Rakuten has always intrigued me – a shopping site where you can buy products direct from sellers in Japan. It seemed like a great way to pick up those Japan-only kawaii items but it also seemed a little risky dealing with individual sellers. But when I got my new iPhone I couldn’t find any cute screen protectors as good as the one I bought in Japan last year, so I gave it a serious look.
Pitched as Japan’s No.1 Shopping Site, Rakuten sells everything from clothes and kitchenware to sweets and drinks, and of course lots of cute things. You can browse by category or search by keyword, but be warned there is a ton of stuff on here, and if you don’t have a brand or character in mind you could be looking for days. Remember that you’re searching Japanese listings too – kawaii will bring up more generically cute things than what we think of as kawaii and ‘usagi’ will bring up lots of different things to ‘bunny’ or ‘rabbit’. The search defaults to items available for shipping to your country, so there’s less chance of disappointment, though beware of listings that are actually out of stock.
I found a few sellers with Rilakkuma screen protectors so I threw caution to the wind and ordered one. The translations are not perfect (it uses Google Translate) so make sure you read the listings carefully to make sure you’re going to get the item you want. Once you place your order, you then wait for the seller to contact you with shipping costs and payment details. Prices are in Japanese Yen so make sure you convert them before ordering. There are only vague guides to international shipping on the site, but since my order was so light, I didn’t spend a lot of time working things out. If it was something heavier, I would check out the options more carefully so you know what to expect.
At this point, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the process, especially since the email confirmation warned me that my item might not be available, but I got a very polite email from the seller about 24 hours later with the payment information. I used PayPal for extra security in case something went wrong and got a shipping confirmation soon after. Shipping only took a week and it was a genuine Japanese product in brand new condition, along with a printed translation of the instructions.
So, I would definitely recommend Rakuten. I imagine there are some bad sellers on there though, so I’d be extra careful with expensive and oft-pirated items. I’m sure I’ll be having a browse again soon for all the things I miss from Japan.
Have you ever used Rakuten? Was it a good or bad experience for you?