One of the biggest problems that I ran into when first learning Japanese was getting my hands on native, Japanese manga that I could read and learn from. That is no longer a problem, because I’ve found two sites that solve all my needs.
Today I’m going to show you how to buy Japanese manga online. More specifically, I’m going to show you the two sites that I use whenever I want to buy both physical and digital manga.
Neither of them are Amazon, because their selection is not only limited, but really expensive (people sell them at inflated prices). To makes matters worse, you aren’t even allowed to buy the digital manga unless you live in Japan or use a workaround like a VPN!
Never fear. Here’s how I easily get all the Japanese manga I want while living smack dab in the middle of the USA.
How To Buy Physical Japanese Manga
I’m sure there are several websites out there that you can use to buy physical Japanese manga, but after buying a couple dozen from one site in particular with zero problems, I pretty much just stick to it.
The name of the site is YesAsia.com
It is a website that has been around since 1998 that sells products from Asia to people like you and me in America (and I assume other places as well).
They’ve got Japanese stuff, Korean stuff, Chinese stuff, and probably more.
Of course, I’m only interested in the Japanese stuff at this time. To be even more specific, I’m interested in their books: both manga and light novels!
There are actually a ton of things that you can buy such as movies, music, collectibles, etc.
I’m kind of getting away from myself here, so let me refocus on buying Japanese manga.
The process seems simple at first, all you have to do is type the name of the manga you’re looking for into the search bar located in the top right side of the website.
But there is one little problem with Japanese manga in particular: you don’t know what the title is listed under!
In order to find what you are looking for, sometimes you have to type in a couple different versions of the name until you hit the same one that it is listed under. Here are the three names you should try:
- The name in English
- The name in Japanese
- The name in Japanese (romaji)
For example, if you were looking to buy the manga Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs then you should type in the following until you find it:
- Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs
- Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san
Then on the left-hand side of the site, you’ll want to filter it down to just the manga by clicking on “Comics.” This should remove all of the other things like pillows, shirts, anime, etc.
Then you will one to narrow it down one last time by clicking on “Comics in Japanese” so that you don’t accidentally buy the Chinese version or anything.
Then you should be able to look through the manga and add the ones you want to your cart.
Let’s talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of buying physical manga instead of digital ones next.
There are some things you should take into considerations before making a final decision on which one you want to buy.
Pros and Cons of the Physical Version
To be perfectly honest, I tend to prefer getting physical manga over digital ones. Let me give you some of my personal thoughts in case you can relate to any of them.
Some of the reasons why I like them is because you can actually hold a physical version in your hands and check out the hidden pictures under the dust cover.
Yeah, Japanese manga has dust covers!
They are also smaller and cheaper than English manga. Usually it only costs $7-$10 for a manga, whereas the English versions are usually $10-$15.
Also, if you spend over $50 total you get free shipping. That’s what I always do.
I also love the way that a series looks on the bookshelf once there are several of them all together.
It’s also pretty cool how you can share manga with a friend just by handing it over to them.
But here’s the bad part about buying physical Japanese manga: it takes forever for them to arrive!
Once you place your order, it will take anywhere from 6-8 weeks for it to arrive at your mailbox. That means you have to wait a long time, just thinking about all the cool manga you bought, but not be able to read them.
It might also make you place your next order once the first one arrives, just so you can have a continual stream… So much for saving money!
This also leads to another problem: trying out new manga.
If you just want to buy a single book because you don’t know if you’ll like it or not, you have to wait about two months before you can try it.
Then if you do like it, you have to wait another two months to get the rest in the series!
Let’s talk about buying digital manga next, and then we’ll wrap the whole thing up.
How To Buy Digital Japanese Manga
The Japanese have a lot of stringent laws regarding their digital property rights.
This isn’t something that is just limited to manga, but also extends to music, movies, books, and a whole lot more. Basically speaking, if you live outside of Japan, you are not getting any!
I’m crying on the inside…
Some people have found ways around this by getting “a Japanese address” that is fake, but allows them to buy the goods. Other people get Japanese credit cards, and to be honest it all just seemed like way too much of a hassle.
Until I stumbled upon one website: ebookjapan.yahoo.co.jp
This is a site that is owned by YAHOO! JAPAN and as it turns out, you can create an account with just your email address and then start buying Japanese digital manga with an American credit card.
Yeah, it really is that easy!
I was super pumped when I started doing it because I could finally enjoy digital manga. We’ll talk about the good and bad things in the next section, but for now let me just say that the entire site is in Japanese, so you’ll want to at least know how to get around in the language in order to use it.
Then of course you will need to search for the manga of your choice in all Japanese.
Using our earlier example, the ゆらぎ荘の幽奈さん title would be the only one that you want to use when searching for manga.
If you’re not sure what the Japanese name of a manga is, I’ve found that searching for it in Wikipedia is a useful trick since the article almost always has the Japanese name written right at the beginning.
This allows you to just copy and paste it into the search bar at ebook Japan.
Here’s the other thing to keep in mind: You will access your digital manga through the same site.
So what I do is read the manga on my iPad’s web browser. This allows me to read it as if I were actually sitting down and reading a book. It’s very nice!
If you don’t have a tablet, I would recommend getting one since phones are typically too small to enjoy reading manga (sometimes the writing is really small) and sitting at the computer isn’t always ideal either.
At any rate, those are just my thoughts on the matter. Let’s hop over the some of the ups and downs of digital.
Pros and Cons of the Digital Version
The first thing that is pretty cool about digital manga is that it is cheap. Even though the prices are listed in yen, I’ve found that I typically only spend $5 or $6 per manga.
This is way cheaper than the $10 that English manga usually go for!
It’s nice that you can store all of the manga in one place and then take them with you when you are away from home. I have it in my backpack, so I can read at University when I’m waiting for class to begin.
But by far the biggest advantage is that you get the manga instantly!
You don’t have to wait for two months.
You don’t even have to wait for two minutes!
This makes checking out new manga in Japanese so easy since it’s cheap and you get it quickly. I really like this because it allows me to try out ones that haven’t even been translated into English yet.
The cons are that obviously you can’t trade, or sell the manga that you purchased. Sharing is also a little harder since you’d have to give out your login details, which is something that should only ever be done with people you absolutely trust.
I’ve only ever bought manga with my credit card before, which didn’t have a problem at all, but I suppose there is a chance that your bank might think you got hacked if all of a sudden it saw a charge from Japan on it. So you might want to keep an eye out for that when you place an order.
Which One Is Right For You?
To be perfectly honest, I enjoy getting both kinds of manga for different reasons.
So I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which way is best for your situation, but hopefully this post has shown you two great resources that you can use to get a hold of interesting native material in an easy way.
If you ever have any questions, or if you know of some other sites that do the same thing (and are easy to use) then please feel free to share that information down below so that other people can benefit from it as well.
Thanks for reading! Now go read some manga!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: