This is a compilation of places I’ve found on where to buy Japanese products shipped to USA or found in USA. The list is separated into sections for each category and some are repeated over since they carry products in multiple categories.
Most doujinshi sites are 18+, and you have been warned. I will eventually post my experience with the sites that I’ve used. There is no Japanese tax on the items if they are shipped outside of Japan. However, for proxy/deputy services, tax will be part of the total cost.
An asterisk * is for those that I have used before and could recommend.
These stores sell Japanese manga and ships internationally/within the US.
- *honto (Japanese) — the former bk1. Recommended, but Japanese knowledge is necessary, refer to my guide and/or use rikaichan (browser plugin)/google translate. honto doesn’t mark up their prices, has a wide selection of books (manga and light novels), and has the cheapest (and the most) shipping options available, a points system, and frequent campaigns. They also send out coupons occasionally. Simply put, the best option IMHO for Japanese books.
- Mangaoh (Japanese) — EMS only, a good alternative option if you can’t find something anywhere else. Definitely cheaper than Amazon.co.jp, but EMS shipping is expensive.
- YesAsia — Prices marked up by ~$5-6, but free shipping above $39 (except Posters). Shipping takes a while, selection is limited. Sometimes, worth it. Most times, not. The item naming system is a little weird. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try searching with alternative names and/or the author. review
- Kinokuniya — Prices are marked up by ~$2-4; there is a members club for $25/year and you could get a 10% off. Shipping is $8 flat, free above $50 for the US. For web store orders, all shipments are handled by air mail directly from Japan, which takes 7-10 business days. Their stock and selection seems decent, they carry English, Japanese, and Chinese books, but prices are meh. The only reason I’d recommend this place is if you live near the physical store and you want to get that item right now. But if you can wait, go honto. Also, if you have something you can’t find anywhere else, they might have the stock considering their prices.
- Akadot Retail — A niche selection; they mostly do Yaoi/Yuri/Hentai. Prices are marked up by ~20%-60%. Shipping is free (up to $15) over $60, but otherwise, Media Mail is the cheapest option. Small selection of items, but if you can’t find your item anywhere else and are desperate enough, this place might have it.
- HMV.jp — EMS only. No Japanese tax if shipped outside of Japan.
- Amazon.co.jp — The last option with a broad selection of items and ratings, but shipping is extremely overpriced and packaging is horrible from what I’ve heard.
For magazines, you could also try the above places and the following:
- Fujisan — Magazine subscriptions only, no single volumes. As far as I know, this is the only place that offers full magazine subscriptions directly from Japan, but it also costs time and $$ to ship each magazine out too.
- *Hobby Search — Decent selection of magazines, artbooks, and manga. Offers EMS and SAL Small Packet shipping. Prices seem reasonable, no Japanese tax. They have a points system. Seems to be a good option for English speakers looking for magazines, artbooks, and figurines.
- Hobby Link Japan — Shipping is slightly(?) marked up. I’d probably only buy here if I’m desperate enough.
- JBOX — Very few selection but if you’re looking to purchase only one volume, sometimes they have it. Prices are marked up from retail price and shipping is marked up too. Again, for the desperate.
- *MANDARAKE — This place is quite good for second-hand doujins if you can find what you’re looking for. Similar to BookOff but the doujin version of it. They take requests too, but no guarantees that they’d definitely be able to get it for you. For the search bar, try both the Japanese title and English title. They only take CC and Paypal and it’s limited to certain regions. Be sure to read their policies before ordering.
- DoujinPress — Minor selection of yuri/yaoi doujins, ships within USA, prices are quite marked up, comparable to eBay stuff. Kira is extremely kind and great with customers though.
- Mangaoh (Japanese) — as mentioned earlier, EMS only.
- English DLSite — digital only doujinshi/doujin-soft/cg. Japanese DLSite has a better selection if you can’t find stuff that you like, they are both the same though (if you can’t access it, click Japanese on the top right of the page). Beware of authorization required products.
