Mailorder merchants that ship Japanese goods worldwide
It's always bothered me how few merchants are willing to ship their goods worldwide. If the customer is willing to pay for the shipping and customs costs, why should they be denied? Unfortunately, the vast majority of Japan and U.S. based companies hold to this "not outside our borders" policy.
These Japanese-food-goods oriented companies do, however, ship worldwide. Good for them! Often you'll find that their prices are not that different from what you might pay for similar goods shipped within the country you reside. And for people who live in parts of the world without a lot of Japanese-oriented businesses, they are saviors.
See also Overseas Shipping Services on this page.
Sites that I've tried myself are marked with a (maki).
These mailorder stores carry a wide variety of products, edible and otherwise.
- J-List: Food is limited to snacks and so on. Also carries lots of bento supplies, dinnerware, utensils, cookbooks. Carries a lot of NSFW products (mainly manga, anime of a hentai bent) but has age check. (To go directly to the SFW section without the hentai DVDs and such, go to JBox.com - same company, PG rated.) Prompt service, website is a bit cumbersome, but a big selection of things to browse through. (Note that Just Hungry is a J-List affiliate; by clicking on the link to make your purchases you help to support the site at no cost to you.) (maki)
- Japan Centre: food only within Europe, but equipment and books worldwide. Very prompt service, easy to use website. (maki)
- Japonmania is a site in French and English. They list several bento boxes and such.
- Katagiri: Their web site states they ship worldwide, though I suspect that policy applies to the non-edible housewares. They do ship food all over the U.S.
See this comprehensive page on our sister site, Just Bento: Where to buy bento boxes and equipment.
- Evergreen Seeds: Japanese and other Asian vegetable and herb seeds. My favorite source for Japanese seeds, other than my mom! (maki)
- Hibiki-an: A tea farm near Kyoto.
- Korin: Knives, tableware, kitchen ware. Also has a showroom/store in NYC.
- Zensuke: Kitchenware, tableware, gifts from Japan. A nice selection.
- O-cha.com: A green tea seller. I like their matcha-green tea mix iced tea bags. (maki)
Overseas shipping services
These companies act as your 'friend who lives in Japan', for a fee of course. You have things shipped to them from merchants who don't ship overseas, which they will then send it to you. The commission is usually around 10%, but it pays to compare their service fee structures (some require a flat service fee on top of the percentage.)
Tenso seems to be the most active shipping service at the moment. They are advertising heavily on Google Adsense and such (you may see their ads pop up on these pages), and they seem to be the recommended shipping service of Rakuten. Their web site is in English, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese. They charge a 10% fee for receiving and shipping your package to you. They can also consolidate multiple package for you before shipping them out to you, for an additional fee. Comments: I've used them a couple of times, and they are quite reliable. (maki)
DankeDanke (English and Japanese site) Comments: "I have used dankedanke a couple of times, with no problems. Shipping was very fast." -(anon.)
- i-TM4u (English only site), but their blog (English) makes me think they are Japanese.
Comments: "I use i-tm4u for anything I want to buy from Japan, especially when the company does not ship OS. I've bought a few Bento boxes as well as other non Bento items through them and they have always been well packaged and arrive quickly. Their commission is low and shipping is very reasonable." -(Becki)
"Today i received my work-of-art lunchbox and can say that i-TM4U [...] is a very good and reliable shopping agent. It is very difficult to communicate with Japanese companies in English so i was glad to rely on their help with payment, shipping etc. i-TM4U was very accurate with all the info, the box was very well packed as i asked and the pricing is reasonable, too." -(Anna from Russia)
- Japan to Door (English only site) - offers similar services.
- Rinkya. Comments: "I’ve used Rinkya a few times, and they’re pretty reliable." -(anon)
If you know of other places, let us know in the comments!