Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Search For & Purchase Kawaii from Japan

Hey guys! I am taking a break from big kawaii purchases due to financial reasons but I thought it might be helpful to share some information on searching for kawaii items on Japanese websites and how to order those items via a shopping service.

My three favorite non-English websites for kawaii are Yahoo Japan auctions, Rakuten, and mbok. You can browse Rakuten in English but a lot of sellers don't ship outside of Japan so for the largest variety of items available, I almost always search in Japanese.

It can seem very daunting to browse in another language but Google Translate and copy+paste become your best friends! I have a little text file on my computer filled with the hiragana/katakana/kanji equivalents of my favorite kawaii search items and when I want to look for something, I just consult that text file, copy the item, and paste it into the search engine. Saves TONS of time and mental energy. Yes, it's lazy, too ;)

Many browsers also offer to translate a page automatically and that can also be very, very useful. I use Chrome and it always asks me if I want to translate a page from Japanese (or whatever other language) to English. This feature is nice if you'd rather browse for items instead of searching for something specific. I've found some awesome plush toys in this way~I go to Yahoo Japan (sometimes referred to as YJ) auctions, select the Toy category (if you have the page translated to English, you'll see this on the left side), and then select Stuffed Animals on the following (translated) page. Then you can narrow it down even further.

So, let's say that you want to order an Arpakasso plush. The Japanese word for this is アルパカッソ. You'd copy that, paste it into the search bar of your preferred shopping website, and then browse the results.

Example Search

So, I'm going to search for Arpakasso on mbok.

That's what the page would look like with Arpakasso in the search bar. Click the search button (the orange one with kanji).

Here are some of the results that come up!

So, I browse through the items (there are three pages) and I find a plush I like on the second page:

A cute Strawberry Arpakasso plush <3

Well, I decide I MUST have him. What do I do now? First, I check his price and pictures to make sure I can afford it and that everything looks good. You will probably want to translate the description text to check on any defects listed and shipping within Japan (domestic shipping). It looks like this plush's domestic shipping is 390 yen. You'll want to factor this amount into the price of the plush you're willing/able to spend.

If you're ordering through a shopping service, you'll end up paying for the item, its domestic shipping within Japan to the shopping service's warehouse, the shopping service's fees (sometimes including bank transfer fees), and international shipping to yourself. This can add up quickly, especially if you're buying larger, heavier items. The shopping services I've seen have a fee scale (usually there is a higher fee the more expensive the item is, and a separate fee for each item/auction) and some require a bidding deposit upfront for auctions. But we'll get to that in a moment.

Let's look at some more of the listing's information:

That first box gives me some information about the seller. This one has 915 feedback and 167 items for sale currently. The second box gives me the current price (1200 yen), the time left (1 day), the time the auction ends (March 20th around 11 pm Japan time), the quantity of items (1), the the highest bidder's name (there is none on this auction so it says なし or 'none'). The third box is the bidding box, where your shopping service (or yourself) will be bidding for this item.

The item checks out and I'm good with the price. Now I need to find a shopping service that will buy from mbok.

My favorite shopping service is Japonica Market. They have fair prices, fast shipping, and excellent communication. They also offer shopping services for all three of my favorite Japanese shopping websites. Browse their website and check their commission fees, shipping methods and fees, deposit information, policies, and other important information.

If you'd like to order via this website, you'll see an Order Form link near the top right corner. Click that and a box with text will come up. You'll want to copy that Auction/Shopping Order Form and paste it into an e-mail to Japonica Market.

