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How to buy items from Yahoo Auctions Japan if you are not Japanese

I recently started to collect retro video games, mostly classic 16-bit stuff. One of the issues here, after you have made up your mind about the console systems you want to collect is to decide whether you want to limit the collection to a certain region.

Do you only want to collect European PAL games, North-American NTSC games or Japanese games? I made the decision to go all in and collect everything.

The main issue here is that it is nearly impossible to buy many Japanese games in Europe. And the ones that are on offer are quite expensive as well.

That's why I began to check out sites in Japan directly to order from there instead, and one of the greatest is Yahoo Auctions Japan.

This is one of the biggest auction sites in Japan -- eBay is not offering a platform there anymore -- but the problem is that if you are not Japanese, you cannot really register an account.

The first issue you will come across is the captcha verification. Since Japanese signs are displayed in it, you need to find a way to enter them. While copying and pasting from other sources works, it is not something that is done quickly unless you have access to a Japanese keyboard and know your way around in the language.

But even if you manage that, you may run into other troubles such as having to have a local -- read Japanese -- shipping address or bank account.

yahoo auctions japan


The only viable solution for foreigners is to use a proxy service. I have been using Japamart for that but there are others such as From Japan or Jauce and I will switch to another soon as the fees are lower..

You can sign up on these sites directly and how things go from here depends on the site. For Japamart and the majority of others, you have to make a deposit via PayPal or Credit Card payment first. The deposit amount multiplied by two is the maximum amount you can bid on auction on Japamart while it may be handled in a different way on other sites.

All services charge a variety of fees that you pay on top of the item's price and shipping to another domestic location in Japan.

It usually comes down to paying a commission and maybe other fees such as a bank fee and a transaction fee on top of that.

It pays to compare fees on multiple sites to make sure you are not paying more than you have to. These sites offer English pages and provide you with information about the fees that they charge.

Here is a quick overview of some popular Japanese proxy shopping services and their fees

Proxy Name Commission Bank Fee Usage Fee Total Price
Japamart from $5 on $2 5% at least $7 + 5%
FromJapan 200 Yen 172 yen 5% at least 372 yen + 5%
Jauce 800 yen 300 yen 8% at least 1100 + 8%
Noppin from 500 yen 250 yen   at least 750 yen
JapnociaMarket from 500 yen     at least 500 yen

Note: 1000 yen are roughly 9.1 Dollar, 7.1 Euro and 5.6 British Pound.

As you can see, fees differ a lot between services. Some services let you combine shipping and handling (which comes on top of all that) so that all your goods are sent to you in a single package.

Some also let you combine shipping and handling for the domestic transfer, but only if you buy from the same seller on the same day, and if that seller accepts that.

Other tips

If you don't speak Japanese, use a translation service to translate the auction site. This should give you a rough understanding of what the item is about.

Rough because the translation won't be perfect but if you take into account the photos and the translation, it should provide you with enough information.

Chromium and Google Chrome support automatic translations which makes them excellent for this task. Firefox will support translations in one of the coming releases so that you should be covered here as well soon.

This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News


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