, a new Japanese buying and bidding service, plus an update on ordering products from Japan

[Update, January 2015] Unfortunately, due to some problems experienced by myself and reported by several Just Hungry readers recently (such as lost packages and delayed or total lack of customer service responses), I'm no longer recommending the use of for package forwarding. Try these alternatives instead: Goyokikiya (site in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese only); BaggageForwardCom (site in English and Japanese). Likewise, since is operated by Tenso, I'm hesitant to recommend them anymore.


I got a mailing about a new service in Japan that I thought would be of interest to those of you who like Japanese things. Buyee is a "buying service for Yahoo! Japan Auctions and online Japanese stores". It's operated by Tenso, a shipment forwarding service that I list here and have used myself several times. Tenso seems to have a formal affilication with Rakuten, the largest e-commerce operator in Japan, and I've always found them to be very reliable.

The way Buyee works seems to be quite straightforward. You enter the URL of the Yahoo! Japan Auctions item (or other item on another site) that you want to bid on or buy, and then follow the bidding via Buyee (if it's an auction). If you're the winning bidder, you pay Buyee for the item who then pays the seller. Buyee takes a 10% commission against the purchase price, plus a 200 yen per package Buying Fee. Add the shipping cost via EMS or UPS, and you get the product delivered to you. All the fees and so on are explained in Japanese, English and Mandarin on their site. This is great for buying things from places like Yahoo! Japan Auctions, since most sellers there only accept funds from Japanese banks or credit cards. (Most individual sellers do not accept credit cards, only bank transfers.)

There are companies that already offer similar services, but having the Tenso people behind this one may add an extra level of confidence.

An updated list on buying things from Japan

I've written before on this site about ordering and buying things from Japan, but the last time was back in November 2007, so I thought I'd give a short update about what I do.

I've been going to Japan a lot more frequently recently (except during my recent illness), but I never seem to have enough luggage space to bring home everything I want. I can, and do, ask my mother to ship me some things on occasion (as well as abuse her, and my stepfather's, luggage allowance when they come here for a visit). But she's not getting any younger, so I feel guilty about asking her to schlep packages to the post office on my behalf. So more often than not I order things from Japan without relying on her.

For books and magazines and most media such as DVDs, I usually use Amazon Japan. almost exclusively. Their delivery is fast and reliable, their selection is vast, and since I have an Amazon account on .com (US) and .fr (France) anyway, it's just convenient. Ordering a book from Yes Asia is ok if you can be patient, but it takes weeks for the order to arrive and the final price is not such a great deal in my experience, although it's cheaper if you are ordering just one book at a a time, as I described in my old post.

The only disadvantage of using Amazon Japan is that they use DHL for their overseas deliveries, at least in Europe. (They may use UPS in the US - you'd have to check that.) Now, in my opinion of all the courier services DHL is the worst. Their drivers often get 'lost', they never carry change for customs, and on and on. But to be fair all my packages have arrived in a more or less timely manner.

I've also started buying some ebooks, mostly via eBook Japan. Of all the ebook options that are finally appearing in Japan such as Amazon Kindle and Kobo, in my experience eBook Japan is the most hassle - as in, digital rights and copyright mess - free. I've been able to order things to download using a U.S. credit card as well as a French credit card so far to my iPad to read in their app.

(Speaking of copyright mess, as far as I can discern the Japan version of the Amazon Kindle can only be used in Japan. You can't even download books to a legitimately bought-in-Japan Kindle if you're overseas. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's my understanding from reading up on it. But buying paper books to be shipped overseas is not a problem. Publishers and sellers really have to sort this ridiculous situation out if they want customers to buy more eBooks versus pirating them.)

A lot of Japanese merchants still don't ship outside of Japan, although an increasing number of Rakuten merchants do. When I can't get something shipped directly I use Tenso. I find their handling fees to be pretty reasonable. They do exclusively use EMS for shipping, and EMS is really expensive (but so is DHL). One of the biggest obstacles to shopping for things in Japan is the expensive shipping. On the other hand EMS is very reliable and fast and trackable.

