Looking for rare Japanese items? Forget eBay. Yahoo Japan is the promised land.
The following tutorial will show you how you can browse, bid, and buy items available on Yahoo Japan auctions- in English, and ship the items you win, to your home, anywhere on the planet.
For many years, Yahoo Japan auctions have been the most desired place for collectors all around the world to shop. Imagine: an online marketplace where thousands of Japanese shops, collectors and merchants offer millions of Japanese goods daily: at domestic Japanese prices (often a fraction of what those same items will sell for on eBay, or Amazon). Even the term ‘ebay Japan’ continues to be entered into Google Search on a daily basis, despite the fact there is no eBay Japan website.
Yahoo Japan auctions, by design, is a domestic market, intended for Japanese shoppers. There are a number of reasons why it remains generally off-limits to foreign buyers: the site is available only in Japanese. Item descriptions and titles are also mostly in Japanese. The overwhelming majority of merchants on Yahoo Japan will not ship to addresses outside Japan. As if that weren’t enough, payment methods acceptable on Yahoo Japan are generally methods only available within Japan (for example, domestic Japanese bank transfers). Paypal remains virtually unheard of in Japan and is used generally by a fringe number of Japanese merchants who sell on sites like eBay.
The difficulty most face in using this Japanese goldmine, remains an opportunity for the few with access. Thousands of rare, sought after Japanese products can be purchased on a daily basis for a fraction of their selling prices on eBay. Mind you, if you’re a CD collector, for example, you won’t find a Monro (self titled) CD a Mama’s Boys (Power and Passion) CD for $10 on Yahoo auctions. Many Japanese collectors are well aware of the value of some items. However, with that said: a record or CD that sells in the $400-500 range on eBay, will often be found in a range like $80-150 or so on Yahoo auctions. Sometimes, if you’re looking for something less obvious (off the radar of most collectors), the savings will be much bigger. Titles that regularly sell in the $50-100 range on eBay, can be found daily for as little as $10. When it comes to well known Japanese rarities, items that sell for a fortune on eBay, they will appear more often on Yahoo Japan auctions and sell for significantly less. All that’s required to find these gems, are a few simple tricks. No need to understand Japanese, just read the following tips carefully, and you’ll be well on your way to scoring one gem after another for a fraction of the prices you’re used to seeing them sell for on sites like eBay, or Amazon.
Searching for items on Yahoo Japan Auctions (Searching in Japanese is key. Don’t worry, it’s easy to do.)
The most challenging part of using Yahoo Japan auctions, is the search. Remember: when you’re browsing Japanese auctions, you’re essentially inside a massive shopping center in the middle of Japan. Now image being inside a massive shopping complex in the heart of Tokyo. Everything will be in Japanese. The ads, the product sections, the artist sections in music stores, the author categories in book shops, the signs in the windows.
Now think about what you see on the spine (side) of a Japanese book, CD, or video game: you see Japanese text. If you try to find a Rolling Stones record in a music shop in Japan, you won’t find much if you look for the exact text ‘rolling stones’. But you will find plenty, if you search for ‘ザ・ローリング・ストーンズ’ (The Rolling Stones, written in Japanese).
Thus, to find the items you’re looking for, it is vital to use the correct Japanese translation when searching Japanese auctions.
We provide a Google translate tool in our Search settings. However, as with many Google translations, their reliability has it’s limits. If Google gets even one or two characters wrong in the translation, it will be like searching eBay for ‘rlling stons’ instead of ‘rolling stones’. Don’t worry, there’s an easy way to find the Japanese text for an artist, author, or title of a product.
