It's time to update the FAQ on how to bid on Japanese items.
Also, see the video here
if you like it explained verbally, but the text below is more detailed.1. Where do I start?
This is a direct link to Yahoo Japan Auctions (abbreviated YJA here on the forums often)http://auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/
No matter what service you use, I recommend starting here instead of using translation services.2. Okay, how do I search here?THIS KANJI LIST
has the characters and series I search for regularly. If you don't see something on the list you want to search for, got to Wikipedia
and search for the series you want. Often the entry there will have the Kanji needed to search at YJA. Select the Japanese characters, copy, and paste into the search bar at YJA. You'll need to have a Japanese character set installed on your browser to see the Kanji characters, but oddly enough if you select the little lame boxes that are displayed in its place if you don't have the character set, it still works. 3. Okay, great. I can't read Japanese!
Well, that's okay. These days, they place pics next to each item listing. If the seller has posted a pic in their auction, it will appear to the left of the listing. However, you can see bigger pics by clicking the link below indicated by the giant red arrow (the image next to this link is 4 little boxes in one big box, showing an image display):
This streamlines searching.
Once you click on an item, there are some things to take notice of (Rinkya and SMJ can translate these pages, but it's hard to do IMO and it's quicker when searching to know what to look at as you search. Also, the translation is shaky sometimes.):
Auction Image Key wrote:
1. URL in address bar of browser
(Full URL) http://page.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/98322257
Auction URL of above: 98322257
2. Title of auction
3. Current high bid
4. Time left (Days: 日 Hours: 時間)
5. Buy it Now price (if available). It's always highlighted.
6. # of bids.
Not as important, but below #6, the info is:
Auction ID4. OMG! I found something! How do I bid?
If you live anywhere other than Japan, then you'll need to use a service. Why? Because many Japanese will not ship internationally and do not welcome international bids. It would be nice to have your own account and use it like ebay, but that's not that case, so . . .
Services we know of:http://www.rinkya.com http://www.shoppingmalljapan.com
(abbreviated SMJ on the forums often)http://www.japonicarecords.com/index.htm
(haven't used this much, but here's a thread
about it here.)
Now, Rinkya and SMJ require a credit card to be on file and a deposit made.
With Japonica Records, you send a request to bid on an item by giving the service a URL. They place a bid for you and then you can pay via Paypal. You have to have a valid eBay username to use their service. They have the right to refuse business to you if you have a poor eBay rating or are a new eBay member.
Each service has their own way to bid. It should be easy to find and use because, hey, that's their bread and butter. If it's not easy to bid, people won't use the site. Just spend a little time and find out what they want.
Usually, they need the url of the item (when you click on the item, the text in the address bar of your browser is what they will need).5. Deposits??
Okay, don't get scared. Let me explain what this means.
Say I want $250 on hand to be able to bid on items at any time. I give the service my card info and they AUTHORIZE
the card for that amount, they do NOT charge it. This is insurance for them if you decide not to pay. They can charge your card for items you bought (you agree to this when you become a member). So, you cannot exceed $250 bidding in this example. You can add funds at any time, but your credit card must support it. If you bid $60 on one auction, $80 on another, and want to bid $250 on another auction, you will not be able to because of your limit. You must plan ahead because it may take a day or so to replenish your limit, or add to it.6. I won! . . . now what?
Each service is different, but to boil it down, you get an invoice, pay and then have it shipped.
Each service has several ways to pay, and each service does payment differently. They will always let you know if you won and always send you an invoice.7. Ack! What are all these fees?
It takes resources and lots of shipping to get items to you. Most of the fees are shipping, but there may also be bank fees (or currency conversion charges), and commission. Rinkya does not charge commission on items below 1000yen. Very few items stay below this, however. Above that, and a $20 commission is added, plus percentage commissions if high enough (see their fees on their website). Also, Rinkya has $15 on each item regardless of what it goes for do to Japan shipping and bank fees.
SMJ is occasionally cheaper because they only do percentage commissions, but sometimes shipping is higher inside Japan.8. When do I get what I bought?
Shipping is tricky. You can save up a bunch of items with Rinkya and SMJ and bulk ship to save money.
Rinkya works like this:
Bidder wins > Rinkya pays Japanese seller > Bidder pays Rinkya > Seller ships to Rinkya Japan > Buyer requests shipment from Japan > Rinkya ships to buyer. Buyers can hold items in Japan and then request a bulk shipment or each individual item.
SMJ works a bit differently:
Bidder wins > SMJ pays Japanese seller > Bidder pays SMJ > Seller ships to SMJ Japan > SMJ Japan ships to USA > Buyer requests items from SMJ USA. SMJ constantly and automatically ships items to its USA warehouse. This saves money because all of your items are shipped with other people's items and you only pay a portion of what that bulk shipment cost. Then they ship to you within the USA, which is cheaper.
It's always better, if you have patience, to ship several items at once.
When you see an item and decide to bid, always translate the listing first
. It'll save a headache later. Sometimes you'll see the set sheet for a set and think you're getting the whole set, but you're only get one of the items from the set.
You can select, copy, and paste all of the text below the pictures and use any translation service to try and understand what it is you're buying.Google translate
SMJ also shows a translation before you bid. OFTEN these translations will be poor because it is very difficult for software to translate Japanese to English. However, most of the time you can glean from what is translated any qwirks that may deter you from bidding. Bid at your own risk. I've ended up with different items at times, and it was my fault for either not translating or taking a risk because I didn't understand. Obviously, these are expensive mistakes.
Set rules for yourself. There are a lot of exciting items on YJA and it's easy to get in over your head. Make a budget and stick to it.