Updated on 20th June 2014.
In this post “How to Order from Amazon Japan – A detailed buying Guide”, I took the reader through a concise, step by step guide on how to purchase an item from Amazon Japan, from creating a new account, adding items to your cart, checking out and finally submitting your order.
While the post explained the technical aspects of ordering, new customers shopping for the first time with Amazon Japan might still want some additional information before they’re comfortable enough to order. To that end, I have prepared a list of some frequently asked questions for first time customers.
Q : Do I have to pay any fees when I sign up for an Amazon Japan account ?
Nope. Creating an account is free.
Q : Why should I purchase books/dvds/toys from Amazon Japan ? What are the merits ?
A : There’s a couple of good reasons to shop with Amazon Japan. To begin with, Amazon is an internationally trusted name in online shopping, with many years of experience behind them and have an excellent track record. Amazon offers very reliable service, speedy delivery of your goods, and also excellent customer support.
Inventory wise, Amazon Japan probably has the biggest collection of Japanese art book titles out there. If you know the Japanese title/name of the book you are looking for, you can almost always find it on Amazon. There are a couple of other decent online Japanese bookstores, but they mostly cater for the local market and do not ship outside of Japan.
Amazon Japan also offers the best prices for Japanese art books, because you do not need to pay for any tax. ( When you look at the back cover of a Japanese art book, the printed price is before the addition of the 8% goods and services tax. ) Shipping cost notwithstanding, you’re actually getting the book at a cheaper price than if you were to walk into a bookstore in Tokyo and buy one, which will cost you 8% more.
For movie dvds and blu-rays, prices are often discounted 10-30% off the retail price, especially if you pre-order the item before it is released.
Q : What shipping service will be used to deliver my items ? How long will it take, and how much will it cost me ?
A : For overseas orders Amazon Japan ships only with International Express ( AmazonGlobal Priority shipping, usually by DHL or Fedex ), and it delivers in an amazingly quick 2-4 days. ( excluding some select countries and the regions. )
For books, shipping cost is calculated by :
A flat per shipment fee ( cost differs on location ) + per item fee ( cost differs on location ).
For example, if I live in the United States and purchase a book from Amazon Japan, shipping will cost :
Per shipment fee of 800 yen ( to United States ) + per item fee 500 yen = 1300 yen. ( about 13 USD )
Therefore, to save on shipping, its a very good idea to purchase multiple items so as to leverage the per shipment fee cost.
For example, if I were to buy 10 books shipping to the United States, shipping will cost :
Per shipment fee of 800 yen ( to United States ) + per item fee 5000 yen ( 500 x 10 items ) = 5800 yen.
By comparison, the cost for shipping per book will only be 580 yen instead of 1300 yen.
A detailed list of the shipping costs can be found here.
Q : Where are my items ? How can I track my items ?
A : Once your item ships, a tracking number is assigned which you can then use to track via your Amazon Japan account page. To see how to create a new account, go here.
Q : What happens if my items get lost / my items don’t arrive ?
A : This very seldom happens, but in the rare occasion that it does you can contact Amazon Japan customer support ( they have a customer support page in English ) and inform them that your item did not arrive. In my experience Amazon Japan will get back to you very quickly, first checking where the item is with their freight/shipping service. Once they ascertain that the item is indeed lost, you will be given the option of either a replacement order or a full refund.
Q : Why doesn’t Amazon Japan accept my credit card ?
A : While the exact reasons why some credit cards are not accepted by Amazon’s checkout system is unknown to me, I have had folks write in to me and say that they were unable to complete the purchase because the card was rejected.
In most cases, the reason why the card was not accepted was because a wrong card number have been entered. Amazon Japan does not require one to enter the card’s 3 digit verification code.
To best ascertain if the issue lies with the card or with Amazon’s checkout, try adding a different card. ( you do not need to complete your order and you will not be charged yet )
Also, write in to customer support and ask why your card has been rejected – in my experience their reply will usually give you an idea as to why the card cannot be used.
A : What about custom regulations ? Will my items be subjected to checks ?
Custom regulation differs from country to country, so it’s best to do some homework on your part to find out how customs screen packages in your country. Bear in mind that custom checks might delay an item that is otherwise scheduled to deliver by the stipulated date. Should such a delay occur, it will be reflected in the tracking information.
Q : The item I want is out of stock, but there are sellers on Amazon Marketplace ( third party sellers ) who carry the item . How do I go about buying it ?
You can add the item you want to your cart and the checkout process is the same, but as most sellers on Amazon Marketplace do not ship outside of Japan, you will need to use a shipping redirect service like tenso.com, which provides you with a temporarily Japanese address where the item gets ship to. tenso.com will pick up the item and then ship it to you. For details, please visit their website.
Amazon Japan also has a helpful page on ordering items from third party sellers.
Q : How do I purchase an item that Amazon Japan won’t ship outside of Japan ?
You will need to engage a shipping redirect service like tenso.com, which provides you with a temporarily Japanese address where the item gets ship to. Please visit their website for more details.
Q : Can I use my existing Amazon.com/Amazon.fr/Amazon.de/Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.ca account to purchase items from Amazon Japan ?
No, you will need to sign up for a new Amazon Japan account. You can do so easily by following the steps listed here.
Q : I have an Amazon gift card from Amazon.com. Can I use it on Amazon Japan ?
At the time of writing ( 23rd April 2013 ), Amazon gift cards purchased on Amazon.com cannot be used for purchases on Amazon.co.jp. ( if you try to apply the gift card code on an Amazon.co.jp account, it will not be recognized as a valid coupon. )
Q : How do I / where can I buy an Amazon Japan gift card ?
You can buy a gift card here. The purchase links are very similar to Amazon.com ( see image below for reference ).
Q : Help ! I didn’t find the answer to my question in this post !
No problem, simply write your question in the comments section for this post and I will try to get back to you the first chance I have.
Q : Ok, I’m good now. Where can I start shopping ?