Say Goodbye to Your Wallet: The Otome Gamer Import Shopping Guide

Ready to spend?
Ready to spend?

Edit on March 9, 2016: I’ve decided to remove sources I have no experience or information with since I do not keep track of them nor do I know how good or bad they are. Hopefully that makes this guide more up to date.

So you want to IMPORT OTOME GAMES! Congratulations, I hope you have at least $50 – $80 reserved per game. Now let’s get started!

Stores that Ship Overseas

Hooray! There are non hateful stores that will ship items to people overseas without having to go through a million 3rd parties and all sorts of conditions.

  • CD Japan: CD Japan has a nice point system and it’s always easy to tell what items are in stock HOWEVER they have their own shipping & handling fees. The shipping you see on Japan post is NOT the rate that they use and they stack an extra $15 on top of certain items. It seems to be a hit or miss randomly so beware, they may increase your shipping fee last minute. They do have a variety of shipping options though so if you stay away from EMS then you might be okay.
  • ComiComi Studio: ComiComi is actually a BL game/manga shop BUT they do sell otome stuff too. However you have to note that they are basically a Japanese store that happens to ship overseas via EMS only. That means if you have any problems or concerns  they must all be addressed in Japanese. They will not provide English customer service and their entire website is also in Japanese. If you know what you’re doing though, this can be a great place to order PC games from. Please also note that they prioritize their domestic shipments over their international ones. So while other makers may mail your stuff out a few days early, ComiComi has a tendency to delay international shipments for 2-7 days before they ship it out. Very flaky and unless you have no other options, I do not recommend as you are also paying Japanese taxes for the items.
  • HMV: HMV I really don’t recommend that much but once in a while they may have an interesting tokuten with the game. Most of the time they rarely even sell otome games and they will often also give you SURPRISE shipping adjustments a the end. They do have a slight discount on some of their products and their point system seems decent but I still associate them mostly with music and magazines/books than anything else.
  • Nipponyasan – Their games tend to be pricier but they do offer a variety of shipping and sometimes they have preorder bonuses from totally random places (Like Famitsu). They also have online methods to purchase PSN cards.
  • Amazon Japan – Didn’t think I forgot did you?? Amazon Japan is known for 2 things: Discounted games and free shipping within Japan. As of March 2016 Amazon Japan now ships games overseas which includes Vita & PSP otome games! Unfortunately a lot of otome makers have blocked them from doing so, leaving only very few games that can be shipped via Amazon global. It’s a shame they continue to do this (why u no take muh money!?) but it’s not a huge travesty seeing how Amazon tokutens are usually crap/nonexistent anyway.

Other stores are PlayAsia and YesAsia but I do not recommend either of those because they use awful shipping methods which are slow and their games are overpriced. I’ve also heard horror stories of packages getting lost and damaged with whatever shitty postal service they use. Here’s what I mean by overpriced:

Don't know about you but I certainly don't feel like donating $21 extra to YesAsia for their shitty shipping services!
Don’t know about you but I certainly don’t feel like donating $21 extra to YesAsia for their shitty shipping services!

Also I DO NOT EVER recommend AmiAmi. You will never know if something is in stock, and if it’s not you will have to wait god knows how long for them to get it IN stock because they will NEVER CANCEL YOUR ORDER. Well you can give them the finger and not pay but that will just blacklist you from shopping with them again – although honestly that’s a blessing in disguise.

Not satisfied with direct stores? Want better Tokutens? Want to order directly from the maker? Well I welcome you to the:

GAIJIN HATE ZONE
\GAIJIN HATE ZONE/

Maybe someday makers will recognize that us otome game fans exist outside Japan, or maybe they’re just too ashamed to sell dating sims to anyone but their do-M player base…but either way it’s time to go jump through some hoops!

Official Company Stores:

These are official stores set up by the otome game makers themselves. They will often have specialized goodies, event tickets and things that regular otome game/online stores will not have. For the collector in you, this is probably your first go to place. Remember NONE of these stores ship overseas and will not provide customer service in language other than Japanese.

  • D3P Webshop – Despite being on Rakuten, their shop terms clearly state they will not ship overseas. The good news of course because they are through rakuten, it means you can use your foreign credit card and combine it with a forwarding service which will often save you a few bucks over a complete proxy. I’ve used Rakuten Japan even before Rakuten Global existed and I still often use it because the global interface will translate words like “fake thigh high tights” into “smelly cheese” or something so it’s often easier to just stick to the Japanese site. (Also I’ve had instances where the shop clearly ships overseas but the global interface told me I couldn’t buy a pair of tweezers. Yea.)
  • Takuyo Official Shop – Just like D3p, Takuyo has a shop on Rakuten as well (which they only setup about a year ago.) Again you can also use a forwarding service with them if you wish to order directly from the maker.
  • Skit Dolce – Skit is Rejet’s official web store. I have contacted them and confirmed that YES you can use a foreign credit card to buy a game as long as it gets shipped to an address in Japan. That means that you can use a forwarding service with them to save on proxy fees if you’re only going to buy 1 or 2 games. (And well seeing how bloody expensive their PC games are, I’d be surprised if you’re buying more than 1 thing at a time there anyway (;^ω^)….) Their limited edition pre-orders go very quickly so if you want any special shop tokutens, pre-order early. Please note there’s a store shipping fee of 600 yen per order within Japan.