Let’s say you’re looking for Michael Jackson related auctions. Go to Amazon Japan, and type ‘michael jackson’ into the search bar. You’ll see a number of results- some of them showing the artist field as ‘Michael Jackson’ and some, showing the artist in Japanese:
Now simply select and copy the Japanese artist field, and use that to perform your search. Entering ‘ マイケル・ジャクソン’ (Michael Jackson in Japanese) will show you results for all Michael Jackson related auctions:
More experienced users, may try to search for items using their barcode, product code, or catalog number. Unfortunately, on Yahoo Japan auctions, this method seldom works, as searches on Yahoo auctions are executed only on the auction title (sellers on Yahoo auctions seldom include barcodes or catalog numbers in the auction title). However, if your search is more general, for example, you’re looking for all CDs issued in the 32DP series, then a search for ‘32dp‘ may bring up a number of valid results. If you’re seeking all Playstation games, you may try a general search like ‘SLPM” or “SLPS” (partial catalog numbers).
Yahoo Auctions vs. Buy It Now Items
There are two types of listings on Yahoo Japan auctions. If you’re an eBay veteran, you’ll be familiar with these:
Buy It Now
Auctions, like on eBay, will require for you to place the highest bid, before the time runs out, in order for you to win the auction.
Buy It Now, are items you can win instantly by clicking on the Buy Now button:
Buy It Now items can be purchased immediately on Kupiku. Bids on auctions however, will require sufficient balance in your Gift Certificate on Kupiku to be placed. Read more on bidding requirements in the next section.
What do I need to place a bid?
In order to place a bid on an auction via our service, you will need to have sufficient credit in your Gift Certificate account. When you place bids on auctions like eBay, you are required to pay that bid, only once the auction closes, and if you are the winning bidder. However, when you bid on auctions with Kupiku, we place the bid on your behalf on the Yahoo Japan auction. Once a bid is placed, we are unable to retract it. For this reason, we simply place a hold on the bid amount in your Gift Certificate balance. This ensures, in the case of a successful bid, you will have sufficient funds in your Gift Certificate to pay for the winning bid. If you become outbid by another bidder, the hold is automatically released and the amount previously reserved becomes available for you to use in other auctions or towards any purchases at Kupiku.com. If you win the auction, the amount reserved for your bid will be used to pay for the winning auction. In the case of a successful bid, you will receive an email informing you of the successful bid, and you will then be able to select and pay for your preferred shipping method.
You are welcome to estimate your shipping costs well in advance, using the shipping fee calculator on any auction page:
International Shipping Yahoo Japan Auctions
We place a small amount of your Gift Certificate on reserve, to ensure that in the event of a successful bid, you will have sufficient balance available to pay for the required shipping costs. For example, if you purchase a $100 Gift Certificate and intend to use it to place several bids on auctions, approx. $20 or so of the Certificate will be reserved to cover shipping costs should you win any auctions. Don’t worry: the amount is reserved only while you have active bids on auctions. You are welcome to use your entire Gift Certificate balance any other time to place orders from other sites we serve (Amazon Japan, for example).
What do I need to buy a “Buy It Now” listing?
If you already have a Kupiku.com account, simply click the Buy It Now button, and proceed to checkout. At checkout, you will first pay for the auction only (shipping costs are paid later) and receive a confirmation email with your order details. Shortly afterwards, you will receive a a second email, with your shipping options. Once you select your shipping service, your order will processed by our team, and will be shipped a few days later.
After you win an auction
You will receive an email confirmation, informing you of your successful bid. For your convenience, payment will automatically be remitted from your Gift Certificate (the amount placed on hold when you submitted your bid, will simply be used to pay for the bid). Our team will proceed to check the weight of the item you ordered, following which you will receive a second email with your shipping options. As soon as you select and pay for your desired shipping option, your order will be processed. Generally it only takes a few days for your winning item to reach our shipping department in Japan (centrally located in the greater Tokyo area), following which your order will be packaged safely, and dispatched to your address. Delivery times vary based on your location and selected shipping method, but usually range between a few days up to around 4 weeks for some countries.
Ready to dive into the world of Japanese auctions in English?
