You're probably here because you've noticed your favorite J-pop artists organizing online sign events. Knowing these are online events, you might wonder "Can I participate from abroad as well?"
Good news; you can!
But... As always when trying to order such limited items from Japan, it becomes complicated to order from abroad as most websites do not directly ship overseas. Sadly Limista is one of those.
It might all be looking very unfamiliar as well. And of course the site comes in Japanese only. Yet you still want to participate in these events. Then, how do you start on this?
Luckily to each problem is a solution, so in this guide I will show you step-by-step how you can order from Limista.
1) What is Limista?
|Signatures done on "shikishi"|
|Signatures done on postcards|
I'd assume you know given you arrived at this page, but I'll try to (briefly) explain for those who are curious and have little to no idea.
Limista is a site that allows you to support J-pop artists by buying their new releases. The releases (albums, singles, DVD's, ...) always come signed on your name or with another collectible signed on your name. The key is that their events are online only, meaning you don't have to be at location to participate in this: it's a so called participate-from-home event.
The demand for these events increased since the spread of the corona virus, since everyone is being recommended to stay home as much as possible. Artists in Japan (especially J-idols) get a lot of income from physical events, where fans can interact with them by buying CD's. It's become difficult to host the same amount of physical events as before, and some fans cannot go to them anymore due to the restrictions. Therefore there is an increase in the online events.
The general idea is: you buy CD's and get something signed by the artist which will include their personal signature + the nickname you gave to sign it to.
It all depends on the artist and the type of event, but you're always buying one or several CD's. The signature can be done on several items. Sometimes it's the CD itself (on the booklet in that case), sometimes it's done on an extra photocard of said group/member, on a shikishi, and sometimes there are even more extra's coming with the sign such as a cheki photo.
The signatures are also done live through a YouTube stream so you're able to have a small interaction as well. For this reason you can add a message to your purchase which the said artist will be reading. Depending on the group, live signing might be standard or by lottery: meaning you might not be chosen to have your items signed live. Usually the more popular artists will choose to hold a lottery.
Generally the rules (nickname and message limitations, lottery or not, purchase limit, ...) really depend per artist and per event. I strongly recommend to thoroughly read them before purchase so you don't make any mistakes.
I hope you got a general idea about Limista now! With that being said, let's go to the ordering process.
2) Deciding how to order (which proxy do I use?)
First of all, you'll have to decide on a third-party service (which I'll refer to as proxy for now) to help you out, since Limista does not ship overseas. Shortly said: your items need to be send to an address in Japan before they can be send to you.
Generally you have two options:
- A proxy who places the orders for you: meaning you find a service you can contact beforehand, giving them all details they need to place the order. They will give you a quote (which might include commission depending on the service), you pay them and they will order for you. The items will be shipped to their address, and they will contact you once arrived so you can handle shipping to your place.
- A proxy who is able to give you a personal address in Japan: it comes down to the same idea, but in this case you place the order yourself. You sign up to this proxy and they give you a personal address which you can use to order anything from Japan (as long as it is possible to pay from overseas on the order website). The extra step in this is creating your own account on Limista so you can place the order yourself. The items will then be shipped to your address in Japan, and shipping will be handled by them once received.
3) What services do you recommend?
Generally, because Limista is a site that works with deadlines and limited availability/high demand, the better option might be ordering yourself with a personal address within Japan.
There are basically two options when ordering yourself
- You have a friend living in Japan who is kind enough to lend you their address to ship your items to, and who will forward your items once received
- You use an online service: Tenso.com
It is not impossible to use a proxy who will place the order for you. There's just a couple of downsides that might make it difficult to place the orders. The proxy may be unavailable at the time of ordering (sometimes limited to business hours and weekdays only; depending on the proxy). And sadly sold outs can happen very fast with these type of goods. If you are nervous about placing orders yourself or you aren't able to order yourself due to several reasons, it still is a good idea!
Since I personally have no experience ordering through Limista with any of these proxies, I am not 100% sure it will work with all of them. Though, mailing and asking might always be worth it. You can do so beforehand to be sure. (If you were able to successfully use such a service, I'm always happy to hear about it so I can add it to the blog).
4) Setting up a Limista Account
Well, let's make our account!
The homepage of the site (https://limista.jp/) will be looking something like below.
Since obviously it is completely in Japanese, it might be hard to understand what to do or where to find something. In Google Chrome, you are able to "live" translate sites. I really recommend to use this! The translations might not be 100% accurate, but globally it makes it much easier to browse and find what you need to do. Other browsers might not have this option but there might be plug-ins you can install that do a similar job. You can see what it looks like translated:
To make an account, you have to click on this button in the right upper corner.
- Nickname: FYI this is just a username for your account, not the nickname that'll be used for the signs. This nickname will be shown when you make a comment on the event pages (where you are able to leave behind a comment to the artist).
- E-mail address: beware because some addresses apparently do not receive mails from Limista. If you do not receive the registration confirmation mail later on, look in the spam folder first. If it's not coming through at all, then I suggest using another mail address.
- Birth date: selectable through a drop out calendar so this should be obvious
- Password: this needs to be between 8 and 12 characters, so be sure to meet these requirements. Limista can be quite annoying with accepting passwords, even if it's between 8 and 12 characters. So if it's not accepting try adding in a capital letter and/or number.
- Confirm password
- Agree with the "membership agreement"
If you did everything right and click on Sign up, following screen should show up:
As shown, you will receive a mail to verify your registration. Click on the link in the mail and enter your account credentials to log-in. Now go to My Page (shown below) and you'll end up here.
The info you already provided has been registered. Now you need to add your shipping address as well.
