In particular, OS-tan and Anime merchandise are often from Japan, and it is common practice for Ebay sellers to buy them directly from Japan, then resell them at a higher price on Ebay! Seller Fees on this platform are also ridiculous, which is also a reason for the inflated prices.
So, why not buy yourself directly from Japanese Markets and benefit from non inflated prices? But how?
This Topic serves both as a guide (that will be improved over time) to achieve this, and a discussion where you can share your own experience and suggest improvements to the guide. If you are yourself from Japan or know a friend wiling to help buying stuff there, don't hesitate to let us know as well!
Naturally, you should already be able to buy stuff normally, via a credit card or PayPal or so. If you are for example a minor who cannot buy stuff from Ebay then this guide is not going to help...
Also, following the guide will not magically make your purchases cheaper, but merely make you able to buy directly from Japanese markets. You can save a lot indeed, but that will also depend on the items or your purchasing habits and strategies. If you just want to buy once a clear file using a proxy, then or course, maybe the international shipping price from Japan will be too high in comparison to how much the Ebay seller might have inflated the price.
Japanese Local Markets
Some merchandise are pretty rare, so you will want to browse several marketplaces to increase your chances of finding interesting items. Notable marketplaces are:
- Yahoo! Japan Auctions: basically a local Ebay for Japan, with auction and Buy It Now items;
- Mercari: more like a classified ads site, all buy it now items except some very rare exceptions that require you to write a message first (your Proxy should be able to handle this if needed), and normally Free Shipping within Japan;
- Surugaya: a company buying and reselling stuff, though the prices are usually still nice.
However, you have to enter the keywords in Japanese. But still no worries! Our Wiki pages will show Japanese names for characters originating from Japan and many merchandise, so you just have to copy-paste them to the search bar! For example, if you want to find some Nanami Madobe merchandise, check our page about her to find out that her Japanese name is 窓辺ななみ. Here is what Mercari gives if searching with this keyword at the time this post was written:
The prices are naturally in Yens, use any convertor to find out the current rates. Mercari will also show recently sold items so be careful about that.
Using a Proxy
Did you find the thing you wanted? That is cool, but how to actually buy it? Since the vast majority of sellers from these markets are not going to ship internationally, and you cannot even create an account anyway...
You use a Proxy! These are Japanese based companies that buy the items on your behalf for a reasonable fee and store them in their own warehouses. Then you can make a request to ship what is currently stored to your own address. We can recommend the following proxies:
Proxies have detailed help pages that clarify the whole process, they are always worth a read. Take some time to get used to the proxy's interface. Once you are used to, you can either enter the URL of the item you might have found previously if the interface allows it, or just search again in the relevant section with the keyword you used. Once you found the precise article in their interface, you can proceed to the purchase. For example, an article page looks like this on Buyee:
Note that this is only the first step. This purchase will just ship the item to the proxy's warehouse. You then have the options to request shipping to your own address, or accumulate more items to the warehouse until then to possibly save on international shipping.
Always consider the international shipping prices in advance. If you are buying just a few low value items and if they are big, you are of course going to be hit by high international shipping fees. The proxies normally provide some calculators to estimate the fee, and don't forget to consider the weight of the box and packaging.
The use of proxies is more efficient if you purchase lots of items at once and combine international shipping, so feel free to use them not only for Moe merchandise, but also things completely unrelated like computer parts or so!
Have fun shipping on Japanese markets!