Other Online Stores That Sell Otome Games:

stella02

  • Stellaworth – If you saw my Japan trip post, I had a chance to visit this otome game wonderland! It’s actually quite small, on the 3rd floor of a building but you will only find otome and BL games here! They also sell goodies, and have button machines (surrounded by squealing fangirls) as well as magazines and doujinshi. I can confirm to have successfully ordered 2 Stella Sets from here with a foreign card. If you don’t care about tokutens you will be able to get some games at a fairly good discount.  The store has a 500 yen shipping fee within Japan which you may have to pay on top of whatever fees you pay with your fwding/proxy. They often have really great tokutens and their pricy Stellasets will have extra stories/drama CDs/illustrations that no other stores will have.
  • Alice-Net – Alice-net sells both stuff for guys & for girls and their prices are quite competitive. I’ve been told recently that they now accept credit cards but I have not verified this myself yet.

tokyo04

  • Animate – Animate accepts foreign credit cards and as long as you ship to a Japanese address, you can buy from them using a forwarding service. However Animate probably has the most expensive prices out of all the places I’ve seen. They give NO discounts at all and their online shop tokutens are usually shit like PC wallpaper. Their IN-store tokutens are usually what’s better so it’s best to check what you will get from their “online shop” before buying from them.

Proxies & Forwarding Services:

So now you’ve found your perfect store, you’re ready to buy but you need to jump over the Pacific Ocean to get your hands on it. I’ve done a lot of digging and found what I think are the cheapest proxies & forwarding services. Please note I do not have experience with a lot of them and I’m just basing my findings on their fee tables.

Package Forwarding (aka an address in Japan but you do all the shopping & payment):

  • Tenso – Tenso is convenient because it’s in English but it’s not cheap. They charge their fees based on your package weight so if you’re ordering say 3 games from 1 store it may be cheaper to use a proxy which charges a flat fee per store than using Tenso.  As far as I know they only ship via EMS.
  • Baggage Forward – Has pretty competitive rates and allows SAL and Airmail small packet shipping methods though seems like you need also notify them of anything you plan to fwd using their services. I’ve used Baggage Forward twice and I can only say excellent things about them. They shipped my order within 4 hours of my payment and their repacking is only 300 yen but probably saved me 1000 yen in shipping fees. Additionally they do have the option of COD for shops who do not take credit cards.

All-In-One Proxy Services (They will buy & ship the item to you with additional fees):
The below proxy services are ones I’ve received as recommendations from people who actually used them:

White Rabbit Express – They have a proxy and a forwarding service, all in English. They do however charge per item, and per store along with a 12.5% service fee, so if you’re buying a lot of small items the costs will add up fast. Their fees for FWDing are slightly more expensive than Baggage Forward, but if you can’t maneuver BF’s site in Japanese, it’s a decent alternative to Tenso.

noregret

…and wait as your lovely otome game arrives in the mail with all its pretty tokutens and frisbees

risbees

and then continue growing your never ending backlog. (✧≖‿ゝ≖)

For more shots of what kind of stuff you find inside otome game tokutens, please check out my unboxings.

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88 thoughts on “Say Goodbye to Your Wallet: The Otome Gamer Import Shopping Guide

  1. Thank you for posting this!
    I’ve been looking for places that sell otome games in Japan, but I couldn’t find a post about it anywhere even with Google lol. I’m not sure if Nagoya has Stellaworth, but upon searching, there’s Animate over there, so that makes me super happy. ;__;

    I’m also one of those people who order through Amazon, and darn, they get too expensive. I wanted to try CDJapan but that Debit issue discourages me. OTL;;

    1. I’m pretty sure there’s only 1 branch of Stellaworth in Ikebukuro so you’re out of luck I’m afraid.
      Amazon is okay if you want to order anything BUT games (like figures/books) but they also use the horrid DHL shipping for overseas…

      1. Ah, thank you! That clears things up.
        Yeah, I learned the hard way actually…I got most of my otome games from them before but the thing that sealed the deal for me was when they left my package that has GHP in it in front of my apartment when no one was at home and my neighbor stole it lol.

  2. xD I agree with you with Playasia/yesasia for overprice, yesterday I checked for sweet fuse, at amazon it’s $30 and playasia $35, but since amazon is expensive in shipping so I choose play asia, they offer free shipping but yeah they usually take 1 month to arrive orz. Fortunately I’ve never experienced lost packager with them.

    For jap items I usually use cdjapan, they are pretty responsive but sometimes they often reject my credit card.

    Thank you for listing the other shops, I’ve never use it but will try it someday especially for PC games ^-^/

    1. Well since I’m in the US I have Amazon Prime so I could get 2 day shipping but yea outside of the US I guess just like with Amazon Japan it’s not so great? I think PlayAsia is okay maybe for asian countries but i think for everyone else it’s definitely a no-go lol

      The only time CD japan rejected my card was when my stupid card company put a hold on it thinking that it got stolen and I had to call and explain that I’m ordering games from Japan 😆

  3. Thanks for all this info, Hinano! (If my wallet were a person, it’d be an angry boyfriend… orzlll)

    I tend to use amiami for otoge and it seems that I’ve had excellent service from them (maybe it’s just me…). CDJapan sounds like a great alternative, as I’ve never bought games from them, only books.