Japonica Market has a little 'cheat sheet' to the right of to the order form box to help you find out where the seller ID, auction ID (for mbok and YJ auctions), and item URL (if you're ordering from a shopping website like Rakuten) are in a listing. The Item Name seems to be more flexible~I believe you can enter 'Arpakasso plush' or something more specific (the translated item name) and the staff should be able to figure it out since you're also providing an ID or URL. This is also a good place to list color choice (if that's offered-obviously it isn't here). Because this item is an auction item, your deposit for it will be your maximum bid price you're willing to pay. Let's say I'm only willing to pay up to 1500 yen for this plush, before domestic shipping. Snipe Bid isn't allowed on Mbok, I'm pretty sure, and Buy It Now isn't offered for this particular item, so I'd choose Instant Bid. There is only one payment option (PayPal) offered. Shipping often depends on the weight/size of the item(s), so even if you choose Registered Airmail, if the item is too large to ship in this way, Japonica Market will notify you of EMS shipping costs. EMS is very fast but often expensive (but sometimes it's the most economical way to ship, depending on your package). Then of course you list your PayPal e-mail and your address. You can also add a note to the seller

So my order form would look like this:

[ Auctions / Shopping Order Form ]

Seller ID : Meemee ★ 
Item Name : Arpakasso plush
Auction ID / Item URL :
Max bid Price :   1500 yen
Bidding Options : Snipe bid / Instant bid / Buy it Now

Payment : ( Credit Card/Bank through PayPal ) 
Shipping Options : EMS
PayPal Account :
PayPal Confirmed Shipping Name and Address : 
Jane Doe
1234 America St
City, State 12345

note : Thank you!

So, because this item is under 2500 yen, if you look at the Commission section on the left side of the website, you see that the fee for this item is 500 yen. Remember that domestic shipping is 390 yen. So, Japonica Market will invoice you for 1890 yen (max bid + domestic shipping + fee) and you must pay this amount before they will bid on this auction for you. It looks like Japonica Market does check out the seller's feedback and item details before bidding to notify you if there is a problem, so that's nice.

Once you send the invoiced amount to Japonica Market, they place your bid for you. You can't cancel a bid after making it so be sure you want the item before placing the order. If you don't win the item, JM will refund your deposit. If you win the item at less than your max bid, that overpayment will be credited to whatever you owe on further fees, like international shipping.

Let's pretend like we win the plush at 1200 yen, yay! Japonica Market will send you a message stating that you won the item and to please wait until they receive the item from the seller. Once JM receives the item and inspects it/and calculates international shipping, you'll receive another invoice. Remember that international shipping can be expensive! Pay this invoice and JM will ship your item(s) to you!

YJ auctions works very similarly, except that Snipe Bid is allowed there. This means that the shopping service waits until the auction is nearly over to bid~to try and get your bid in as the final one.

Rakuten does have auctions but I have only purchased items as Buy It Now via that site. And of course you can always browse other Japanese web shops!

Another shopping service I've used in the past is Celga. I've not used them in years but I always had positive experiences when I did use their service. Celga does require a bidding deposit (half your max bid) before they will bid for you and they do charge a bank transfer fee. However, their commission fees are in USD and are a bit less than Japonica Market's.

I hope that this guide has been helpful! Please comment if you have any other questions :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Kawaii: Mini Wishlist

So I didn't post much for months and here I am, writing multiple entries in a day! Spastic! :D

There is a really cute little pouch I recently discovered called MimiPochi. It comes in a bunch of adorable animal designs and my favorite is the pig.

As we all know, AMUSE makes freaking adorable plushes. Arpakasso is one of the better known, but they have a super cute wombat character I'd like to get my hands on!

That white drooling one is my favorite! So cute!

The wombat's official name in Japanese is  ろんりーウォンウォン which apparently means 'logical won won'. Hmmm... that is... random, haha. 

Newest/Upcoming Arpakasso Series!

I've not bought any kawaii in FOREVER but thought I'd share some of the newest/upcoming Arpakasso series I've seen around the internet.

I'm not crazy about any of these~(following photo credits to

 Masks (kinda creepy!)


 Lovely Girls


Sweets Kids

Ehhhhh, the only ones of the above five collections I may buy would be the Lovely Girls, because those are pretty cute. 

However, there is another upcoming design I really like! 

Love Hat Series

36 cm (isn't that a weird size???) 

16 cm

12 cm
cannot remember the source for this picture! 

This is definitely my favorite series from the past six months! It may even be up there with Cotton Candy and Pirates (two of my favorite Arpakasso series ever). I also love my birthday and strawberry boys but as far as series go, I usually only like one or two from a particular series. I kinda like all of the Love Hat guys. 

