As a passionate collector and huge Japan enthusiast, I've been collection Japanese merchandise, no matter if it's anime figures, Disney goods or other bits and pieces, for many years now. I've gained quite a lot experience over time and would like to share my tips and tricks.~
So, what do you need to know before buying things from Japan?
Well, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that, depending on which country you live in, you might have to pay custom fees. I live in Germany, we can buy things up to 22€ without having to pay anything, from 22€ to 150€, we have to pay VAT and for items that are over 150€, custom fees.
It's important to keep these fees in mind to avoid bad surprises.
Then, you might check the shipping costs before buying something. Shipping from Japan can be quite expensive, especially if you order heavy things. Personally, I always use EMS or Registered Air Mail as I'm impatient as heck and paranoid in case of not having a tracking number.
But the most important question is - where to order? As I said before, I've been ordering from Japan for a while now. I made the experience that the same things are much more expensive when you buy them in Germany or Europe in general, so I stick with the Japanese stores. These are some of my favourites:
If you're searching for anime figures or merchandise in general, this is the right shop for you! No matter what's coming out - you can pre-order it here. Their prices are really fair and often less expensive than in other stores. From all stores, amiami is the one I've ordered most things from and I'm sure my next order won't be long in coming. They even have a pre-owned section with many good deals! Unfortunately, there is no option to calculate the shipping cost before buying but you can ask the support, they might be able to give you an estimation. Talking about the support, they're kind and helpful if you're facing troubles with your order. Keep in mind that like in most Japanese stores, cancellations are not accepted so think twice before making an order!
My second favourite store for anime figures: Nippon-Yasan. If you're searching something that's sold out in other stores, take a look at their huge range! I recommend using JPY as currency as you'd pay more if you chose EUR or USD. I highly recommend Nippon-Yasan for exclusive products as they usually have the extras (like the clear file and card for the Birthday figures from Love Live). Every once in a while, they have a huuuuge sale with ridiculous low prices. I just bought the SIF Eli Ayase from Alter for 128€ incl. shipping and VAT. Compared to Germany, where her current price is around 210€ without shipping.
You can calculate the shipping cost by putting your item in the cart and then go to "shipping calculator". They have an awesome, cheap shipping method where you pay the VAT in advance (exclusively for Europe) so your item won't be stuck in custom for weeks.
Just like Nippon-Yasan, Plamoya offers many items that have been sold out for a long time on other sites. The prices are higher but at least there is a chance that you will find your desired item. Personally, I think their shipping is expensive too. Still, they have exclusive merchandise, prize stuff and other things you probably won't find elsewhere!
Have you ever wanted something from a Japanese shop but they didn't ship outside of Japan? Let me tell you, these times are over! I found this gem of a shopping service/proxy server not so long ago and I couldn't be happier! I didn't expect it to be so easy to FINALLY be able to buy from all the Japanese stores I've ever wanted. You don't need to speak (or read) a single word of Japanese to buy your things. All you need is a Buyee account and the "Add to Buyee" add-on which you use to put your things in the cart. Buyee will buy the things for you; the shop will send the items to Buyee's warehouse (you have to pay the local shipping fees, of course, but they're usually very low) and then, they will message you that your parcel has arrived. There are lots of services they offer - for example, if you pay for the standard plan, they'll check if your items are in a good condition and if all your ordered goods are included. However, Buyee will ask you to pay the shipping fee (there is a tool before you order the items so you can calculate the cost in advance). They have a lot of different shipping methods to chose from, for example EMS, Registered Air Mail or SAL.I was surprised by their low prices, usually I pay much more on other sites for less items. Once you paid the shipping, they'll send out your parcel very fast and you can enjoy your new merchandise or clothes in just a few days or weeks.
I highly recommend using Buyee, just make sure to read everything carefully before ordering. I've seen many bad reviews about Buyee and I found a simple explication for that - people don't read and it's a shame that they are blaming this website for their own incompetence.
Instagram is not only the perfect place to share pictures of your holiday, collection or what else you usually upload, but it's also a marketplace! Of course, you can't look for items like in every other shop, where you simply search for the things you want, but there are lots of people who offer personal shopping services from countries all over the world, including Japan. I've bought from shops on Instagram many times before and most of my shopping experiences were positive. However, if you pay via PayPal, everything should be fine!
As mentioned before, there are lots of stores all over Europe that sell anime and other merchandise but I try to avoid buying from them as much as possible. My only German pre-order right now is the Halloween Nozomi from Alpha x Omega, pre-ordered on Yorokonde, but it's waifu for laifu so that's okay.
So, this was my guide for buying merchandise from Japan. I hope that it's helpful! ♥
Quote of the Day: "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?" -Ariel