Dig's Improved Guide to Importing From Japan

Digmac

Official NG Youngun
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Posts
1,932
Thankfully I typed this out on my computer, not just on the forum, so it's back with some added information. I'm now posting this in the market FAQs section now due to it answering questions members might have when it comes to this topic, dealing with purchasing items from Japan.

I've had this idea kicking around for a while, to help out the members of this community who aren't as familiar to importing things from Japan using a proxy company. Here I'll detail how I go about importing using my proxy of choice, FromJapan. I'll be referring to them as "FJ" from now on in this guide.

I've been buying items through FJ since 2017 and have gotten hundreds of items from them with no issue. I started using them since they were one of the cheapest proxy companies fee wise, but they've been absolutely rock solid and reliable with their service. Their site is easy to use, fully in English, and has very minimal downtime. Their customer service is quick to respond and if something has happened with an item, you'll be notified on site and via email.

With that intro out of the way, let's start by learning how to use the FJ service.

Part 1: How to use FromJapan

First you'll need an account. Go to the FJ website here, https://fromjapan.co.jp, and click on "Create Account" in the top right corner of the site. Enter your email, password, and region, clear the captcha, then click on "Create Account" below. Once done, you'll be brought to a page prompting you to complete your account information. Click on the link to enter the rest of the info required to use the service, then click on "Save Changes" at the bottom. Now you're ready for the next step.

FJ works on a "Charge 1, Charge 2" system. Charge 1 is the initial purchase cost of the item, the price you see on Yahoo Auctions or Suruga-ya. Charge 2 is everything else, and you pay that once the items are at the FJ warehouse. Charge 2 payment includes international shipping costs, domestic shipping costs, payment fees, the "plan" fee, which is just a 300 yen fee per item that FJ charges, and any other costs not covered in Charge 1.

Paying for things is really simple, and it works by depositing money into your account. Hover over your name in the top right corner and click on "Add Deposit" under "Payment History". You'll be brought to a page where you can put money into your FJ account. This can be used for Charge 1 and Charge 2. They accept PayPal payment which is what I use, but you can also add a credit/debit card to your account and add money from there. Deposits are held for a max of 20 days before they get automatically refunded if there's unused money left. You can also get the deposited money released sooner as well if you so choose. Now that you have money in your account, let’s scoop some items!

FJ can buy items from multiple sites in auction format on Yahoo Auctions, or “buy it now” format sites such as Suruga-Ya, Amazon, Rakuten, and others. When you have an item you’d like to purchase, copy the link and paste it into FJ’s search bar. If the item is an auction from Yahoo it’ll bring you to the bidding page. Here you can place a “Real-Time” bid, which is placed automatically as soon as you confirm it. A “Sniper” bid is placed when there’s 10 min left on the auction, however if your sniper has been outbid, the auction got ended early, or the seller doesn’t work with proxy bidders, it won’t be placed. Some listings on Yahoo Auctions also have a “buy it now” feature, so you can choose that if you like as well. If you’re buying from a site FJ is programmed to order from like Suruga-ya, Amazon, or Rakuten, you’ll be brought to a general order screen to purchase the item, just like a “buy it now” listing on Yahoo. If you want to purchase from a site that FJ isn’t programmed to order from, such as Tops-Game, you’ll be taken to an order form to request a “price quote”. This is a form so FJ can confirm the item you want to order and add it to Charge 1 for you. Just enter the name of the item as it appears on the site you’re buying from, enter the quantity, and any other info you want to add, then click “Request a price quote”.