    Someday, I do hope that Japanese otoge companies would see how many hurdles we fangirls have to jump through and offer limited-edition, dual-language versions (i.e. have the option to keep the text in JPN or translate it to English) of their games, like what South Korea’s Cheritz did with Dandelion… We can’t always hope for AKSYS to license every interesting PSP otoge out there ;~;

    1. hhaha angry wallet boyfriend xD
      I’m not even asking for dual language. I’m just asking that they ship overseas so I don’t have to deal with 3rd parties! I think AmiAMi is a hit or miss but I guess for the most part their service is okay? I’m still afraid to use it though and well the no cancellation policy kinda stinks since I tend to change my orders around often (like combining releases together etc.)

  4. Hello, I’m a new American reader of yours (although I’ve been reading your blogs for some time now), and I agree with you that CDJapan does a great job. 😀 I’ve bought from them since 2009, and stated playing otome games since 2011, and they never fail me. They are a great source when it comes to games and cds. Anyways I love your blog so much. Thank you for all your awesomeness!~

    1. thanks for reading! 🙂 I used to use CD Japan for ordering books or calendars but once I realized I was into otome games my wallet took a beating 😆

  5. I’d like to use AmiAmi but everything sells out so fast that before I make an account the item I want is sold out. I was fine with Play-Asia until I found out about their crappy shipping and compared their prices to other places.

    CDJapan is also my preferred place to buy stuff and I didn’t know they sold PC otome games. For whatever reason Japan likes to make it difficult to get PC games. Anyway thanks for the post, it’s really useful!

    1. Yea they sell out quickly. Play Asia might have been okay when the yen was low but the yen went up so much now that their pricing is just ridiculous in comparison! Get with the program PA/YA xD

  6. Great post, Hinano! Thanks very much. Especially for the information about proxies! Seriously, I got on the Internet today with the intention to look for some and here was your godly post, LOL. 😀 I hope you don’t mind me adding some additional info on AmiAmi and ComiComi:

    Since I primarily shop at AmiAmi, I thought maybe it may be SLIGHTLY helpful if I add a bit more info, since you don’t have direct experiences with them. AmiAmi’s prices are lower in general (sometimes, CD Japan or ComiComi Studio beats AmiAmi out), but I’ve never encountered any of the problems you have mentioned others have had. AmiAmi has all of the shipping options CD Japan has (with the exception of FedEx, but I don’t use FedEx so it’s no issue to me). They’re TERRIBLE when it comes to restocking- if you’re lucky, the item you want may be on back-order. Essentially, If you don’t pre-order, you miss out. However, they often don’t seem to have a limit on how many preorders they accept (but of course, only 3 per household), so you’re mostly guaranteed to get the item you want. They do e-mail you if your item for whatever reason, is out of stock or rendered unavailable, though that hasn’t personally happened to me… yet(?)

    ComiComi is a great choice for R18+ Otome and BL games. I can definitely attest to that. Prices aren’t as good as AmiAmi, and yes, it’s EMS only. I remember not being able to find anywhere that released Trick or Alice internationally aside from ComiComi. I guess I’m really lucky I have a good grasp of Japanese. A person called ponytale of Ponytale in LalaParadise has a tutorial on how to shop from ComiComi, so for BL lovers or those who can’t find an R18+ otome game, this might be really helpful: http://ponytale.lalaparadise.com/online-shopping-comi-comi-how-to-shop-tutorial/

    1. well that’s convenient, glad I made it in time for you 😆
      Thanks for the input on AmiAmi and I agree with you about the restocking. When something is out of stock on their site I assume it’s gone forever but I know on CD Japan a few times I saw something out of stock, I saw it back in stock a month later. Sadly a lot of pre-order only items will go out of stock permanently but CDJ at least tells you which items those are. COmiComi charges you the full price like CD Japan but I think they also then charge you Japanese tax for the item? At least CDJ spares you if you’re overseas. And yea I used Lala’s guide when I was registering as well 😄

      1. Yes, it does seem like the Japanese tax is included when it comes to ComiComi prices. Otherwise they’re just sadistically making it more expensive. Lala’s guide was amazing stuff. Even though my Japanese is pretty good, whenever I register for credit card details and such, I still prefer everything to be in my first language where possible.

  7. Wow, you are fabulous. This is so helpful, especially because I’m super-paranoid about ordering anything online. Ahaha, wouldn’t it be convenient if they sold Japanese games overseas? Sigh~.

    1. oh I order online all the time! /points to like 10 Rakuten orders 😆 It’s totally safe, and probably safer ordering from a Japanese shop than some American stores lol

  8. My friend also told me that she got charged by the customs when she ordered from CDJapan. XD;;

    I checked out Surugaya and went O.o with the prices lmao. $25 for Storm Lovers normal ed? Wow. 😄

    1. I don’t think its CD Japan I think it’s just the horrid customs laws in Europe and Canada? And yea Surugaya is DIRT CHEAP for old games. They’re almost competitive to Amazon japan in regards to that.

