Friday, July 13, 2012

Losing my Yahoo Japan Auction Virginity: Better than Losing my Actual Virginity

I finally did it. After years of procrastinating the closure of Omocha Souko finally forced my hand: I got myself a Yahoo Japan Auctions account.

The fact that I no longer have a decent Famicom store nearby has been a bit of a bummer. If I want games I now have to travel long distances to get to the nearest shops, which can be a brutally antagonizing experience if, upon arrival, you find that the shop doesn`t have anything that you want (which seems to be happening more and more these days). When you, say, ride your bike for nearly an hour to that Hard Off location way out in the suburbs only to find boxes full of stuff like this:
It can be quite disheartening (fellow Hard Off junk bin lurkers nod in agreement).

So I`ve been faced with the hard reality that if I want to continue my collecting at its previous Omocha-Souko induced pace (which is like collecting Famicom stuff on Jose Canseco levels of steroids) I would need to do something drastic. That something was getting off my ass and making a serious effort to figure out how to use Yahoo Auctions.

Ebay is not a big thing in Japan, Yahoo is the dominant player for online auctions over here. The basics are the same, but there are some details that are different. Obviously it is all in Japanese. Also you have to pay to become a full `premium` member, 346 yen (about 5$) a month. You can sign up for a regular account free of charge but you are limited to bidding on stuff under 5000 yen, meaning that even if you only buy one thing over that a month it is probably worth it to get the premium account, which I did.

I have been spending a ton of time on there because there is just so much Famicom stuff, a lot of it selling for quite reasonable prices, it is like having Mandarake in my living room. Like the title says, this has been way better than losing my actual virginity. Well, actually it has been quite similar in some ways - lots of awkward fumbling around at first until I familiarized myself with all the accepted protocols, the instillment of a conviction that this is an activity I would like to engage in on a regular basis, conflicted emotional responses and so on. In other ways though it is quite different: there is very little chance that my Yahoo Auction account will end in a messy break up that results in me getting beaten with an umbrella for example.

I signed up about a week ago and I`ve already spent way more than I can afford on stuff. Like, no kidding, I have bought about 600 Famicom games this week. I need help, I just cannot stop bidding on stuff! Argh!

Well, I should get some perspective here. It is good but its got its downsides too. Like Ebay the prices are hit and miss, people price gouge here too. But the auction stuff (rather than the Buy it Now stuff) can go for pretty decent prices, at least if you buy in large lots.

The upsides I think outweigh the downsides. Because almost everyone uses Japan Post transfers for payment there is no 3.9% paypal fee to deal with like on Ebay. Shipping is crazy efficient and cheap too, I`ve already started receiving stuff (like the box at the top of this page) that I only won 2 or 3 days ago.

And getting a box full of 100 Famicom carts in the mail is friggin` great.

Sniping also seems to be less of a problem as I found in one competetive auction that I eventually won. If someone outbids you at the last minute they extend the auction for a few minutes so you can respond (as can the other guy). I would have been sniped on one lot had it been on Ebay but after upping our bids by about a thousand yen I eventually won it.

Anyway, I`m going to be doing some posts about my new acquisitions because I`ve gotten some cool collection additions either here or on the way!


  1. Japan Post? I keep forgetting that savings banks are also the post office in Japan.

  2. Yup. At one point I believe the Japanese Post Office was the largest bank in the world in terms of deposits. Might still be.

  3. Geez, over 600 games? How do you handle the money (if you don't mind my asking)? Do you just have your own little supply of money you put aside out of your paychecks? Because I imagine spending so much money on so many games might get your missus to raise an eyebrow... XD

    But man, I envy you. I want all those games... :/

  4. you don't know how lucky you are having access to all these famicom goods, I been looking for a red twin fami for months online with no success...any ideas?

  5. Skyrunner - I have a little stash put aside from selling my doubles that I use to (mostly) finance my new purchases. 600 games on Yahoo Auction also cost way less than 600 games on Ebay, which helps:)

    Unknown - Red Twins are hard to come by cheap. This guy here has a couple of black ones for a decent price, he might be able to score a Red one if you PM him (I`ve done a couple of trades with him and he is legit):

  6. When I was back home I used a couple of different deputy services to bid on Yahoo Auctions Japan, but their fees (and very hefty EMS shipping costs) killed the convenience I'm sad to say.
    Now I live 2 train stops from Akihabara (and a few more from "souko style" places) which generally makes it cheaper to pay the 130 yen train fare than bank transfer fees and shipping expenses within Japan (and let's admit it, browsing all that stuff is a fun hobby within itself :) ).
    Of course in your position (ie:"adding the more expensive games") Yahoo Japan might offer the chance to grab some rare stuff from unsuspecting guys, at great prices (might not be the always the case but it happens) so I won't blame you ;)

  7. Yeah, EMS is insanely expensive. I think those services are generally only useful if you find something that is insanely under-priced to begin with, which is pretty rare.

    And that must be awesome being so close to Akihabara. I definitely prefer hunting stuff `in the wild` to purchasing it online so if I was in Tokyo (or Osaka even) I`d be at the game shops almost everyday (well, if I had the time I would be anyway). As you say, browsing in the shops is a hobby unto itself!

  8. Time and money are big factors indeed (and generally one excludes the other O_o)! This week-end I got a couple of "social events" to attend so no retro-shopping for me (If I manage to flee early, I might make it to Mandarake in Shibuya this afternoon though, finger crossed).
    I wonder if Akiba's stores will be open on 海の日(?) What about stores in your neighborhood?

  9. Yahoo Japan is just like crack.

    Simply browsing through all the stuff is fantastic. Since starting, I've literally won thousands of auctions (no exaggeration!). Not just games but all sorts of electronics, music, laserdiscs, crafts, etc. I shudder to think of all I've sunk into the middleman/proxy service pockets and overseas shipping.

  10. Dave - yup, very big factors. Not sure about the stores around here, Mandarake is open 365 days a year though.

    Stealth - wow, really? THey must love you! But you find deals that make it worthwhile even with those extra expenses?

  11. I guess I'll just go tomorrow and find out :)

    Sadly the "early fleeing" ended up being wishful thinking yesterday :(

  12. Happy hunting! Hope you find something good!

  13. Just wanted to say that the analogy made for great reading Sean - also glad that YJ is working out well for you :)

  14. I've often thought about using a service to bid on YJ Auctions but have never gotten around to it. My Famiclone and pirate cart collection has just hit the 300 mark and i'm rapidly running out of space to store it all, let alone test and catalogue it.
    One great way of getting new Clones i've found is via the Made in China site. Although most there are only interested in bulk selling, a few times i've been lucky via asking if the seller will send a sample. A fair few parcels have found there way to Belfast using this method. A lot have been free and with free shipping! A bit unfair on the seller perhaps as i've no intention of buying any more but hey..all's fair in this game :-)

  15. Well, the prices on Yahoo Auctions are cheap, but can`t compete with free!

    Its also a tough place to find pirate carts if that is all you collect, they are pretty hard to find in Japan and I`ve noticed the prices seem high (though I don`t actually know what pirates are worth).

  16. Ha! You sound like me after I discovered eBay a number of years ago. I went on an absolute rampage. Actually, I still do now and again, but much less frequently than I did then. Anyway, I can't wait to hear about all of these recent acquisitions of yours!

  17. Yes, I did the same thing when I first signed up for Ebay, absolute rampage. After about 10 days on Yahoo Auctions I am completely out of money and am starting to realize the value of not bidding on everything that I want all at the same time:)