If you’ve ever spotted the most kawaii thing ever, only to discover it’s only available in Japan, then what you need is a shopping service. These are companies that will buy the product you want and have it delivered to their office where they then re-ship it to you. They’ll even bid in online auctions for you and can hold multiple items from different shops to send in one package. In return they charge a fee and/or percentage of the item price. Here’s a look at some kawaii friendly services.
Noppin are a well-established shopping service, with over 8 years of experience, so you know they’ll be reliable. The website is a bit confusing, but there’s lots of information and they seem very helpful. There’s a helpful, if quite old, blog post on how to use Noppin at Kofuji.
Tenso is slightly different in that once you’re registered and approved, you buy the products yourself, using Tenso’s HQ as your shipping address. This is great if you’re ordering something with a lot of options, like clothing, if you want to grab a pre-order before it sells out or if you just like to impulse buy! Again it’s not the easiest site to navigate, but Sara Mari at Moments Like Diamonds has posted an in-depth review.
White Rabbit Express
White Rabbit Express offer both services so they can shop for you, and also receive items you’ve bought yourself. Their homepage shows what products people have been buying through them, which is both fun to browse through and slightly dangerous as it might give you ideas! You can also buy popular products direct through their White Rabbit Japan store.
Mint Kismet Shopping
If you want a more personal service, look for individuals based in Japan. Mint Kismet is run by Danielle in Osaka and she will actually go to shops and buy items for you as well as ordering online – great for store-only products or secondhand clothing. emiichan blogged about using MintKismet on her blog (scroll to near the end)
These are just a few examples – if you search online, there are many more. Whichever you choose, make sure to get a quote upfront, so that you’re not left with unexpected shipping costs or fees.
Have you used a Japan shopping service? Let us know how you got on.
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.