What other kinds of items (not writing instrument related) have you bought from Japan?

So, most of us here clearly buy mostly pencils from Yahoo, Mercari, etc. And naturally, other writing instruments as well like ballpoints, rollerballs, fountain pens, etc.

But what other things have you bought? What have you found to be pretty good deals relative to what’s available in the marketplace of your respective country?

Probably the most I’ve bought thus far is sunglasses. In particular, by Nikon. This brand is most popular for cameras, binoculars, and lenses, but they also make eyewear. For about a decade they sold sunglasses to the USA market, then pulled out by the end of the 1990’s. They still sell overseas, though. Mostly to the EU and Japan (and possibly China). I’ve found that on eBay, markups tend to be about 50% or more over what you’d pay from Yahoo Japan. I also managed to snag a really nice pair of Oliver Peoples sunglasses, which would’ve cost me about 50% more from eBay.

For the most part, it’s hard to buy large or heavy items, because shipping can balloon way up, making it painful. In Japan, they have some really beautiful speakers, particularly vintage JBL and Victor. But… you can’t get them shipped through proxies–way too big and heavy. Same for vintage stereo equipment.

I have also bought a few ceramic mugs. Japanese craftsmanship is excellent. And getting something handmade can be really great, compared to mass production. Sometimes the prices can be very cheap, if not signed… but if heavy the value can be offset rather painfully by higher shipping costs.

I used to buy vintage CASIO G-Shock digital watches, particularly screwback types. Managed to grab quite a few hard to find models over the years. More modern models tend to be about the same or higher vs. prices in the USA market, although sometimes you can get some decent deals. But unfortunately there was a balloon in collector interest and now examples are going for double and triple what they used to just 5+ years ago.

So, what non-writing instrument items have you bought from Japan?


I have bought some watches, music, video games, and some curling stuff. The watches were mostly Japan-only models. Actually the video games and music were also for the Japanese market. If you have a proxy open and can distribute the cost of shipping across several light weight items it can be relatively cost effective. So far I have resisted buying anything too heavy or too large.

There is alot of Toyota stuff that looks interesting, but it is all from the mirror universe.


Toys. Japan is the land of imagination! I missed out on several jumbo sized robots when they came out in the early 2000s. Managed to score decent examples in the last 2 years.


I have bought a couple of DIY Tamiya RC kits, also a few pre built Kyosho miniz(Tsu) rcs while coming to India for my friends. Few Gundam kits like the pictures above. Many tomica mini cars. Few g shock watches. Also sake & green tea drinking equipment.

Recently I found new work here and going to be staying for another few years. So I guess I will be buying a lot more stuff.


That’s great! What kind of job did you find?

I don’t know how many folks around here are into science fiction, or sci-fi television programs. I was a real sci-fi nerd as a kid. I grew up on Star Trek. There wasn’t nearly the kind of diversity in shows then as there are today. One of them was thanks to Gerry Anderson, a British television producer. His claim to fame was shows targeting kids and sparking their imaginations. He pioneered a lot of marionette puppetry, in shows like Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, Stingray, and so on. When he finally moved on from that, his first live action show with real human actors was UFO. While the acting was rather stiff most of the time and the dialog rarely interesting, the show did feature some amazing models and miniature SFX. It didn’t manage to last more than 1 season, though. A 2nd season was planned, but then Lew Grade, Anderson’s long time backer of TV production work, pressured him to step things up. And that’s when Space:1999 was created. This was the mid 1970’s and the styling really shows (in the clothing (bell-bottom pants!) and fonts). Space:1999 wasn’t particularly good given the budget, and with an established sci-fi show like Star Trek to benchmark it was often a letdown. But, one upside was the SFX. The models were fantastic. In particular was the Eagle. This was a 4-legged interplanetary spacecraft that could travel between planets and land on them. The design was a curious blend of both sci-fi and reality (cues taken from the Apollo LEM). The designer, Brian Johnson (not to be confused with the AC/DC lead singer), was the heart of it. He actually worked on 2001: A Space odyssey, creating miniatures. George Lucas contacted him to work on the first Star Wars film. Unfortunately, Johnson’s obligations to Space:1999’s 2nd season prevented him, but he did join the team for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. He went on to create all sorts of ships and SFX for other notable movies as well (including Alien).

