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About getting products from Japan.


19 Mar 2002
I will elaborate on this question when I have more time later tonight, but in essence, I want to ask this...

When looking to get products from Japan, is it better to order from online shopping sites, or would it be more worthwhile and cheaper to find a friend there that would buy and ship things for me in exchange for me buying and shipping things for them?

This idea mainly comes from my suspicion that many products on Japanese internet shopping sites are selling for well above their retail value an actual store in Japan would sell it for. Would the two-disc DVD Japanese version of "My Neighbor Totoro" sell for the equivalent of 50 USD in Japan? This is the core of my concern, so any information would be greatly appreciated.

Also, does anyone know of a site that features people who are willing to be involved in a trade relationship? It seems like it would be an advanced "pen pals" sort of thing.

I am interested in this primarily for the reason that many of the rare, and in my opinion very cool, products are overlooked on most sites in favor of what statistically may have a better chance of selling through to the "international internet" market... which most likely excludes the quirky things that are the sadly overlooked, yet essential parts of the culture... the backbone of nuance. So, if anyone knows of a trading program set up by a site... I would appreciate that. Thanks for your time.
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Hi Mario, and welcome aboard! :)

I'll leave the detailed answers to those more knowledgeable than myself (in particular to those in situ who know about local prices in Japan), but I believe it depends on which kind of products you are looking for.

My wife usually orders Japanese books through Amazon.co.jp, their shipping fees are - as far as I remember - quite inexpensive. She had previously asked her family to buy and send books to Europe, in the end prices did not differ that much. I am quite sure that the same applies to DVDs and CDs.

There's an online shop run by an American living in Japan, Peter Payne's J-List. They also have a lot of items in stock in San Diego, try your luck at their site if you are interested in magazines, manga, DVDs etc. Oh, we are not affiliated with them in any way. ;)

=> http://www.japanreference.com/cgi-bin/jump.cgi?ID=2450
(please ignore their adult section if you are a minor)
hehe ... price shock ... lol I could buy a bushel of apples for the price I pay for 2.

second hand is the only reasonable way to go.
- benefit is that most merchandise is handled and kept well ...

minus--- depends on what you're looking for ... most second hand shops outside of video/cd are almost as expensive as buying new.

other problems are that Japan doesn't really have the weekend sale prices that most americans enjoy. Sure every once in a while you'll see a good deal but local (not mom-and-pop but larger ones too) normally stick with the suggested retail price.

why the high prices?
- cost of manufacturing
- rent, rent, rent
- market monopoly
- customers (other than those from Osaka) are "KAMO" -- errr (sitting ducks waiting to be butchered)
- high emloyment numbers ... ie .. 5 people work a gasoline stand on the same shift.
- higher minimum salary
... errr ... some of these comparisons are based on me being american

[forget the lifelong employment system ... that got washed out with the bad economy ...]

I'll be willing to run to a store for folks ... but I can't get Tokyo prices :(
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