Welcome to Idol Hell!
Table of Contents
- Purchasing Goods from Online Retailers
- Purchasing Second-hand Goods
- Using a Third-Party Service
- Merchandise Vocabulary
- Purchasing Goods in Japan
- Closing Remarks and Credits
This guide was made to help you understand how to get otherwise difficult items outside of Japan. Please note that we are not responsible for any damage, loss, or fraud of your goods. We were also not endorsed or sponsored by any of the companies mentioned in the guide. They are just popular among overseas fans.
If something is not covered in the guide or you have any questions, please hop on the /r/LoveLive Discord server (discord.gg/lovelive), and join the #merchandise channel, there are plenty of people with their own experience that can help you.
Finally, please spend within your limits! Remember that you need to eat too—I’m pretty sure nesoberis are not very delicious.
Happy purchasing! And thank you for supporting the LoveLive! Series.
*I am definitely not responsible for anything that happens
You’ve taken your first step into the merchandise world, welcome! But where should you go? There are plenty of retailers that sell online, but only a handful that actually ships worldwide with a functional English website and decent prices.
Here are some of the known websites:
AmiAmi is probably the most popular retailer among overseas Love Live fans, known for its wide variety of products, relatively cheap prices, and sometimes a good discount when they’re trying to get rid of stock. They sell a variety of goods like T-shirts, messenger bags, figurines, nendoroids, and various keychains.
One of the downfalls to AmiAmi is that once something is sold out, it is sold out. You can make a notice that will e-mail you if the item comes back in stock (this happens if the maker decides to reprint the product). AmiAmi also does not ask for payment until your item is ready to be shipped.
Another is that once you order or pre-order something, you cannot cancel the order. You can e-mail AmiAmi and ask to cancel it and generally they’re very relaxed and do so (they kind of give you a mild reprimand and tell you to not do it next time), but if it happens too much, they will freeze and blacklist your account. This prevents you from purchasing anymore goods from them. It is also against their terms of service to make a new account if your old one is blacklisted.
You’re probably familiar with, (or at least heard of) Amazon—this is just the Japanese branch. You can purchase merchandise on Amazon and have it sent to you. While their variety is not as much as other stores, it is still a solid choice. Amazon might be of interest if you’re considering books, magazines, CDs, and BDs. Amazon generally gets their own special bonus (特典 tokuten) for certain items as well (see below). Another benefit to Amazon is that you can easily cancel your order before it ships without any penalty.
Please note a couple of things: not everything can be shipped worldwide on Amazon.jp—in fact, most things that are not sold by Amazon.jp directly are not available to be shipped worldwide. Also, when purchasing from Amazon, they do use the DHL shipping option. DHL from Amazon is a lot cheaper compared to DHL with some other companies–please keep this in mind when using DHL outside of Amazon.
Aqours First LoveLive! ~Step! ZERO to ONE~ Blu-ray Memorial Box came with a tote-bag and an A4 Visual Sheet of the key visual from the first live. This was only available for customers purchasing from Amazon.
Amazon Japan may be daunting to use at first because, well, it is in Japanese. You can quickly switch the interface to English via this option.
And voila, now you can browse a bit more easier on Amazon JP!
Another option that will ease your browsing experience is the ”International Shipping Eligible” filter. This will give you all the items that are available for international shipping. You can find it at the very bottom of the filters after searching for an item.
The sites that are very similar to AmiAmi (selling hobby and character goods). They may not offer the products at a cheaper price or of the same variety, but if there is something you cannot find on AmiAmi or other sites, these might be good places to browse.
In particular, CDJapan does give a small payment to sites that may use an affiliate link from them. You might see some of your favourite fan sites use these links if you happen to be looking for a place to buy these products. You can support your favourite fan sites (for example, the LLWikia) through these links.
These are sites that offer their online services to those in Japan. Their variety is very similar to AmiAmi, with some sites (like Gamers) getting exclusive merchandise. Some people may use these sites to get a specific bonus (tokuten) that is exclusive to that retailer.
Ordering from these websites require you to either live in Japan, know someone who is willing to receive your goods, or use a warehouse service like Tenso. You can look more into the Tenso service here.
(Bushiroad has their own official English website for their fans if you’re considering buying Bushiroad exclusive merchandise)
Some goods are available through second-hand stores—these are basically goods that a person or a company has purchased before and are reselling it onto the marketplace. You can find a lot of limited edition items here (for example: keychains and charms that were sold only at the Neopasa collaboration shop, various prizes from arcades). Here is a few sites that are used for second-hand goods shopping.
