I love buying items from Japan. A lot of it is deeply rooted to my otaku heart, as there are many anime & manga products the United States doesn’t get, as well as the love for the quality and interesting items I would otherwise never get. There are a lot of Japanese websites I would love to buy from, however, most of them don’t ship overseas.
Tofugu.com brought up a mention of a package forwarding service called Tenso. Unfortunately, the article on the website doesn’t give much of a review, but rather the basic run down of how the service functions. I was feeling a bit uneasy about using the service, but I still wanted to try so that I could start buying items directly from Japan, rather than going through a shop that imports them or skipping over items because they don’t ship to the states.
Tenso is a package forwarding service. When you sign up for an account (which is free), you obtain a Japanese address. You use this address on Japanese online shopping websites. When you order an item and use that address, it ships to Tenso, who for a small fee, will forward your package to you. This is extremely useful for obtaining items on websites that don’t ship outside Japan.
I did two “tests” for Tenso’s service – buying a single package and getting my packages consolidated.
For my first “test”, I went onto Amazon.co.jp (the Japanese version of Amazon.com) and ordered myself a Pokabu plushie (a.k.a a Tepig plushie). It’s one of my favourite generation 5 Pokémon and I’ve been wanting a plushie of it. It was kind of cheap too, so I thought it was a good place to start. I went about the process just like I normally would when ordering a package. I kept my eye on it over a few days – within a day or two the package arrived at Tenso. Unfortunately the package arrived on a Saturday, so I had to wait until Monday in Japan to pay (they don’t work on Saturdays & Sundays).
Paying is quite easy – you just confirm the cost (listed in yen) and click a button. The service fee for Tenso is actually quite low (It was somewhere around 5 USD), which is nice, considering the EMS fee isn’t cheap. Yet again, when is shipping out a package cheap?
The day after I paid, I received an e-mail containing a tracking number. Of course I checked it out to see where my package was. Much to my surprise, the day after I received the tracking number, it was already in the United States! I was able to estimate that it probably would have come later that day or the next. It did happen to come that day, but I missed it. Regardless, I got my package at the post office and was quite thrilled! Everything was in perfect condition, not to mention, came quite fast.
Having tried out Tenso and loving it, I wanted to test out their package consolidation service. They take your packages and put them into a new box so they can ship all together. It’s quite helpful when you have several items arrive there at about the same time and I assumed it would possibly end up cheaper if I did that (I always hear getting more items can make the shipping cheaper, but I’m never sure if that’s true or not). So I hopped onto Amazon.co.jp and ordered an arm full of items that I wanted, confirmed the order, and waited. I ended up with three separate orders on Amazon, so testing the service was quite easy.
After the packages arrived at Tenso, I chose the “Consolidate Packages” option. You basically choose the packages you want to be put together in a new box, get an estimate of the cost, and confirm the request. Then you wait a day or two until you receive an e-mail that tells you that your package has been consolidated and you can pay. I was amazed at the shipping price of the consolidated package. I had added up the individual packages to see how much I would save when I compared it to the grouped package – I saved somewhere from 20 to 30 bucks! I confirmed the payment and just waited. Just like the last package, it came faster than I would have expected it to.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened up the package – would there just be a bunch of boxes? Or what? Well, what they did was open my packages to place into a new box. Which I’m personally fine with – they didn’t damage anything and it was packed nicely. Nothing was missing. I was quite happy and excited – it felt like it was Christmas time, but in April.
Overall, my experience with Tenso has been quite pleasant. The service is quite fast (really – I’m used to waiting a week or so for my packages to come, but they came within two to three days), it’s cheap, and reliable. I suppose my only gripe about it is that every time I pay, my credit card company thinks it might be fraud. Otherwise it’s a wonderful service and I HIGHLY recommend it for your Japanese buying needs!