National / Media | Japan Pulse

Examining the humorous side of online shopping in Japan

by Marco Christian

Contributing Writer

An increasing number of people these days are choosing to shop online. This is especially the case in Japan, a country that has an estimated internet penetration rate of 93.3 percent and is currently the third largest e-commerce market in the world — and one of the fastest growing.

Many smartphone users in Japan have downloaded shopping apps that allow them to access stores such as Amazon, Zozotown and Mercari without a second thought.

However, online shoppers are forced to rely almost exclusively on user-uploaded images and reviews when making purchases. Without being able to physically inspect the product in front of them, they must make their decisions based on online feedback that is provided by others.

Some netizens have taken advantage of this practice, uploading classifieds and reviews that are rather questionable in nature.

Several of the more humorous posts have been compiled by Japanese Twitter users on satirical accounts such as @mercari2025 and @amazonreviewman.

In a one-star review of a black helmet liner on Amazon, a user recalled an unfortunate experience he had while cycling. Shortly after receiving his delivery, the man put the liner on his head and took his bike for a spin around the neighborhood only to realize he wasn’t wearing his new liner at all — he was wearing his wife’s black underwear.

“I want to move away. I want to move away,” the man wrote in the review.

However, it’s not all bad news. Another user awarded five stars to a stick of Old Spice deodorant after suggesting that it had landed him a girlfriend.

“I started using this after my sister recently told me that I stink,” the man wrote in his review. “The deodorant lasts a whole day after I apply it on in the morning.

“As for the product’s smell, I think it’s good, since my current girlfriend said she started dating me after she noticed how good I smell (when using the product). I’m saying that this product’s most appealing point is that it can get you a girlfriend.”

Meanwhile, other people are trying to hawk a range of questionable items and knick-knacks on the popular Mercari app.

One user tried to sell a “friend” in the “toys and hobby goods” category. Priced at a staggering ¥10 million, the product description says the offer is “the only thing I can do to survive” — which appears to be a clear act of desperation.

Priced at a little under ¥10 million, another Mercari user is attempting to sell “rotten planet Earth” to anyone willing to fork out the cash.

“I tried to take care of this but, because I got tired, I’m putting this up for sale,” the seller writes. In the description, the user says the planet is in “bad condition,” possibly referring to what they believe is a world plagued by far too many problems.

Another seller successfully sold a rare hand-picked “four-leaf clover” that is obviously just an ordinary three-leaf variety, as is reflected in the photograph that accompanied the advertisement. The clover sold for ¥1,300, despite one commenter pointing out the obvious discrepancy.

A lot of times, users can get confused with the products they see. In a sale post of a yellow Anpanman laptop computer toy, a prospective buyer would like to know more details on the hardware.

“Sorry for asking questions, but can I know how many gigabytes does this laptop has? Also, can you also tell me the CPU?” commented the tech-savvy user.

To which the naive seller replied: “This is a toy, so I think this has no memory… but it would help if you search online!”

On @GP_review_bot, a Twitter account that catalogues comments from the Apple App Store and Google Play, it’s clear that smartphone apps are not free from amusing reviews.

“Super fun,” writes a user for a five-star review of the smartphone version of the classic video game Tetris.

“This game is so much fun that I stopped caring about food or sleep. Recently, I’ve been thinking that, if I was reborn, I would want to be that blue-colored, rod-like block (in the game).”

With countless hilarious reviews online — intentional or not — they may not always be useful when making purchasing decisions, but at least they can provide us with a laugh.