Think of that cool Japanese CD you recently picked up online.
You could have picked it up for an estimated 60-80% less.
In fact, if you look at nearly every Japanese CD you have in your home that you purchased on eBay, Amazon.com, Discogs, or other re-seller sites, you could have those for a fraction of the price you paid.
If you physically walked into a store in Tokyo or Osaka.
Ok… well, maybe not that simple.
But, the reality is, most Japanese CDs you buy online today, are offered to you at a significant markup. The price you see for Japanese CDs on eBay for example, will usually include a lot of man-in-the-middle costs in the price: eBay fees alone, depending on a seller’s business model, take up anywhere from 15 to about 50% of a seller’s revenue from a sale. That- is a cost you are paying- it’s included in the price of the CD. Then, there are Paypal fees the seller also must account for, when pricing their items. This is all before we even consider their profit margin which, in most cases, will be at the very least, 20-30% and often as high as 200-300% (a CD which cost them $10 in Japan, they may sell for $60-70).
There are a number of other costs, fees, and adjustments that go into the price of a Japanese product offered on a re-seller site.
Until now, the only way to bypass all these costs and pick up those beautiful Japanese products, was to actually fly to Japan, and engage in the shopping spree of your life. Mind you, once you figure in the cost of flights to Tokyo, the surreal cost of hotels in Japan, and even basic costs like dining in Tokyo, this option may not seem all that practical.
However, a recently launched online service now enables you to do just that-access the domestic Japanese marketplace, from the comfort of your own home. We’re not talking about access to vendors based in Japan who are offering their goods on eBay. Those are re-sellers, and we’ve just covered the no longer necessary additional costs you incur when you purchase from them. We are however talking about giving you access directly to local vendors in Japan- offering their items to people living in Japan. Thereby, giving you access to the same prices you’d see if you lived in Japan.
Mind you, there is always a catch.
Imagine walking into a record or book store in Japan.
If your first instinct would be to try to look for a George Harrison record, in the “George Harrison” section, you’d be out of luck. Why? Well, you’re in Japan. There will not be a George Harrison section. There will however be a ジョージ・ハリスン section (that is, George Harrison, written in Japanese). Similarly, (we hope) you wouldn’t approach a store clerk and begin a conversation in your own language (be it Chinese, Russian, English, German or other) asking them where you can find a certain item. As you’re in Japan, everything will generally be in Japanese.
Kupiku.com however, has invested extensively in making it easier to find Japanese CDs and other products on Japanese marketplaces, without the knowledge of Japanese language. Kupiku provides live chat support in English: their staff will be happy to instantly provide you a link to any items you’re seeking (just like finding a clerk in a shop in Tokyo who speak English, and would point you to the section of the store you’re looking for). Additionally, while searching for Japanese items using Roman characters (English text, for example) will have very limited results, there are a number of effective methods one can use to find virtually any Japanese product, without knowing it’s Japanese name: if searching for a record, CD, DVD, Video Game, or similar media products- try searching using the catalog number, or barcode (known also as the UPC/EAN/JAN), or even- the ASIN, if you know it.
Ultimately, it simply no longer makes sense to continue paying two or three times more than you need to for Japanese CDs or other products by using re-seller websites, when you can access the same prices you would if you lived in Japan (and an exponentially larger selection) via Kupiku.com. Buying direct, simply makes more sense.
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:
Victor Jazz: “VICJ-”
Zero Corporation Japan: “XRCN-”
FEMS Japan: “APCY” or “MP32”
Alfa Japan: “ALCA” or “ALCB”
Avex Japan: “AVCB”
Early Victor Japan pressings: “VDP”
Early Toshiba Pressings: “CP35“, “CP32“, “CP25”
Early Sony Pressings: “35DP“, “32DP“, “25DP”
Japanese MINI LP / Papersleeve cds: “紙ジャケット”
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.