If I were to purchase any, I doubt I'd get a large one (but if I did, I'd get yellow Mr. Llama, definitely!) but I would like to buy a 16 cm and a 12 cm. I think I like the yellow and white in the 16 cm, and the pink in the 12 cm. 

Which Arpakasso do you like from the newest series? :D

Off-Topic... Liebster Award/Questions :)

I KNOW I KNOW I haven't listed my plush for sale yet and I have a bajillion excuses but at some point they will be listed... bolster your wallets and hearts with that knowledge ;)

The awesome Richelle posted recently about something called the Liebster Award... I'm going to admit that I have no idea what the actual award is, but there are questions to answer and I enjoy doing that, so here goes!

I am supposed to post 11 things about myself, answer 11 questions from Richelle, and then nominate 11 other blogs and provide 11 questions for those bloggers to answer. I'm going to cheat and just say that if you want to answer the 11 questions I come up with, feel free (I don't even know 11 bloggers, sadly, so I'll leave it at that).

11 Things About Me

  1. Sometimes I wish that I had an identical twin so that we could play pranks on people, share clothes, and do each other's hair. Then again, I think it would be sort of creepy to have a doppleganger so I am, at the end of the day, glad to be one-of-a-kind.
  2. I LOVE hairless animals. I had a hairless rat named Ree years ago and I miss him so much. Rats have a lot of health issues (respiratory infections are common, and the females usually develop tumors) so I don't think my heart could stand another hairless rattie. I would like to adopt a hairless kitty one day, though. 
  3. I loved dissecting different animals and animal body parts in middle and high school. My husband teases me about my obsession with it but it was so interesting! My favorite thing to dissect was probably an earthworm or a grasshopper (it was really difficult because both are so small, but it was neat). I know I sound like a totally creepy freak but I don't care. I LOVE DISSECTING. There.
  4. I have a phobia of vomiting and the stomach flu. I will avoid a person sick with stomach issues like they have the plague. I am serious! Disinfecting every surface, using my sleeve to open doors, not breathing around them, etc. 
  5. Sometimes I fantasize about living in a little village in France or England, working in a tiny shop, and successfully raising a garden (I kill all plants I try to grow ;__;).
  6. I always thought (as did my family and friends) that I would go to school to become a veterinarian. I started college and found out that I hated the classes required to acquire a Biology degree; I was an Undecided major for a while and finally tried English (I'd always loved to write). I found my home! English majors are some of the funniest, quirkiest, most awesome people I've ever met. I LOVED my poetry and fiction workshops and literature classes. I miss school a lot. 
  7. I own over 100 cloth diapers and don't even have a child yet :o
  8. My favorite foods are chocolate, my mom's pinto beans, biscuits, cornbread, salmon, and potatoes.
  9. One of my favorite movies and books is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (I know, with the dissection confession up above, I'm not making a very strong case for my sanity). The book is so... thorough! It's extremely disturbing, yes, but it's also well written and fascinating. I feel super awkward reading it in public, though. The movie (also very good) has Christian Bale so it's at least attractive ;)
  10. I love to travel and feel claustrophobic if I'm unable to go somewhere at least once a year. It can be just an hour's drive~I'm not picky. I just need to get out of Memphis and breathe new air. My family took SO many trips when I was growing up (I've been to California, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington DC, Ireland, and of course Tennessee) so I've been spoiled with landmarks, sights, theme parks, mountains, and beaches. My favorite mode of transport is a a car on a good ol' roadtrip but I've flown many times (I hate how expensive flight is and how obnoxious nowadays, though). 
  11. I wish that I could live minimalistically with few possessions but I have always loved to buy stuff so I don't think I'll ever achieve that.

Richelle's Questions

1. What's your favorite makeup/beauty product?
Chapstick, definitely!

2. What can't you leave your house without?
My cell phone. If I find out that I left it accidentally at home, I feel naked :x

3. Favorite class you took in school (any level)
Hmm... probably my poetry workshop with Dr. Leader in college. She treated everyone to beer at a local bar, haha!