Now comes the waiting game, waiting for your items to arrive at the FJ warehouse. The nice thing about FJ is that they will consolidate packages for free, so if you order a massive lot of items everything will be packed together for shipment and you’ll save by not having things shipped separately. Once items have arrived, you’ll see the number of items ready to ship next to a little shipping box on the top bar, or next to “Shipping instr.” depending on what page you’re at on the FJ website. Here you can select which items you want to ship together, confirm your address, confirm your shipping service, and then pay the Charge 2 payment. I’m located in the USA, and Japan Post isn’t shipping out with EMS anymore, so your options are FedEx Priority, DHL, or Japan Post Surface mail. FedEx Priority is the best shipping method with the most competitive pricing and the fastest service since the pandemic started. Even when EMS was available, FedEx Priority was only slightly more expensive and was faster, so that’s my go to. Once everything has been confirmed and Charge 2 is payed for, you’ll be set and your items will be shipped out in usually one to two business days. They do not operate and ship on Saturday and Sunday, however you can still bid on Auctions and place orders on those days.
 

Digmac

Official NG Youngun
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
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Part 2: Shopping Sites

So now you’re up to speed on how you import things over, but you’ll need resources to find items. I’ll be providing resources that I’ve specifically for “retro” video games and arcade hardware. Here’s my top tip if you’ve never used any of these sites before and you have no Japanese knowledge: use Google Chrome as your browser. Chrome has a built in translate feature that works really well with the popular sites and can help you get the lay of the land much easier and faster than if you copy and paste into Google Translate. One thing to note is that if you’re searching for a term or specific game, it must be in Japanese. Searching in English terms will not bring up nearly the amount of results that a search in Japanese would. To help with Japanese search terms, here’s a great resource: https://wiki.arcadeotaku.com/w/English_to_Japanese_Game_Name_Translations

#1: Yahoo Auctions: https://auctions.yahoo.co.jp/list4/27727-category.html

Yahoo is the most stereotypical place for people to look for video games from Japan, but it’s popular for a reason. There’s a wide variety of items and rarities do pop up every now and then. It’s really the Japanese equivalent to eBay. If the seller is an individual, you won’t pay the 10% sales tax that you’ll run into when buying from a store or business seller. If you’re paying the 10% tax, it’ll be shown where the price is located:
mlKEwZcm.png


Some sellers on Yahoo Auctions choose not to deal with proxy companies. I’ve found these to be few and far between, but they’re out there. FJ scans the item description for keywords and if it finds that that the listing mentions proxy companies, it won’t let you bid. Since bidding is handled through FJ, all you need to do is find the item you want and copy the link into FJs search bar.

#2: Suruga-ya: https://www.suruga-ya.jp/game.html

Suruga-ya is an online shop and chain store in Japan which sells “hobby” items such as video games, arcade hardware, figures, model kits, cards, CDs, DVDs and more. They do not generally post pictures of the exact item you’ll get, so you’ll be taking a condition gamble most of the time. If an item has notable damage, it’ll be stated, but this isn’t the case 100% of the time. Sometimes a rough item will slip through the cracks and you’ll be left frustrated because you overpaid for the condition of the item. Other times you can get really good deals on items in near perfect condition, so like I said, it really is a gamble. I’ve had mostly good experiences, but I’ve gotten burned a few times. When it comes to Japanese shops, (game stores outside of Yahoo) Suruga-ya generally has the cheapest prices, but you might still be able to find a better deal on Yahoo on an auction. The draw of Suruga-ya is their huge stock of games. It’s a one stop shop, and I’ve had full orders where I’ve bought everything from Suru. If you can’t find it on Yahoo, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find it here. They deal in retro games for every Japanese platform imaginable, plus they also sell a wide variety of arcade boards. One more thing of note is that shipping times for items coming from Suru can be longer than Yahoo or other sites.

#3: Tops: https://www.tops-game.jp/products/list.php?category_id=62

Tops is a website that deals specifically in arcade hardware. Their stock is as impressive as Suruga-ya’s and while they don’t show detailed photos, the condition of their items is a cut above Suru, and their condition descriptions are more detailed. Their prices tend to be full retail or a bit overpriced in terms of Japanese pricing, but I’ve never had an item that wasn’t in great condition from Tops. If an item does have a condition issue then it’s fully described what exactly is “wrong” with the item. FJ’s site isn’t directly programmed to order from Tops, so this is one where you’ll have to use the price quote form.

