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A Guide to Buying Japanese Music Overseas

Since summer sucks and Brexit has meant that the currency I use is less valuable now for imports, I thought I'd be productive and help people who are interested in buying Japanese Imports by listing the best sites to use for it. With a combination of needing to use multiple sources (some which aren't easy to find), customs taxes and other general things a list like this can save you a lot of money in the long run and makes things easier. Note that I live in the UK so all of these experiences are based upon UK Customs/Shipping availability and law. Also note that unless mentioned, the sites have English customer support, hope this helps whoever reads it. Also list is cool shit you should buy with these sites (i.e. I'm a fucking weeb) and a big thanks to crossparallel for helping me with this convoluted pain of comparing proxy sites and having first hand experience with suruga-ya since I never had to use it.
1X Japan
Art of Life


THE GOLDEN RULE: Before listing a bunch of sites I'll list the most importing thing to know first, which is for the love of God do not use FedEx/EMS for your orders unless you absolutely have to use it. This is because despite it being incredibly fast, insured and fully tracked it's very expensive and you will get taxed using it regardless of site. Also check whether postage methods are available in your country since different sites will have different shipping options not available for certain countries. You'll save your time whether to use the site and to calculate shipping. Now let's start listing sites to use:
2BUCK-TICK
TOUR2014 Arui wa Anarchy -Final-


CD Japan: Best site for upcoming releases and in stock items

Pros: - This is the best site for new stuff/stuff to pre-order, because of not only the amount of stuff that will be on pre-order with solid amount of stock but can have website exclusive pre order bonuses like a poster.
- For regular editions they can be years old and still in stock. They will always sell the retail price and never change it, so it can be useful for albums which are expensive in other places but available for normal price here.
- You gain points for every order, so if you use the site commonly you can save a bit of money with later orders.
- Website and customer service entirely in English, so overall if you can get anything from the site this is the best place to get it.

Cons: - If a limited edition is 2 years old chances are it's out of stock, so if you want limited editions and rare items get it near the release date or ideally ASAP.
3Dir En Grey
Dum Spiro Spero At Nippon Budokan


YesAsia: An alternative to CD Japan if needed with some aspects to make it stand out

Pros: - Free shipping option which is avoids tax, so despite of having higher than usual prices than CD Japan you can still save money overall using this
- Has some great deals/offers on holidays and other occasions, worth checking.
- 2nd best site for new releases, their stock usually lasts longer than CD Japan since most order pre order from there.

Cons: - Their pre orders sometimes don't have the bonus like CD Japan.
- Same con as CD Japan, rare stuff won't be here most likely.
4The Seatbelts
Cowboy Bebop Boxed Set


Discogs: Pretty much the go to place for music collectors in general

Pros: - Got some amazing deals on any type of item, mainly good for finding rare albums which aren't luxury limited editions.
- Can personally message sellers for exact conditions on items, so the personal touch with sellers is nice and they care about quality due to the standards set by the site. These 2 positives alone make this a very valuable source.

Cons: - Prices are usually either great or overpriced to pure ass. People like to overprice mainly on expensive Limited Editions or Fan Club stuff.
5Gackt
MARS


Japan Discoveries: The treasure trove of Japanese music shopping without using proxy services

Pros: - Without a doubt the best selection of any site along with using proxy services, this alone makes it worth a gander.
- Some awesome sales which are much more numerous than the other sites listed.
- 1000 yen free for every 10000+ yen order

Cons: - SAL and Airmail isn't insured, which is horseshit.
- Dispach is rather slow if this matters to you (around 3-5 days).
- This is something which I can't say for certain yet unless I order a low value item, but I believe that everything you order here will get taxed which is a big con. I had 2 £63-80 items taxed from here from both, and I have not been taxed before from CD Japan with a similar price and used the same shipping method. If a smaller item from there gets taxed too I'll update if my theory is correct.
6Kuroki Nagisa
Kuroki Nagisa


eBay: An alternative to Discogs, better for expensive items for the most part in terms of Japanese Music

Pros: - It's essentially all of Discogs positives however while Discogs is very good for harder to find regular press albums, eBay is better at Limited Editions and other music related items

