A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

An Introduction to Amazon.co.jp

By Daniel Morales

Amazon Japan is amazing. Domestic shipping here is rapid and cheap. Orders over 1500 yen all get free standard shipping. There’s no express shipping outside of the greater-Tokyo area, but standard shipping delivers to most places within two days. I regularly order things on Sunday and have them show up in Nishiaizu on Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday.

There are also various payment options. Credit card is accepted, of course, and is the fastest way to get your order shipped. You can also pay via different convenient stores. After you’ve punched in your order, they will email you when your order is ready to ship. There will be a link in the email. The link will let you choose different convenience stores and then will take you to a bill which you can print out and have the konbini folk scan in for you. (Alternatively, you can just copy down the number on that form, tell the konbini people you have an internet order, and they can punch it in the register for you.) After you’ve paid, you should receive a payment confirmation email within an hour or so. The final payment method is cash-on-delivery. The shipping service will collect the cash directly from you in exchange for your order. (I believe there is a small fee to do this.)

When you load up the Amazon front page, the tabs along the top are in the following order left to right: Welcome, My Store, Books, Western Books, Electronics, Home and Kitchen, Music, DVD, Software, Games, Toys and Hobby, Sports and Outdoor, Health and Beauty, Watches/Clocks, Baby and Maternity. The searching for most everything is in Japanese, but titles for Western books are in English.

Once you have your order ready, all of the payment menus and account menus can be changed to English, including your “Cart.” Hooray.

If your order is more than one book or one CD, you will have to be at home to receive the package. If they try to deliver and you aren’t home, the company (usually Pelican Shipping) will leave a slip in your door/mailbox. The slip has the driver’s cellphone number. You can call the dude and try and converse with him. My suggestion is to leave a note taped to your front door saying what time you will be home. You can try to write something like: “Gogo 4-ji-han kara 8-ji made imasu no de, sono aida ni kite itadakereba tasukarimasu. Oneigaishimasu.” Ideally that would be in at least hiragana. (On a side note, one of the shipping dudes thanked me profusely for leaving the note.)

The greatest part about Amazon Japan is that they sell almost everything. If you are in the middle of nowhere and need appliances, Amazon. The prices are compartive to most electronics stores, and Amazon has its own point system now. You’ll have to wade through some Japanese to ensure that you’re getting what you want, but you’ll have it right at your door by the end of the week.

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