In 2007, the Japan Foundation Manila (JFM) opened its library to the public. It contained a wealth of Japanese resources and materials such as books, manga, magazines, and newspapers. For the avid Japanese language learner, the JFM library is a paradise.
Unfortunately, the library discontinued its operations in May 2019, and the space where it was located has been renovated and repurposed. As someone who often visited the library, I was devastated by this news.
Since Japanese books are quite rare in the Philippines, where and how can you get them now?
Fortunately, more options have become available over the past few years. In this article, I have listed some of the best places where you can buy genuine Japanese books.
Of course, you will need to spend if you plan to buy Japanese books, and these books can be quite expensive since they are all imported from Japan. However, purchasing them is the only legal way to obtain them. As I mentioned in my previous article, I strongly advise against piracy.
If you are looking at this article now, allow me to thank you for your consideration in supporting book authors and publishers by purchasing original book copies!
List of Physical and Online Book Stores
Currently, the available options for Filipinos to buy Japanese books are few. But even with this limitation, you can still buy whatever book that you can think of and have it delivered to your doorstep.
Until a few years ago, buying books from online international stores such as Amazon was the only option. So if you are just starting your journey in learning Japanese, then you’re lucky because you now have better options in buying Japanese books.
The stores below can guarantee that all their books on sale are brand-new and genuine.
1. Amazon Japan
Amazon Japan is my top choice when it comes to buying Japanese books. As the biggest e-commerce site on the Internet, Amazon has most Japanese products that you need.
Note, however, that even if you already own an Amazon US account (or some other country or region), you will still need to create a separate account for Amazon Japan. If this is your first time using Amazon, create an account directly at Amazon Japan. Click this link for a step-by-step process of signing up.
Although the text is originally in Japanese, you can still navigate the site in English. Right beside the search box at the top is an icon of the Japanese flag. Simply hover your mouse on it and select “English – EN” in the list.
If you are buying from the Philippines, then the 10% consumption tax of Japan will not apply to you. The cost of your order will be the sum of the suggested retail price (SRP) of the purchased items and the shipping fees.
Shipping fees are quite expensive. It is roughly half the SRP of your order. Still, when it comes to the total cost, Amazon Japan is the cheapest on this list.
One important thing to note is that you can only buy from Amazon Japan with a credit card. All other payment modes are unavailable if you are not residing in Japan. Amazon accepts major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard.
To successfully order from Amazon Japan, make sure that the item ships to the Philippines. When browsing through the item catalog, the phrase “Ships to Philippines” should be indicated right below the item price.
Shipping does not take too long. On average, delivery is made by DHL within 3 days from ordering. The parcel is shipped from Japan, passes through Hong Kong, and finally arrives in the Philippines during that period.
2. Japanese Books to PH
Japanese Books to PH is an online business that imports and sells Japanese language books in the Philippines. Its aim is to make Japanese books more accessible to Filipino language students.
It started as a small online store run by an individual in 2017 but it has since grown into a respectable business that is duly registered and licensed to operate.
There are two ways you can order books. The first option is to directly order by accomplishing a Google Forms sheet. The link to the form is found on the store’s Facebook page. Upon submission, you should pay the order price through the following methods:
- Bank transfer using BPI or BDO;
- Cash remittance, cash on delivery, or cash on pickup services by LBC; or
- Cash upon actual meet-up.
As the buyer, you will book the delivery by courier services such as LBC, Grab, Lalamove, J&T Express, and Mr. Speedy. Otherwise, you can pick up your order at a designated meeting point. With these options, you can have your books delivered to you within the same day!
The second option is to order through online shopping platforms, Lazada and Shopee. The prices are slightly higher, but the increase in price is mostly offset by the lower shipping fees. Delivery is usually made within two or three days.
Considering that the seller ships from Pasay City, delivery by courier services costs around Php100 if you live within Metro Manila, but buying books through Lazada or Shopee only costs less than Php40 pesos.
Another unique offering of this store is that you can request ANY Japanese book by pre-order, and they will buy and import the book for you. This applies to books that are not available on hand or are not usually restocked.
If you avail of this pre-order option, you will need to pay a 50% down payment. This requirement is applicable to first-time buyers only. Once your order is processed, it will take one to three weeks for the item to arrive in the Philippines.
Once the item arrives, you should settle the remaining balance by cash on delivery option in Lazada or Shopee or by Grab/Lalamove pick-up.