Mandarake is a very popular second-hand goods shop in Japan. Typically, people bring in their goods to a Mandarake shop to sell. The shop then will give a quote of how much the item is worth to them. If the seller agrees to their price, Mandarake will buy the goods from them to resell at a later time.
On Mandarake you may look for keychains, rubber straps, etc. but the things that people tend to look for on Mandarake are crane game prize figurines and nesoberis.
Rakuten is similar to Amazon–sometimes called the “Japanese Amazon”. It’s basically an online platform where companies and individuals can sell their products to customers. You can find a lot of older goods or goods that were part of blind boxes here.
Rakuten Global may not be as well stocked with merchandise as its Japanese counterpart, so it is recommended to browse the Japanese marketplace and use a proxy to obtain the products from there.
Yahoo Auctions Japan (YAJ) is basically the “Japanese” version of eBay. It is an online platform where people can put their goods up for auction. Others will then proceed to bid for the items. If you win, you pay the seller the final price you placed.
A lot of people in the fandom use YAJ to buy various goods. Sometimes you can get a good deal here.
When using YAJ, you generally need a third party service to bid and receive the items for you. Services like Buyee can help you with that. In addition, you can explore YAJ using Buyee (which uses a machine translation for the auction information).
If you happen to not be using Buyee or any other third party service to navigate, here’s a quick rundown of what you can do to casually search for merch.
Where my cursor is currently in is the search bar. Everything around the bar are filters for you to search through certain items.
フリマ: Flea Market (people just straight up selling their goods for a set price)
オークション: Auction (where items are up for bids)
The grey drop down box is a categories section. There are different categories like Computers, Beauty, etc. But since we’re looking at Love Live specific merch, let’s assume that your search terms will be specific enough.
Let’s see, what should we search for… How about everyone’s favorite, nesoberis?
Tons of options as you can see. Let’s look at that new Muse 3rd Year set.
This is where you can see the up-to-date information on the auction, including pictures of the product. These nesoberis are a very old, Happy Maker keychain mascot set which was only released in the arcades as prizes. Let’s look at the details listed on the page.
入札件数 : Is the number of bids
残り時間: remaining time left until the bid is over
The 800 Yen indicates the current bidding price of the product.
The rest below the purchase / bid button (so that orange one) is as follows:
Sellers information (name, reputation (the Sun is good, the Umbrella is bad), an alert for when the auction is updated (someone bids, the seller changes something, etc), and an option to send the Seller a message. The section below is an optional one—this seller actually has a store that you can check out.
Let’s check the beige box, there’s a lot of important information in here.
状態：Condition (New 新品, Used 中古, etc. They’ll generally talk about this again in the description)
個数: Quantity available—this may not be counting how many items are in one auction (because it could be a set), but how much they’re selling all together (how many sets does this auction come with)
開始日時 / 終了日時 : Start and end date and time
自動延長 : I believe this is an automatic extension option if someone bids in the last five minutes of the auction. If you were to bid just before this auction ends, then the ending time will go up by five more minutes.
あり / なし: Basically means Have / Don’t have in these cases
早期終了 : Early close (the seller can close the bid before the end date following certain conditions)
返品: Return Policy (返品不可 will indicate no return)
入札者評価制限 : Bidder rating restriction (have to be a certain rating to bid)
入札者認証制限 : Bidder authentication restriction (your account must be authenticated with Yahoo Japan)
最高額入札者: Highest bidder (their name I’m assuming, which you can only see if you’re logged in)
開始価格: Starting bid price
オークションID: Auction ID (might be needed when using 3rd party sites)
You can scroll past this part to see any information that the seller has posted about the product. This will generally be a product description, where it came from, the price of shipping, etc.
Hopefully that explains mostly everything about a YAJ page (if you’re looking without using automatic translation from a different site). What happens when I want to bid? If only there were some options…
Inevitably, the “only-available-in-Japan” restricts overseas fans from buying goods that they really want. That’s where these services come in; you can use them to purchase goods that you otherwise could not do on your own.
Tenso is a warehouse service that receives goods from retailers that their customers have purchased and holds it for them for an amount of time. Since they are in Japan, you get rid of that requirement from Japan-only retailers of needing a Japanese address (although, it has been known that sometimes Tenso will not work). Once they have received your item(s), you can get Tenso to forward it to you.
If you’re using Tenso for the first time, you are required to send them 2 (or 3) pieces of identification due to Japanese law needing official information for forwarding services.
The sites, listed above, are very similar to what Tenso is but function a bit differently. They allow you to buy merchandise from sites such as YAJ, Rakuten, etc. without having to create your own account with a Tenso address and such (this is commonly called a proxy).
