Yahoo Auctions Japan

In Japan, Yahoo Auctions is much preferred to Ebay as the favourite online buying/selling site.  There's loads of KR stuff on there : complete bikes, used parts, brochures and magazines, even exotic aftermarket tuning parts we can only dream of in the UK.  Unfortunately of course the pages are all in Japanese, the only readable English being the frequent message "will not ship internationally".  There are some middleman services (  Rinkya , FromJapan , ok!shon and eTc ) that aim to get round these problems, though there are restrictions as to what you can buy through them and of course they take a hefty cut for themselves too.  Here's just a few of the choice items you're missing out on...

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After months of watching all these desirable KR items go unsold, I finally decided to do something about it.  I created an account with FromJapan - this was pretty easy although you have to register your credit-card with them up front.  This done, you then search and browse the items in Yahoo Auctions as normal.  Being able to read Japanese definitely helps though if you're familiar with Ebay then you should be able to guess how to drive it - there are translation services via   Excite   and  AltaVista Babel Fish  which can help too.  When you've identified an item you want to bid on, you just need to note its unique ID number.  You enter this along with your max-bid amount and FromJapan automatically places a bid on your behalf.  Of course there are still some size/weight/price restrictions as to what you can bid for.

To test the process, I chose a Japanese KR magazine with no bids and a starting price of 490yen.  Refreshing the Yahoo page a couple of minutes later showed my proxy bid had been placed.  You can monitor your bids and wins via the FromJapan site and even watch items without bidding too.  The next day I received an email telling me I'd won the item with no other bids being placed.  All I had to do then was choose which method of shipping I wanted and wait for it to arrive.  Which it did, just a week later.  The process seems remarkably easy to use.

But there must be a downside surely ?  Yes, of course, the cost - it's very, VERY expensive.  There are various complicated commissions, fees and charges based on the winning price and both internal and external shipping costs but you don't pay anything at all if you don't win and initial registration is free too.  My test purchase of the magazine ended up costing me a whopping 26 in total (490yen is approx. 2.37 !) but the charges become slightly more reasonable the more you spend.  I could have specified surface mail shipping to save money too but I didn't fancy waiting 3 months for delivery.  A week later I spotted a rare as-new Bandai kit of a KR250 that I'd been after for a while so I put a bid in for that, plus a new KR taillight unit and one of those round fairing covers that always gets lost on a KR.  Sure enough, I won all three and they arrived a few days later.  And since then I've snapped up quite a few other bits and pieces too - see the pictures below.  Incidentally, the process has now changed slightly - you have to give them a deposit (credit-card or PayPal) up front before you can place bids.

Even though I've had no problems with FromJapan and continue to recommend them, I've found an even better method now.  A Scottish chap living in Japan posted on the Yamaha RD Forum saying he'd be willing to act as the middleman in a similar way.  I thought I'd put him to the test so sent him a few links to items I wanted along with the prices I was prepared to pay.  And not long afterwards, a large box arrived containing various new KR parts.  His commission charges are more reasonable and he's also willing to ship parts that would be too large, heavy or difficult for FromJapan.  Not only that, but he knows what he's talking about and can advise you on whether something is worth buying or not.  He'll even help you search for something specific if you're struggling to find one on Yahoo.  I've had quite a few smallish shipments from him now and can't recommend him highly enough.  Worryingly for my future financial health, he is now offering to buy and ship complete bikes over too.  Contact him direct at  Unobtanium  and I'm sure he'll help you if he can.

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