I started adding some affiliate links to Secret Garden. You can find these in the banner section of the sidebar (at the bottom). The links in the blogroll and site-link list are not affiliates of SG. I’m going to do my best to only add affiliates that I have experience with– but in some cases I may add companies I haven’t ordered from but either look interesting/relevant or I intend to order from personally. :-)
This afternoon my day was split by a joyful ray of sunshine at the advent of JROCK. Yes…I ordered D’s Snow White single (the “a” version with Night Ship “D” as the accompanying song, a DVD of Snow White (not the Disney movie), a poster, and trading card. There were only 8 left when I got mine, so I’m pleased I caught it in time. After I watched the video on youtube I went directly to order it. Alright, enough bragging.). And since my day was truly MADE by this arrival, I would like to spend this evening on a review of my first affiliate, and provider of my glorious new single:
Language: English, Japanese, multi-lingual
Ok, try this one: Imagine an Amazon.com…but all Jrock all the time (plus shrunk down a lot). That’s more or less the basis of cdjapan. They have a massive catalog available in multiple languages. At the home page, you should be able to click on a drop-down menu that will select your language and it will automatically translate for you. Seeing as language is probably the biggest barrier for non-Japanese accessing Japanese goods, this already wins Cdjapan major points. :-)
Not only that, but prices were all given in Japanese yen + automatically converted to the USD price (I didn’t test to see if they change the currency depending on your language choice.) at the daily rate– which saved me at least the extra effort of looking up a fishy currency converter which may or may not give me the correct rate.
Also, Cdjapan uses a system of Frequent Shopper Points. Every item that you purchase, they tally up a percentage (I think it’s 3% but I’m not positive), and then show you how many points you’ll get for that item. Each point is worth 1 yen, so say you buy a single and get 53 points– that’s like 56 cents or so. It may not seem like much, but if you bought two singles, that’d be 1$ off your next purchase! And hey, they don’t have to give you anything, do they?
You have the option of creating a user-account with the site– which I highly recommend. When you sign up for an account, they will give you a ‘welcome present’ of a 300 Yen (3$) coupon. Plus, they’ll ask you to register your birthday, and at the beginning of your birthday’s-month, they’ll send you a coupon worth 500 Yen. :-) YOSH! COUPONS! Then when you make purchases, you can save your collected points up on your account and check how many you have. :-) You can also choose to pay with plastic, or you can use Paypal– which I find enormously convenient.
Ok, so we have the technical aspects down. What do they sell?
What don’t they sell? Magazines, magazine subscriptions (by airmail and very expensive, just FYI– but tempting nevertheless!), CDs, calendars, sheet-music books, clothing, “wabi-sabi” (traditional items), photo books and tour documents, etc etc etc. PRICES: everything is sold at retail price, so your Alice Nine album is going to be the 3,100 Yen ($32.00) that it costs at the CD store in Japan– not the 75$ speciallimitedsuperimport price that places like Amazon slap on ’em. ISN’T SHIPPING EXTORTIONATE?: Nope. They have about 8 different options, the lowest and cheapest being SAL, which is presumably snail-like in its arrival, but, again, the cheapest option. For me to have one CD shipped to the US, it cost $7.50 for standard air-mail (not SAL). So for one ultra-single at $18.00 plus $7.50 for shipping, we’re talking $25.00 for a Japanese import to be delivered straight to your door hassle-free! Ge-nu-ine! As a matter of fact, I did a little research during my shopping there and found something on Cdjapan on sale for 50% off. At the bargain price, including shipping, I saved about $15 buying directly from Japan. :-)
And did I mention their powers as an outlet for all the Japanese clothing brands it’s otherwise impossibly to buy online outside of Japan? Brands like Algonquins and Sex Pot Revenge whose all-Japanese websites state explicitly that they don’t ship overseas, are actually available to overseas shoppers via Cdjapan. They carry a variety of awesome brands, and have a good selection for each. Plus I was able to find Sex Pot for 75% off.
I ordered my CD on Wednesday night, and they shipped the same day (my Thursday). It then took the minimum time to arrive (a startling 4 days). It was packed in a tidy, nice-fitting box (nothing gargantuan it was going to flop around in madly during transit)– I’m sure they have even more nicely-fitting ones, but since my CD came with a poster, they sized for that. :-) There was an elegant top-layer of tasteful green tissue paper preventing that aforementioned mad flopping. There was a free catalog included that showed some different bands wearing Sex Pot Revenge (being an insane harvester of Jrock imagery, this was a major plus. They will probably end up on my wall.). The CD was cushioned in a little bubble-packet, and both the case and discs were in perfect condition. The poster came rolled up and confined by a neat little roll of paper so no tape touched the precious lamination. It was also…wrapped up in green tissue. By the time I got to that….I was practically weeping– not little tears, but those big fountains anime characters expunge from their humungous eyes. It was like getting a birthday present. Only it is the thing you wanted most. And on a day that is not your birthday.
NOTEWORTHY: At the time of check-out, you can select whether you need “discreet” packaging. They won’t put any company markings on the box/shipping label and so on, if you need to keep it a secret. They do warn, however, that this may incur displeasure from the angry trident-brandishing customs officials, so don’t hold them responsible if said tridents end up stabbing your package. ^^
You can also choose to have the receipt as a gift-receipt, so they won’t show prices.
You can Pre-order CDs/books/etc and they’ll automatically ship the product upon its release, so you won’t have to worry about sitting up till 3AM guzzling gross instant coffee and flipping out over whether you’ll get your copy.
Isn’t that thoughtful?
Conclusion: 5 stars!
My immediate impression of the company was one of the friendliness, generosity, and special care typical of Japanese customer-service which I so horribly miss being back in the US. Just the whole birthday-present-coupon thing made me swell with delight and want to do all of my shopping there forever.
The language options, built-in currency conversion, ability to use Paypal, etc all made the site and shopping there extremely easy, straightforward, and stress-free.
Would you shop with them again?: Absolutely- already placed another order.
Now do yourself a favor and click that banner!