Help with sourcing from Japan?
July 1, 2013 4:21 PM   Subscribe

On my last trip to Japan I totally feel in love with Japanese stationary - I would love to find an individual or a kind of "sourcing agency" in Japan to help me deal with local suppliers and start importing some of the cool stuff to Europe.

I already found this and this. But they are mostly offering package consolidation services (which I would probably also use) and were not set up to deal with my request.

With my low volume (and low budget :) ) and no need for much of the traditional services offered by these kind of agencies (quality testing and the like) I figure I could just find a trustworthy Japanese individual who'd help me with this.

How would I find such an individual (or an agency)?
posted by lenehan to Shopping (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Place a want ad in a Japanese newspaper, explaining what you are looking for.
posted by gnossos at 4:39 PM on July 1, 2013

Try the local Japanese consulate.
posted by parmanparman at 4:39 PM on July 1, 2013

oh I see you have low budget. Where are you? I am in the UK and maybe we could group an order.
posted by parmanparman at 4:40 PM on July 1, 2013

I too am a UK-based fan of Japanese stationery and would be up for grouping an order!

Also I don't know how much effort you wanna put into this but Postcrossing is kinda perfect for this. One of my friends from Sweden found a Japanese swap pal through the site (who loves Scandinavian design so both sides profit). But obviously you can't just waltz in there if you haven't built up some trust on the site first. Tho it's probably worth a try on the forums I guess (memail me if you need Postcrossing guidance, I'm on phone now or I'd type more).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 5:10 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm in Germany - I've been thinking about brush-pens and sign pens and the awe-inspiring japanese paper qualities a lot lately :) .

I'd love to group an order and let you know how things progress.

I would be a bit hesitant to burden a postcrossing-penpal with a business sourcing request though - best to set up things professionally right away.
posted by lenehan at 5:53 PM on July 1, 2013

Best answer: Interestingly, there are several individuals here in Japan who do this kind of importing from the US and from Europe. There is even an online shopping website which specializes in this.

I don't have any personal information, but I do have a friend who does "personal importing" from Asia to Europe and UK. Memail me if you want more info.
posted by xmts at 7:23 PM on July 1, 2013

To clarify, are you thinking of trying to set up a small business reselling these, or just importing for your own use? I don't think postcrossing would be appropriate for business sourcing at all.
posted by jacalata at 7:27 PM on July 1, 2013

Best answer: I have a friend who has a pretty large store on Rakuten. He may be willing to help you out, if there is a business opportunity. Please feel free to MeMail me if you want more info.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:56 PM on July 1, 2013

Best answer: Having thought about seriously about importing stuff from Japan in the past, just breaking even would be a challenge. The per-unit price of this stuff is high, even at wholesale prices (and you need a de facto license to purchase wholesale in Japan), so you have to sell a lot of units. The best import model is to find things with a high-per-unit value that you can't find in your home country. Another friend of mine used to flip Nikes and art prints... until the Great Recession.

If it's just for personal use, that's a different story.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:59 PM on July 1, 2013

White Rabbit Express:

"Special order anything from Japan. Shop any store, then have us buy and ship the items to you. Click to learn more."
posted by Dansaman at 11:38 PM on July 1, 2013

Response by poster: It would be for setting up a small business reselling these.
posted by lenehan at 12:38 AM on July 2, 2013

(Sorry, I totally misunderstood and thought you just wanted these for your own use. If you ever get anything up and running let me know, I might order from you! ;) I'm in Germany often enough that I could have stuff shipped to one of my friends' addresses.)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:39 AM on July 2, 2013

Best answer: There is a successful Canadian business that sells japanese papers and stationery at retail and wholesale. You could get in touch with the owners to ask about contacts and advice.
posted by thatdawnperson at 4:05 AM on July 2, 2013

Best answer: A lot of brush pens are available through the awesome [no connection] if you need a quick fix. They've clearly got a Japanese contact and have always been super-nice to buy from, so you could ask what they can do?
posted by cromagnon at 4:09 PM on July 2, 2013

Response by poster: Kokuryu and xmts - I sent you a MeMail.

Thanks to all of you - lots of really good angles to go through.
posted by lenehan at 12:46 AM on July 3, 2013

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