Thanks to the emergence of specialized websites, buying and importing Japanese products is becoming increasingly accessible. The Japanese video game market is now within reach for those wishing to acquire rare and exclusive products at prices that are sometimes unbeatable.
However, we know that it's not easy for everyone to know where and how to obtain these sought-after goods, and at the best price of course. You can quickly get lost between all the old and new information and methods from different sources.
With this article, ZenMarket offers you a simple and practical guide to help you get started on buying and importing Japanese video games and consoles!
Why import video games and consoles from Japan?
There are two main reasons in favor of importing game consoles and retro games from Japan: price and variety!
Indeed, the Japanese video game market has historically been very vast and diversified, it's not only because of its prices, which are often unbeatable compared to those charged elsewhere, but also above all because of its huge diversity of products, many of which are exclusive to Japan.
This exclusivity can be found in both new and retro-gaming products. But it's important to differentiate between the two products because new games would have different importing requirements to secondhand retro games.
For new gaming products, you can find what you're looking for directly on the official websites of the main Japanese brands:
By ordering directly from these official sites, you can ensure that you're getting brand-new, authentic products.
As official companies, they also offer exclusive limited editions of your desired game and other game-themed merchandise. So grab a few of the limited edition goodies with your game for a bundle worth of joy.
Once you've found the product you want, simply copy and paste the URL to add it to your ZenMarket shopping cart and we'll buy it for you!
However, it sometimes happens that the items available are limited. In this case, we recommend that you try to find your search item in one of the large Japanese chain stores specializing in video games and/or electronics:
Where to find retro and second-hand games?
To find low-priced games and rare games from the past, it's best to turn to stores specializing in second-hand and retro games. Here's a list of the most popular shopping platforms and stores in Japan:
Shopping Platforms integrated with ZenMarket
Not sure how to use ZenMarket to buy from external Japanese sites? Check out our practical step-by-step guide!
Also Read: HOW TO BUY FROM ZENMARKET?
All you have to do is visit these sites from time to time to keep an eye on new releases, which come out fairly regularly, and then go through ZenMarket to place your order when you've found what you're looking for. For retro gaming consoles and games, you'll have to do a bit more snooping!
Shop Retro Gaming from Japan
Where to find Japanese retro-gaming consoles and games?
To find Japanese retro gaming consoles and games, you'll have to turn to Japanese second-hand shops and websites like Yahoo Auction, Mercari and Hard Off.
Hard Off is one of Japan's leading second-hand stores. Hard Off is an official store that also has its online website. Wherever you go in Japan, you'll find a Hard Off. They're everywhere!
Hard Offs stores operate in the same way as thrift stores, except for one notable difference: the products available at Hard Offs are carefully selected, so much so that you often can't tell the difference between new and used goods.
Yahoo Auction and Mercari, on the other hand, are 100% online. Created by Yahoo before the year 2000 to compete with eBay, Yahoo Auction has established itself as a key player in the Japanese second-hand market. Recently, Mercari also rose to popularity in Japan.
Yahoo Auction and Mercari operate in the same way as eBay: you buy directly from private individuals, and these purchases are based on an auction system, sometimes with the option of buying the product directly at a set price without bidding.
You can find all the rare Japanese consoles and more in our special showcase!
Shop Rare Game Consoles from Japan
How to bid on Yahoo Auction?
Yahoo Auction is one of Japan's largest auction sites. It's the ideal place to find titles exclusive to the Japanese market, and great deals on consoles and video games, retro-gaming, or more recent.
ZenMarket is here to make it easy for you to bid on Yahoo Auctions: thanks to our specialized Japan import buying service, you have access to a directly translated, easy-to-understand interface that lets you bid from your country for delivery to your home.
For more details and a better understanding, you can read our detailed FAQ to all you need to know about Yahoo Auctions.
Also Read: HOW TO BID ON YAHOO AUCTION WITH ZENMARKET?
Why choose ZenMarket to buy/import video games from Japan?
Whether new or used, ZenMarket lets you buy your video games and consoles yourself directly from Japanese websites.
Here are all the benefits of using ZenMarket for buying Japanese goods from Japan:
- A fixed commission of 500 yen per item ordered. So there are no surprises on the final price.
- Our site is entirely in English or 18 other languages, with customer support available in all these languages.
- You can store your items with us free of charge for 60 days, enabling you to combine several orders into a single shipment and save on shipping costs.