#4: Other Resources:

A couple of general websites which offer a wide variety of items which you can order from are Amazon and Rakuten. I don’t use these for video games, but if you want to give them a look, here are the links:


Here are some more websites I keep an eye on for arcade hardware. I haven’t personally ordered from all of these yet, but FJ can handle ordering from most sites that are willing to ship, it just might take some back and forth with customer service if the website doesn’t have an easy way to order items. Some arcade sites in Japan require the buyer to fill out an order form and they’ll send an invoice, so FJ would have to handle that. Still, here are some more resources to keep an eye on:

http://www.higenekodo.jp/shop/list.cgi
https://www.game-kanaya.com/
https://www.beep-shop.com/ec/products/list?category_id=697
http://www.try-inc.co.jp/
http://gfront.com/
https://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/gamers-s/?sc_e=afvc_shp_3458495
https://kvclab.com/shopbrand/ACPCB/
 
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Digmac

Official NG Youngun
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Posts
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Part 3: Useful Information

This section will be used for other info that should help you on your importing journey.

One thing that you’ll have to keep in mind is that there’s some sites that FJ doesn’t purchase from. While I don’t know the complete list of sites that don’t work with FJ, the two most notable that I’ve come across is Mercari Japan and Mandarake:

https://www.mercari.com/jp/
https://order.mandarake.co.jp/order/

With Mercari, they’ve partnered with the proxy company Buyee for exclusive service to other countries. The issue is that Mercari Japan gives the seller an option whether they want their item exported or not. If a seller chooses to not have the item exported, then it won’t even be available with Buyee. Really, the only way to use Mercari Japan is to know someone living there who can act as your middleman. With Mandarake, they do not allow any proxy company to purchase items. Again, you’ll need to know someone living in Japan for this.

Here are some keywords which you’ll come across and can help narrow down your search.

ジャンク - Junk: This can mean a lot of different things when it comes to Japanese listings. From what I’ve seen with video games, consoles, arcade boards and the like, it’s usually *untested* instead of tested and confirmed broken. If the condition isn’t up to a certain standard, it can be labeled as junk as well, even if it’s working. I’ve gotten great hauls with ジャンク listings, but you can end up with items that have issues, are really beat up, or missing components. It’s best to always read descriptions and check over the pictures multiple times to make sure what you’re getting is what you want. Don’t let it scare you away, though. There are still great deals to be had on items labeled as junk, and I’d say if the item is in solid condition, it probably works.

本体 - Hontai/Body: This is the term used for a game console. For instance, if you search for ネオジオ本体, Neo Geo hontai, it’ll bring up Neo Geo consoles, AES, CD, and Pocket. Use this with whatever platform you’re looking for to bring up console listings specifically.

セット - Set: This is the equivalent to “lot” for English listings. When you’re wanting to search for bulk lots or consoles bundled with games, this is the search term to use.
 
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Digmac

Official NG Youngun
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Posts
1,932
Alright, thanks to Mouse_Master fixing the edit function the rest of the guide is up. If you guys have any questions or need help with something import related, feel free to post here or reach out to me via PM. (hopefully that'll get ironed out soon)
 

Rasubosu

Overtop Pathfinder
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Posts
105
Great instructions, as someone who imports all the time this is a great resource for anyone who wants to get into doing it yourself instead of buying from dirty resellers such as myself lol. One thing I want to stress to people who aren't familiar, be VERY careful and pay attention to all the fees and shipping on listings as well as from whatever proxy service you use. FJ is pretty good overall but the fees can add up if you're not paying attention on some other sites.

Something that may seem super cheap might have fees tacked on so it could go from being a 3 dollar item to a 15 dollar item real quick if you're not careful. Sometimes those fees make the item worth more than just buying something direct from Japan on Ebay.

