You’ve Got a Friend in Japan!
Have you ever wanted something that was only sold in Japan only to find out that, while you can find it on eBay or Amazon, it is ridiculously priced? And then when you order it, it’s coming from who knows where and you can’t be sure how/if the item will arrive. Well, those days are over thanks to Otsukai! Otsukai hooks you up with cool people on the other side of the world who can help you find what you’re looking for and stay within your budget, while also making double sure that your money is safe and your treasures are legitimate! Honey’s gave Otsukai a try and this was our experience.
Otsukai means “errand” in Japanese, and as the name suggests, through this service, you are able to buy Japan-only items by having a “friend” go buy them for you and ship them to wherever you live!
One of our favorite parts about this service is that you “request”, you don’t order. And you’re not dealing with an automated system perse, as you have a real live person, or Friend, on the other side offering to pick up the requested item for you and send it your way. It’s all so polite and Japanese!
If you’re having trouble figuring out how the whole process works exactly, you can always navigate to the menu on the left and click on the Otsukai Guide. But here’s a quick run-through of the basics:
- Request the item from the site.
- Wait for a Friend to make an offer (they may offer new or secondhand items).
- Accept the best offer by confirming it.
- Use PayPal to make the payment.
- Receive your item and confirm receipt on Otsukai. (Yay!)
- Rate your friend for the transaction.
It seems easy enough, right? We suggest reading the guide anyway, as it details things like restricted items, cancellations, customs, etcetera.
Throughout the whole process, Otsukai mediates the interactions between friends for everyone’s safety. The friend in japan doesn’t get paid until the item is delivered and is done so by PayPal, keeping the buyer safe from scams. Besides that, Otsukai is against knock-offs of all kinds so they check requests and offers to make sure no funny business is taking place. And if you do believe you received a fake item, Otsukai will be there for you!
Well, we gave Otsukai a whirl and requested a couple of items to give you the play-by-play!
Signing up and setting up an account.
Signing up is as easy as with most websites, if not easier. All you need is your email address, username, password, country and state. After that, you receive an email confirmation and click on the link. Once you click on it, you’re in! But make sure to add your full address as soon as possible or you won’t be able to request items. Once you enter that information, you’ll be immediately sent to the main request page! Triple check that your address is correct! It would be terrible to lose a precious item.
The user profile is simple, using your Gravatar image as a your default and displaying your pending requests and a “To Do” list where you’ll be prompted to confirm requests, receipt of your item(s) and leave feedback.
Once you’re done doing that, you can request items by either scrolling down to see what other people have requested and request the same, or click on the “Request an Item +” button to request your own.
Different Ways to Request Items
1. I know what I want
If you know exactly what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it, including shipping, click on the “Request an Item +” button and fill out the form. I’m a big fan of Pokemon and I miss visiting the Pokemon Centers in Japan, so I requested a cute ‘Look at the Stars’ pouch with pokemon constellations all over it. Considering the bag is around 1500 yen and shipping will likely be about another 1000, we set our max price at $40 USD, just in case.
Besides that, we included an image of the pouch as well as a link to the official site so our friends can know where to look!
2. Just give me anything!
When requesting from Otsukai, you don’t even have to be too specific if you’re just aching for any merch from your favorite anime or character. You can simply enter that into the form, set your maximum price, and let the offers start rolling in! From there, you can choose the best one.
In this format, we opted for any bag or pouch sold exclusively at any Pokemon Center in Japan as they vary by region and season! You can (and probably should) add images as reference so your friend knows what you’re into, so we attached some pictures along with a description of what we’re looking for, and, of course, our maximum price ($40).
3. I want something, but I don’t know what...
If you just want something special but don’t know what’s in stores in Japan at the moment or don’t have anything specific in mind, you can also scroll down on the main page and look at the items list, where you will see what other people have requested. There, you can ask for the same thing as someone else or even request one of the items that have been offered to but that people didn’t take!
We didn’t try this method, but it seems like it would be quicker since the friend on the other side already has half of the work done.
After placing our requests, we played the waiting game.
Offers Start Rolling In
In less than 24 hours, the open request already had 3 offers! An Easter-themed pouch (too pink and too Eastery), a minecraft pikachu bag, and a really cool little black canister bag! Unfortunately, the last two were over my requested budget. The offers don’t have to be within your proposed price, as the friends making offers make them with “certain conditions”, meaning “I can get this for you but it’ll cost this much and take this long to get to you”. And so, we kept waiting for the perfect offer, and hopefully, an offer for the Look at the Stars pouch.
The people making offers can choose how long their offer is good for, and most we saw were 30 days. But there was one person who made a couple of interesting offers but only gave us two days to accept them. I especially liked a Pikachu x Mimikyu pouch that I was pretty sure was going to be the winner. We were getting ready to go to E3, so it slipped my mind and I missed out! Oh noes!!
I was super bummed, but then I thought, “This person must still have the ability to offer it again. I’ll just make a request for it specifically!” And it worked! Within hours, the same friend who’d offered it before, made the offer again -a little higher,though, like a late fee.
This time, we accepted the offer immediately and were given a time frame of one to two weeks until the item could be shipped. And every day, we checked our email anxiously awaiting that “your item has shipped” email. And exactly 7 days later, it came! The Pika-kyu pouch (that’s what I’m calling it now) was purchased and on its way to us! It was happening!
About 2 weeks later, my long-awaited Otsukai package was at my door and was everything I expected and more! The box had Poké-designs all over, proving from the package alone that it was an original item. Packaging was flawless, so it was in perfect shape even after making its way around the world. And the pouch itself is beautiful! Legitimately Pokemon branded, sturdy but soft, the great quality we know and love.
Pros and Cons
This being a review, we’ll present you with both the good and the bad and let you decide whether Otsukai is for you.
- You can literally shop in Japan from the comfort of your own home.
- It’s very easy to use.
- They have everyone’s safety in mind.
- There are new items to be discovered in the requested items feed.
- The price you end up paying is fair (at least in our experience).
- It takes a long time to receive your item. From requesting to receiving, you’re looking at about a month.
- Shipping from Japan can be pricey. You can speed the time up a bit, but that would mean a higher shipping fee.
In our experience, the pros most certainly outweigh the cons! I mean, look at this adorable original Pokemon pouch that nobody I know has! As fans, we often wait for years for a second season or an anime adaptation of our favorite manga, and we're expecting the real deal. Otsukai's delivery service is a treasure trove for any enthusiasts out there looking for rare and hard-to-get items from the land of the rising sun. Or even not so rare ones like requesting a jumbo bag of matcha Kit-Kats! So go over to Otsukai and look around, or request that limited edition Nendoroid figure you thought you couldn’t get. The sky's the limit! And no matter what you request, it's nice to know your purchase is protected.
Have you ever tried Otsukai? Have you ordered anything from Japan before? What was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below!