Buying Import Games Online

Forwarding services

I’ve been stung a couple of times using Buyee (300¥ service fee per order) and the crazy shipping charges and surprise import duty, so started looking for alternatives. I found many, including White Rabbit Express (800¥ service fee per order) and Zen Market (300¥ service fee per item!), but they all understandably keep total shipped cost out of sight due to it relying on so many factors that are unknown until the package is ready to ship.

Amazon Japan Global Shipping

See here - sellers post your item at a local locker or convenience store and Amazon take care of the rest. This is an improvement, but for the games I’ve been buying the shipping cost is more than the game. Also, it’s a bit of a crap shoot as you currently have to dig through the first dozen or so buying options until you find an item eligible for global shipping — my method is to add them to basket and then go to checkout and then delete all items that are not eligible. Even so, the prices are better than using a forwarding service.

Amazon ASIN

After all that, I realised there is a better method hiding in plain sight. I’ve not seen discussed anywhere before so thought I’d share it.

This takes adadvantage of the fact that an item’s ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) is the same/consistent across all regions. Thanks Jeff Bezos!

  1. Find the game you want on Amazon Japan
  2. Change the URL to your local Amazon, for me I swap the .jp to .uk
  3. Pick a seller that ships direct from Japan, mostly with free shipping
  4. Save money and have fun!

(you can also search your region Amazon for “[Japan Import]” if you want to browse)

I’ve been plugging holes in my collection using this method and it’s the most economical source I’ve found.

Does anybody else have any other ways to import games at sensible prices?


Very informative OP! Previously I thought buying anything from Amazon Japan that wasn’t shipping directly from them was a lost cause but it turns out I’ve been wrong.

How do you tell if something from a third party seller is eligible for shipping internationally? Usually it lets me add to basket but then says my address isn’t valid and I have to pick a local address (eg a forwarding company’s) to make it work, or buy a brand new item that is dispatched and sold by amazon.

For Amazon JP global shipping usually there is a base price plus a price per weight of item, except for books which the weight stuff doesn’t apply.

We order a lot of stuff from amazon japan. Games usually have ~300 yen flat shipping price with no base price.

You do have to pay import duties upfront but at least for Canada it’s about the same as sales tax here, and ahead of time the Japanese sales tax is removed. I usually just don’t worry about it.

Due to the duties being paid upfront and the use of DHL Express I can usually get stuff from Amazon Japan to my door in Ottawa in about 2 days. They even move stuff over the weekend, so if I order on a Friday it’s here on Monday.

Factoring in prices being lower for a lot of stuff (especially switch games, accessories) I usually end up saving money even with paying for shipping and duties vs buying the same thing in Canada. Plus of course stuff you can’t get anywhere but Japan.

Typically used goods cannot be shipped, and when a third party seller does ship a new item their price will match the one in the search results so it is a bit of a guessing game. The “new” factor applies to new-old-stock btw, I even managed to get a NIB copy of JP Oracle of Ages shipped to my door.

I’ve been doing the “change the TLD” thing for Amazon for a long time too. It usually results in unreasonable prices and shipping costs but occasioanlly it is useful, especially for used stuff. I managed to get a good price on a used PSP 3000 MH3P special edition this way, for example.

Other than Amazon and occasionally ebay I’m fortunate enough to have in-laws in Japan that can send us stuff or bring stuff with them when they visit so I’m not much help aside from the Amazon side of things.

Edit: one other thing I forgot to mention is that for preorders on Amazon JP often the shipping price is like 3x higher than normal. So unless you’re trying to get something very limited I don’t recommend preordering, unless you triple check that the shipping price is sane.

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If you don’t want to do the country switch trick, and want to buy from Amazon Japan through Global shipping it’s a bit of laborious process.