Regarding Space:1999 today, you can easily view old episodes on free streaming services like FreeVee. And it’s a bit painful to watch at times. There’s so many “lemon” episodes and barely a few good ones. The show is also schizophrenic. The 1st season and 2nd season are so vastly different. Fred Freiberger took over for Season 2… and it shows. He’s the infamous guy who ushered out the original Star Trek series, as season 3 ended up taking very peculiar turns in choice of scripts and stories (which likely influenced cancellation).

Anyway, what does this have to do with items bought from Japan?

In Japanese youth culture, TV shows like UFO and Space:1999 were a major hit. And in fact, Japan ended up publishing a number of printed materials (magazines and special pictorials) that weren’t available anywhere else. They even created lunchbox kits only sold in Japan. Some of their model kit companies licensed designs and produced some pretty decent model kits based on a number of Anderson shows. Space:1999 included. Many years later, there was a revival of interest and some companies began to produce fully assembled models from various TV shows. And for the first time, some highly detailed diecast models were created that look astoundingly accurate, as if the models were taken directly off of the set. These models were sold in various countries. But they’re very pricey, mainly because of limited runs that sold out fairly quickly. With the high strength of the US dollar, some of them actually turn out to be pretty reasonable on the Japanese resale market. And with that, I finally got my hands on a Space:1999 Eagle.


I was a Space:1999 fan back in the day – it ran a little later in Portugal, maybe late 70s/early 80s. I’d totally buy an Eagle model.

Also, i usually buy Holbein oil painting brushes from Japan – the white bristle from Japan is quite superior – and i think im starting a little collection of x-acto knifes 9mm and other cutters from olfa, etc. I have a small number of them already but I’ve seen some wonderful vintage ones that I’d like to add to my studio toolbox.

1 Like

Same as before, industrial design for 2 wheelers.

I had a Eagle display model made by AOSHIMA for a while, together with the ALIENS Dropship… Really beautifully detailed but they each had a relatively huge footprint on my shelves and I had to let them go. When I was growing up, there was a scale model shop near my home. The Eagle really had me glued to the window display whenever we walked by. Those were the heady days of plastic model kits… Tamiya and Hasegawa were dwarfed by AIRFIX and MONOGRAM in the store…

1 Like

Motorcycles, bicycles, or something in between?

I think my first Eagle kit was by AMT. They weren’t bad for the time… especially when considering the horror show produced by Mattel (giant 2.5 foot long “child toy” with hatch on top of the command module and crappy open passenger module) and Dinky (weird colors, like green command module, thruster pods, rear engines, and red exhaust bells). A long time back I met someone from the UK who’d gotten the chance to chat with Dinky and asked them why the colors instead of proper white and was told “It was about the target audience and there was fear that white would be too plain and unattractive so we took artistic license. The same was true of the UFO Dinky diecast toys.” Meanwhile, I distinctly recall being a kid and finding the colors offensive. It was not what I saw on the TV show. The only thing Dinky did right was the SHADO Mobiles. Those were terrific. While not color accurate (olive drab instead of steel blue/gray) they looked close enough and the swivel top door revealing a missile launcher was just too cool for words. I used to use mine as a money bank, stuffing currency bills inside it.

Product Enterprise Ltd had designed the diecast 12" Space 1999 Eagle released on 2004, made in China. I believe it was licensed to various other companies in time, such as New Century, Carlton (Granada Ventures), and Aoshima / Miracle House. The Eagle models look identical. There was a 22" (60cm) version created as well, but it introduced some inaccuracies not present on the smaller model, and there were numerous QC problems such as bent frames.

I’d seen that Aliens dropship model and it looks amazingly detailed, especially with swing-arm wings with rocket pods. How was the quality and detail, in hand? Did it include a mini APC to stow inside it?

1 Like

Oh yes… those Dinky Eagles with the metallic green cockpits… saw those too. I only wanted the show accurate model that the shop owner had done up for the window :slight_smile:

1 Like

Currently working for Honda.

1 Like