What is the best online store in Japan - Amazon, Rakuten, or others?
December 12, 2011 1:00 PM   Subscribe

What is the best online store in Japan? Amazon or Rakuten or others?

My girlfriend lives in Japan right now and I want to get her a Christmas gift. The only problem is that postage from USA to Japan is really high and I'd rather spend more money on getting her a gift than postage so I've decided to send her a gift through an online store that is already in Japan. I looked at amazon.co.jp but it disappointed me as far as its selection (and price) goes. I realize things in Japan are more expensive which is okay, but I just want to make sure I am getting the most value so which online store would be the best place to get reasonably priced gifts? And sites in English (or with an English option) would obviously be a big plus.
posted by locussst to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As far as I know, most Japanese retail sites require you have a Japanese credit card in order to purchase items from them. Amazon.co.jp will accept foreign credit cards, but Rakuten shops are individualized, so it depends on the retailer what kind of payment method they will accept. Some (but not all) Rakuten retailers will only accept Japanese bank transfer, and figuring out their website is rather cumbersome - especially when the retailer doesn't have English navigation. The only time I ordered something from Rakuten, I got a Japanese friend to pay with a native credit card, and I reimbursed them in cash.

Personally, when I was living in Japan I found Amazon.co.jp to be the easiest to order items from. Alternatively, I've ordered things from the US Amazon store and had them shipped to Japan as gifts with minimal shipping costs. As long as it ships directly to the person getting the gift, I don't remember the price being that exorbitant for international.

What kind of gift are you shopping for? I might be able to provide you with a better list of sites if I knew what genre.
posted by qio at 1:40 PM on December 12, 2011

Forgot to mention:

I also have a girlfriend in Japan, so I can totally relate.
posted by qio at 2:09 PM on December 12, 2011

Rakuten and Amazon both accept non-Japanese credit cards. My wife uses them both frequently - she just got a shipment from one of them yesterday in fact. There are few merchants on Rakuten that don't accept credit cards, but most do (and the number seems to be increasing), so we (or she) has never had a problem.
posted by derMax at 2:58 PM on December 12, 2011

I looked at amazon.co.jp but it disappointed me as far as its selection (and price) goes. I realize things in Japan are more expensive which is okay
At about 77 JPY per USD, the Yen is very strong right now. I bought my brother some music gear from amazon.co.jp a year or two ago and was amazed at the low prices. Now I'm amazed at the high prices.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:50 PM on December 12, 2011

Thanks I appreciate the responses even though they really confirmed what I had already found which is amazon & rakuten are probably the best options and also they are expensive. :)

As far as specific genre goes she's an artist - she also likes indie music and small 'cute' things like stuffed animals/figures, etc.
posted by locussst at 5:57 PM on December 12, 2011

You can also see what turns up with Kakaku. Similar to a Pricegrabber type site that indexes products from various online shops and sorts by price/rating/etc.

Many smaller shops probably won't accept overseas credit cards, but you may get lucky, or at least have a better idea of what else is out there.
posted by p3t3 at 6:41 PM on December 12, 2011

The easiest thing to do is to get a mutual friend in Japan to order something online for you, and pay them back. I have done this several times for my friends in the US.
posted by xmts at 9:07 PM on December 12, 2011

Rakuten in particular, and Amazon JP too, aren't more expensive than other stores for the same products. Since competition is so fierce on Rakuten amongst the merchants, you do a price comparison and grab the cheapest, if you know what you're looking for. (Reading Japanese helps admittedly.)

Other than that, if you are really looking to save money, you could get someone in Japan to order something from a discount store or even a 100 yen shop in Japan and send it to your girlfriend...but that's, you know, sort of cheap.

And as b1tr0t says, prices in Japan look expensive to you, or anyone in the US or Europe, right now because of the lousy exchange rate. You may want to see if getting something in the U.S. and sending it to Japan works out better for you in the end. Airmail is not too bad for small items.
posted by derMax at 5:03 AM on December 13, 2011

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