Last Update: 31/5/2017
Be warned, due to the nature of doujinshi, some of the sites linked are NSFW. Also please be careful when purchasing items if your country has strict laws on content and import fees.
Anything with a ✔ next to it means I’ve tried it before.
Shopping Online – Japan
- Circle’s Store ✔
Depending on the circle or artist you’re buying from, knowing Japanese may be essential here. Check doujinshi.org to get some info on where to find your favourite circle’s website. This is the best way to support your favourite circle directly. You may need to use a proxy service depending on how they sell their products.
- Mandarake ✔
Mandarake is a chain of physical stores in Japan and they sell mostly second-hand items online from each of the stores. Their online store will tell you what store you’re buying from, so make sure you buy from the same one, or you will pay separate shipping for your items. Their items are reasonably priced and their shipping is fast. It might just be blind luck, but I ordered an item on May 29th and it arrived on the South Island of New Zealand on the 1st of June. Shipped via DHL so check to see if you can accept a private courier. For more info, check out my Mandarake order page.
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do.
- Yahoo Auctions ✔
A sort-of alternate to Ebay, I have used this a number of times in the past to buy doujinshi. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll need a proxy service, as most will not accept an overseas credit card or ship to an overseas address. I used Rinkya in the past as they didn’t charge extra fees for doujinshi. You will have to have a good grasp of Japanese in order to search and navigate the website.
- Ash Doujin Resale
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do.
- Otaku Republic ✔
Not cheap by any means, but can browse/buy in English and great shipping
They brand themselves as the worlds’ largest doujinshi store (not sure how true this is) and they certainly have a large selection available. They’re not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. I paid as much for a doujinshi here as I used to if I was buying on LiveJournal or Ebay, which was horrendous. However, their shipping was fairly quick and the packaging was excellent. For more info, check out my Otaku Republic order page.
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do. Mostly het and yuri doujinshi. They do not ship to forwarders, it seems, so unless you have a friend in Japan, looks like you’re out of luck. They have a sister site, Fromagee, aimed at women.
- Amazon Japan ✔
Your stock-standard Amazon store. There’s not much to say, as most people have used Amazon in one country or another. You will need some Japanese skills to search and navigate, but they will ship some items overseas. Good thing is they have flate-rate shipping. Ships via DHL so check to see if you can accept a private courier.
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do. They not only have a web store but custom services available to purchase from events like Comiket.
- YesAsia ✔
This does not offer doujinshi but does have manga and other items like artbooks, music and DVDs.
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do. They will only ship internationally through their partner, Tenso, not to any other forwarders or proxies. For a full guide on how to purchase from their site, please visit this website.
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do. This site lets you buy digital copies of light novels and manga. Please note these are digital and in Japanese.
I haven’t used this service before, but I will update this section if I do. For a full guide on how to purchase from their site, please visit this website.
Shopping Online – Closer to Home
- Kinokuniya ✔
One of my favourite bookstores with physical stores in many locations as well as a comprehensive online store. Please note, I’ve only physically purchased items in their store, not used the online one.
- Amazon ✔
Need I say more?
- Book Depository ✔
Huge online bookstore based in the UK, but that technically doesn’t matter because they have free shipping worldwide. They frequently have sales, so sign up to their newsletter and keep an eye on your favourite titles.
- Sublime Manga ✔
You know all those free scanlations you’ve been reading that tell you to ‘support the title once it becomes available in English?’. Now’s your chance. A subsidiary of Viz Media, they have the rights to publish a bunch of great Yaoi and BL titles (which they make use of in their name suBLime which is think is wonderful) and you can buy your titles either digitally or physically. They link to the various places you can purchase the titles, allowing you to make use of sales and shipping deals either through Amazon or Book Depository, etc.
- Shoptember ✔
Online store of Fencer, I’ve purchased a few items from here in the past. A small operation, the nice thing here is that you’re dealing with a human being and not a corporation and if you have any questions, they’re happy to help!
- LiveJournal ✔
I’ve bought a few doujin from here before and the prices usually are more than what the doujin is worth. But, for a lot of people, it was the only option. Shipping, reliability, etc. depends on who you are ordering from, so be careful.
Same as LiveJournal. I’ve not seen too much doujinshi for sale on Tumblr, perhaps because the commenting system is different and everything is done through private messages? Shipping, reliability, etc. depends on who you are ordering from, so be careful.
I would use this as a last, last resort. Prices here are inflated and it’s possible you’ll get a bootleg. Shipping, reliability, etc. depends on who you are ordering from, so be careful.
- White Rabbit Express
Service for buying the item for you and then shipping it to you once it has arrived in their warehouse. They will charge a fee for the items you’re purchasing. For a full guide on how to purchase from their site, please visit this website.
While I would like to say yes, I’ve used Rinkya before, I haven’t in at least five years, so I can’t speak for what it’s like to order from them now. When I last used them, they didn’t charge extra fees for doujinshi, but that may have changed by now.
- More to come soon.
Shopping In Japan
- General Info and Tips:
- The two main centres to buy manga and anime goods in Japan are two districts of Tokyo; Akihabara and Ikebukuro. Akihabara is mostly all electronics and anime while Ikebukuro has a specific area dubbed “Otome Road” where most of the manga/anime/doujinshi stores are located. While not a hard-and-fast rule, most would classify Akihabara as more geared towards a male audience (think of AKB48) and Ikebukuro towards a female one. After all, “otome” means ‘young girl’.
