Image Source: Amazon.co.jp
Sometimes, stores in North America, Europe, or whatever continent or country you’re from just don’t have the anime goods, CDs, or whatever else you want. When that happens, one of your possible choices for online retailers is the Japanese side of Amazon.com, Amazon.co.jp.
[Editor’s Note: This article is NOT sponsored by Amazon.co.jp or Amazon.com—we just thought this would be useful information for anyone who wanted to try importing from Japan and was intimidated by the potential language barrier.]
However, while Amazon.co.jp is similar to the American, European, or Australian version, it might seem like a daunting task to purchase items. Anime Now! has put together a guide to show you all the things you’ll need to know when purchasing items from Amazon.co.jp.
Part 1 – Making an Account
Step 1 – Go to Amazon.co.jp and scroll to the bottom. There should be a tab with a globe next to a tab with a Japanese flag. Don’t change the flag (that will change the Amazon store to the one in your country), but use the globe tab to switch your language to English to make it easier to access the website.
Step 2 – At the top of the page, there should be a tab that says “Your Account.” Put your mouse over this tab, and a pop-up bubble like the one above should appear prompting you to log in. Instead, click the “New Customer? Start Here” link at the bottom of this bubble.
Step 3 – You will be immediately prompted to fill in your name, your name pronunciation, password, and password again for confirmation to make a new account. While the “Name Pronunciation” area might get you confused, understand that this is a purely Japanese thing used when breaking down names written in kanji (Chinese characters). If your name isn’t written in kanji, just reuse the exact same name as you used in the previous text box and you should be fine.
Part 2 – Billing & Shipping Information
Step 1 – After entering in your information, your account is immediately created, even without email confirmation! Now, you’re ready to enter your payment and address information. Go to the “Your Account” link from the dropdown menu at the top right of the screen.
Step 2 – From the “Your Account” page, scroll down to “Payment” section and click on the “Edit or Delete a Payment Method” link.
Step 3 – You’ll notice that this page asks for your “Prefecture” in the billing address section. Unless you live in Japan, this isn’t going to help you, so click on the “International (outside of Japan)” link circled above.
Step 4 – Fill in your billing information for your credit card or debit card here. Note that although sometimes Japanese websites will not take non-Japanese cards, Amazon.co.jp will take most major credit and debit cards, even if they are issued outside of Japan. The list of credit card types accepted include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, and ChinaUnionPay.
Step 5 – If you go back to “My Account,” scroll down to the “Settings” section and click on the “Manage Your Address Book” link…
Step 6 (optional) – Your shipping address should automatically be set as the billing address you just entered. If you need to add an address separate from your billing address, click the “Add an International Address” button at the top of the page.
Now you’re ready to shop!
Part 3 – How to Shop
Now that the website is in English, you might feel the temptation to type in your favorite series in English into the search bar. I’m afraid to say that while the website is mostly translated, the names of items are not. So, as you can see above, me entering in the name of the manga and anime franchise Mermaid Melody into the search in English brought me some pretty sketchy results (what 3rd grader made the cover for the Italian theme song of Mermaid Melody)?
“But Sarah!” I hear you desperately cry, “I can’t read or type Japanese!”
No problem! That’s what Wikipedia is for.
Step 1 – Find the property you’re looking for on Wikipedia. Usually, the Japanese name should be available in the parentheses put after the English name, or even in the data box to the right of the page.
Step 2 – If it’s not, go down to the “Languages” bar on the left side of the page and select the “日本語” link (copy this text and use ctrl+F if you’re having trouble finding it). This will bring you to the Japanese version of the same page.
Step 3 – Then, all you have to do is copy the title at the top and paste it into the Japanese Amazon’s search engine.
Step 4 – Enter in the Japanese title, and… Bam! This looks a lot better! Now, let’s try buying the first item we see at the top left—a CD.
Part 3 – How to Buy
Step 1 – Buy the item “New” directly from Amazon by simply clicking the “Add to Cart” Button on the right side of the page.
Step 2 – Click “Proceed to Checkout” on the top right of the confirmation screen if you’re ready to checkout.
Step 5 – First, you’ll be asked to choose your delivery option. In the case of an international buyer, you can only choose “Amazon Global Priority Shipping.” Please note that depending on the item, different import fees may apply.
Step 4 – So far, so good. Click “Ship to this address” and let’s keep moving. Because you don’t live in Japan, you can’t use the “pickup” feature that Japan uses to pickup packages at convenience stores like Lawson or FamilyMart.
Step 5 – Choose the credit (or debit) card you wish to use for your payment and select the currency of the card.
Step 6 – Finally, you’ll be brought to the final confirmation page. You might wonder, how is shipping calculated? Luckily, Amazon.co.jp has an extensively detailed list of prices for shipping, which you can check out here.
In the case of my item and my shipping location, the package has a base rate of 600 yen and an extra 350 yen for every item I purchase. Because I only purchased one item, my shipping charge is 950 yen (about USD $9).
Step 6 (optional) – If you want to check out where your item is, you can go back into your “My Account” tab at the top right of the page and select the “Your Orders” link.
The “My Orders” page will tell you the status of your items, including those that are pre-ordered.
Part 4 – Troubleshooting
Let’s talk about items on the Amazon Marketplace. In the case of my Mermaid Melody CD, I can choose the lower-priced used version of the CD (1,200 yen) as opposed to the one sent straight from Amazon (2,625 yen). Let’s try checking out. Click the “Proceed to Checkout” button at the top right.
Uh-oh. Looks like we got caught on a snag. Yes, the majority of used sellers, unless they specifically note in their seller description, do NOT sell to customers outside of Japan. It’s also probably best to mention that recently, publisher Avex Pictures (Yuri!!! On ICE, Mr. Osomatsu) has restricted all shipping of their products outside of Japan.
Click the shopping cart in the top right of the screen) and deleting the item from the cart before proceeding.
And that’s all you need to know about buying items on Amazon.co.jp!