  9. Thanks for this post! I think I’ll start using Big in Japan because sometimes I randomly put in a preorder but it just seems like such an overkill if I ship by Tenso without buying anything else with it. I do think their seasonal coupons are a big help though especially if you’re ordering more than just games since they ship everything by EMS. You gotta love the tracking and 3 day delivery.

    Honestly, buying games from Japan made me realize how cheap games are in America, especially with constant discounts from retailers. Games in Japan are ridiculously overpriced in comparison.

    1. Yea I think tenso might be the most expensive fwding service. Though I recently received a 500 yen coupon from them so maybe for at least 1 order I will use them haha 8D;; Yea they often will have promos WITH Rakuten (I think they had a 1000 yen shipping promo recently actually) so that’s really the up-side of their service. Yea American games are so cheap lol so when I see people complaining that they can’t afford English Hakuoki I want to slap them with a smelly tuna fish 😛

  10. wow this is really useful, I was wondering how did you get animate tokuten stuffs. thanks!
    I’ve only used HMV and playasia so far (for non-otome games actually). I have cdjapan acc but I guess the EMS price kinda increase since the last time =| AmiAmi sold out really fast and I don’t think they actually re-stock orz but I guess I’m sticking with HMV since it has online special price.
    I wish I have unlimited depth of money in my wallet ~_~

    1. The animate tokuten I got recently was actually because I was IN Japan and I went to an actual Animate lol. However yea if you really want an animate tokuten, using a fwding service with them should not be an issue….but yea like I mentioned I think a lot of their tokutens may be in-store-only? Not sure if you get the same from animate online shop but they always list it on there so you can check to be sure. I almost never use EMS on CD Japan except during xmas holiday season to make sure my package isn’t lost. Otherwise I pretty much always use airmail and my game comes within 7-12 days.

  11. Problem with BigInJapan is that you have to enter your order information for every package you send to them, or they won’t be able to identify it. That’s a huge hassle if you have large orders from multiple stores and use freaking Amazon Marketplace/Surugaya often for old stuff (they often have really, really varying shipping sources and you sometimes have no idea what name they’re using). I guess for small game orders they’re fine, though.

    The last time I checked out JShoppers (which changed their name to Tenso Japan, talk about being confusing), they required that you have to notify them every time a package is coming through, which is nothing short of ridiculous. Looks like they got rid of that now, so good for them. Still have no info whatsover about package consolidation and whether it’s possible, though…..which is pretty important! Still, cheap.

    Another important thing is how long they’re willing to store your package. Sometimes you want that preorder bonus at the beginning of the month but also want that other thing that comes at the end of the month, and shipping both together saves on shipping costs, right? So far it’s kind of hard to sift through all those FAQs and see that information.

    I’m not saying that these services are bad or anything, that REALLY depends on what you want from them, just that they aren’t necessarily better choices because of prices, either.

    1. oh really? that’s annoying 😦 Thanks for letting me know. As far as I Know, Jshoppers has no package consolidation and they charge you ems shipping fee for each package.
      I read on Hongfire forum post that in 2009 they randomly shut down their fwding service without warning so those with preorders were left scrambling to Tenso (the real tenso) to change their shipping addresses.
      That’s such a horrifying situation lmao that I’m afraid to use them even though yea they’re really cheap…also the fact that they’re flooded with orders from China makes me think it’ll be like 2 weeks after they release my package before I even receive it (´・ω・`;)..

      I was going to try and use Tenso for my first fwding order since you were raving about it. I wonder how heavy 1 game would be? I’m a CD Japan nut but for PC games if I’m gonna blow all that money I figured I want a nice tokuten with it which is why I decided to consider a fwding service over say ComiComi or AmiAmi.

    2. Tenso’s probably a safe choice, even though it’s not the most economically advantageous. I just got used to it because it was pretty much the only reliable one when I started using forwarding services, honestly. XD;

      A game….not a lot? A limited edition PSP game, with booklet and drama CD, was 560g. Limited Edition PC game with drama CD and a bigger booklet was 460g. Of course it depends on how a shop packages their tokutens, too, but most games I’ve ordered fell well into that range. I tend to buy games along with a truckload of books, mind you, so I wasn’t really that concerned about game weights as long as the whole thing didn’t go above 10 kg. >_>

      1. Well seeing how I’m only getting one package with one game I should still be able to make the 460 yen limit and not worry about consolidations! I really do just stick to direct suppliers so this whole fwding business won’t be something I plan to do regularly xD hopefully everything will go well.

    3. BTW, Tenso stores your stuff for a while, but won’t consolidate your package if it’s been more than 14 days after it arrived, so be careful there! This is pretty much right there in the FAQ, but in case somebody here is as blind as yours truly and didn’t see it the first time…..

      (They’re nice enough to warn you via email that a package is about to expire its consolidation time, though.)

      1. oh btw one thing I wanted to ask – when you go to buy your items do you put your billing address as your actual home address or do you put in the Tenso address?
        Reason I ask is the other day I ran into a Rakuten store that refused to ship the item unless the billing & shipping addresses were the same :S I’m afraid to run into this issue with other stores and I can’t seem to find any information about this.

      2. Hmm, never ran into that problem….most places I order from except Amazon don’t really ask for my billing address, if by that you mean the one linked to the credit card. They usually just ask for one address to keep on file and that’s that, which I normally use the Tenso address for.