Japanese Books to PH Online Store
Ships From: R. Higgins Street, Barangay 184, Pasay City
Facebook Page: facebook.com/japanesebookstoph
3. Nihongo Tensai PH
Nihongo Tensai PH is another online store that was established in 2019. Its primary aim is to provide Filipinos a convenient and affordable way to purchase authentic Japanese learning materials.
It was founded by a pair of siblings who are Japanese language instructors and are alumni of the Nihongo Center Foundation.
This store guarantees that all books are genuine; otherwise, they will issue a refund that is double the price of your order. This clearly shows their commitment to ensuring that buyers will get original Japanese books.
Moreover, they strive for excellent customer service and after-sales support. They can assist you in choosing the books suitable for you depending on your learning goals.
With Nihongo Tensai PH, you also have two available options for ordering. The first option is to directly order from them. When you buy directly, you can get a Php50 discount for each item.
- Delivery address
- Contact number
- Order and quantity
- Mode of payment (BDO, GCash, Cash on pick-up)
After you send your order message, you will receive an email containing the invoice and payment instructions. Upon confirmation of payment, your order will now be processed.
You will also be notified when your item is ready for pick-up. To claim your ordered books, you can arrange the delivery using courier services, Grab or Lalamove, or you can pick it up yourself at a designated meeting point in Quezon City. Thus, you can avail of same-day delivery!
For bulk orders (Php3,000 and above), you will be offered free shipping and discounted retail prices. Here, Nihongo Tensai PH will book the delivery on your behalf.
Since the shop is located in Quezon City, delivery using courier services costs around Php100 if you reside in Metro Manila. For Lazada or Shopee, shipping will cost around Php40 only but it may take about two to three days for delivery.
Special orders are also accepted for books and learning materials not listed on their online store. For such orders, a 50% down payment is required. The balance shall be paid upon arrival of the item in Manila.
Delivery time of special orders will take about a month. Buyers will be regularly notified about shipping updates.
Interestingly, Nihongo Tensai PH is considering offering tutorial classes for beginners in the Japanese language. More details will be announced later on, so watch out for updates.
Nihongo Tensai PH Online Store
Ships From: Maryland Street, Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Quezon City
Facebook Page: facebook.com/Nihongo-Tensai-PH-日本語天才フィリピン-100729415487467
4. Fully Booked
Fully Booked is one of the largest and most popular bookstore chains in the Philippines. It is the only physical bookstore on this list.
In September 2019, it opened a new section for Japanese books on the fourth floor of its branch in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.
Up until that time, there were no physical bookstores in the country that sell authentic Japanese books, so this was a landmark event for the Japanese learning community. No other Fully Booked branch has a Japanese book section.
Fully Booked offers a wide array of Japanese books such as manga, art books, language textbooks, and even stationery. Those who love Japanese pop culture will certainly enjoy the available items on sale.
However, as of March 2022, Japanese language textbooks are NOT available in the physical store anymore. All these books were pulled out of the shelves and can now only be purchased online. In addition, all manga were moved to the second floor.
The book prices are more expensive when compared to the sum of the SRP and the 10% consumption tax in Japan. However, this difference can be attributed to the costs of importation and imposition of a mark-up for Fully Booked to profit from these books.
If you live far away from Taguig City, then another option for you to buy from Fully Booked is through its official website. Alternatively, you can order from Fully Book’s flagship store at Lazada and Shopee.
Fully Booked – Bonifacio Global City
Address: B6 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City Taguig
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Telephone: (02) 8-858-7051 to 52
Comparison of Japanese Booksellers
Now that I have introduced four sources of genuine Japanese books, let’s compare them so that you will know which one is the best option for you.
Assuming that you live in Metro Manila, the prices of Minna no Nihongo Shokyuu 1 Honsatsu and the delivery time among the four Japanese booksellers are summarized below:
In terms of cost, you will save the most by buying from Amazon Japan. This is because you can buy at SRP plus shipping fees, without the 10% consumption tax and the mark-up from a retail re-seller.
However, without a credit card, you won’t be able to buy from Amazon Japan. If you can only buy using bank transfer or cash, then switch to local booksellers.
Also, if you live outside Metro Manila, you should expect the shipping fees to be a little higher.
If you are just buying manga, your second-best option is to visit the Bonifacio High Street branch of Fully Booked. Their prices are not too far from those of Amazon Japan (inclusive of shipping fees), but stocks are usually limited.
