A difficult but worthwhile resource – Yahoo! Japan Auctions

Aside from the places I mentioned in this entry, there is one amazing resource for kimono auctions online. In Japan, Yahoo! runs an auction site called Yahoo! Japan Auctions (YJA), similar to eBay. There is one major issue/caveat with this though – the site will not allow bidders living outside of Japan. Why do I even mention it, then? Because there are people who realize that some of us want things off there, so they cash in on our desperate depravity buy setting up deputy services. How these sites work is that you create an account with them and put a sum of money into a deposit in your account. After this point, you can browse the YJA site through the deputy service, and they will bid on items for you. You will have to pay the full price of the auction plus a percentage or fee to the deputy service, as well as shipping from the seller to the deputy and then from the deputy to your home outside of Japan. The prices on YJA are sometimes very affordable, but you will still have to factor in these extraneous fees when snagging that “amazing bargain.” However, it can still be very worthwhile since there’s more stock to be had, as well as rarer or more hard to find items.

There are a couple of deputy services out there, but the two most commonly used ones are JAUCE (Japan Auction Centre) and Noppin – formerly known as Crescent Shop. These two are both well-established and helpful and have plenty of experience dealing with the Western markets. Their systems and methods are slightly different, so rather than writing a “how to use” tutorial, I’m going to suggest that you read through their terms of use and instructions and choose whichever service suits your needs better.

You can use the deputy services to browse YJA in English, but often times it will miss items, if they’re labeled oddly or have certain keywords missing from their descriptors. I’ve amassed a list of popular search terms that may come in handy while browsing the site in Japanese. You can always browse directly through Yahoo and copy the auction ID to enter into your deputy service of choice. The auction ID can be found at the end of the URL of the item you are looking at. For example, in the address http://page2.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/##########, the hashmarks will be the ID.

A good place to start browsing is the category leaf for kimono/clothing. It is entirely in Japanese, but if you are using FireFox, there is a wonderful extention called RikaiChan that does inline Japanese translation, so all you hav to do is hover over a term and it will pop up with the English (or whatever language you choose) equivalent. It makes navigating the site much easier.

If you’ve never been brave enough to venture out into the world of Yahoo! Japan Auctions, I recommend at least browsing around a bit. You’ll be amazed at what you can find!