        Sorry I can’t help you on that one. >_>

        1. oh I see, the only time I ran into this issue was with Rakuten (but this is also with a store that actually ships overseas and refused to realize that I want my packages shipped to work since I”m never home to receive them lol)
          Thanks tho!

      3. I just did a closer look @ Jshoppers TOS and

        The Company reserves the right to open packages and inspect their contents.

        Even if the registered member suffers losses or damages as a result of the item inspection or any other process described in these conditions, the Company will bear no responsibility.

        The Company reserves the right to at any time without prior notification change the details of or cease the provision of the Forwarding Service. The Company will bear no responsibility for losses or damages to a registered member due to such changes or cessation.

        Multiple orders contained within the same package will not be accepted and forwarded

        Boy that doesn’t sound very reliable…as much as I’m tempted to save a few bucks, I’ll pay the extra $5 to know that my packages will actually arrive to me with Tenso lol… Also does this mean if I placed 2 preorders from stellaworth that release within a 1 week period, even if its in 1 box they won’t fwd it? wut

      4. Actually, that sort of shit is in Tenso’s TOS, too. I think it’s just to cover their arses with Japanese law, although Tenso DID say in a separate clause that it could compensate if you can prove without doubt that an item got damaged while in their possession.

        I just think that since they’re stable enough to open up a Yahoo-sponsored auction service and everything, they probably have a less likely chance of shutting down without notice….

      5. OH PS, I forgot to mention this : Surugaya doesn’t say it on their website, but foreign cards don’t really work with them. At least, not my card. US cards or countries with less fraud doubt than mine may YMMV. Paypal works fine, however, BUT you can only Paypal non-18+ items. Anything else, though, is on the cheap. And like most used stuff in Japan, they tend to remain in almost mint condition.

        1. You can just buy from Surugaya’s Rakuten store though. They will ship overseas as long as your shipping & Billing address is the same so I’m not sure why you are using a fwding service for them to begin with 😛 That’s why I have them in my “direct buy” section of this post. I looked there the other day they have PC versions of ALice games under $20 its absurd lolol

          Oh and regarding Jshoppers randomly stoping service, they HAVE done it in the past: http://www.hongfire.com/forum/showthread.php/129784-jshoppers-com-forwarding-experiences hence why my worries since they’re being attacked by Chinese spammers lol. Tenso seems like fwding is their main business but Jshoppers their main business is their store and fwding is a side business. I’d say for like immediate orders Jshoppers is great BUT I think for preorders 1-2 months in advance I’d be weary and just use Tenso and since Otome game tokutens go like the wind, I doubt i’ll use anything besides tenso for new otome game preorders.

          Btw recently Tenso said that as of April 1st Japan will require ID or something to use fwding services and any place not doing this is operating illegally?? I submitted my ID to them (for that 500 yen coupon) but that would make Jshoppers/Anislo/BIJ all doing illegal shit? Hmm…

      6. Because I buy my stuff in huge batches and it’s cheaper than ordering direct, of course. I mainly buy books and used books come from various places, remember? Besides, if you tend to search for obscure out-of-print shit like yours truly, then Surugaya’s Rakuten store is much, much much less extensive than its main site. (Okay, this might not have much relevance to buying otome games….) But yeah, I tend to forget that they have global rakuten. 😄

        Yeah, from April onwards Japan requires that forwarding services like this be able to prove that they’re not being vehicles for fraud or terrorism or whatever, by being able to prove that their clients actually exist where they’re said to exist. I suppose the others might be able to continue operating on the ‘grey’ side, if fwding is not their main business? I think most of them do proxy as a main and fwding as a side, and Tenso’s one of the very few ones that does the reverse. Proxy service could be interpreted as a personal transaction, so….

        That does make me wonder about how much taxes they have to pay……

  12. Well… idk but i think is impossible with me… idk if cd japan send in mexico.. or something i read only send for EUA, Europe and other did you know if there send in mexico because i never found that things here ;w; and just only can play for other metods ( if you know what i mean XDD ) but yeah… i hope you can anwser me 🙂

    1. I don’t know I’m not in Mexico. Just add something to cart and use the “Shipping calculator” and see if Mexico is in the list of countries.

  13. Wow, that’s a lotof useful information! Thank you very much? Now I know where to buy when my japanese imprives enough 😀

  14. Hmm… *scribble*scribble*scribble* *takes notes*
    Glad I’m living close to Japan where shipping is cheaper. Unfortunately, Di Gi Charat stuff seems hard to come by… Maybe a visit there should resolve that problem!

    Books I solve the problem using Kinokuniya, which will be nice enough to specially order stuff :3. CDs/DVDs are usually cdjapan which I started out while I was futher down under. Figures are hlj. Fortunately or unfortunately, stuff which I like are difficult to get.

    Still… I hear the sound of money flying away soon.

    Just a question… where do you stay while visiting jp?

