Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Want! Yahoo Auctions Japan

If you're like me, you probably buy a lot of your older, hard-to-find stuff on Ebay. I check there for Puffy stuff every once in a while, but there's usually not much - I did get my old cell phone strap there, and a couple of my CD's. But since the "HiHi" cartoon went away, the volume has dropped to near zero. Last I checked, there were only about 15 Puffy items in both the "Music" and "Entertainment Memorabilia" sections combined.

Nowadays I buy almost everything Puffy-related through Yahoo! Auctions. Ebay never really caught on in Japan, and in fact they folded operations there a couple years ago in the face of the Yahoo juggernaut. I'm not gonna beat around the bush: in most of the ways that matter, Yahoo Japan sucks big donkey balls. They have some draconian membership and payment requirements, for one thing, and they will never stop spamming you once you sign up. Also, if you live outside of Japan, you need a way around the fact that by default, items only ship domestically. (More on this below.) But the volume of stuff up there is amazing.

As I write this, there are 786 Puffy items on Yahoo, ranging from (of course) all of their singles, albums and DVD's to more esoteric stuff. Some of my favorite examples:

Auction link. Looks to be a near life-size standee. Pretend you're roommates with Ami and Yumi! Here's a link to the version from their original Vox/Vino endorsement if you prefer the girls in their youth.

Auction link. Awesome shirt, and one I've never seen before. They do often really put out some great apparel. I'm not sure which tour this is from - the translated auction page says it's from "a few years ago". Amusingly, the same translation says "the logo is lame now."

Here's a link to another sweet shirt in a totally different style.

Auction link. This doll set does come up on Ebay occasionally, but not very often and it can be hard to get for a reasonable price. (I've tried.) The cool thing about it is that it comes with little guitars and microphones as accessories. And also a bandana!

There are/were at least three doll sets available in Japan. Here's one in the kubrick style. And here's one meant to be more realistic, although to me it looks closer to that awful American set that was out here a while back (but with better clothes).

Auction link. For those most interested in actual music, this is the almost mythical "Do You Puffy?" box set. It's actually not all that rare on Yahoo Auctions - there are two of them up there right now, but I like this one because it's still got its original wrapper. This set had (if I remember right) all of their singles up to that point on vinyl, plus a bonus disc, plus a t-shirt and a couple of other little trinkets.

Auction link. That's actually a shoe box, but I thought the box was funnier than the Puffy-themed shoes themselves. Who else would think of quoting Dirty Harry and the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus in the same tag line?

To bid and win a Yahoo! auction directly, you need the following:

1. Japanese speaking ability or someone who can translate (to communicate with the seller)
2. A Japanese shipping address
3. A Japanese credit card

Some of you might have a friend in Japan with a shipping address you can use. Unfortunately, Yahoo now requires a credit card with a Japanese billing address for payment. This seems somehow against basic civil rights and I have no idea how they get away with it, but that's their policy. Even if you're actually Japanese and have family still in Japan, you can't pay with a US-based credit card.

So what do you do if you live outside Japan and don't speak Japanese? The best option is probably to use an auction broker/deputy service. I have never tried these and can't vouch for any of them, but they're a legitimate business category that I know others have used successfully. Some examples include Japonica, Shopping Mall Japan, and Japamart. Note that I do not endorse these sites! I am simply providing examples so that you can do some further research. If you've had experience with these or other auction deputy sites, leave a comment.

Of course, you will pay both a commission and extra shipping fees at sites like this, so it really isn't worth it unless you buy a lot of stuff at once. But for some, there could be no other way.

There is some hope! Late last year, Ebay and Yahoo signed a deal that would allow cross-border bidding and translation directly through each others' sites. Unfortunately, they seem a bit behind schedule, as I don't see that Ebay has done anything to enable this yet. But maybe soon - I'm watching with eagerness.


  1. I've used Shopping Mall Japan a few times in the past to get items from YJA. Never had a problem with them.

    As far as the items above:
    I never knew Puffy had anything available on vinyl. Did they press any albums, or was that box it?

    That standee...

    WANT!!!! I don't even want to think about how much shipping would be for it, though.

    Randall Flagg.

  2. They did press at least Fever Fever and JET on vinyl. Funny thing is I know this because I've seen them on Ebay, but I've never seen them on Yahoo Japan. (I don't look there as often, though.) I am not sure about other albums. It may be only those two, which were at the height of their fame and when they had the biggest budget.

    They also pressed a bonus disc for Splurge in Japan on 12" vinyl, which had the US-only tracks from the CD as well as Basket Case and one other song I'm forgetting right now. The interesting thing about that was that they *only* pressed it on vinyl. You couldn't buy it on CD. And I doubt many people in Japan still have record players, so this is probably a pretty rare thing now.

    As for "Do You Puffy?", I am not sure those singles were available on vinyl outside of that set. I've never seen them individually.