For Tokusatsu fans in the United States, ordering merchandise from their favorite shows can sometimes be problematic when the seller will only ship within Japan. Premium Bandai, which sells much of the official merchandise for shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, is one of those sellers. From Japan is one of the middleman services endorsed by Premium Bandai.
From Japan is very simple to use and they deal with more than just Premium Bandai. Within their search engine you can find items from Yahoo Japan Auctions, Rakuten, Amazon Japan, and more. Otherwise, you can find an item you want to purchase from any Japanese shopping website, plug in the URL, and they will set it up for you to order.
The first step is finding what you want to order. For many items, you can just search within From Japan’s own search box, in English or Japanese. You’ll sometimes get different results searching for the same thing in the different languages.
If you are picking items found through search, it’s easy to order – just add them to your shopping cart like any other site. If you are ordering something from a website that FJ doesn’t search directly, you can paste the URL into the search box and it will give you the option to order the item. From Japan’s search also brings up items from auction sites. On the search results page, you can narrow the results by shopping site, price, and item status.
Next step is Charge 1. If you’ve added items to the cart, then your “checkout” process will be paying Charge 1 and making your selections for plans. From Japan offers two plan options – the 300¥ plan is a simple forwarding service – they get the item into their warehouse, they turn around and toss it in the box to send on, and there is no compensation if the item doesn’t arrive or is damaged. The 700¥ service is a little bit better – it includes insurance on both legs of delivery (from the Japanese seller to FJ’s warehouse and from the warehouse to you), plus they will check to make sure the item that arrived is the item you actually ordered (no mistakes on size/color/etc or damage). Plus there’s compensation if your items go missing or are damaged.
Once you’ve made the selection for the plan (which is not paid, for now, that is part of Charge 2, but you need to choose now), then you choose whether to pay using a credit card or PayPal, and also choose whether you want to cancel the order if some items are unavailable. Then you can place the order – you’ll pay just the straight yen price of the item now. The screen will show an estimate for the domestic shipping charges (that’s shipping from seller to From Japan), along with the price of the plan you chose, but those will be part of Charge 2.
For anything you order that’s not from their database, you’ll still make these same selections, choosing payment method, plan, and cancellation option, then you request a quote. They will send an email with the price of the item in yen. You can then log into your account on FJ and pay the Charge 1 for the item.
Auction items work a little differently. You need to deposit enough to cover the amount of your bid (minimum deposit of 500¥), and then give your maximum bid – similar to bidding on eBay. If there is a “Buy it Now” option on the auction, you will be able to choose that option when placing your bid on From Japan’s site. Otherwise, you have a choice between real-time bidding or sniper bidding. A sniper bid is placed in the last ten minutes of the auction but may not get placed if the auction has been ended early or bidding has already exceeded your maximum bid. Real-time bids are placed immediately and can be viewed on the auction page. Once the auction ends, you will get an email if you won the item and your deposit will be used to pay for it. If the auction cost is less than the amount you deposited, and you do not use the deposit for anything else within 20 days, you will be refunded the remainder.
Once you’ve placed the order and paid the Charge 1, the items will be ordered. For auctions, your deposit will be used to pay for the auction item as soon as the auction ends and you have won it. FJ will email once your items arrive at their warehouse – which can be fairly quickly for in-stock items, or it can be a while if it is a pre-order item from Premium Bandai. For auctions, it can vary based on how quickly the seller ships. Once the items arrive in the warehouse, you have 30 days to instruct them for shipping and pay Charge 2. The nice thing about this part is, if you have multiple Premium Bandai items that are the same release month, or items coming from different sellers/sites that all arrive within 30 days of each other, you can combine them into one package to save on shipping.
Once you are ready to ship, click on the shipping instruction tab in the upper corner when logged in. This will bring you to the list of all the items that have arrived and are available to ship. Select which ones you want to ship, and make sure the address is correct. On the next screen, make your selection of shipping service. There’s plenty to choose from but with some restrictions. A couple notes – EMS charges based on weight, and starts at around 2000¥, but goes up pretty fast for heavy packages. DHL charges based on volume, it’s great for heavy but small packages (like books), and is super fast! There’s also an option to let their staff choose, but if you aren’t happy with what they pick there’s an extra 1500¥ charge to re-pack.
Choose what service you want, and submit. If you picked the staff choice option, they will send you a notification once your package is ready and you will have three days to pay the Charge 2 total. If you select the shipping option, the Charge 2 total will be calculated right away for you. The Charge 2 total will include shipping costs (for both domestic shipping, from seller to From Japan, and international shipping, from From Japan to you) plus plan fees (the 300¥ or 700¥ for each order, which you selected at ordering time). From Japan will then pack your items, based on the shipping service you selected, and email you when the box is on the way. Shipping is pretty fast once everything is paid – typically within a day of payment, and both EMS and DHL shipping methods move very fast.
There are other middleman services available for ordering from Japanese websites, but From Japan is one of the simpler to use ones as well as one with fairly reasonably priced middleman fees.
Source: From Japan website