    1. well the problem is you’re into a 15 year old fandom so that’s gonna be hard to come by just because lol
      i rarely order books online since as you said Kinokuniya but they have recently been higher priced than onlin since they haven’t adjusted their costs with the yen rising.

      when I go to Japan I stay in a hotel lol

      1. Love Hotel? 😛
        Seriously I mean budget or standard ones?

        As for 15 year old fandom… GAMERS-nyo. At least I am loyal to my Dejiko-sama… unlike the majority of otaku who dump their “waifus” every season. ^_^

        1. I stay at a standard hotel. We both have real jobs and can afford it. By standard I mean I stay at 4+ star hotels cause lol ghetto hotels (I had to stay in 1 last minute in Tokyo and I could hear people fucking through the walls)

  15. Yay~! Thanks for the advice~ it was fun to read and should be very helpful~ (#つ´з`)つ

    Everyone I know uses CDJapan for otoge, but I always use AmiAmi. (I must be missing something) Ami Ami has a point system, (which I like) and unless I’ve gone crazy I think I finally realized that the sooner you preorder a game through them the greater the discount.

    I’m trying to get up the nerve to use a forwarding service so I can place an order with Stella Worth… ᕦ(⊙ヮ⊙)ᕤ I’ve used Big in Japan several times for (otoge related) figures, but I’ve never used their forwarding or proxy services…

    1. CD Japan’s point system is actually better than AmiAmi’s take a look when you have time 😛 they also tell you how many games are left for preorder to ship on release date so you don’t have to worry about surprise out-of-stock like AmiAmi. Give them a chance some day 😉

      As ET mentioned in her comments here, BIJ requires you report to them every store that you order from for fwding so seems like a hassle to me. I guess they’d only be a value if you’re ordering a really heavy parcel? Otherwise I think Tenso would be a better option? Or JShoppers (if they are reliable XD)

  16. Thank you for your hard work writing this! 😀

    I did get something surprising from HMV haha. But all right, part of that was my own carelessness.

    I normally use AmiAmi buying games and CDJapan buying CDs. The cons using AmiAmi for me is that the orders cannot be canceled. (Customers must be careful before making an order.)

    Well, it’s risky as you say, AmiAmi uses first-come-first-serve policy so even pre-ordered goods might not come with tokuten. I’m aware of this and make haste in pre-ordering so I’ve never missed pre-order tokuten so far. (But the future might be another thing lol.)

    I once used Tenso and was dissatisfied with the packaging. The boxed were cracked I almost cried. Fortunately, the discs were in good conditions. Consequently, I give up the idea of ordering from websites that ship only in Japan to avoid the forwarding services. One time delivery is far better.

    1. Since I cancel/rearrange my orders often (especially when companies delay games) AmiAmi is pretty much out of the question for me D:.
      I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with Tenso. I don’t like to use fwding either as I prefer direct like you but I really want to get Tiny x Machinegun from somewhere other than COmiComi lol. I’ll have to take the risk I guess xD

  17. Hmmmm… This is a pretty nice guide! Thank you! 8D

    I already ordered from AmiAmi, CDJapan, Play-Asia and YesAsia and I agree with you CDJapan is the best shop out of the bunch. AmiAmi is pretty okay, but I mostly buy games or CD’s if the Yen-Euro course if good, so it’s no good that AmiAmi tells me to pay for the article in the week of release if the Yen-Euro course is on its worst… LOL

    Play-Asia is a bit expensive, but if I can get old things and use a tracked shipping it’s okay too. They sometimes have nice discounts too. I actually ordered 2 Shuukan Soine CD’s with the cheapest shipping and it took 10 weeks to arrive, but the packaging was okay… YesAsia was okay, but its prices are ridiculuos and the shipping takes about 10 weeks to European countries… Oh yeah, the packages from YesAsia look like drug packages, so beware of custom officers! xD

    Maybe I should pay my orders on CDJapan with credit card too, because I’d like to combine orders, if I spontanouesly buy more things, that can be shipped together. I just ordered 2 seperate orders weeks ago, that were shipped out the same day… only because I paid with PayPal…

    1. For old things I’d check Surugaya first because unlike PA they will probably have it cheaper.
      Yea I only used paypal the 1 time they had a paypal campaign but I usually just use my CC for CDJapan ^^

  18. That was a really nice post ^^ Now that i feel a little more confident about reading in japanese, i started to consider importing some games to my psp/pc, and your post really helped me =D

    PS: I just don’t know if Play Asia would really be that bad of an option, at least for me. They started a of free-shipping policy to orders over $30 and under $200 to my country (Brazil) and as I can see some games just end up being cheaper for me.

    1. I just think of it as “I’d rather pay an extra $10 to know my package will arrive in good shape and on time” rather than free shipping and it comes god knows when. It’s up to you really whatever works best!

    1. I’ve never used SAL so I have no idea ^^;
      When I used SAL for something on Rakuten last month though it took me about 8 days though o.o

    2. 2-3 weeks (usually 2) from CDJapan to SoCal, USA 🙂 They shipped my B’s Log 3.20 and I got it earlier this week (today is 4.6). I think it came on Tuesday (4.2) or Wednesday…

      1. Do you use Sal…? IF you use EMS or Airmail and it takes you 3 weeks to receive an item from CD Japan then the postal service near you is messed up.
        I’m in NY and for me EMS = 3 days, Airmail 7-12 days. I never used SAL from CD Japan but when I used SAL from Rakuten it took about 9 days.
        Strange since California is closer to Japan than New York is (´・ω・`;A)

