in search of Japanese periodicals
Originally published on Zenin Princess, a now-retired goods blog.
If you've ever come across a manga series you desired to follow, currently running in Japan, you're probably at least casually acquainted with the Japanese comic periodical. (These are lovingly called "phone books" by fans, due to their enormous size.) Monthly, bi-monthly or seasonal/occasional, manga periodicals come in a few standard sizes, and are geared for everyone from small children to grown housewives, girls and boys, teens, robots, etc.
Manga periodicals are printed on newsprint, making them surprisingly light for their size (Ribon issues usually run about an inch and a half thick, slightly smaller than standard Western 8.5x11-inch pages.) Depending on the publication, they come out at varying times of year, but usually the early part of the month. They are shipped to the West by boat, in most cases, and arrive in stores (when you can find stores that carry them) about the third week of the month, usually by the 21st-25th. Ribon and Nakayoshi run about $6 or $6.50, your price may vary, special issues seem to be about the same.
So, you're hooked on a genre, publication or manga-ka that's publication-exclusive? How do you go about getting your hands on your monthly fix, you ask? Read on.
Naturally, if you can find a place carrying your periodical of choice, that's always best, as it saves you shipping and (usually) markup. I shop at Kinokuniya Books whenever I'm near one: six stores on the West Coast, two on the East Coast. I'm usually at the San Jose, CA or Beaverton/Portland, OR stores, although earlier this month I visited the San Francisco store (the first on our shores.) I've also occasionally found periodicals at Japanese grocery stores (funnily enough, although the SF Kino hadn't yet received their Ribon 11 issues, the grocery across the street in Japantown had, hence my having a copy after all. Hooray for chance finding of periodicals.)
Kinokuniya chains also offer subscriptions, although I believe it's an in-store-pickup thing; not sure if they'll ship to you. (Anybody know? Comment!)
I'm unfamiliar with other store chains that might carry periodicals, please contact me if you can recommend any!
If you desire a subscription, your choices are:
- Fujisan.com (I have bought both individual issues and subscription time with this service; excellent place.)
- CDJapan (shipping fees to the States are $10-20 PER ISSUE, ouch.)
- Nippon Export (No personal experience with this one, charging Japanese prices so one would assume the shipping would approximate the previous two.)
As you can see, the jump from in-store to online subscription adds about $10 MINIMUM to the per-issue cost.
Online purchasing (single issues)
Alternately, if you're only looking for a particular issue, or are a casual buyer, there's always eBay and Yahoo!Japan Auctions. I've bought individual issues on eBay many a time, especially harder-to-get special issues/bi-monthlies by my publishers of choice (Ribon Bikkuri and Original, Nakayoshi Pure, etc.) The cost, I've found, can be $5-10+ per issue, plus shipping to you. Priority Mail is particularly unforgiving; I've spent over $10 shipping a single Ribon issue to a friend on the East Coast; Media Mail is far more common, if slow.
www.akadotretail.com carries individual issues of many magazines for a reasonable price. They don't offer subscriptions, but if you only want a single issue of something (particularly for the furoku), it's a good way to go. Their magazines also tend to stay in stock a few months past the publication date, so it's a good way to find back issues of something, too.
Amazon.co.jp is one of the only places on Earth where you can reliably find current issues and mint-condition back issues of nearly all magazines. (Again, this is where to go if you want furoku but you missed the particular issue in question.) The problem is that most of these back issues are sold through z-shops, and *most* z-shops will not ship outside of Japan. I *think* that there are proxy services that you can use for this sort of thing, although I'm not sure since most proxy services that I've seen only cater to online auctions and not to, you know, buying something off amazon.
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