Most of these sites have a built-in automatic translation system for sites such as YAJ, making it easier for people who might run into trouble when searching Japanese webpages. This can be useful for those who can’t read Japanese.
Each site may be different in terms of cost (how much they charge for you to use their service), so I highly recommend looking around or asking first to see which one you should go with. Also, spend some time looking through their websites to check their functionality and if it’s easy to use.
On a side note, DEJAPAN is one of the official LL! SS!! retailer for overseas fans (with the exception of certain regions that have their own store), so if you are searching for the Memorial items or tour goods, they might be someone to look into.
When you finally decide on some merchandise, there are various shipping methods that may be available to you.
|A quick and reliable shipping method, but tends to be quite expensive. It’s tracked all the way from when it leaves the warehouse to arriving at your door. There is also insurance incase anything happens to your package.
|Slightly slower than EMS. For East Asia (China, Taiwan, South Korea) and Europe, it is slightly cheaper than EMS as well, but for other regions (Singapore, USA, Canada), it is actually more expensive!
|AIR Small Packet (International e-packet)
|If your items are small and light enough to be shipped by small packet and it is offered, this is a much cheaper service for shipping that will result in significant cost savings.
|Generally a step below EMS in terms of quickness, but still reliable. It also tends to be on the cheaper side in comparison to EMS.
|SAL Small Packet (Registered / Unregistered)
|Some items that are smaller can be shipped via SAL as a small packet. This is a good option for you if you are purchasing smaller goods. Keep in mind that the size and weight (max 2kg) of the package to fall under small packets is very strict–you can find more details on the JP Post website.
If your package does go over the limit, then it will be switched to SAL Parcel, which has been described above.
You can purchase registered or unregistered which is tracking and insurance vs. non-tracking and no insurance. Registered is a flat 410 yen more than unregistered.
Some countries will not track this once it leaves Japan, even if RSAL is purchased.
|Another quick and reliable shipping method similar to EMS. From what I’ve gathered it is faster than EMS but it costs a lot more. Already mentioned before, but Amazon.jp uses DHL only to international addresses (which is much cheaper with Amazon compared to using DHL with other stores). AmiAmi also has this as a shipping option.
If you want to know an estimate of the costs to send your items, I believe forwarding and proxy services can provide you a quote for your items with the different options.
Alternatively, Japan Post has a calculator that you can use to estimate shipping costs. DHL also has their own calculator.
Some things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your shipping costs are based on a volumetric formula – the weight of your package and the size of the item you are ordering. Think about nesoberis–they’re fairly large plushes, which take up a bigger box. While it might not necessarily be heavy, the box size will be bigger and could be much more expensive. The last thing to keep in mind is how much your seller will pad the box to protect it during shipping. Most companies are quite good at packing items with sufficient protection, but a 3rd party seller may or may not have enough protection.
Words that you may want to know when you’re browsing and wondering what the heck a 寝そべりぬいぐるみ 国木田花丸 サンタガール編(覚醒) LL is.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Kanji names of the characters, here’s a chart for reference.
|Yoshiko Tsushima (Yohane)
This covers the different types of merchandise sorted out into different sections. Not everything may be covered here, so please feel free to ask if you’re unsure.
|A rubber keychain that typically hangs either off a metal chain or a cellphone like strap
|Key Ring (Strap)
|Typically, a rubber keychain that hangs from a metal ring
|Key Holder (Strap)
|A keychain that hangs from a half of a metal ring with a latch. Will typically be acrylic
|An aluminium badge
|Also, an aluminium badge, typically of lesser quality than pins. Typically shaped in a circle. Uses a safety pin to attach to things.
|An acrylic badge that can be attached to objects with the safety pin or by the plastic holder
|An acrylic standing display. Sometimes can come as a keychain as well.
|A case to hold pens and pencils
|A two sided plastic folder used to hold A4 sized documents
|Normally in A5 size, think of it like a one sided clear file that doesn’t hold anything.
|Self-explanatory, they can range from small icons to a massive cut out of a member
|Images/Prints on postcard sized photo paper.
|A square sized boardmade of a thick cardboard like material. It is popular for art and signatures to be printed on these.
|Self-explanatory, they normally come in A4 or B2 size.
|Similar to a poster but a cloth material is used instead and you can easily roll these up.
|You most likely know what manga means, but if you’re not familiar with the term ‘manga’, it’s basically a ‘comic book’. The Love Live! series has a few different manga series (the original, School Idol Diaries, anthologies).
|Self-explanatory, but there are a few Love Live novels/short stories released. The series is called ‘School Idol Diaries’.
