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Posted on Mar 24, 2008 in Shopping | 14 comments

Japanese auction & overseas shipping services

Japanese auction & overseas shipping services


I know how frustrating it is to get excited about unusual bento boxes and accessories on Japanese websites, only to find out that the online stores won’t ship outside of Japan. Mail order companies that wouldn’t ship internationally were a pet peeve of mine when I lived in Japan, especially when looking for clothes and shoes. Being 5’10″ with size 11 feet made it hard to find properly fitting things there — my nickname “Biggie” is short for Bigfoot, after all! Anyway, I digress.

There are a number of online companies that will act as your own personal shopper or “friend in Japan”, placing bids on Japanese-language online auctions, accepting packages you order from mail order stores that won’t ship internationally, and shipping them over to you (for a price, of course — the low end is around 10%). This opens up the bento treasure of Japanese online stores (in addition to J-List, which does ship their bento stuff overseas). I’ve put together a list of some of these shipping and auction agents, some bigger online stores, and translation tools to guide you. (Read on for the full list.)

Overseas shipping and Japanese auction services

These online companies offer a variety of services, acting as your own personal shopper in Japan, auction agent, domestic mail order recipient and forwarder. Most will help guide you through the otherwise daunting process of placing online orders or bidding on auctions in a foreign language; check their websites for details. They don’t do this for free, of course — commissions usually start around 10%, but can run much higher for auctions (read the fine print — buyer beware!).

I haven’t used any of these services, so this is not an endorsement and I’d welcome feedback from people who have used them. If are a merchant with an established, relevant Japan shipping or auction service you’d like to be included, please leave a comment on this post or send me e-mail at lunchinabox (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Unrelated commercial spam will be quietly deleted.

  • Abidko: Online shopping and auction service that handles Yahoo! Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
  • Akibado: Online shopping and auction service, but looks pricey (20%+ commission).
  • Baggage Forward: shipping service will combine shipping from multiple sources
  • Celga: Auction agent for Yahoo! Japan
  • DankeDanke: Shipping service and auction service (bilingual site with shopping portals)
  • Goods from Japan: Shipping service, personal shopping and auction service
  • i-TM4u: Shipping service and auction service (down until March 26, 2008 for site revamp)
  • Japan Auction Center: Auction service with straightforward fees (800 yen + 8% per auction) and shipping at cost
  • Japan to Door: Shipping service, personal shopping and auction service
  • Ooh! Japan: Online shopping, shopping portal and auction service. Here’s a link to their bento products.
  • Rinkya: Online shopping and auction service with handy auction search (Yahoo! Japan, Japanese online stores, and Rakuten online stores). Watch out for fees, though.
  • Rtecec: Online shopping and auction service

Online stores with bento gear

  • Rakuten: major auction site and online store with multiple sellers (check out their bento section here)
  • Amazon Japan: Amazon Japan does ship books internationally, but not bento gear (although they have a good selection). Use a shipping agent to buy their bento boxes and thermal lunch jars, drink containers, kitchenware, classic bento gear from Hakoya, modern bento gear from Yellow Studio, and accessories like the little face-shaped craft punches for nori to make faces on onigiri.
  • Yellow Studio: This is the online Rakuten store I linked to in my post on bento box size guidelines. Bento boxes and gear with clean, modern designs and striking colors. I’ve got my eye on several things on this site, including their book and guide for packing lunch according to the 3:1:2 rule (some Yellow Studio products are also available on Amazon).
  • Yahoo! Japan: With extensive auctions much like eBay

Translation tools

Can’t read Japanese? Machine translation is your friend.

  • Google’s translator
  • Nifty’s translator
  • Babel Fish translator

(Disclaimer: The Amazon Japan and J-List links are affiliate links that support Lunch in a Box at no additional cost when purchases are made through them. I have no commercial affiliations with any of the other companies listed here.)



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  1. There’s also Crescent Shop at www DOT crescent-shop DOT com. [NOTE: edited for dead link]

    It’s a online shopping and auction service, similar to Celga, and there are also fees involved. You have to pay a bank transfer fee as well as a service fee for each item depending on cost of original item.

    On the upside, Crescent is reliable, and they’re quick to respond to queries. I’ve been using them for a year or so. The processing of completed orders can take a while, but they haven’t failed me yet.

