If you're in the market for a Japan-only video game — or some Japanese video game hardware — you have a new option: Amazon Japan. The Japanese arm of the online retailer is now shipping select games and systems to international buyers, with competitive pricing and shipping.
Amazon Japan has shipped other products internationally in the past, but buying video games from the online store hasn't been an option until recently. Fortunately, the process is surprisingly simple and straightforward, though you may have to sign up for an Amazon.co.jp account, even if you have an account at Amazon.
Amazon Japan also displays most of the relevant information you need to create an account, save a credit card, check out and navigate its store in English. You'll just need to adjust your language display settings, either by clicking "In English" from the top navigation menu or setting it from a link on the right side of the website.
Not every video game or hardware platform is available to purchase or pre-order for international shipping, however. Customers will need to look for items sold directly by Amazon.co.jp — not third-party sellers — and those that qualify for shipping through AmazonGlobal International Shipping.
We were able to pre-order a Japanese copy of Dark Souls 3 for PlayStation 4, and Amazon.co.jp will sell certain Nintendo 3DS systems — like the 30th anniversary Super Mario Bros. 3DS pictured above — but not others. Import-curious gamers have reported that certain titles, like Ace Attorney 6, are not available for pre-order through international shipping. So shop carefully with the knowledge that not everything you might want to import via Amazon Japan will be available to ship internationally. (Products that aren't available internationally will say "Sorry, we can't deliver this item to your area" in their product description.)
Of course, importers should be mindful of which hardware platforms are region-free and will work with Japanese games. Sony's PlayStation 4 and Vita, as well as Microsoft's Xbox One, will play Japanese imports. The Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, however, are region locked and won't play Japanese games natively.
But prices through Amazon seem fair, and shipping appears to be pretty quick. The copy of Dark Souls 3 we ordered came out to $61.87, including $6.65 in shipping fees. It's expected to ship three to four days after the game's launch in Japan.
Let us know what successes (or obstacles) you've had importing games from Amazon Japan.