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How to Buy Official Anime and Manga Merchandise from Japan – Guide for Overseas Shoppers and Worldwide Shipping

Hey there, fellow otaku! So you’re wondering how to buy official anime and manga merchandise when you live outside Japan. It’s common knowledge that (sadly) most Japanese stores or sellers don’t offer worldwide shipping. But never fear! Here’s a guide to getting around this obstruction and getting a hold of your favourite anime/manga merch, even if you live halfway around the world.

Know What’s Out There

I think it’s important to know what’s being sold because it makes it so much easier to search for stuff. If you go to an online store and simply type in a general search phrase like 

呪術廻戦 フィギュア

(‘Jujutsu Kaisen figure’) the site will come up with thousands of results and it will be a pain to go through all the pages. But if, for example, you want the sleeping figures in particular, you can type in

呪術廻戦 おねむたん

(‘Jujutsu Kaisen Onemutan’) and the results will be narrowed down to just these figures. Knowing what the items are called is essential for more efficient purchasing.

Now let’s have a look at Japanese stores offering international shipping.

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Stores With Worldwide Shipping

All the stores above have a main site in Japanese, with a very comprehensive catalogue unmatched by the listings on their international sites. To get around this limitation, I suggest hiring a personal shopper or proxy shopping service, such as the one below:

Getting a Personal Shopper or Proxy Shopping Service

Use From Japan to buy products for you in Japan and ship them to your country. They have How To information on buying anything from anime/manga merch (including books) to fashion and tech products. It’s easy to sign up and get started by using their consolidated search engine, which searches across several websites at once so you can easily compare prices.

If you can’t find what you want via their site, get in touch with From Japan, send them the product links to what you want, and they’ll tell you how you can get a hold of them. 

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You will need to pay a service fee, but by hiring a proxy shopper, you’ll have access to every store in Japan, including giant marketplaces like Rakuten that sells everything imaginable, to auction and flea market sites that sell everything pre-owned, as well as highly specialized stores like Jump Shop (official store of the Shonen Jump/Shueisha publisher), which sells limited-edition products.

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(Please note that as someone who lives in Japan and has relatives here who send me stuff when I’m out of the country, I have not personally tried From Japan’s services. That is, I have not ordered through them from overseas. However, I know people IRL who use them and are happy with the service. We’ll just have to take their word for it!)

Now that you have your proxy or personal shopper, you can buy items from any of the specialty stores below:

Must-See Specialty Stores – New Products Only

  • Animate アニメイト – An otaku paradise, their brick-and-mortar stores around the country are incredibly popular, while their online store services anyone out of range. They have every new anime/manga item you can think of. My only beef with the online store is that the free shipping price cutoff (i.e., the amount you need to order to get free shipping) is higher than most other stores. Animate only sells new items and new limited-edition items*.
  • Jump Shop ジャンプショップ – If you’re a Jump Comics fan then you’ll feel you’ve died and gone to heaven with this shop. Many of the items here are limited edition (i.e., you can buy them only at a Jump Shop). Fairs and other events are also held quite often so you need to keep your eye out for what’s happening. For super popular characters like Satoru Gojo of JJK, you may need to pre-order the item otherwise the store will quickly run out of stock. Jump Shop only sells new items and new limited-edition items.
  • TOHO Animation Store 東宝アニメーションストア – The online shop for the TOHO Cinema chain of movie houses, they sell plenty of exclusive merchandise. It’s great having this shop because the only other option to get a hold of these exclusives is to go to a cinema and buy from its souvenir store. For every anime-turned-movie, they have every merch you can dream of.

Below are other popular online stores for otaku. While I have shopped at their wonderful brick-and-mortar stores, I don’t shop at their online stores, so I have no personalised opinion on their pricing or shipping. I can vouch for their existence in the real world, though, and can tell you they are real companies run by real people. 

*Limited-edition here means two things: (1) the new product is exclusive, i.e. it can only be found in this particular shop or chain of stores; or (2) the new product can be bought anywhere, but this store has its own special packaging or additional gifts or extras that they tie with the product. If you want a certain extra then you have to buy the product from this particular store.

Must-See Specialty Stores – New and Pre-Owned Merch

These specialty shops selling everything from brand new to pre-owned merch are a godsend to any otaku. If you miss an event or want a product that came out as a not-for-sale giveaway or ‘extras’ gift, then these stores are the places to go.

  • Surugaya.jp 駿河屋 – Perhaps my favourite brick-and-mortar store, their online shop offers everything anime/manga you can think of. They price pre-owned items very fairly and also offer deep discounts to new, pre-ordered items. Of all the stores I have been to, both online and offline, Surugaya is the one I use most often. Their pricing is kind-hearted, but the catch is that it takes them forever (two weeks on average) to ship items.
  • Lashinbang らしんばん – A rival to Surugaya, they also have fun brick-and-mortar stores across the country, with plenty of coupons and campaigns. Their online store ships quickly, usually within two to three business days. While Surugaya sells mostly A-ranked (pre-owned but like new) or unopened items, Lashinbang also sells plenty of B-ranked items, so if you’re not particular about an item’s state of newness then you may find the lower pricing attractive.
  • Book-Off Online ブックオフオンライン – Once upon a time, Book-Off only dealt with used books, but nowadays they have everything pre-owned from movie and music CDs/DVDs to game software. I frequent the larger brick-and-mortar stores called “Book-Off Super Bazaar” that also sell clothing, homeware, food, toys and of course, manga/anime merch. Sadly, the online store only deals with books and discs, but it’s still a must see especially if you’re looking for old, rare stuff.  To get a hold of their toy selection, you’ll need to check out the Yahoo! Auction Book-Off page (see below for more about this auction site).