You can do this by clicking on the third tab:
- Name: your full name. It should be okay to put it in first name + last name format. Note that this site is specifically made for Japanese names. From experience these fields usually do not accept roman letters (you'll get errors). To explain it shortly: Japanese characters on computers have a different width compared to roman letters (they're wider). They are full width, while our alphabet is half width. Luckily our alphabet does exist in full width form. If you want to get your name in full width, you can use this site: https://dencode.com/string/character-width ; Simply type in your name and copy and paste the full width version. Please do not put a space between your name. This has recently stopped working, so just remove it (this shouldn't be a problem for delivery). If done correctly it should accept without a problem!
- Furigana: the way to read your name. In this field you need to put Japanese characters. For foreign names, you use katakana. Simply put your name in katakana. It doesn't matter much if it's not entirely correct (it's just for delivery after all). Here's an example on how to do it: James Smith --> ジェームス・スミス (the dot in the middle is frequently used with foreign words in katakana, this way it's easier to know where the first name ends and the last name starts).
- Postal code: here you put the postal code from your personal address. It needs a hyphen after the first three numbers. For those who use a Tenso address, it might help to consult this page for completing the address: https://www.tenso.com/en/my_page/address
- Prefecture: this will be automatically completed when writing the postal code. You can always verify with your Tenso address if it's correct.
- Address 1: just the city name, usually this will be automatically completed as well. You can always verify with your Tenso address if it's correct.
- Address 2: this part is the longest and you will need to complete yourself. Here you put the street address (which usually ends with the kanji 区), street number + building name (if it applies). For those who use a Tenso address, it's important to add your personal ID and the company name! (ＴＳ００００００ 転送コム). Don't forget this! The ID makes that your packages arrive on your account without any problems. If you forget to add it, Tenso might have difficulties identifying who the package is for.
- Phone number: this should be a Japanese phone number. No hyphens. When using Tenso you can just copy the one from the address.
All you have to do is click the button below to save all the information. Now you are ready to order some signs! Woohoo!
5) Essential to know before ordering
Limista will need the following from you when placing an order:
- A nickname which your item will be signed to; it should meet the requirements.
- The furigana (how to read) for your nickname. This means you need to use hiragana or katakana. For foreign names, it's recommended to use katakana.
- (Optional) a message you can add which will be read out loud if you appear in the live stream (depending on the artist and whether or not it is lottery based).
It is required to add a nickname from the start and it should meet the requirements. These depend heavily on the artist and the event, but generally following details you should pay attention to:
- Character limitations: for example: no longer than 10 characters --> It is often limited so you cannot put a full name with last name included. It's not really recommended to either way, because it's over the top personal -the Japanese still like their privacy- and foreign names are already hard enough with a first name. So really, either keep it to a common nickname for yourself or your actual first name.
- Alphabet limitations: for example: no kanji, no numbers, no roman letters, no symbols --> Caution because these are very common (especially no roman letters)! Some artists only allow hiragana or katakana. In this case it's recommended for foreigners to use your name in katakana.
6) Ordering with Limista
Usually, the order pages will look something like below. As you can see there are clear visuals for each "version" so it's easy to indicate them. When a version is "Sold Out" it will also clearly show on the page!
Simply just click on the desired version and it'll take you to the order page.
You'll be taken to the following page. Here you can select how many you'd like to buy from this specific version.
The limit depends from artist to artist really. For more popular artists there usually is a limit. Lesser known might not have a specific limit. In the case below, you can only buy one per order.
If you look at the version below here, the limit is two per order.
FYI: this does actually not mean you cannot buy more than one per version. If in these cases you want to buy more, you'll have to make a new order. Meaning you will be charged the shipping fee again and it'll be handled as another order. If you want more chances for the live sign lottery, it's definitely an option to consider (more about the lottery can be read here).
You'll be taken to the page to fill in your nickname and message for the signs.
On the next page you'll be able to confirm the shipping address. If you added it beforehand there is nothing you need to do anymore! Just press the right button below to go to the next page.
On this page you'll get an overview of what you are ordering + shipping fee. Limista charges between 910 and 990 yen shipping for every order. It depends per event, the fee should be mentioned on the order page as well. This gets added to your total price. If it seems fine you can go to the next page by clicking the right button again.
On this page you'll have to fill in your payment details. Keep it on the first selection which says "credit card". If it is your first time ordering, you'll have to enter a new card. You are able to save the card to your account after the first purchase, so you don't have to fill it in for next time. (It's good to know that Limista seems to not accept all credit cards. Most seem to work fine, but there are a few cases where it might not work. There really is no way to solve this other than trying out another card or asking someone else's help...).
The final page will be looking something like this. All you have to do is click the right button again to place your order and it's done!
If your order went through fine, you should receive a confirmation mail which looks like this.
Congratulations, you now successfully ordered your signs! ^^
How do I check the status of my order?
When logged in, you can check the status of your order on "My Page" (you can find this at the top right of the home page).
You'll immediately end up on the "Order list" page. It'll look like this. If you want to check if your order was successful, you can look at the payment details bellow. If it shows 完了, that means your payment went through!
Where do I change my nickname/message?
On the same page shown above. As you can see, there is a deadline. In this case, 11th of March 2021. Click the button below to save your changes.
How does the lottery work (if it applies to your order) ?
You will be able to find the information about the lottery on the order page. I recommend to read it, since it heavily depends on the artist and type of event. However, here are some general rules that usually apply to most:
- Usually you can only win once per version, per member. Example: you order two versions for Fukumura Mizuki Solo Shikishi sign event. This means you can only win for one of them.
- It is possible to win for multiple members for the same event. Example: you order one version for Haga Akane Solo Shikishi and one version for Fukumura Mizuki Solo Shikishi. You can end up winning both.