MODES OF PAYMENT
Fully Booked, Japanese Books to PH, and Nihongo Tensai PH offer the most flexibility in terms of modes of payment.
You can pay by cash, credit card, debit card, GCash, or bank transfer. Such payment options make buying within the Philippines more convenient and hassle-free.
If you need to buy a book immediately, then your best option is to visit the Bonifacio High Street branch of Fully Booked. However, this applies to manga only. JLPT books are not available at this branch anymore.
If you can wait a few hours within the day, then you can directly order from Japanese Books to PH and Nihongo Tensai PH. You can opt to pick up your purchased items yourself if you prefer not to pay for delivery fees.
For all other buying options, you will need to wait for about two to three days.
The item catalog of Amazon Japan is complete, and there are always available stocks for you to buy. Most, if not all, books on Japanese language studies ship to the Philippines.
If you can’t buy from Amazon Japan, consider buying from Japanese Books to PH and Nihongo Tensai PH. The most popular Japanese language books are usually available on-hand. Otherwise, you can make a special order and wait for a few weeks for delivery.
Meanwhile, Fully Booked does not restock Japanese books regularly, so you’ll often find them out of stock on their website and on online shopping platforms. It is also difficult to tell whether stocks are available at their branch in Taguig.
Caution Against Book Piracy
Today, any kind of information can be virtually found on the Internet. With so many resources online, it has become much easier to study Japanese than ever before.
But that also comes with a cost: PIRACY.
Piracy is the unauthorized use, sale, reproduction, or distribution of copyrighted material.
Through illegal book downloads, authors and publishers lose millions in potential earnings, and they are robbed of the compensation for the time, effort, creativity, and knowledge in creating such books.
Japanese language textbooks are heavily affected by piracy. Below are some of the methods by which these books are distributed illegally in the Philippines.
Please be wary and DO NOT support these illegal acts!
Uploading of Copyrighted Books to Websites
This is the primary method by which pirates can illegally share copyrighted books.
Popular sites for “free” book downloads such as Scribd, PDF Drive, and Z-Library often host pirated content and profit off copyright infringement by requesting subscription fees and monetizing their sites with ad revenues.
Even simply typing the title of the book followed by the term “PDF” on a search engine website will result in hundreds of sites with illegal downloads.
Sale of Reprints or Photocopies
Pirates also make money through unauthorized reproduction. They simply download illegal PDF copies found online and re-print them. Then, they sell these reproductions through Facebook, Lazada, or Shopee.
How can you tell if the item on sale is a bootleg? Here are some of my observations:
Quality – Genuine Japanese books are of high quality and are covered by a glossy colored dust jacket. With pirated books, you get grey or blurry text and low-resolution images. Plus, the cover is usually just cheap plastic or cardboard, and the binding is done haphazardly.
Cost – The price is absurdly cheap. If you find books priced at around Php500 and below, they are most probably fake.
Product Description – Some sellers explicitly state in the description that their products are re-printed copies. I doubt that they obtained permission directly from the copyright owner or author in Japan. Thus, you should already consider this a red flag.
Here’s what an authentic Japanese book looks like:
The dust jacket is a detachable outer cover of the book. Sometimes, Japanese books also come with a smaller band of dust cover called an obi.
Distribution through Online Shared Folders
Finally, pirates make a business out of illegally distributing copies of scanned Japanese books to shared online drives.
These individuals or groups download unauthorized PDF copies online, upload them to a shared cloud drive (usually Google Drive), and grant access to the drive to those who pay them a small fee.
These pirates justify that the fee is not for the sale of the books but is only a “service fee” to compensate for the time in organizing the files and to cover their subscription fee for the online shared drive.
Regardless of their justifications, such unauthorized distribution is still construed as piracy. Profiting from it is an even more serious criminal act.
If you have ever downloaded or bought a pirated copy of a book that you found enjoyable or useful, please consider buying the original as well!
Did this article help you find the Japanese books that you need from legitimate sellers? I will be glad if it did!
If you are reviewing for JLPT N5 or N4, you can check out my article on book recommendations so that you can choose which ones to buy for your JLPT studies.
Always remember that even if you are on a tight budget, there are free or less expensive resources that you can find on the Internet for you to learn Japanese. You do not have to resort to piracy.
Lastly, I strongly believe that buying Japanese books for your studies is NOT a waste of money. Rather, I think of it as an investment that will bring great opportunities in the future. I sincerely hope that fellow Filipinos who are learning Japanese share the same perspective.
That said, have fun reading Japanese books!