Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Wonderful World of Stitch

So, I said I'd write a bit about buying Japanese Stitch toys.

I'm gonna start out with no buying but just looking at stuff. And specifically, looking at Yahoo Japan auctions. This is how I started out finding Stitch stuff from Japan, though recently, I've begun to use other sources more and more.

First, a couple of warnings: there is a lot of Stitch stuff in Japan. More than any one sane human being could ever want. I know - I went from being a "completist" to severely limiting my collecting areas. And I'm still running out of room in my (not small) house!! ALSO, this stuff can be expensive. Very, very, very, very expensive. Especially if you figure in shipping costs and fees to an agent. I DID NOT MAKE IT THIS WAY, COMPLAINING TO ME WILL HAVE NO EFFECT.

Just, before you get started, make sure your rent is paid, OK?

So, Yahoo Japan auctions.

Here is one Lilo & Stitch category:
Lilo & Stitch 1

And here is another:
Lilo & Stitch 2

I've never been 100% certain about the distinction between them. If you have other good categories, feel free to mention them in the Comments.

Now, these aren't the actual links I use. Like eBay, Yahoo Japan auctions has ways to sort, by time left or price, and also different display options. But, they also seem to love to tinker with the site, so as soon as I get a new lists of clever links sorted out just how I want, they change things around, and I have to start over.

If you want help with the various bells and whistles, you might wanna just run the page through a translator program. I've been having pretty good luck lately with Google translate:

Google Translate

Though, don't be surprised if you have to run things through a couple different machines, and sometimes even then it doesn't make much sense. I think maybe it's a combination of translation software still being new, and the fact that people who write auction descriptions might tend to use a lot of jargon or slang.

If you just want to run a search, here's another useful thing:


That's Lilo & Stitch in Japanese. Of course, Stitch has gone on to other things, so if you just wanna limit it to him, try:


The down side of this search, of course, is that it's just a phonetic way to spell the English word, "Stitch," so you'll turn up lots of stuff you don't want, like designer purses or blue jeans.

As a last resort, you can usually actually type what you're looking for in English, and that will generate at least a few hits!

As to why Japanese people tend to use Yahoo instead of eBay, I don't know. I will tell you about a few differences I've found: last I checked, once you bid, you CAN'T CANCEL IT. They also have what's known as "going-going-gone" auctions. That is, if you try to snipe, it will add on time to the auction end time! I found this one out by accident, and it was quite annoying, especially since I'd gotten up at 3 am to bid. Speaking of which, remember, they're on a different time cycle than we are, so a lot of stuff will finish up while you're asleep! They also don't really seem to have an equivalent of "eBay Stores," so if you keep looking day after day, you'll see a lot of stuff come up in auction results that will just stay up for months and months and months (auctions themselves seem to be limited to 7 days, but what I mean is, a thing will go right back up automatically after the "auction" has finished).

Oh, and there's also a Buy It Now option. You can usually tell when you look at the auction page, because the Bid button has a gavel, but the BIN button has a little shopping cart.

But here's the big distinction, and why I tend to use an agent to actually purchase my stuff, even though that adds and extra layer of complication and cost: Japanese sellers don't like shipping overseas. This fact used to be written on the auction pages IN ENGLISH, though the latest iteration has changed that. And the sellers don't tend to have Paypal accounts - instead, they want you to transfer money directly from your bank account to theirs.

As I've said before, I've long since decided to just go through an agent to do my Yahoo Japan bidding, and, in fact, most of my online shopping from Japan. In fact, I've just noticed that if you go to sites like eHow, they'll tell you to go through an agent. HOWEVER, I know that some folks insist on doin' it for themselves, and if so, here is the best page I've found for suchlike:

Daryl's Library

Please note, THIS GUY IS NOT A MIDDLEMAN!!!! He's just written a very helpful page. If you want a shopping service, there are tons of them, and he's got a great list on the site. PLEASE do not write him and bother him about buying your crap for you! But, it's a very, very helpful site. Even if you've already decided not to try and bid on your own, it would probably do you a lot of good to click the link and poke around his site for a bit.

As I said above, there is a lot of Stitch stuff in Japan. It is cute. It is weird. You will want it all. You cannot have it all. But, used in moderation, Yahoo Japan can make your life more awesome. And, aren't we all due a little more awesome?


  1. Just a note: Your first Y!A category link is for dolls and character dolls. Your second Y!A category link is specifically for plush dolls (ぬいぐるみ or nuigurumi). You'll get some overlap, but the first link is more likely to have non-plush dolls and figurines and toys.

  2. Oho! I never knew that!! I think the last time I bothered to run them through a translation program they both came up "Character goods." I usually check 'em both anyways.

    Actually, I always seem to find my best stuff (like golf bags) just running a search for "Stitch."

  3. Yep, Twotone's got it, but here's the full path:

    オークション > おもちゃ、ゲーム > 人形、キャラクタードール > キャラクタードール > ディズニー > リロ&スティッチ

    Auction > Toys & games > Dolls, character dolls > character dolls > Disney > Lilo & Stitch

    オークション > おもちゃ、ゲーム > ぬいぐるみ > キャラクター > ディズニー > リロ&スティッチ

    Auction > Toys & games > Plush > Characters > Disney > Lilo & Stitch

  4. Yahoo is pretty much King of the Internet in Japan. They just localized better, is my impression--people even like Yahoo more for search there. But if you're curious about why Yahoo beat eBay to the extent that eBay eventually pulled up stakes and left, you can actually read about it if you're bored:
    for example--written before they DID pull out in 2002. I guess they relaunched in 2007 as an interface to the international site, but a) everyone's already hooked on Yahoo Auctions, and b) I suspect few Japanese users trust international sellers/buyers or want to attempt the language barrier.

  5. Good article, thanks! I was aware that eBay had pulled out of Japan, but had never read why. Oh, Meg Whitman, can't wait for you to bring your own special brand of brilliance to California. :D

    Kinda wish Yahoo had a viable auction alternative here (or that Amazon hadn't given up).

  6. Thanks, Lani! I swear, it sometimes seems half the categories on Y!JA are some kind of "character goods."