- JBOX — Few selection of doujin-soft and doujinshi. They carry somewhat rare/unique items with marked up prices/shipping.
- Ebay — You can find rare/certain items here, but prices are pretty expensive.
Video Games (IMPORTS)
- *AmiAmi — Very good prices for import video games. Has a variety of shipping options and also includes external/preorder bonuses that come with the game. (CC/Paypal)
- *Nippon-Yasan — Prices are pretty good, lots of popular Japanese video games (used and new), consoles, accessories, and game-related goods, such as prepaid cards, cases, trading cards, etc. Website supports English, French, and Spanish languages and conversion of multiple currencies. Also a WIDE range of shipping options available from the cheapest to the most expensive. Accepts a lot of payment options such as credit card, mastercard, Paypal, etc. Should check it out.
- Play-Asia — Marked up prices for video games, but a large selection, even the newest releases from JPN/EU/Asia. Reliable, but shipping is somewhat slow IMO. They also don’t really update you on your order if something on their end holds up the order. However, if you email them, they do get back to you.
- CDJapan — Not a large selection in games, but they have external and preorder bonuses included with their items. Prices are decent. They’re lower than retail, but almost the same as Play-Asia. I’d certainly recommend AmiAmi over them for a possibly bigger discount if you’re looking for preorder/external bonuses to go with your items. Pretty good points system. Wide range of payments accepted.
- Nin Nin — They’re pretty similar to Nippon-Yasan, but a little more expensive. They do sometimes offer deals so that might balance it back out. They also sell used imports.
- *YesAsia — Prices marked up by ~$0-4, but free shipping above $39. If you’re looking for CDs, most of the time this place has the exact same price or even cheaper, and with free shipping available. I did have one case of an arrival of a cracked CD ordered, but after emailing them and explaining the situation and showing them pictures of proof, they replaced it for me for free. The new CD came within days after they received the cracked CD.
- *CDJapan — Very good place with a wide selection of CDs, DVDs, drama CDs, and limited edition/first press anime merchandise. There have several shipping options, including SAL, EMS, Air Mail. They don’t mark up their prices, prices are in Japanese yen. They also have a pretty good points system, 3% of cost (without tax) compared to honto’s 1%, but they don’t carry much books. And just FYI: limited edition stuff go out of stock very quickly here.
- *AmiAmi — Read above. Sometimes cheaper than CDJapan.
- Tokyo Otaku Mode — They have a focus of illustrations/art-related goods, but they sell all kinds of mainstream otaku goods as well, including figurines, t-shirts, art books/doujinshi from popular illustrators (e.g. redjuice) and the like. Free Standard SAL SPR shipping for orders over $150 for North Americans. They ship worldwide (some places excluded). They have a point system. review
- HMV.jp — Great for Japanese CDs/DVDs, especially anything movies and music-related. EMS only.
- *ash — Reliable guy who will go out of his way to purchase doujinshi and other Japanese merchandise that you request, especially for events like Comiket. His fees are pretty steep depending on how much yen your items are, but reliable nonetheless.
- Shopping Mall Japan — They have an automated bidding system for Yahoo! Japan Auctions and a bunch of other sites.
- Rinkya — Auction and shopping service.
- White Rabbit Express — They have some Japanese items being listed on their home page as advertisement as to what you can ask them to buy for you. Service fees range from around 9-15% + there’s a fixed fee of around $13.00. It’s not entirely clear how much they’d charge for a particular request, but there is a form that you can fill out to get a quote before you commit to buying. Recommended by user wekateka in this comment.
- Remambo — from Kevin’s comment, “[…] low fixed commission, no bank payment fees even for yahoo auctions items, discounts for shipping prices and fastest customer support.”
- ZenMarket — Alex’s recommendation. Looks reasonably priced. Haven’t tried.
If you live close to a BookOff, I definitely recommend it for used manga/DVDs/CDs. Prices are on par or cheaper as if you were buying in Japan. Their used items are actually in a very nice condition. Sometimes, you would even find rare/hard-to-find items that would make your day :).