        1. Yes, that is SAL shipping time. Airmail takes about a week. EMS is messed up sometimes and takes 3-5 days depending on what time of the week it gets to Customs in LA…sometimes it gets stuck in customs for 2 days 😦

  19. Thanks for this post! I’ve been thinking of using a proxy one day to finally get a better tokuten than a drama CD or library card lol. And now I have a good idea of which to use /o/ (too bad I already have all the upcoming releases preordered on AmiAmi sobs)

    Oh yeah I think gamecity only has Koei games because gamecity IS Koei ww Or run by them whatever, I just know that all the official sites for their games have gamecity in the url like http://www.gamecity.ne.jp/corda3/

    It’d be nice if Animate US had otome games for order, I’ll send them an email about it ^p^

    Thanks again for sharing your secrets o/

    1. lol library cards 😄 amiami….www
      Yea that’s what I was thinking too about Gamecity but they were selling other non-koei games (?) I think so that’s why I wasn’t exactly sure.
      Btw be careful with Jshoppers I’ve been hearing that their turnover is slow as fuck. Better to pay a few bucks extra with tenso or baggage forward instead!
      I’m still mulling over on what to do about TxM but since the yens up to 97 now maybe I’ll get limited edition after all lol

  20. I’ve used Noppin.com for years (they used to be Crescent Shop…same owner, just name change). They let you bid on Yahoo Auctions as well as work as a proxy for online stores (used games on Amazon Marketplace are pretty cheap and they do that, too). They will handle issues with sellers (very useful) and will store items for 60 days. They are cheaper than CDJapan’s Shopping Service…I highly recommend them!

    I’ve also used http://www.PaletWeb.com once without any issues (it’s hard to browse their site, though). They accept Paypal (as does Noppin, btw) and were pretty quick. I’ll probably buy from them again.

    I sure miss Himeya (sigh).

    1. CD Japan’s shopping service is a ripoff. I never use, when I recommend CD Japan I’m referring to buying direct from them and bypassing all the 3rd party fees.

      I saw Noppin’s fees and in comparison to other services I found them to be very expensive. I’m sure they have good service based on what you said but I guess in the end they are still pricy and there are cheaper alternatives.
      Thanks for the recommendation on PaletWEb. Seems like their site is stuck in 1999 but I see they have a lot of cheap used games which may be an alternative to Surugaya.

  21. As far as I can tell, the only “catch” with JShoppers is DHL shipping – I’ve ordered from them three times and each time it has been sent via DHL. Their claims that they use EMS are, frankly, lies – they use a very similar DHL service that is MUCH cheaper for companies who ship in bulk. If anybody’s ever bought from Mandarake Nakano and used DHL, I believe they use the same thing. I’m not sure if it’s the same thing Amazon.co.jp uses (which I’ve heard is quite crappy for most people), but I’ve never had problems with this particular DHL service and it really has been just as fast as or faster than EMS. Maybe it’s because I’m a few hours from a DHL sort facility, idk?

    As for response time, they’ve responded within a day in the past. Even if it’s longer now, I’ve seen one week+ response times in the forwarding industry from other outlets with much higher fees, and for me the cheap price justifies any extra wait I have. I think they’re a really good value for what you get and that it’s a good place for people ordering from a Japanese site for the first time to try.

    As for AmiAmi – yeah. They do allow you to pick whether or not you get the store-exclusive tokuten, though sometimes they are late to list their tokuten version and their support staff get almost as irate switching an order from a non-tokuten to a tokuten as they do if you cancel an order 😄 (helpful hint to add: NEVER cancel an order with them). Depending on the product, they’ll also sometimes indicate whether a pre-order bonus is included in the product title and will relist without that indicated when it’s out, but they definitely don’t do this for everything. It’s probably related to whether or not the item with a pre-order bonus has a different SKU/item no/whatnot.

    I’ve ordered first press limited editions from them (and you will almost definitely get them if you order, thanks to them closing pre-orders) but never items with limited edition “pack-in” bonuses, and I think you’ve articulated why. There’s just no way to know.

    1. Yea dhl is what Amazon uses and last I checked it’s a lot more expensive than ems…this makes me wonder if jshoppers shipping fee table is even correct. Additionally I heard dhl will not deliver to residence or you have to have someone be there to sign for it so I’d never be able to get it delivered to my house cause I’m at work. The fact that they lie about their shipping already makes them fishy in my book. But hey if you’re satisfied with their service I guess keep using it? I’m thinking of trying out baggage forward because they offer the option of airmail small packet and charge a flat fee of 1000 yen for packages ranging from 1~5 kg. I’m ordering only 1 game though so I probably won’t reach that weight but it’s still a decent rate.they also offer to consolidate all your boxes for 750 yen making them more of a value than tenso for multiple orders.

      Regarding amiami I once knew someone who had to keep canceling their orders so they got banned from the store lol. I’ve cancelled a few times from cd Japan due to delays and such so amiami is No go for me!

  22. Thanks for this post! Otome fangirls need this 😛 I’m using proxies from the first time (tenso by the way) now and well, I’m trying to pre-order the cute Kotobukiya Utapri mug cups. Seeing as how it’s available on Rakuten jp I’m like okay I’ll try lol. I avoided rakuten because the site is so complicated -_- Hell I can’t even find a direct login tab. But now I guess I found it on the home page on the side or something. But with the stores and everything the orders are separate? Or idk. So I gave up trying to buy other stuff with it.

