetal’s collaboration with Rob Halford, what’s your ideal scenario of idols joining legends of metal — or punk or hardcore or really anything — on stage? Taking a page from the Homicidol Mashup, use your image editing software of choice to create the image that best tells the story of our favorite kinds of idols joining with real legends of rock for a mind-blowing combo shot. Is it a still from an epic concert stage? A promo poster? Album art? A candid or even modeled photo? Let your imagination do the walking and your skills do the talking.

Submissions now open!

Submissions open June 21-27
Voting opens June 28

Prizes:

Babymetal Trio Noir T-shirt from the 2016 World Tour Bad-as-fuck Babymetal Metal Resistance jacket
This trippy The One-style shirt from the 2016 World tour, size XL This boss jacket, size XL
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