4. Cats or dogs?
If I had to pick, cats

5. If you could be anything in the world, what would it be?
Independently wealthy

6. Most memorable experience?
visiting Ireland. It was AMAZING.

7. Would you ever swim with sharks? Why or why not?
I think that I would, but I'd probably pee in the ocean with fear XD Sharks are very intriguing creatures~and swimming with them would be an unforgettable experience.

8. Favorite fruit? Why?
Bartlett pears or perfectly ripe and sweet watermelon; pears have such a great texture/taste and cold watermelon in the summer is almost always the perfect treat <3

9. What's the best thing you ever ate and where did you have it?
Bacon at the Hamilton-Turner Inn in Savannah, GA.

10. Have you ever farted in public and pretended it wasn't you? (hahahaha!)
Most definitely. I remember sneezing/farting (so, snarting) in class in middle school and hoping against hope that the sneeze covered the fart

11. How long did it take you to make this post?
Probably longer than it should have, haha. Maybe an hour?

My Questions for You :)

  1. If you were a cheese, what kind would you be?
  2. Piece of clothing you own that made/makes you the happiest? Why?
  3. If you had to choose between either never washing your hair or never washing your body again, which would you choose to keep clean?
  4. The worst movie you've ever seen?
  5. If money/ability were no object, what's a job you'd like to try?
  6. If you could revisit/live in any decade between 1900-1990 for a year, which would you choose to visit/live in?
  7. Informercial item you actually wanted to buy?
  8. Oreo cookies or Oreo cream?
  9. If you had $1000 to spend on someone else, how would you spend it?
  10. Favorite bird?
  11. The best gift you've ever received?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! (if anyone even still reads this poor neglected blog, haha) I hope your 2013 has been amazing thus far and exponentially more awesome as the year goes on <3

I apologize for the lack of kawaii posts~lots of personal things going on in my life and of course the holidays are often bustling and crazy.

I've not acquired any new kawaii in months and I've not taken pictures of my current collection in ages so I've had very little posting material. Bad blogger, I know >.<

Anyway, I'm thinking about 'thinning the herd', so to speak, and may sell a portion of my kawaii collection as I could definitely use the money and the free space.

I plan to go through my Arpakasso family and my other kawaii plushes to see who I'm willing to part with. Would anyone be interested in some older, harder-to-find plushes (Amuse, San-X, some other kawaii brands) if I were to sell some?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Japonica Market Orders Arrived!

The mailman brought a very special, very LARGE package to me today, yay! I'd been hoarding Japonica Market orders for a few months and everything was finally ready to be shipped together. 

 I know that the lemon is random but it was to show perspective, haha. The box got a little smushed >.<

 Safely wrapped goodies inside!

The first item I pulled out was my reindeer Arpakasso! The seller attached one of the little Crocs thingies for free, aww! I don't wear Crocs but if I did, I'd have a decoration for them :D

 Mr. Reindeer (I've named him Festivus) looking all squashed and uncomfortable :/

 Looking much better! So cute! His little antlers!

 Festivus's hang tag

 Aho-chan plushes! They are bigger than I was expecting-in a good way!

Stack o' axolotls! <3

 My little Arpakasso backpack pouch!

 My backpack, FINALLY! I love him! His straps go long enough for me to wear it! (Sorry about the lighting in this picture... my kitchen only has one window and it's high up so lighting is iffy)

 Arpakasso backpack love!

 Moni Moni pink bunny = epic cuteness! So soft and fat and squishy <3

 Moni Moni's hang tag

Moni Moni booty

So there's my package and its contents! I have been trying to decide if I'd like to order one of the Arpakasso I mentioned in my last blog post~the cute bear/rabbit ear plushes. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dear Santa...

I know it's only mid-October but Santa needs to start his shopping early this year!

New Arpakassos slated for release in November!

My favorites are the white with the blue hood and the brown with the purple hood. SO STINKIN' CUTE!

This has been a random blog post...