|The term is self-explanatory, but the LoveLive! series is primarily featured in the Dengeki G’s magazine. There are also other magazines that may feature the series or the voice actresses of the series.
|Art Book / Illustration Book
|This has a few names in Japanese so it’s a bit confusing, but typically these are books that feature the art or visual of different parts of the series.
|イラスト集 (Illustration books like the SIF ones)
ビジュアルファンブック (Visual Fanbooks like Aqours First Fanbook)
その他 (書籍) (Others like the official School Idol Movie book)
|These are fan created comics and novels. You can typically look into buying them online from Melonbooks or Toranoana.
|A Japanese T-shirt is smaller than an American size so please keep this in mind when ordering shirts.
A general rule of thumb that people use is JP sizes are normally one smaller.
So a Japanese L = USA M
If you see the term “Free Size” being used, they’re a little bit bigger than a Japanese Large size (but not by much).
|The Japanese term for “Jersey” is different from the western term where you may think of a T-shirt made of silk/polyester.
Japanese jerseys are essentially zip up jackets and normally come in S-M or L-XL size.
|Like the jersey, a “Parka” in Japanese terms are essentially Jumpers/Hoodies/Sweaters.
|Typically made of glass with a member imprinted on them. Please take care when importing these.
|Typically made of thick ceramic with imprinted members. These are more durable than cups and normally have a handle for hot drinks.
|Cushion covers are made of thin cotton fabric to put over square sized cushions.
|Like cushion covers, these are to put over your pillow. Please keep in mind that your country’s pillow sizes may not be equal to Japanese sizes so do take note of this when importing them.
|Similar to cushion or pillow covers, Dakimakura covers are normally made of a synthetic/silk like material to cover a dakimakura body pillow (normally 150cm/160cm tall).
They are typically used as a huggable life sized pillow when sleeping.
|Rough cotton towels that are primarily used to soak up water.
They come in a lot of sizes from facial size, bath towel size and beach towel size.
|Cases used to protect your smartphone. They are normally made out of acrylic or leather and will support most flagship sized, current generation smartphones.
|Similar to the smartphone case but hugely more popular (and thus more designs) because of Japan’s preference towards the iPhone.
|A smartphone ring is put on the back of your phone to help you get a better grip on it. It can also act as a stand.
|A large duffel bag with two handles (think of it like a big grocery bag).
|Around the shoulder character printed bags. They normally can fit a laptop and have a flap with a member printed on the front.
|Self-explanatory with two straps and are typically more durable for frequent use.
|Plastic figurines of a character that can range from a variety of sizes and price ranges. These are not posable and are pretty fragile.
|Smaller posable figurines. They are normally 130mm tall.
|Even smaller figurines that are popular for their chibi like features (big head, small body). Nendoroids come with a lot of faceplates which are pretty expressive and have lots of smaller parts to pose them in. They are normally 100mm tall.
|Similar to a plush/teddy bear, they are small versions of the character with soft stuffing inside.
|Similar to the stuffed toy, nesoberis are big headed ‘lying down’ plushies that come in a variety of sizes.
Nesoberis, or sometimes called ‘nesos’ are stuffed toys that are lying down (hence the name ‘nesoberi’ which is roughly translated ‘to sprawl’ or ‘to lie sprawled’). These have become one of the most popular items to collect because of their softness and how huggable they are. They have also become so popular that they are getting their own mobile phone game…
In #merchandise, nesoberi is a very common topic among everyone who frequents the channel. This section is to quickly go over some frequently asked questions. This may also decide if you want to start collecting nesoberis even though you probably already have one.
If you want to look at upcoming nesoberis that will be released, please take a look at this doc.
Nesoberis come in various sizes, here is a chart for reference. You can also check out the nesoberi tag for a visual of the nesoberi sizes.
|Dimensions (by length, approx.)
|NPF (Nesoberi Petite Figure)
|Not an actual plush, but small figurines of the nesoberis. Inami Anju (CV: Takami Chika) frequently takes pictures of her NPF Chika.
|KCM (Keychain Mascot)
|Currently the smallest plush in the nesoberi series. Has a metal ball keychain that can be used to hang off of bags.
|NNN (Normal Nesoberi Nuigurumi, or simply S)
|A bit bigger than the KCM but still has a metal ball keychain attached to hang off of bags. The Aqours version of these comes in various of costumes (YumeTera, Omoi yo, …).
|JNN / M (Jumbo Nesoberi Nuigurumi or simply M)
(the above is an example of how an Aqours member will generally look)
|About the middle ground between most nesoberis. These are somewhat limited–Aqours will be releasing a set with the girls in their first subunit costumes.