- Bring your passport with you if you’re buying R18 items. Don’t rely on your drivers licence or out-of-country proof-of-age card to work, as they may not be able to verify its legitimacy.
- If you’re visiting Otome Road, don’t panic and buy the first thing you see. I’m totally guilty of this. Have a browse around a few stores and see what might be the cheapest, then return to the stores and buy what you need. Set aside a good amount of time to do this so you’re not in a rush. I usually figure if I walk away from an item and I’ve forgotten about it five minutes later, I never needed it that badly in the first place.
- Have a look at some doujin titles you might want before you go because they’ll be mostly sealed in plastic and you can’t open them.
- Their alphabetising is done in kana, and you’ll find even series that usually has a romaji name, such as Bleach may be under ブリーチ. Ships or CP sometimes get their own section if they’re popular enough, with other ships under “others” or そのた. Circles may also get their own section if they’re popular.
- Second hand items in Japan are usually of a very high quality, and if they’re damaged in any way, they’re significantly cheaper and they’re honest about what is wrong with it. My Bleach manga were all second hand and they looked brand new. The only time I’ve had a damaged item was when I purchased the Sailor Moon artbook and it had some children’s scribbles on the inside. But this was clearly outlined in the auction and the only reason I could afford it was because they had reduced the price considerably as a result of the… creative vandalism.
- Depending on what you’re buying, doujinshi vary by price. Bleach was still pretty popular when I was visiting, but I still got some doujinshi for around ¥200 – ¥300. Hetalia was really popular and I wanted a fairly popular ship, so those doujinshi were around ¥800 – ¥1,000 and anthologies usually set me back around ¥1,800 – ¥2,000.
- K-Books ✔
K-Books sells all new books and doujinshi. I have visited their stores in Akihabara and Ikebukuro. I do seem to remember their stores in Ikebukuro were separated out into Anime, Doujinshi and other comics, but we only went to the doujinshi one. All their doujinshi is wrapped in plastic. Do not open it or you will be kicked out. Instead, look to see if there’s a sample doujin available and if not… maybe ask for help? But to be honest, I just judged a book by its cover and forked out the ¥300 and hoped for the best.
- Book-Off ✔
Huge second hand bookstore with chains all over the country. You can buy manga here insanely cheap. I got Bleach Volumes 1-20 for ¥1,000.
- Animate ✔
With over 117 stores in Japan and their fingers in many pies, this megachain has almost everything you could ask for. Its flagship store in Ikebukuro is the worlds largest anime store with nine stories of product. Manga is on floors 2-4 with the rest housing music, games, cosplay and special seiyuu events and other exhibitions. They sometimes have special editions of manga (ie. extra chapters just for people who buy the book at their store) so be on the look out to see if your favourite series has anything.
I can’t tell you much about this store, as it only opened after my last trip to Japan. From what I can see, it’s in Akihabara and mostly products aimed at men, so if you want het or yuri stuff, you’ll probably find it here.
Three stores located in Akihabara, selling a variety of products from manga to character-specific glow sticks. Their second store is specifically for women, so it’s a comfortable place to be. Their third store opened after my last trip, but apparently you can find second hand doujinshi here.
- Mandarake ✔
Like their online store, they sell mostly second hand goods, so it can be hit-and-miss depending on what you’re looking for. They have a number of stores in Nakano Broadway, each catering to something different; cosplay, figures, doujinshi, etc. Again, it pays to shop around a little here before committing to buying something.
Browsing in Japanese
- Whimsical Pictures Glossary
- Doujinshi Lexicon
Allows you to look up titles, circles and more in their database.
- Fanlore Article
Good information, glossary and history of doujinshi.
- Rikaigu for Chrome
Fantastic plugin for Chrome that allows you to translate a Japanese word by simply hovering over it. Beefed up version of its predecessor, Rikaikun.
- Rikaichan for Firefox
Same functionality as Rikaikun.
- Google Translate
If you’re desperate. Try just small chunks at a time, as a wall of Japanese text tends to freak it out, and take everything it says with a grain of salt. But handy if you need the general idea of whats happening.
“Supporting the Artist” and what it means to buy doujinshi
In the end, we’re all buying doujinshi and manga for a reason. We read a scanlation and loved it so much we needed to support the artist? We’re studying Japanese and want more material, mostly without furigana? The title just got released in English and we want to support the English manga publishing business? We don’t speak a lick of Japanese and just want to look at the pretty pictures of our favourite couple, plotline be damned? All of these and more are valid reasons.
Artists, mangaka and circles take huge chunks out of their life to create the things we love for crap wages. If you don’t believe me, check out their work schedules and this discussion on how much they earn. It can literally be negative yen. They need our support in a big way and the best thing you can do is buy their works. I’ve bought a bunch of manga from places like Book Off and Mandarake, but none of that will go to the artist, as the items are second hand. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, as the particular manga/doujin is out of print or unable to be purchased directly, but if you can, I implore you to buy direct. Buying from the circle/artists’ store is the best way to support them but if that’s not possible, going through stores like KBooks and Amazon Japan is another way to make sure the artist gets their cut.
Another way to support artists is through avenues like Patreon, Ko-fi and the like. These services haven’t taken off in Japan, as far as I’m aware, but if you happen to see a favourite artist on services like these, take the time to drop even $1 for them. Sometimes it’s literally the knowledge that someone cares enough to hit the button and leave a nice comment that keeps them going.