Kupiku now offers a simple, easy to use Affiliate program. An affiliate program, essentially is a method by which a website rewards people for introducing new customers to them, enabling you to earn money online. Let’s say you’ve been using Kupiku for some time, and you feel your friends would benefit from using our service. All you need to do is share links to our website with your friends (or anyone else you feel might benefit from our service) and when someone clicks on any of the special links you’ve placed around the web, our system will know that their visit came directly from one of your links. These special links are called “Affiliate Links” because they contain a special ID that is unique to your account. It’s a relatively easy way for anyone to earn money online.
From any item page on Kupiku.com, you can get the special link for a given product using this simple method (make sure you are signed into your Kupiku account):
Kupiku Affiliate Program
How do I actually post a link?
The only thing you need to do next, is to post the copied link anywhere on the web where you feel people will be interested in that particular item. To post a link that you copied a moment ago, simply press Ctrl+V or, Shift+Insert keys on your keyboard, or using your mouse, Right-Click and then select “Paste” when your cursor is in any comment section of a website or anywhere else you’d like to post the link.
Here’s an example, if you want to share the Kupiku link in the comments section of a blog. You can do this in the YouTube comments section, in a Facbook post, or anywhere else you’d like to share a Kupiku link. Remember, the more places you post Kupiku links the more likely people are to click on that link, and eventually place an order.
How can I get the most clicks on my links?
Be sure to post links in the most relevant areas possible. For example, if you find an article or YouTube video that talks about Japanese fashion, and you post a link to a video game on Kupiku, chances are- no one will click on the link. But, if you find a video where someone is talking about a Rockman X Japanese video game for Famicom, and you post a link to exactly that same game on Kupiku, you’re likely to get a lot of people clicking on the link, and some will place an order. For person who does place the order, you’ll receive your reward. Please read our Affiliate F.A.Q. section for more details on our Affiliate program terms and conditions.
How much money can I earn online with Kupiku?
Kupiku will reward you $10 or 4% of the order value, whichever is higher (before shipping costs) once a person places their order on Kupiku.com within 60 days of their first click on your link. If someone places an order for a CD that cost them only $5, we’ll reward you $10. If they place an order for a $1000 item, we would reward you $40, as in that case 4% is higher than $10. Please read our Affiliate Program F.A.Q. section for more information.
Need more information?
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
Find virtually any Japanese CDs or records in a matter of minutes.
To begin with, the most important thing to understand is how Japanese CDs and records are listed on Japanese websites.
Let’s use Amazon Japan for example and for a truly accurate example, a Japanese CD sold on eBay earlier today, for just over $60:
Try to find this particular Japanese CD on a Japanese website, like Amazon Japan, and you’ll run into two problems:
To find a Japanese pressing, you need to write the title of the CD in Japanese characters.
Even if you can find it, chances are, the Japanese vendors will not offer shipping outside of Japan.
The first issue is probably the most difficult to get around: in Japan, it has been a standard since the advent of the web, to display domestic, Japanese products, presented in Japanese characters, and import (foreign editions) of goods, in the Roman alphabet.
Consider the CD used in this example. It will be listed on most Japanese websites and databases as follows:
That is how you would write “Human League Dare” using the Japanese katakana alphabet.
Thus, in order to find every Japanese edition of Human League’s Dare CDs and records on Japanese websites, you’ll need to enter the search exactly as above.
If you simply enter “human league dare” into the search box on Amazon Japan or any other Japanese site, you’ll see a result showing mostly imported (non Japanese) editions, in line with how the Japanese catalog domestic vs. import items:
You can see the title of each result appears in Roman characters (basically, you see “Dare”, demonstrating that each of these results is the import (non Japanese) edition). Now let’s perform the same search using the Japanese characters: ヒューマン・リーグ デアー
It’s hard not to notice the difference a little tweak in your search can make. Every result above shows Japanese editions exclusively.
This, is one way you can find the Japanese pressing of virtually any record or CD on any Japanese website. Now I know what you’re thinking “I’m not Japanese. I don’t know how to read or write in Japanese. This… doesn’t sound like a solution.” Read on, and I will show you how you can execute searches in Japanese, without knowing the language. But before we get to that, let’s address the second problem.