If you are shopping for bento related things, don't assume that the prices you pay at Rakuten merchants and so on will be cheaper than what you'd pay if you shopped from English-speaking sites. For instance Bento&co's prices are quite in line with any other bento box merchant - and if you have a problem you can deal with them in English (or French) without a struggle over language, which is a big plus.

Incidentally, there are an increasing number of merchants who ship Japanese goods overseas, but unfortunately their sites are in Japanese only since they are aiming their services at the Japanese expat community. For instance I've ordered some delicious ramen packs from Ramen-tsu dot com, but their site is all-Japanese. If you can navigate the language though I highly recommend that ramen - it's better than just about any ramen I've had at ramen shops outside of Japan, and the price-per-serving is not too outrageous either.

(Disclaimer: JustHungry is not affiliated most of the merchants mentioned, including Buyee and Tenso. We received no compensation in any form for writing this post. JustHungry is an Amazon, Rakuten and Bento&co affiliate, but we are also happy repeat customers ourselves of these three companies.)

Filed under:  shopping

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I hope Buyee works out. I've used three of the most visible auction services for us outside of Japan and have had issue with all, although decent transactions at other times. Biggest one is fees, secondly is having packaging arriving smelling of cigarette smoke while the actual item did not. Plus there has been an issue where some sellers block the names of those auction services. For us who have never backed out of purchasing that really has made it more difficult.

Thank you for giving this update. With the dollar doing better against the yen it might make people more willing to buy from Yahoo!Japan auctions.

Buyee is a SCAM. I won several items, bought several more but most of these items could not be sent to buyee. The sellers refused; it is not clear why. Of the thirteen items that I 'bought' I was left with three. They charged a consolidation fee to combine the remaining items but then asked for a delivery charge of over 10000 Yen to UPS a package weighing about 200 gms and the size of a cigarette packet to Europe. OUTRAGEOUS SCAM!

I have been using Tenso almost exclusively for the past year. I agree that their service fee is quite reasonable, and when buying items from multiple vendors, the package consolidation service makes it a lot more wallet-friendly to ship all the stuff back.
I've had to contact them on a few occasions to request for extra fast service, etc, and while I don't always get what I want (!), they have always handled it most professionally.

I think they also help you buy stuff from certain sites, for example, from shops that don't accept overseas credit card, though I haven't needed to use that service yet.

Another site I used once was shoppingmalljapan, to buy stuff from auctions.
service is good, but the fee is a little steep

Thanks for the update. I don't tend to buy a lot of bento stuff from Japan - my former boss' wife travels there quite often and will pick stuff up for me. But I don't like to abuse her hospitality and will order my craft books (they're heavy!) online instead.

I know you do a little crocheting, Maki, have you found the Japanese crochet books are starting to go e-book? I love Japanese pattern books and tend to alternate 1/1 with my American ones. It would be great to be able to get them as e-books instead of having to pay, wait, and have a house full of books.

No, Japanese craft books and cooking books haven't gone the ebook route at all yet. Actually, I haven't bought a novel in Japanese (or in English for that matter) in paper form in years - the only paper books I buy these days are craft books, cookbooks and some art-oriented books.

I've been using for more than 3 years to buy bento stuff from Yahoo Japan Auctions. I think jauce commissions are more reasonable than buyee and also they don't charge fees for consolidating items...

Hi Maki, great article here. I've always wondered if there is a reason why japanese sellers do not accept payment from non-japanese bank accounts? There's been times where I wanted to buy things from japan (via rakuten and the like), but got totally turned off by the whole paying & shipping via third-party, etc. I would've thought that paypal these days are pretty widespread.

Well, for one thing the reluctance to deal with overseas buyers is certainly not limited to Japanese merchants. I've found that many U.S. merchants are the same - a few will simply shut you down rudely if you try to use a non-US method of payment, just assuming you are trying to commit fraud.

Also, Paypal is not that widespread in Japan, plus Paypal itself is not at all international-shipment friendly, *except* for eBay transactions (and of course eBay owns Paypal.) You can't enter a shipping address in Paypal that's not in the country where your credit card is issued for example.

I suppose the reason why merchants anywhere don't accept overseas payments/shipments is either a fear of fraud, an unwillingness to deal with customers in another language, an unwillingness to deal with the hassles of shipping overseas (and being complained at about issues such as customs, which they have no control over), or any combination thereof.