- You don't need to create an account on the various Japanese sites you're interested in - we will place the order for you. Sign Up is free and no subscription fee is needed.
- You can choose from a range of different shipping methods, payment gateways, and insurance.
- We offer personalized purchasing assistance. For example, photo service, reinforced packing, everything you need, just contact our customer service for assistance.
- And much, much more! Giveaways, Latest news and Fun!
Also Read: 10 NES GAMES ANY FAN MUST OWN
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How to tell if retro-gaming games or consoles are in good condition?
Now that you know where and how to import Japanese video games and consoles, it's important to check key information when making your purchase to ensure that the product is in good condition. Like every online purchase you make online,
Check Item Photos
If you're on a used goods shopping platform such as Yahoo! Auctions, Mercari, or Rakuma, we recommend that you first check all the available photos in the page, one by one, to make sure the product is in the condition you want.
Check item description
On external sites, it can be more difficult to find your way around, but don't worry! Thanks to the latest technology, it's not difficult to translate the page into any language you want! If you're surfing with Google Chrome, simply use your browser's automatic translation function. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the article description into Google Translate to read the details.
You'll normally find the description under the Japanese term "詳細" or "商品詳細" or similar. In any case, if something isn't clear, don't hesitate to contact our customer service!
Take caution when the description contains words such as "broken", "does not work", etc. If you see the Japanese word "ジャンク" means Junk, you'd better refrain: these are non-functional products sold as spare parts!
Check the seller's reputation
If you're buying from an individual seller on one of the second-hand trading platforms, we always recommend being on the safe side, you should definitely take a look at the seller's reputation.
This has nothing to do with the quality of the product, but if it's a seller with excellent reviews, there's probably less risks.
Here are a few more useful tips on some specific sites:
- On Hard Off, you'll find product details in the 商品詳細 tab on the product sheet. The kanji 特徴・備考 means "Features and Remarks". It's in this section where you'll find product detailed information. Use an online translator to check the information.
- On Yahoo Auctions, via ZenMarket, you'll find the "Item Condition" line. Check the information in this line, and if it is empty, refer to the product description. If you don't find any mention of the product's condition, don't hesitate to contact our customer support so that we can advise you.
Information about compatibility
For years, due to the different technical components of the audiovisual standards of TV sets used in different parts of the world, game consoles, and game equipment have been designed differently for European, American, and Asian markets.
Therefore, some game consoles and games have a compatibility issue due to "Region Lock". So it's essential to keep compatibility in mind when buying video games in Japan! Before buying games in Japan, make sure it's compatible with the consoles you own, or even buy the appropriate Japanese console so you play the game you want.
Also Read: 7 JAPANESE EXCLUSIVE GAME CONSOLES
To help you make your choice, here's a small table summarizing Japanese video game consoles with and without regional locking.
✅ = Unlocked, Region Free
❌ = Region Locked
|NES / Famicon
|Sega Mega Drive
|SNES / Super Famicon
|Sega Mega CD
|Sega Mega Drive 32X
|Nintendo DS/DSi/DSi XL
|Nintendo 2DS/3DS/3DS XL/New 3DS/New 3DS XL
|PlayStation Portable (PSP)
|Nintendo Wii U
Also Read: BEST GAMEBOY MODELS
Our buying tips and tricks
Now that you have all the knowledge to import/buy Japanese video games or retro-gaming consoles and know the various factors to consider when making your purchase, here are a few tips and tricks:
- Use Japanese terms and product names when searching: "レトロゲーム" for retro-gaming and "ゲーム機" for console. Just google translate the wordings you need.
- Make sure the kanji "本体" (hontai) are present: they're the ones that'll tell you whether the console is whole or not! In fact, parts can sometimes be missing! This is the case when individuals resell batches of consoles in parts. This is normally specified in the item description, and you should pay close attention to this description.
- To easily find hundreds of retro-gaming games and consoles, go straight to our retro-gaming games and consoles showcase. Here you'll find all the models released in Japan, sorted by release date and brand. And if you'd like to discover the latest retro gaming mini consoles released in Japan, read this blog.
Also Read: 6 BEST RETO MINI GAME CONSOLES
- And to find the latest consoles and Japan-exclusive models just as easily, shop directly on our Japanese consoles showcase.
Shop Retro Gaming from Japan
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