  2. Japan has been late in adapting to internet shopping. btw, I had the same shoe issues. That said about Japan and being late adapting, there are plenty of US stores not sending internationally, sugarcharms (to my great dismay) does not.
    If anyone wants to buy origami paper I can STRONGLY recommend
    They ship internationally out of a wide assortment and are very friendly and happy to help with inquiries (I have no affiliation). It is the first thing I look for when I am out looking for something, how and what and for what price does something ship. When stuff ship for more than the actual thing was, then you wonder if it is worth it. This was a good thing though, never heard of buying by proxy but I’ll tag the list.

  3. Can completely relate “Biggie” ;P I had to give up looking “cute” while living in Japan, when it came to shoes. And in Taiwan, it was frustrating but possible yet, the kitsch was no clothes that fit me!

  4. @1 from raydance: Thanks for the heads up and feedback on Crescent Shop!

  5. @2 from Jessika: Yes, I had trouble with international shipping from companies all over, not specifically one country or another. It was particularly frustrating with leather shoes, though, as Japan charged something like 5,000 yen in duties per pair (ouch).

  6. @3 from Guinnevere: Ha ha, in junior high school my girlfriends with shoe size 10.5 and higher made The Bigfoot Club to celebrate/commiserate our shoe situation. It really is nice now — I just walk into Nordstrom Rack and peruse the wall of fabulous 11′s on discount. And great drag queen shoes in San Francisco, of course! Shopping by size rules; I’m so over getting excited about shoes just to find out that (surprise) they’re not available in my size. Now I only look at shoes I know come in 11′s — avoid disappointment.

  7. @4 from Namahottie: I think I bought one pair of sneakers and one pair of driving shoes in stores in Japan, the rest I got when I went on vacation abroad. Eventually I worked out a system where I would take an almost-empty suitcase with me on international trips, then go shopping to fill it up with a year’s worth of shoes and clothes in the first two days. I even talked the department store near my Grandma’s house into letting me go into the back to help myself to their racks of shoes in my size. I’d remind them that I’d be buying a year’s worth of shoes in one day if they let me back there to browse their 11′s (and they were happy to oblige).

  8. @7Biggie, since I am interested in goods that can be found in Japan and the US the most it tends to be that you notice the shipping restrictions more, and the extra costs as well. The first thing I do now is find terms and conditions and where’s the clause on shipping? If they don’t ship to canada it is doubtful they will ship to Sweden.
    I’ve been through plenty of places in Europe that won’t ship either or has an internet site that makes you wonder if they are still living in the dark ages.

  9. I just wanted to leave a comment about using akibado.I won about 15 auctions theough them since feb 08.i have not received any of them,they have almost $1000 of my money yet never answer or ship my items!!I guess I will try and find legal aide in japan.

  10. Carolyn B! You too? I used Akibado for ages, no problems ever. But last July I paid my final fees and then sent in a shipping request. No reply. 7 items of mine, lots of money… no reply. Next I will send a letter in Japanese by snail mail (if that address is still valid?) and probably try to call that number. Anyone else been ripped off by Akibado? They MUST refund our money!

  11. Marty! have you had any luck i have sent them no less than 20 emails and 10 shipping request no answers! Does anyone have any ideas what to do now ? They have a lot of my money!

  12. has anyone tried ive done a few transactions with them and its been really easy, and cheap. I researched many others “celga, rinkya etc.” but smj seemed to be the cheapest and biggest. all the user comments i read were good, and they seem to be the only one who offers a forum for users.

  13. I have bought goods from Japanese Centre and Jlist. Both convenient and fast. The first one is not the cheapest but convenient since it is located in Europe where I live.

  14. ladies, I was wondering how much would you give someone offering to purchase something for you from ebay and shipping it to your country?

    I’m having someone in the US helping me order the item and shipping it to Hong Kong for me.

    I will be paying for the item + shipping to him and + shipping to me. He did not specifically say how much he wanted and just asked for a few dollars but didn’t specify how much.

    I’m rather unsure how much to give him for the service though and would feel strange asking him upfront for how much he wants… and yes I do believe he is a trust worthy person as his ebay has tons of positive feed back for the service he offers. Thank you ladies.