The mere purpose of this guide is to make you sure that you know what are you buying, if the price is good, and how and where to buy everything. For obvious reasons, I’ll focus only on the music department, since the rest of merchandising is just random stuff that there’s not enough material to dive into.
Q: I don’t know where to buy the stuff, where should I do it?
A: If you are thinking that maybe eBay is a good place to start, here’s my advice. DO NOT EVEN TOUCH IT. Why? Simple, everything there is overpriced and full of bootlegs. The only sites that you really need to visit are these: Mercari and Buyee (Yahoo! Japan Auctions). There are some more sites, but they barely have anything interesting, and when they do, their pricing is either too high or it was sold already.
Q: But you are telling us to buy from places that do not ship to outside of Japan!!
A: You’re right, and that’s when proxies come in action. These sites act like a middleman which will buy you everything that you want from Japan-only stores and send it to you. Of course they don’t do it for free, they’ll charge you a fee. For Yahoo! Japan Auctions, Zenmarket is the best option by far. As for Mercari goes, I haven’t really tested anything, since a friend of mine who lives in Japan is the one who buys from all of the stores (except from Yahoo! Japan Auctions, because dealing with them is a pain in the ass) and sends the stuff to me for free (and NO, don’t ask for more information about him), but probably the best option in regards for costs is vv.Japan.
Q: And is there any official store that actually ships to outside of Japan?
A: Yes! CDJapan, YesAsia and Amazon Japan but I wouldn’t even touch YesAsia due to its brutal pricing and lack of good options for shipping. Amazon Japan doesn’t change the value of the products they ship, so for customs they are a big issue, but thankfully Zenmarket supports the site. They do also have a lot of second-hand goods over there, but the pricing is always super high, and the sellers don’t even bother to add pictures to the product, and sometimes they do not even add actual information about the condition of their product.
In this section, I’ll describe the most common situations you could happen to come by, and also how to approach them.
Q: Hey, look at this offer, the price is pretty good, the seller says that is brand new, but the photo they included is the cover but not from the actual product I am buying… Should I buy it or not?
A: Ask them if they can pass you a photo. 99.9% of those cases for some reason they’ll answer you that to their dismay, they can’t. Ain’t that a shame? Such a great deal and they can’t show you a photo of their brand new product. That’s simply because they are lying about the condition of the product! In Yahoo! Auctions, it only happens with stores, which those “auctions” (they are technically auctions, but they are just selling their stuff through this platform) are legit, but the total cost doesn’t make them a good choice.
Q: Damn, there’s an offer in Mercari/Yahoo! that I’m very interested but the price is too high, what can I do?
A: As for Yahoo! goes, there’s nothing you can do, it’s an auction and the seller forced this minimum price, and it won’t change anytime soon. Mercari on the other hand, since it is a second-hand market, price negotiation can be done. That if the seller agrees to do so, which in most cases they tend to disagree, and sometimes going as far as to not wanna sell parts of a collection, just because they wanna get rid of everything in one go.
Q: I saw a product sold on Mercari/Yahoo! but I don’t see it contains everything, since they didn’t show it opened/the product is brand new, should I risk buying it?
A: If you can’t see something it should contain, it simply doesn’t contain it. Japanese sellers are very aware of what makes a product more valuable, so if their product has some sort of valuable extras, they’ll make sure that you’ll see them.