Cons: - Can be overpriced on a lot of items.
7Kamijo
Symphony of the Vampire


Remambo/Buyee/FromJapan: Proxy services that allow you to bid on Yahoo Auctions, the site for out of print and rare items. A hardcore fan's paradise.
Description: For which one of these is the best I'll leave that to a separate section below, pros and cons will be for proxy services in general. For anyone who doesn't know what these entail, what these do is instead of direct shipment to your address, you use this service to translate Japanese bidding sites/marketplaces (Mainly Yahoo auction is the site which will be used with this) to either bid or buy. Then it gets delivered to a separate address for extra fee which then sent to your address, so much different to the other sites listed. Reason why these are available is because places like Yahoo Auction can only be used by people who have Japanese addresses, so these are useful middle men who you have to use if you want to get to items you never could before. Also you can use this for any Japanese website in general to get items from.
8Tokyo Jihen
Dynamite Out


Pros: - Can get some insane deals here, especially with rare items.
- The best possible selection of items, almost everything you should want is here and multiple items together for a good deal.
- Can apply this to other sites, any Japanese site you can the site to buy it for you and you pay them if this is needed.

Cons: - Commission fee, consumption fees, package consolation fee (i.e. Fee for having multiple orders together to put in one box) and having you have to pay for inland shipping to the warehouses where they keep the item until you say to ship to your house all needs to be considered. So this is mainly for more expensive items or items impossible to get anywhere else. Note inland shipping depends on seller to seller, so read description for inland shipping on auctions however generally it's 700-1200 yen.
- Oddly the search bar for these is a bit dodgy (at least on Remambo), so you may have to use general terms and search a bit to find a good deal sometimes.
9Shiina Ringo
Shouso Strip


Comparison: Now in my personal opinion it is just much easier to use one of these sites and the winner here is Remambo. This is because I've used them before so I have personal experience with the site and can say you'll have no taxes, easy layout and terms compared to the other 2 sites to understand and a good English support team. Plus you'll mainly be using this site for rarer items anyway which are usually more expensive, and for those this site can save you more money. Regardless I'll make the list for you and give their terms:

- Remambo: Commission fee of 500 yen per order/bid, consolation fee is 500 yen. Generally best out the 3 to save money for bids over 5000 yen, orders from Amazon/Rakuten over 5000 yen and other sites over 9000 yen.
- Buyee: 5% commission fee, 500 yen for consolidation of 2 packages, 1000 yen for consolidation of 3 or more packages. Plus they have a plan to check items that come in and insure you if they're damages for 500 yen if you want it.
10Ryo Fukui
Scenery


It's best for bids under around 5000 yen, orders from Amazon/Rakuten under 5000 yen and other sites under 9000 yen. With its fees you don't want to consolidate packages with them and you should accept the risk of no refund if things go to hell.
- FromJapan: 200 commission fee + 5% system usage fee, package consolidation is free. So this is best for combining a bunch of not very expensive auctions, shopping from multiple stores or combining stores and auctions.

Finally done with these :D
11The Mortal
I Am Mortal


Amazon UK or US: Sometimes the easiest way to get an item you need.

Pros: - A few nice prices here and there for alot of things
- Local delivery for most people reading (i.e. UK or US users) which also means local support,

Cons: - Some of the prices are wtf, not the best selection at all.
12The Mortal
Immortal


Amazon.jp: Home to many items old and new, rare or common. Worth checking if other sites are not giving you what you need.

Pros: - Awesome selection, of old and new with reasonable prices for the most part

Cons: - Only EMS shipping, so get taxed bitch. However you can use a Proxy site mentioned about to get around this, however then you'd still with fees.
13Malice Mizer
Merveilles


suruga-ya: The weirdest site here, really situational but can get you some items you need.

Pros: - Some really cheap items here and good selection as well.

Cons: - You'll need to use a Proxy to order from here
- You can't see the condition of the items that you're buying, picture nor description. They're mainly used in great condition however this is a big con which makes this a last resort for items which you can't find or you have an insane deal on your hands which is worth taking the risk.
- Extremely confusing system for non-Japanese readers. Now it lists how much an item is, OR it lists how much they'll give you for selling the item to them (i.e. you can't buy it). The layout changes depends which one you can do for the listed item.
For example, this you can purchase: http://www.suruga-ya.jp/product/detail/220063144001

This you can not purchase: http://www.suruga-ya.jp/kaitori_detail/120010364
14Guniw Tools
Other Goose


Dodax: Use for stuff with European pressing only

Pros: Great shipping price and overall prices for European pressed items

Cons: Useful for little else for Japanese Music
15Plastic Tree
Nega to Poji


Otaku.com: Clusterfuck of a site, basically a situational mystery box.

Pro and con: The random jack of all trades site. Selection and prices are clusterfuck but can find something good. Note I have no personal experience with this site so I can't say whether you'll get taxed.
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