Tenso Site
A picture of Tenso.com's English home page.

I love buying items from Japan. A lot of it is deeply rooted to my otaku heart, as there are many anime & manga products the United States doesn’t get, as well as the love for the quality and interesting items I would otherwise never get. There are a lot of Japanese websites I would love to buy from, however, most of them don’t ship overseas.

Tofugu.com brought up a mention of a package forwarding service called Tenso. Unfortunately, the article on the website doesn’t give much of a review, but rather the basic run down of how the service functions. I was feeling a bit uneasy about using the service, but I still wanted to try so that I could start buying items directly from Japan, rather than going through a shop that imports them or skipping over items because they don’t ship to the states.

Tenso is a package forwarding service. When you sign up for an account (which is free), you obtain a Japanese address. You use this address on Japanese online shopping websites. When you order an item and use that address, it ships to Tenso, who for a small fee, will forward your package to you. This is extremely useful for obtaining items on websites that don’t ship outside Japan.

I did two “tests” for Tenso’s service – buying a single package and getting my packages consolidated.

For my first “test”, I went onto Amazon.co.jp (the Japanese version of Amazon.com) and ordered myself a Pokabu plushie (a.k.a a Tepig plushie). It’s one of my favourite generation 5 Pokémon and I’ve been wanting a plushie of it. It was kind of cheap too, so I thought it was a good place to start. I went about the process just like I normally would when ordering a package. I kept my eye on it over a few days – within a day or two the package arrived at Tenso. Unfortunately the package arrived on a Saturday, so I had to wait until Monday in Japan to pay (they don’t work on Saturdays & Sundays).

Paying is quite easy – you just confirm the cost (listed in yen) and click a button. The service fee for Tenso is actually quite low (It was somewhere around 5 USD), which is nice, considering the EMS fee isn’t cheap. Yet again, when is shipping out a package cheap?

The day after I paid, I received an e-mail containing a tracking number. Of course I checked it out to see where my package was. Much to my surprise, the day after I received the tracking number, it was already in the United States! I was able to estimate that it probably would have come later that day or the next. It did happen to come that day, but I missed it. Regardless, I got my package at the post office and was quite thrilled! Everything was in perfect condition, not to mention, came quite fast.

Pokabu Plushie
My Pokabu (Tepig) Plushie

Having tried out Tenso and loving it, I wanted to test out their package consolidation service. They take your packages and put them into a new box so they can ship all together. It’s quite helpful when you have several items arrive there at about the same time and I assumed it would possibly end up cheaper if I did that (I always hear getting more items can make the shipping cheaper, but I’m never sure if that’s true or not). So I hopped onto Amazon.co.jp and ordered an arm full of items that I wanted, confirmed the order, and waited. I ended up with three separate orders on Amazon, so testing the service was quite easy.

After the packages arrived at Tenso, I chose the “Consolidate Packages” option. You basically choose the packages you want to be put together in a new box, get an estimate of the cost, and confirm the request. Then you wait a day or two until you receive an e-mail that tells you that your package has been consolidated and you can pay. I was amazed at the shipping price of the consolidated package. I had added up the individual packages to see how much I would save when I compared it to the grouped package – I saved somewhere from 20 to 30 bucks! I confirmed the payment and just waited. Just like the last package, it came faster than I would have expected it to.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened up the package – would there just be a bunch of boxes? Or what? Well, what they did was open my packages to place into a new box. Which I’m personally fine with – they didn’t damage anything and it was packed nicely. Nothing was missing. I was quite happy and excited – it felt like it was Christmas time, but in April.

Overall, my experience with Tenso has been quite pleasant. The service is quite fast (really – I’m used to waiting a week or so for my packages to come, but they came within two to three days), it’s cheap, and reliable. I suppose my only gripe about it is that every time I pay, my credit card company thinks it might be fraud. Otherwise it’s a wonderful service and I HIGHLY recommend it for your Japanese buying needs!

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