Here are two other stores I’ve shopped at in the physical world, but whose online stores I have yet to try:

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AmiAmi has two popular brick-and-mortar stores in Akihabara, while Mandarake also has two Akihabara stores and others across the country.

Auction Sites and Online Flea Markets

This option lets you buy from individuals who mostly sell pre-owned items. Some sellers buy products but never open them (未開封 mikaifu or unopened), so the listings are actually good as new (新品同様 shinpindoyo). Nothing beats the online auction sites and flea markets when it comes to finding out-of-stock or discontinued merch.

  • Yahoo! Auction ヤフーオークション – Japan’s version of eBay. I’ve been bidding here since forever; before the flea markets became popular this was one of the few places where you can get pre-owned items at reasonable prices from all over the country. Now, with the advent of the flea markets, Yahoo! Auction is best used for highly-coveted items that aren’t offered on the easier-to-use purchasing sites. Some brick-and-mortar stores avoid the flea markets but sell products here such as gacha capsule toy machine sets (complete with the capsule) at rates comparable to the regular price. What makes this really helpful is that you get the entire set without having to risk getting the same item twice when playing the machine by yourself. 
  • Mercari メルカリ – Totally heaven-sent, this now-gigantic e-commerce site is the pioneer of the flea market concept in Japan. Mercari is paradise for otaku, as you’ll find millions of fellow otaku offering their treasures at very affordable prices. You’ll not only find pre-owned items that are like new, but most importantly, nearly every event-limited merch you can think of is quickly made available here. The most coveted items are those that can only be purchased at certain real world events or fairs. For those who cannot make it to these events, Mercari is the next best place to be. I’ve seen limited-edition products being up for sale (and sold in a jiffy) just minutes after the event has commenced. One of the best things about Mercari is that most sellers include the shipping fee in their pricing, so no need to calculate it by yourself.
  • PayPay Fleama ペイペイフリマYahoo! Japan’s foray into the flea market business, this new site is poised to become a fearsome rival to the well-established Mercari. The best thing about PayPay Fleama is that, while it’s still a newcomer and does not have the seller depth and product breadth of the older and bigger Mercari, every benefit of being a Yahoo! Japan member can be obtained here. If you use their PayPay online payment system, then you incur extra points compared to other payment methods. As the new kid in town, they also offer frequent coupons and point-back campaigns. None of these will be directly beneficial to overseas buyers, but the bigger this flea market grows the better offerings they will have for everyone regardless of where you live. I use PayPay Fleama to compare prices with Mercari, and buy from whichever site has the better offer. Some fixed-price listings from Yahoo! Auction are cross-posted here. 

These three sites are frequently used by yours truly, and I can say with confidence that their systems work like a well-oiled machine. In all my years on the buying side, I have never experienced a seller fleece me. 

My one horror story: There was a newbie seller on the freshly opened PayPay Fleama who forgot the existence of her listing (which she had cross-posted and sold elsewhere) and only replied to my messages more than a week after my purchase, in order to cancel the sale. I got my money back, of course. I then contacted the admins and asked them to refund the coupon I used. They did that, no hassle. Also, a few days later they changed the rules so that buyers themselves can cancel a transaction if the item has not been shipped within the promised time frame. 

To buy from these sites, you’ll need a proxy service like From Japan, mentioned earlier. Almost none of the sellers on these sites ship worldwide.

Summary

In summary, there are three ways to buy official anime/manga merch from Japan and have them shipped abroad:

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  1. Buy from a Japanese site that ships worldwide. Pro: You can shop directly without paying an intermediary fee. Con: Very few Japanese stores ship outside of Japan.
  2. Get a personal shopper or proxy shopping service. Pro: You get to buy from as many stores as possible and have the proxy ship you the combined items in one box. This lowers the shipping fee. Also, you can buy anything from any store or seller in Japan, as long as they’re items that can be shipped abroad. Con: You need to pay a service fee.
  3. Come to Japan for a vacation and shop till you drop. No need to mention the pros and cons. Even if you can’t lug back your massive haul on your own, there’s always the ship-’em-home method!

Needless to say, I recommend #3 as the best way to buy otaku merch from the source. But not everyone can come here, so there are the first and second options. Besides, we’re probably just a pandemic away from another pandemic, so it’s always good to know where to buy stuff online as well as how to get them shipped to where you live.

Hope this helps! 

Sorry but I (as in me, hana of Hana’s Blog), despite living in Japan, cannot offer shopping/shipping services for fellow otaku living overseas. I work full-time and doing proxy stuff for people overseas takes a lot of time, effort and money, none of which I can spare. Thank you for your understanding!

If you have any questions or comments or experiences to share, please leave a word or two in the comment section below. You can also contact me via Instagram Messaging

Best of luck in your otakatsu!**

**Otakatsu オタ活 is a portmonteau of otaku オタク and katsudo 活動 (activity or activities). So we post anime or manga-related stuff on IG and say,「先週末のオタ活!」(“Senshumatsu no otakatsu!” Last weekend’s otaku activity!) and so on.

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