μ’s on the other hand has only released a sleeping Honoka version in this size.
|HJNN / MJNN (Hyper Jumbo Nesoberi Nuigurumi / Mega Jumbo Nesoberi Nuigurumi, or simply MEJ)
|The most common and probably the most popular among fans. These are the big ones that you see as arcade prizes. They are also a good size for hugging.
μ’s had both HJNN and MJNN releases, whilst Aqours have only used the term MJNN or MEJ.
|JNN SDS / LL (Jumbo Nesoberi Nuigurumi, or simply LL)
寝そべりぬいぐるみ 高海千歌 サンタガール編(覚醒) LL
(the above is an example of how an Aqours member will generally look)
|A bit bigger than the HJNN / MJNN. Aqours will be releasing an idolized Christmas set from their 2016 Winter SIF set.
μ’s has released a Sunny Day Song (SDS) version, hence the name JNN SDS.
|TJNN (Tera Jumbo Nesoberi Nuigurumi)
|Officially, the biggest nesoberi on sale to date.
So far, only Aqours members will be released in their winter school uniforms.
|2017 School Idol Festival Thanks Giving Event Display
|The biggest nesoberi. It has been stated that this size will not be put on sale.
So far, only Chika is the one known to exist.
As is the nature of plush toys, nesoberis will get dirty (unless you keep yours in pristine condition), so a question that a lot of people ask is “how do you wash your nesoberi?”.
The most general method to washing a nesoberi is to put it in a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase and put it in the washing machine. Once it is finished, you hang it up to dry. Just be careful not to leave it in direct sunlight for too long or else it will lose colour.
I personally wash my nesoberis in a pillowcase or a mesh bag from Daiso with something like towels or bedsheets.
Please check out the tag “nesoberi washing” on the /r/LoveLive Discord for further details (or “nesospin” for a more hilarious version).
We’ve mostly covered purchasing goods outside of Japan, but what about in Japan?
Due to the popularity of Love Live, goods can be found in many places. Many online websites I’ve already mentioned before also have physical shops–Animate, Gamers, Sofmap, etc. You can find many Love Live goods in those stores just do a quick Google search to find where they are located.
If we talk about the Tokyo metropolitan area, there are three specific Cities (Wards) I would recommend:
The most famous anime-centric area and home to the beloved μ’s members; Akihabara is the biggest place to shop for your Love Live goods. All the big anime shops have a physical store here and there are many other shops that sell goods secondhand. It’s hard to say where you should go in Akihabara–there are so many stores and places with different items. Once you get to Akihabara, just spend some time walking around and looking at all the different stores and compare prices, either mentally or physically.
Ikebukuro is more well known for catering towards females, promoting and selling a lot of anime series that have boys and males as the main focus. There are, however, a few stores that sell Love Live! goods. The most notable you should check is the 2F Lashinbang that is located along Otome Road. There will generally be a large group of girls going in and out of the store and to the side are stairs that lead upwards–this is where you’ll find other anime series that do not necessarily focus on a female crowd.
Nakano may or may not be a place you have heard of. Nakano Broadway specifically is being heralded as the “second Akihabara”. While it is not on the scale of Akihabara, Nakano Broadway has many secondhand shops (Mandarake dominating the area with twenty six stores sectioned by products) where you can find newer, as well as older and rarer merchandise and memorabilia.
Links to all the sites talked about in the guide plus a few extras I may have thrown in.
|Japanese Retailers (generally no overseas shipping)
|BANDAI VISUAL CLUB
|Bushiroad JPN Store
|Retailers with Overseas Shipping
|Bushiroad EN Store
|Tokyo Otaku Mode
|Official Sites from LL! SS!!
|Yahoo Auctions Japan
Everything that has been compiled in this guide is from various resources and personal experience. While it may not have covered everything, I hope it was helpful for you. As stated before in the disclaimer, please, please spend within your limit–it will be very sad if you cannot eat because you have a 30k yen AmiAmi order ready to be shipped.
If you have any questions, you can contact me on Discord at @picup#6613, Twitter at @EiyuuPicup, or Reddit at /u/Picup. Also hop on the /r/LoveLive Discord and jump into #merchandise to chat (about merchandise please!).
All images and pictures used in the guide belongs to their respective owners. This guide was created to help fans understand how to purchase merchandise. We are not sponsored by any site mentioned in the guide.
Created and Designed by:
Additional Help by:
Edits and Checks by:
Special thanks to Team ONIBE for hosting the guide!