If you are a fan of Japanese anime, manga, or light novels, you may have noticed the words Doujinshi or Doujin popping up more recently on social media, and online in general.
if you didn't know, Doujins are fan made or amateur self-published material based around an existing series with a cast of characters that you are already familiar with.
Some doujinshis are manga created with completely original stories with their own original characters and are often self-published by aspiring artists hoping to garner attention or take their first steps towards working in their dream industry.
In the west, we might be tempted to refer to doujinshis as simply a type of fan fiction, the kind of goods that are often produced or written by fans of popular western novels, TV shows, or video games and can be enjoyed for free online. However, they are not quite the same thing - it may be more accurate to refer to doujinshi as "premium fanfiction".
In Japan, Doujinshi is often sold for money by aspiring artists to fans of their work.
The idea of paying for fanfiction or unlicensed goods might initially sound strange to you or even illegal if you live outside of Japan, but with that price tag often comes higher quality art, storytelling, and sometimes the option to own a physical product that is truly unique!
Unsurprisingly it's pretty hard to get your hands on a piece of Doujinshi merch outside Japan, but in this article, we'll walk you through step by step on how to get them shipped to you anywhere in the world.
Why Buy Doujinshi from Japan?
Japan-Only! - Seriously, you will probably never be able to buy most Doujinshi goods in stores outside of Japan. We will go into more detail about this later in the article below, but just know, Doujinshi, especially those that borrow characters or settings from already existing series, can't really be produced and sold outside of Japan for legal reasons. So for now, Japan is your only option.
Support New Artists - Most Authors of Doujinshi are artists that are creating these pieces of work in whatever spare time they have - reportedly, less than 10% of Doujinshi authors make enough to do this as a full-time job. By buying copies of their work you really are supporting these creator's livelihoods and potentially helping them to launch a real career in the industry.
Discover the Next Superstar - it is not uncommon, at all, for a famous Japanese artist to start their careers by creating Doujinshi. Authors such as Kiyohiko Azuma (Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba To!) and Chica Umino (Honey and Clover and March Comes Like a Lion) all started their careers by creating Doujinshi! By exploring the world of Doujinshi, you might be one of the first to discover the next big Japanese artist.
Options, Options, Options - From Dragonball to Doraemon, there are Doujinshi about anything and everything you can possibly wish for, whether that be an alternate retelling of your favorite manga or adult love stories between characters that never happen in the original source material - If you can imagine it, there is probably a Doujin about it.
While most Japanese Doujinshi stores don't offer international shipping, with ZenMarket, you will be able to shop and ship all of your favorite Doujinshi right to your doorstep!
Read on to find out how to buy Doujinshi from Japan with our easy to follow step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Translate the Doujinshi's Title
If you don't have a specific Doujinshi title in mind at the moment, feel free to skip this step. However, if you know exactly what you are after, translation is the first step.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise to many of you, but many Doujinshi do not have official English titles, so it is always best to search for what you are looking for in Japanese whenever possible.
If you are looking for a Doujinshi that features characters from an already existing series, then you should look up the Japanese name of that series first.
You can use google translate to do this, but it is much better to use Wikipedia instead. Simply search the English title of the manga you want, followed by "Wiki" on Google, and then click on its Wikipedia page.
The original Japanese title will normally be in the first paragraph - just highlight and copy the title in Japanese and you will be all set!
Don't worry if you don't speak any Japanese? We have you covered in the next steps.
Step 2: Search for Doujinshi
Now that you have the Japanese name of the Doujinshi you are looking for, it's easy. Just paste the name into the search bar followed by this Kanji "同人誌" (Doujinshi) and hit enter.
You can sometimes pick up brand new Doujinshi goods directly on our website by selecting "Amazon", "Rakuten" or "ZenPlus" in the search bar.
If you don't find what you are looking for or want more options to choose from, then the options below will be sure to help.
Melonbooks - A website that specializes in Doujinshi and arguably the most popular Doujinshi store in Japan. They offer Doujinshi in the form of light novels, manga, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, magazines, artwork, and more!
Toranoana - The largest competitor to Melonbooks, Toranoana has a huge selection of Doujinshi goods and between the two of them, you are likely to find what you are looking for.
Toranoana and Melonbooks don't offer international shipping, but worry, that's why we are here!
The process for ordering from either of them is simple and the same for both websites.
- Take the Japanese title of the Manga you are looking for and enter it into either Melonbooks or Toranoana's search bar on their website.
- Once you have found the product you are looking for, click on the product page and then Highlight and Copy the full URL of the item at the top of the webpage.
- Paste that URL into the ZenMarket search bar - Done!
You will get a webpage or pop-up box for you to confirm the item and add it to your shopping cart.
Step 3: Browse Listing Options
When it comes to buying Doujinshi goods, there are a few options to be aware of.
If you are buying directly through ZenMarket, You will often find Doujinshi Manga or Light Novels being sold in a wide array of options. From volumes being sold individually or in complete sets, you can buy in whichever way is best for you.
To get the best value for your money, we recommend buying Doujinshi in complete sets. You will save money on shipping and processing fees in the long run instead of buying a single Doujin at a time.
Remember, you can always use the options listed to the left and top of the search results to help you find and narrow down your search.
If you find yourself wanting to browse the huge selection offered by Melonbooks or Toranoana's websites for more than just manga or light novels, don't worry, there is a section at the end of this article explaining some tips on how to do just that!
Step 4 - Check Item Details
On the product page, you can find out more information about the Doujin you want to purchase. You will be able to see the price, photos from different angles, and more.
If you are pre-ordering an item, please note that it will only be shipped out to us on the delivery date stated, after which you will be able to create a parcel for international shipping once it arrives at our warehouse.
There will also be a lot more information about the item under “Product Details”, which you can normally find by scrolling down the page.
Step 5: Place Your Order!
Once you are satisfied and ready to order, add the Doujin to your ZenMarket cart.
Our operators will then check the price and availability of your item and you will receive a notification once it is ready to be paid for.
For a full tutorial on how to buy from ZenMarket, check out our guide here.
Bonus Step: Even More Options!
If you decide you want to use the process we outlined in the previous steps to buy goods from Melonbooks or Toranoana, here a few things to look out for and keep in mind before you buy.
Translate the Page - 90% of the time by using Google Chrome's built-in google translate function, you will be able to read all of the important information you need to know about the product.
Simply right-click anywhere on the page and select "Translate to English".
The two most important pieces of information you want to pay close attention to when wanting to place an order are the following:
Release Date (発売日) – Check if there is a release date on the item as both stores also provide users the option to pre-order items that aren't out yet. If you order a pre-order item, ZenMarket will still buy it on your behave, but it can't be shipped to you before it is released.
Age Rating - There are plenty of Doujinshi out there that are not family-friendly or safe for work, which is great if that is what you are looking for. Check the page listing for any warnings of "18+" or "R18" audience ratings. We'd hate for you to buy a doujinshi expecting to get plot, and instead, you get - Plot... or vice versa for that matter.
Whether you are just looking to see some of your favorite stories from Japan retold in interesting ways, looking for something completely fresh, or just want to get exclusive merchandise while supporting aspiring artists, Doujinshi goods are a great way to go about accomplishing all of these.
With there being so many different types and options available we recommend browsing what is on offer or looking for recommendations to get started.
In no time you will be a connoisseur of the indie artist scene of Japan!
You can click the image below to check out our full in-depth guide on how to shop using ZenMarket, which will teach you everything you need to know about how to buy anything you want, not just Light Novels, directly from Japan and have it shipped to your front door anywhere in the world.