Another common mistake is not paying attention to shipping costs. There will be something that usually says "successful bidder burden" but won't state a price and will link to a chart or the seller will have a shipping chart in the listing itself and the shipping could cost a lot for no reason. Sometimes there's something that says cash on delivery, those fees can be wild and run from kind of cheap to exorbitant. You can pay 3 dollars for an item and they might ship it for COD and charge 30 dollars for that item or more. Just pulling random numbers as an example but I've seen it happen to newbies who don't know what they're doing. Pay attention to if the listing is free shipping or if there is a chart that says how much shipping an item is to wherever your proxy is located. Or, if you're not paying attention, there might be something that says shipping is 15 dollars even though the item was 1 yen.

Also, be careful with oversized or overweight items as some proxies do not ship things that are over a certain size or the shipping on overweight items can be crazy since you can only use certain shippers.



Note for Surugaya, I have been burned on things like items that aren't correctly described or weren't in stock for whatever reason. For example, I purchased what was supposed to be a Korean version of something and in the listing and picture it mentioned that it was the Korean version and won't work on Japanese consoles, I got a stupid Japanese copy instead. So either they accidentally mixed up products and sent me the wrong thing or they were just dumb. Same thing happened on a PAL copy of a rare game, mentioned it being a PAL copy and I ended up with a cheaper, common US version.

I've had items I've ordered be cancelled after a month from Surugaya saying they were out of stock. Just saying be careful with Surugaya and your proxy can't really do anything about it if there's a dumb issue they cause most of the time.
 

beigemore

Fio's Quartermaster
Joined
Apr 26, 2010
Posts
484
Buyee is now offering FedEx as a shipping option and it has reduced shipping fees for me by like 60-70%. An item in January was like $210 to ship, and now I can get larger and heavier boxes shipped for $80 with FedEx. DHL has always been super fast, but FedEx has really surprised me. I paid to ship three PCB's on Monday, and the box already arrived before noon today (Wednesday).
 

sylvie

NG.COM TEMPTRESS,
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Posts
8,973
I got a FedEx package from Japan one time in like, One day. Did not pay extra for shipping either. $20 or something, for a cowhide lined Schott jacket, so thats pretty cheap for the weight
 

BIG BEAR

SHOCKbox Developer,
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Posts
7,419
FEDEX is great if they don't lose your parcel. I had the pleasure of dealing with an awesome member here from ITALY.We did business several times in the span of like 2-3 weeks and FEDEX was great until one parcel got lost. Long story short ,we got the runaround and were just SOL unless you insured the parcel for over the minimum insurance they automatically attach.
I received a refund from the member and he got screwed.We were both upset and it left a bitter taste discouraging anymore transactions between us.What would the proxy service do for me if a parcel comes up missing?
BB
 

Digmac

Official NG Youngun
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Posts
1,932
FEDEX is great if they don't lose your parcel. I had the pleasure of dealing with an awesome member here from ITALY.We did business several times in the span of like 2-3 weeks and FEDEX was great until one parcel got lost. Long story short ,we got the runaround and were just SOL unless you insured the parcel for over the minimum insurance they automatically attach.
I received a refund from the member and he got screwed.We were both upset and it left a bitter taste discouraging anymore transactions between us.What would the proxy service do for me if a parcel comes up missing?
BB
FromJapan offers a money back guarantee if the package is completely lost or the contents are completely damaged from shipping. That being said, I've received dozens upon dozens of packages through FedEx with FJ, some small and some 75lbs or more, and not a single one has been lost or a complete wash due to shipping damage. That's around 4,000,000 yen's worth of successful transactions over the last 4 years. I'm pretty confident in their service and the service of FedEx Priority International.
 
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lachlan

drunk downunder!, aka. Muff Diver.,
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Posts
18,067
I used FromJapan for the first time recently. The eventual shipping cost including fee's was a hell of a lot lower than Buyee that's for sure. Not sure I'll ever use Buyee again from now on.
 

F4U57

General Morden's Aide
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Posts
7,595
I used to use Noppin for all my YJA gets, but haven't in probably 4 years, not sure if they're still viable.
 
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