  1. Important: Enter Global Shipping mode (see link in OP)
  2. Search for an item using Japanese text or ASIN
  3. If it shows a result you’ve got the green light
  4. Add the first dozen or so buying options to your basket
  5. Go to checkout until you see some shipping errors
  6. Delete all error items, this will leave the items that qualify for Global Shipping

I have a support ticket with Amazon at the moment to asking why the eligible items are not more accessible.

Bought some stuff on Buyee and just before shipping spotted they’ve added a bogus “protective packaging” cost of 25% to the total. WTF!? What are my chances of getting this removed?

Unsure. I just used Buyee for the first time and didn’t get any sort of charge like this. Was it in the insurance/inspection options ? I just selected the basic 500yen option .

I bought 6 items - 2 books, 2 game guides, 2 sfc game carts - from a mix of auctions, rakuten and Amazon. Nothing close to valuable, average 500¥ per item.

In order to ship them together you must “consolidate shipping” which I have done a few times before. A standard known charge.

But this time it added in the “protective packaging” - totally unnecessary for these old “junk” items. I guess I must have missed a check box. I’ve got a few weeks before the storage deadline so I’m hoping they get back to me.

They’ve said “it’s too late now, we can’t remove the packaging” but I’ve stated that I did not opt-in to this packaging charge.

Now the package is “currently under warehouse work” so I have no idea what is happening.

So it took Buyee 1 whole month—until I started incurring late storage fees—to tell me that they could confirm that I pressed the “both” (consolidation and protective packaging).

I actually disagree because I’m such a penny-pincher I’d have never agreed to an extra 1500JPY for some bubble wrap!

But at this point, let’s just get these things shipped.

I’ll never use Buyee again though.

Spoiler: I did use them again. :joy:

That’s unfortunate! I haven’t tried the proxy auction bidding services before, which other options would you recommend?

As for forwarding services, if you’re looking for alternatives, Big in Japan are excellent. Been using them for the past five years without fault. They are also pretty good for merchandise as well, provided you preorder early.

I’d like to try zenmarket next

If you purchase from eBay and have it shipped direct, wouldn’t that be better? That’s what I do for JPN imports to the US. It’s Air Mail and it usually goes smoothly. Takes about 10 days to two weeks.

Most likely.

But I’ve ordered the kind of things that aren’t available many places. None were on eBay and none through the Amazon regional trick.

Made an order using White Rabbit Express, rather than Buyee. All good so far. Excellent comms regarding the order, nice website, now waiting the item to arrive with them, and then will choose onward shipping. Their service fees are quite high tough.

I ordered on the weekend and the order was actioned on Monday, so last-minute weekend-ending auctions may be a problem in some situations.

I couldn’t use Zen Market because the item was a listing by Bookoff on Yahoo Auctions, an unsupported combination for a lot of these forwarding companies.

I used to grab something from yahoo auctions and it was very efficient - though given the flat fee you’re probably better off using it for higher value items.

Good tips, thanks for the thread. All those shipping charges is still cheaper than a ticket to japan haha.

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My White Rabbit Express turned up just fine.

Official Guide Book for Sujin Taisen: Number Battles (NDS)
NDS 数陣タイセン 任天堂公式ガイドブック


100JPY ~= $1

Line Item Total: $2.80 (298JPY)
Total Expenses: $3.67
Minimum Service Fee: $8.00
Sub Total: $14.47

Onward Shipping: $8.86
GRAND TOTAL: $23.33 (roughly £18)

still way cheaper than the cheapest alternatives on Amazon UK (£45) or ebay (£105!) all shipping from Japan.

and, dare I say it, a lot more fun

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Has anybody used Rakuten Global Market?

Kind of like Amazon Marketplace but with forced global shipping.

Odd that you have to wait for the shipping quote and confirm by reply to an email. Old school.

Maybe a way to side-step the middlemen?

I’m impressed.

My wife uses it occasionally.

It’s sorta like amazon except with only 3rd party sellers. For some stuff it’s useful but for others it can have expensive shipping and it’s nowhere near as fast as DHL express (I got 1 day shipping from japan on my last order from amazon jp).

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