Most Japanese websites do not offer service to foreign buyers. It’s wonderful if you can find a Japanese item you want on Amazon Japan for example, but what good is that if no one will ship it to you, or answer your questions in English?
To the delight of many, Kupiku.com, is a relatively new service that not only solved this problem but actually provides users with a number of features that even major websites like Amazon do not offer. For example, they will soon be rolling out a Snipe It service that enables a user to add any item to their “Snipe List”, set the maximum price they’re willing to pay for it, as well as the minimum condition they’ll accept the item in (for example, Used – Very Good) and their system will scan major Japanese websites for the item you want, non-stop until it finds it. The moment the item is listed online within the price and condition guidelines you set out, Kupiku’s Snipe It system will instantly buy the item for you (within seconds- not giving any other buyer a chance to grab it before you do, via Kupiku’s Snipe system). It will search tirelessly for days, or even weeks (however long it takes), and the moment the offer appears on a Japanese website- it’s yours.
Searching for Japanese goods using Japanese text, isn’t the most convenient method for those who don’t speak the language. Let’s go over several other methods and trick you can use to find those elusive Japanese editions, and purchase them despite the shipping restrictions you’ll face on most Japanese websites.
The easy way to find Japanese CDs and records.
Familiar with barcodes? Also known as UPC codes, or EAN/JAN codes (in Japan). This is the single most effective way to find a particular Japanese product. If you’re familiar with some of the details about the CD you’re looking for, and have access to the barcode, simply plug it into the search engine at Kupiku.com and you’ll find a direct hit. Note: if the CD or record you’re looking for was released in the 1980s, the barcode may start with a “T”. Drop the “T” and just enter the rest of the barcode (remove any spaces, for example, enter “4988555577778” instead of “4 988 5555 7777 8”):
Take a look at the Human League CD in question. If you look at the back of the CD, you can see the barcode: 4988006847569
Now enter this barcode into the search box at Kupiku.com:
Click on “Search Japan” and watch the magic unfold.
Remember that eBay price? Just over $60. Compare that with the price this CD sells for locally in Japan- now accessible to you via Kupiku.com.
The other easy way to find Japanese CDs or records: catalog numbers.
Familiar with catalog numbers? Sure you are. Most CDs issued after 1986 or so, can be found via Kupiku‘s search engine using their catalog number. The catalog number (usually found on the disc, the OBI, and the side flaps of the tray card), is another relatively easy way to find the exact Japanese edition you’re after:
The catalog number of this edition is TOCP-53869. Enter that into the search box on Kupiku.com, and once again you’ll be able to find the CD you’re after.
Another easy way to find Japanese CDs or recods: the ASIN.
Chances are, if you’re like many- you’ve found yourself staring at an Amazon Japan page in the past, looking right at the CD or record you’ve been after for years… only to see that not one seller offers service outside of Japan and, after your best efforts to convince them otherwise by sending your best Google translated Japanese message (likely met with no response), you finally gave up. Hopefully, you’ve saved the page. All you need is the ASIN number, plug into the Kupiku search box, and once again- you’ll now have access and the ability to order that item via Kupiku.
If all else fails, try this method to find any Japanese CD.
On rare occasion, you won’t be able to find a Japanese CD or record using it’s catalog number, or barcode (and let’s assume you don’t know the ASIN number). The only thing that is left for you to try, is the old fashioned way: search for a Japanese CD using the artist name and title (for example, Human League Dare). However, as mentioned at earlier in this article, you’ll need to know the Japanese way to write this. It’s not that difficult. First, go to Amazon Japan, and simply type the search string the way you’d write it anywhere else: “human league dare”. In most cases, while Amazon Japan will serve up mostly import (non Japanese CD) editions, chances are, they will serve up at least one domestic Japanese CD issue as well. This will help you get the Japanese text for the artist and title. After performing a search for ‘human league dare’ on Amazon Japan, we can find several results, one of this is this:
Looking at the above, simply copy and paste the artist and title field, to get: ヒューマン・リーグ デアー and enter this into the Kupiku.com search box (don’t forget to select the CDs & Vinyl category first from the search drop down):
Now check out the results:
Every edition of Human League’s Dare Japanese CD issued available for you to purchase, directly from dozens of humble Japanese vendors offering the Japanese CD at local Japanese prices.
