Buying foreign stuff tends to be a bit difficult sometimes, but luckily it can be pretty easy to find a whole plethora of Japanese goods if you only know where to look. I’m currently working on a book called Language Learning Roadmap which basically sets about to preparing a language learner for his/her journey by debunking popular myths, helping the person to understand his/her goals and their own style of learning, and then outlining the various methods of learning a language, whether it be the academic method (either classroom or self-taught), the input method, or the output method, followed by an outline of the method I use as an example of how you can mix and match methods to create something unique for yourself.
Well, if you’re predominately an inputter (think AJATT) it can be a real pain sometimes trying to find stuff in Japanese, so I’ve created this list of various places to go shopping for Japanese items.
I’m an affiliate for some of these website, and they will be marked with a *. Remember, being an affiliate for web sites doesn’t influence which products I choose to review or influence my opinion of them; it’s just a nice way to get a little money with which to buy more products to review.
1. Amazon.com* – This is a good place to find stuff from just about anywhere in the world. The nice thing about Amazon.com is that you can read consumer reviews at the product’s page to help in your decision making, and if the list price is out of your range, you can look for one used right from the site itself instead of having to get into a bidding war on eBay.
2. eBay – On that note, let’s move on to eBay. It can either be super easy to find stuff here or really frustrating. It depends on the demand for the item and how many people are willing to part with it, basically. It’s great for DVDs and music, but it can be a little harder to find things like raw manga.
3. Play Asia* – This is a really good site for finding material in Japanese, or for just finding Japanese stuff in English if you want a break from “studying”. They have books, movies, games, etc. It’s really easy to find what you’re looking for, and it’s usually reasonably priced. If Amazon.com doesn’t have it, I link to this place, although it’s usually a bit more expensive. Play Asia is a great place to go browsing for stuff.
4. Yes Asia – This is another excellent way to find stuff in Japanese, although like Play Asia it’s a bit expensive. I suggest you look through both sites when shopping for something specific just to compare.
5. The Japan Shop – Powered by Amazon.com, this is a great little site for finding language learning materials for Japanese, including old JLPT tests.
6. JBOX/J-List – Last, but certainly not least, are the sister sites, JBOX and J-List. The only real difference between them is that JBOX doesn’t sell adult products, so if that’s what you’re looking for, enter J-List at your own risk. Basically, these sites sell all kinds of weird stuff, from Japanese snacks to magazines to figurines. It’s like a cesspool of all things from Japan.
It’s really fun to look around there, although their search feature needs a bit fine-tuning, in my opinion. Also, beware of shipping prices. All international shipping is going to seem outrageous, but it seems to be exceptionally high for a few items on these sites.