    Anyway, I’m trying to pre-order Otoya, Tokiya and Ren’s. I clicked on the 予約 button but it each takes me to the checkout page? It doesn’t consolidate.

    申込する商品は以下となります。
    うたの☆プリンスさまっ♪ バースデーアニバーサリーキャップマグ 一十木音也 【コトブキヤSHOP限定】(2013年5月再販/予約) (GZ378)
    after clicking on Otoya’s.

    申込する商品は以下となります。
    うたの☆プリンスさまっ♪ バースデーアニバーサリーキャップマグ 一ノ瀬トキヤ 【コトブキヤSHOP限定】(2013年5月再販/予約) (GZ377)
    After Tokiya. Both in separate tabs. It’s not like how usually you order another product, it’s all in one total order.

    I’m kinda scared and I didn’t go through with the process D:

    1. Hmm yea I’m not sure what to tell you other than maybe they are being shipped on different dates? Also make sure you’re either shipping from Japanese Rakuten or the English site the two sites don’t actually integrate their carts

      1. Hmm by the way do you know anything about the Broccoli online store? Was randomly browsing for new updates on your site and saw the Tokiya T-shirt on you sidebar. Was a cdjapan link and behold now I really want it(not available publicly put me off previously because fowarding services = $ and troublesome). I don’t know if I opt for a forwarding service rather than cdjapan I’d have to deal with Broccoli myself. Yeah so do you know whether they accept foreign cards and they won’t react to it being sent to a warehouse?

        1. the CD Japan one is basically CD Japan buying it for you via proxy but they just added it to their online store as a “special order”. I think it would be cheaper for you to use another proxy to get the shirts. I think Broccoli doesn’t accept foreign cards so if you were to use a fwding service you’d have to pay via Cash on Delivery.

          1. Is that so? I tried looking at their FAQ page but yeah I don’t think the sites ever say anything about whether they accept foreigns card. Have you bought anything directly from Broccoli though? That’s why you know?

            1. I searched a few weeks ago when doing my shopping post and someone mentioned on their tumblr that Broccoli doesn’t take foreign cards.

              As far as shirts, I actually sent an order to Yokattaweb to get me 3 of them today ;D Thing is though I’m getting them for my husband because even the S size is more like a size for him than for me because the tshirts are American sizes! Makes me wonder how any Japanese girl can possibly wear them?? I guess they expect the fangirls to use them as nightshirts or something 😆

              1. Yokattaweb eh? I’ll take that into consideration 😉 But gahh exams are tomorrow wtf so I guess I can only do it this weekend. The deadline is on the 10th though D:

                Ooh you got 3? Which ones? 😀 I think for broccoli they mentioned if you buy over 5000 yen you get free shipping so yeah lol that made me think yay I can get 3 because 😉 free domestic shipping and no guilt. Butttt I don’t know which to get 😛 3 choices, pick the character you like, pick the shirt design you like, pick a color that’s easier to match. But since there’s a postcard, makes the decision harder D:

                Yeahhh the size thing. I didn’t even notice that because I didn’t plan on getting them so I didn’t bother to check. And I’m basically a size M so. But last night when I was asking for my friend’s opinion on which to get she actually asked me are they for guys or girls lol. Then I realized, oh it does look big O_o I checked and yeah “slightly bigger than normal t-shirts”,”guys or girls can wear it”. Thank god, or else I’d get a super oversized shirt ahah.

                I guess the concept is the guys’ shirt? Like lol you’re wearing their shirtsss! Miyano took a picture with it and it’s hugeee.

                1. We looked at all the shirts carefully and settled on Natsuki, Sho and Otoya. After all he’s gonna be the one wearing them and we didn’t want him to wear shirts that say “love” on them lmao 😄

  23. I just wanted to say, thank you so much for making this guide!! I never knew many of these websites and before coming across Surugaya, I was buying relatively old otome games at Playasia and Yesasia, paying about $65 per game (even after using coupons) like an idiot -_-
    I really wished I had known sooner… but oh well… Anyways, keep up the great work 😀

  24. For those interested in purchasing from Stellaworth, it seems like they don’t accept foreign credit cards. I kept on getting a “credit card processing error”, and I’ve tried with two different ones. Maybe they just don’t accept Australian cards, but accept UK or US ones. Who knows?

    To purchase from Stellaworth, you’ll just have to use a proxy.

    1. They accept foreign cards because I went to their physical store in Japan and used my American VIsa. However I don’t know what to say about their online store since I never tried ordering. However I HAVE seen people say they managed to place orders so I don’t think saying that they don’t accept foreign cards is correct.

      1. Hmm, maybe it has something to do with my bank rather than Stellaworth. Thanks for the correction- I’ll go chat with the bank. I checked back on their online store, and it said that they don’t accept foreign credited cards. I’m so confused now, but still, I’ll try again since I tend to prefer Stellworth’s preorder bonuses.

        1. Just for your info Animate just shipped my tiny x machinegun to my forwarding address so I can tell you for sure they accept foreign credit cards!

  25. Great post! i guess im going to wait till december when im visiting japan to really blow all my money lol.

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