As far as Rakuten goes, I have found that more and more merchants are actually accepting overseas payments/shipments now. Some Rakuten merchants even emphasize the fact that they ship overseas. But when they don't I just use Tenso, and that has worked out fine.

I want to buy physical books from Amazon Japan and have them shipped to the US. Is it possible to just register with US address and pay with credit card outside of Japan?

With Amazon it is, although not with most Amazon Marketplace sellers.

I don't know about the newest Kindles, but when I bought mine in July 2011 (in Japan) it had to be ordered from US at the time and it has been working properly ever since I got back to Europe.

The US Kindles seem to work like that, but not the Japanese Kindles sold in Japan. The same goes for the Kindles sold in France, or the UK, etc. It must have to do with the DRM agreements in each country.

from personal experience, i've found a way to use the amazon kindle japanese store...but it requires two "kindles." i use a regular kindle for all amazon US purchases, and the amazon kindle ipad app for japanese purchases. this does however require you setting up a separate account with an different email address from the one you use to link to your amazon US account. also, you will have to list a japanese mailing address, although you can just charge it to your non-japanese credit card along with foreign billing address (and most likely pay the small foreign purchase surcharge). these links may also be of interest:

I actually have been using for about 15 years now. Buyee`s is 10% of the winning price. So you could be paying anything, where as Nengun is 10% up to $200. After the first $200 there is no charge. So if you purchase a car which I have in the past, the most I paid was $200. You can also choose the exact size and weight prior to bidding
and if I want to purchase 10 or more items they can all be packed together as one and any excess freight is always refunded back to my account. They also have 12 forms of freight service to choose from and at any time I can have the remaining funds refunded back to my paypal account.

I live in the Netherlands, and ame interesting in the antique auctions.
Can I be come a Buyee member or Yahoo and place bids?
Thank you in advance.
Regards, Irene

Read this:

I was disappointed not to read and research before buying.
I bought 2 groups of items, long package and small miscellaneous item.
Long fragile package 1.5m is advised to be sent by UPS.
Small not fragile item each 500g by EMS.
I asked for price comparison to combine or not, their staff Jenny answers 'combine is usually cheaper'
So I combined, the consolidated package ended up at least 3000yen more expensive.

How the problem came about?
I had fragile items of 1.35m-1.5m long and 500-600g, after protective packaging it weighs 2kg-3kg. 1.35m was under EMS not UPS. On seeing this, I would not want to send 1 by 1 and wanted to try combining it into UPS.
I had 5 of such items, 4 other small EMS item of 500g.
After consolidating- 10kg???

Why are we paying 10% to use a service that do not answer your question and do not bother to sort out the shipment issues. Even the individual weight is not accurate for protective packaged items.

Everybody, don't you realize that Buyee paid for this advertorial.

I wonder how much got paid by buyee and tenso. It is a good article, please try to be more discreet next time......

I did not get paid anything for writing this. I have no connection whatsoever with Buyee, as I clearly stated in the disclaimer, which you would know if you knew how to read. Please do not make false accusations.

I have use Buyee since June of this year and so far almost everything has been smooth and nothing has arrived broken yet. The only small issues I have had have been when some items have arrived in poor packing at their warehouse (or no packing at all only wrapped in clear wrapper) and they required to be packed immediately.

When this happens, (I say every 5-packages) Buyee sends you a ¥500 bill request for protective packing which in my case, 2 out of 5-times has been needed. What I do now is whenever Buyee recommends Protective Packing, I ask for a photo proof showing how the package arrived at their warehouse. If I deem the item need repacking, I'll pay for it., if it doesn't, It will ship the way it was delivered to their warehouse.

Sometimes when Payment (for Protective Packing) is submitted, it might register in your my page. Other times, it might not. In those rare occasions, you need to copy & paste the PayPal receipt for them to acknowledge the payment.

Another issue I have is the poor handling with large items that exceed EMS length requirements. Buyee claims they don't have the "knowledge" or a simple screwdriver to unassemble things that could be fit into a smaller box which will save on shipping always opting to ship the item fully assembled via UPS'Critical Next day Air freight WITHOUT insurance which can increase the shipping cost which can reach the $1,000 range for items than weight no more than 20-LBS.