This method also is the most effective if you’re looking for Japanese vinyl records that were released pre mid-1980s (no barcodes, and thus, product pages on Amazon Japan are more difficult to find (usually catalog numbers won’t work, and barcodes don’t apply so this is the only method to find them).
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a particular Japanese CD edition that doesn’t appear to have a page on Amazon Japan, try checking the offers on the nearest pressing. For example, if you’re looking for a 1983 Toshiba EMI “CP35” series Japanese CD, but can only see a page for the 1987 “CP32” Japanese CD edition, try clicking on that item and check the seller’s descriptions: that is usually where Japanese vendors will offer an older pressing, if no page exists for it in Amazon Japan’s catalog).
Interested in checking out every Japanese SACD, or, Toshiba Jazz (TOCJ) cd?
If you’re curious about certain series, it’s easy to find them. If you’re interested in Japanese SACDs, simply enter “SACD” in the Kupiku.com search. If you’re interested in Japanese CDs from the Toshiba Jazz series (TOCJ-xxxx series), simply enter “TOCJ-” in the search box. Here are a few other suggestions:
For example, enter “紙ジャケット” into the Kupiku search to see over 16,000 Japanese MINI LP CDs / Papersleeve cds available directly from Japanese vendors in Japan:
Still not convinced?
Take a look at a few of the more expensive Japanese CDs and Records you own.
Pull out a few of the more expensive Japanese CDs you picked up over the years. Remember those auctions you fought tooth and nail to win on eBay? Pull out a few of those items, and now that you know how to find them- try plugging their barcode or catalog number into the Kupiku.com search box, to see what they sell for domestically in Japan. Before Kupiku, there were few options (aside from actually flying to Japan) to pick up Japanese CDs and records for domestic Japanese prices. However, with Kupiku now in it’s second year of operation, there’s very little reason why you should still be paying two or three more times than they need to for Japanese products.
Not every Japanese CD or record can be picked up easily and at low cost in Japan. No market is more in tune with the value of rarities, than Japan. It’s very common to walk into a used Japanese CD shop, and find prices as high as $50…$100… or even $200-300 for a used CD.
You’d rarely, if ever, see that at a CD shop in Europe or elsewhere, but in Japan its quite common. So, you probably won’t find a Japanese CD that sells on eBay for $500-1000 for $5 using these methods. But, you may very well find it for $50-100.
Ultimately, that is what makes this the only sound method you should be using in 2017 to add those coveted Japanese CDs and records to your collection.
Ask any CD or record collector today: if you could go on a CD/record hunting spree anywhere in the world, where would it be? There’s little doubt, that the overwhelming majority would say, Japan.
If you are like many, who prefer Japanese editions of your CDs or records, you’re usually met with one of two problems: cost (they are pretty pricy) or, access (you’re limited to only the selection that re-sellers on eBay provide or outlets like CDJapan which are limited primarily to readily available, recent, in-print titles).
The question that begs to be asked is, why would anyone, in 2017, still pay two or three times more for a Japanese product offered by a reseller on an auction site like eBay? If you’re looking for airline tickets these days, would you get in your car, and drive to a travel agent? Would you then browse through only the offers he/she has prepared, before selecting one, and paying for it, along with their hefty commission fee- when all they did was press a few keys on their laptop to purchase the ticket?
Or, you could just bypass all that trouble, and order your tickets directly from the source- from the comfort of your home. Who in 2017, would pay a travel agent hefty commissions, for a service anyone with a laptop can carry out in a matter of a few keystrokes?
