Online Stores that Cater to International J-Pop Fans
Amazon Japan and Tenso Forwarding Service (Japan)
You could find rare J-Pop items here like past issues of Japanese magazines and limited versions of different albums, DVDs and singles. Like the Amazon based in the United States, they offer goods from cameras to books and to clothes.
Although Amazon Japan offers international shipping, I still use a shopping service called Tenso. Some items in Amazon cannot be shipped internationally especially when the items you are ordering are not from the store itself. Amazon welcome sellers from across the country to sell their items in the website. Tenso will provide their Japanese address and phone number for you to be used in Japan based online shopping sites that do not offer international shipping. The goods will arrive in Tenso's address and you can consolidate several packages into one package. You can choose from their four types of shipping which are EMS, Registered Airmail, Registered SAL and Surface Mail. The fastest is EMS while the slowest is Surface Mail. Currently, Amazon Japan only accepts credit and debit card payments for international buyers. Meanwhile, Tenso welcomes Paypal payment and even credit or debit cards.
Tenso charges a usage fee of 580 yen and a handling fee of 50 yen plus the shipping fee. In consolidating packages, they charge 200 yen for the application and 300 yen for every added package consolidated.
The only difficulty that you will encounter in using Tenso is the registration process since they need to verify your identity as instructed by a law in Japan. They will require your ID with date of birth and proof of address.
CDJapan has a good web interface that makes your online shopping easy. I have been shopping from their store for quite a while now. My experience was terrifying at first since most of the packages I ordered from them went through the customs. All is good now since I now use Airmail or SAL instead of EMS so it will land in my local post office.
Aside from J-Pop merchandises found in CDJapan, they also have anime merchandise, manga and Japanese fashion items.
It is easy to purchase from their webstore since they accept different kinds of payment methods. They accept Paypal, credit or debit card, cash via registered mail and International Postal Money Order. I also have fun while shopping in CDJapan since I receive points when the items I ordered get shipped. These points can be used as discounts in your next purchase. They ship via DHL, FedEx, EMS, Registered Airmail, Airmail, Registered SAL Small Packet, SAL Small Packet and SAL Parcel Post. What is also good about this store is they can calculate the total cost before you can finalize your order. Another thing that I find really cool about their shop is they pack your items really securely! The posters are rolled in Japanese paper and are inside tubes. The items are also packed with bubble wraps.
HMV Japan (Japan)
HMV Japan is another online store based in Japan that I rely on. What is good about this store is that they do not charge your debit card immediately when placing your orders. In most online stores, they charge the debit card right on the spot. HMV Japan also has an extension of two weeks if you cannot pay on time or if your debit card doesn't have any funds yet. They also have coupons to give away that you could use as discounts.
As of the moment, HMV only accepts credit or debit card payments. They also do not have any other shipping method aside from EMS for international buyers. If you are particular with how posters are shipped, do not shop through this store since they fold the posters. I would recommend CDJapan instead in terms of packaging.
Mandarake has their main office in Nakano Broadway. It is the largest anime and manga store known in the world. Aside from anime and manga, they also offer J-Pop merchandise. I already bought from them and I can say their service is good. After placing your orders for the goods you would like to purchase, they will send you a shipping price quotation after. So, the payment for the items and shipping fee are separate. But, there are times that the shipping fee is already included as you place your order so make sure you have enough money in your account.
Mandarake accepts credit/debit card payments and paypal. As of now, they ship via EMS, Airmail, SAL and DHL. For my order, I paid through paypal and I chose SAL as shipping method. The package arrived within two weeks. Unfortunately, the box was damaged. But, the goods are still in good shape. The box is a bit huge for the CDs/DVDs. They only used few bubble wraps.
I recommend this store if you're looking for hard to find or out of print items. You could also find rare concert goods of Johnny's from this online store.
Play-asia (Hong Kong)
It's actually been so long since the last time I shopped at Play-Asia. But, I had good transactions with them in the past so I am still recommending their store.
While Amazon Japan, CDJapan and HMV Japan are all based in the Land of the Rising Sun, Play-Asia is based in Hong Kong. This online store is a hub for gamers since their products are mostly for them. Aside from J-Pop merchandise and goods for gamers, they also have anime items, manga, electronic goods and Japanese snacks among others.
Play-Asia accepts credit and debit card, Paypal, Western Union and Moneybookers. While, they ship via EMS, Airmail, UPS and FedEx.
Suruga-ya and buyee Shopping Service
Suruga-ya is an online store made for J-Pop fans who love to collect hard to find J-Pop merchandise! I just recently got my rare Takei Emi CDs from them. However, they rejected my debit card so I needed to use buyee shopping service. According to my friends who are also customers of suruga-ya, they reject cards if the goods you order come from different warehouses.
Registering at buyee is much easier than Tenso. You just sign up your name and e-mail and you're good to go. There's no need to confirm your identity. My first order from Suruga-ya exceeded 1,500 yen so it was already free shipping to buyee warehouse. I also paid 150 yen to buyee since they charge the said amount for orders below 3,000 yen. While, they charge 5% service fee for other Japan based online stores except Amazon JPN, Yahoo shopping and Rakuten.
Buyee also have plan fees for your ordered items to make sure that your items arrive in good shape. You are free to choose to add the plan fee or not. The standard plan consists of insured delivery and inspection and costs 500 yen. While, the insured delivery plan only consists of insured delivery and costs 500 yen. Next is the inspection plan that costs 300 yen and only consists of inspection. You may also choose the lite plan which costs 0 yen.
The only downside from ordering from suruga-ya is that they do not package your items securely. Two of the CDs I bought were damaged. The CD cases were broken. Suruga-ya only used a bubble wrap envelope. They didn't used any bubble wraps for the CDs perse. If you want to receive your items in very good condition, I greatly suggest to use buyee's protective packaging service. Though, it is expensive. It costs 1,500 yen.
Despite the CD cases being broken, I am still happy for my purchase since the goods are really cheap and they're very much worth it for a fangirl like me! I still recommend.
YesAsia (Hong Kong)
I highly recommend YesAsia. If you ask me what's my favorite, then this would be it! I actually experienced something negative from them before but I still recommend this store. I needed to cancel an order since I want to order from a different webshop. The payment was immediately charged on the spot after placing the order since I used a debit card. YesAsia insisted that they did not still charge the payment and that I have to contact my bank. I think it was the bank's fault. After discussing the failed transaction with my bank, the money was returned to me. I am now using Paypal as payment method when I order from YesAsia so the incident will not happen again. I greatly suggest to use Paypal too when paying so there could be an assurance that your money will be returned to you once there's a failed transaction.
One good thing about YesAsia is they offer free shipping for orders over 39 USD. So, if you would like to order multiple items, I greatly suggest to order from them so you could avail the free shipping. As of now, they accept credit and debit card payment and Paypal for international buyers. They ship via UPS and they ship so fast! I usually receive the items two days after placing the order if they're in stock in YesAsia. Aside from J-Pop merchandise, they also have C-Pop and K-Pop too!
I hope I was was able to help!
If you have any questions about the following stores I have mentioned, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail! I'll do my best to help!