More issues with shipping include their refusal to ask the sellers for cheaper alternatives for domestic shipping like BOON when it's offered always opting to choose Buyee's preferred couriers; Kuroneke Yamato or Sagawa Express which are far expensive than BOON claiming if they make such request, the sellers might block them from bidding.

Out of all their CSR, Jenny Tang seems to the most clueless out them all with Sophia the most knowledgeable and the only one that is more fluent in English. Still, answers to common questions can take up to 10-replies before they addressed the issue appropriately because their policies and fees are not very clear.

Questions for sellers? forget it. You may sent your questions thru Buyee ahead of time but in my case 1 out of 40 transactions had received a reply. So when bidding, make your own judgement based on the photos and the seller's feedback.

Something very important to note is when paying with PayPal, PayPal claims they charge you a 2.5% conversion rate fee from the exchange rate shown on but this is a fat lie. They charge you MORE than 2.5%. Basic Mathematics tells you how much you should be charge for the conversion and how much they are charging you. Yet PayPal claims your Math is not right and the accurate rate has been charged which usually is between 2.8% and 2.9% not the 2.5% they claim. When this happens and they refuse to refund you the difference, you need to contact your financial institution and file a charge back claim for the overcharge which can be a good chuck of money.

To summit all up, Buyee is by far the most affordable and reliable bidding service out of all.

Regret not reading this earlier.

I brought a compact camera which is around 12cm x 6cm long and 3 cm height and they freaking use a box the size of 33cm x 24cm x 19 cm (H) and charge me 6k over in yen as international shipping fee.

I'm not bitting it, filing a charge back from paypal for this.

Somebody got to start the ball rolling and show whose the boss!

Why don't you try a new buying service Fixed fee for only 1000yen per purchase, fastest work process, fastest packaging/consolidation/sending! I fell in love with them, really.

I have been looking to ship something from japan to the united states from yahoo bids. I have been searching for hours to find a good third party that shipped the item to you.

I have looked at Sendico, but it seems a bit risky to me. And I can't find any reviews, like this post, on it.

Please help.

Hi there,

found this posts about our service and decided to participate :)
You can ask whatever you want here or right from your page on our site. We'll try to answer all your questions. What risk do you find considering to work with our site? Pay via PayPal, make small purchase, test all working process and then leave your feedback here or on our site ;)
We are young and look forward working long and become the best!

Hello can any one give me advice?

I can’t pay for the item(anime resin kit) I won in an yahoo auction every time I try to pay it gives me a "404 error" or just "error" I contacted Buyee and tried m-a-n-y times to pay. They eventually got back to me and this is the email they sent me.


Thank you for your email!

We get the paypal payment error
[Instruct the customer to retry the transaction using an alternative payment method from the customers PayPal wallet. The transaction did not complete with the customers selected payment method.]

Could you please contact the paypal and show them the error,
as the error message is provide by them.

Then you may need to change the payment methods in paypal.

Thank you for your support.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions or concerns.

Buyee Customer Support Team
Buyee Customer Support
Buyee, a new service brought to you by
> I have tried to pay many times for my auction but I keep getting these errors

(End of their email)

So I contacted paypal, short bit of what their email said:

“Dear Blank Blank
Thank you for contacting PayPal.
Based on your account history, I can see that it is active and fully functional. There should be no issues on our part for you to make a payment via PayPal.
If you buy something that never arrives, or if it arrives significantly different than described, you may be eligible for a full refund through PayPal Purchase Protection.
You are eligible for PayPal Purchase Protection if”

So what do I do now, paypal says my account is working fine buyee says contact paypal?

The man who had the item, did buyee already pay him and has the item and is waiting for me to pay? Or until I pay the seller won’t send buyee the item?

If my account won’t work with buyee for some unknown reason can the seller keep the item and me keep my money?

Im interested with japan product,but im from united kingdom. i already try shop using but they cannot accept international credit card. can anyone suggest me another site like that can accept international credit card and ship worldwide. i dont want site using paypal because it too risky. please help me. thank you