Odds are, when you buy a Japanese CD on eBay for $50, the vendor you picked it up from probably paid around $10-15 for that CD- if that. To be fair to that vendor, around $10 of that $50, will be donated to eBay and Paypal by way of their fees. The rest however, will cover a relatively standard markup. The question is- why would anyone, in 2017, continue to pay two to three times more for that CD that they have to? Ten years ago, with little other options- it made sense. But today, there are options. Buying from re-sellers on eBay, Amazon, and similar sites is no longer the only way to get rare/expensive items from Japan. Today, there are services like Kupiku.com, which enable you to order directly from thousands of domestic Japanese vendors who offer their goods only to the local Japanese market. In short, you’re going directly to the source: bypassing all the additional fees that are passed onto you when you buy from re-sellers/middle-men. Sort of the same way, as if you actually flew to Japan and went on a shopping spree there. Only, now, you no longer need to pay for that flight. You can do this from home.
The reflex answer would be “Well, I can’t afford to fly to Japan to go on a CD/record hunting spree in Tokyo”. A more conversative response would be “well, I’ve been dealing with eBay for years, and they’ve always had my back when I faced an issue”. Let’s address these two points.
As long as you have a computer, and an internet connection, you have access to virtually the entire local Japanese market from the comfort of your home. There no longer is the need to fly to Japan to pick up the latest Japanese goods. Kupiku.com offers you the ability to search, find, and purchase, from thousands of domestic Japanese vendors who offer their goods in Japan to Japanese buyers only. Consider that Japanese issued $50 CD you bought on eBay once. Chances are, there’s a small local vendor somewhere in Tokyo, probably on a little side street, who’s had that same CD for sale in his little shop for 1,000 yen ($9) for a few years. He/she probably offers their inventory online (on websites like Amazon Japan). Kupiku.com, now allows anyone in the world to find that listing, and order it.
A sought after Japanese edition of a Joy Division CD sold on eBay (April, 2017).
Same item, available directly from Japan via Kupiku (April, 2017).
Then there is the question of loyalty. Let’s be honest: few of us are truly immune to the effects of branding. We identify what we believe in and who we are through branding. We watch certain news networks almost religiously, while completely discounting other networks. We believe one car maker can do no wrong, while believing another might have more success if they started making home furniture instead. Branding is an incredibly difficult barrier to break when faced with making objective decisions. Countless experiments have demonstrated the power of branding. The taste-tests with popular soft drinks often come to mind, where subjects were asked to drink a new, unknown soft drink, out of a can belonging to a major brand, and then offered the major brand’s drink, in a generic, unbranded can. As expected, most said that the drink inside the branded can they recognized, tasted better.
The same holds true for our allegiance to virtually everything. Brand-induced allegiance makes it very difficult to remain objective (whether we’re talking about products, or politics). Consider this: we continue offering Japanese products on eBay, and Amazon. On any given day, we’ll receive an order for a given CD at a significant markup. Let’s say, we just sold a relatively rare CD for $80. On the one hand, we’re delighted to receive an order with a substantial markup. If the CD generally sells for $80-100, it would make little sense for us to offer it for $50. And yet, this customer could just as easily have used the Kupiku service to find that same CD for $20 or less (simply plug it’s catalog number or barcode into the Kupiku search box). What is most unusual, is that we have in some cases, gone as far as introducing the Kupiku service to such buyers. We have showed them how easy it is to purchase the exact same products for a fraction of the cost, directly from vendors in Japan. And yet, some, continue to purchase their Japanese goods via the same re-seller channels they’ve been using for years- paying double, or even triple, every time around.
This places me, the founder, in a very unusual position: on the one hand, I certainly don’t mind if people purchase a given product from us on eBay: we’ll earn more from the sale. But, another part of me understands that if we can serve the long-term benefit of a customer, if we can offer them genuine, demonstrable long-term value, they will benefit. And let’s face it: the foundation of any business, must be rooted in the relentless pursuit of providing value, and demonstrable, measured benefit to their customers.