Buying Protein Powder and Supplements in Japan

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UPDATE (6/30/2017): Added a new 10% OFF coupon.

UPDATE (8/10/2016): Make sure you take advantage of the weekly deals at iHerb.com. You get 20% off of the selected brands. Sometimes there’s brands that have whey protein, so you can stock up on it. But be sure to buy in the beginning of the week because they’re usually sold out after a few days. To see what brands are part of the weekly deals, click here. I will also occasionally post coupon codes near the bottom of the page, so be sure to check back now and then to take advantage of it.

UPDATE (9/19/2015): So I’ve been lifting and watching what I eat consistently for about 14 months now. I won’t talk about my gains, but I will say that I’m pretty satisfied with the results. If you have any questions or want advice, feel free to comment below. Over the course of 14 months, I still haven’t found a cheaper option for protein and supplements than iHerb. However, I have developed a list of products that I have been ordering consistently: whey protein, creatine, pre-workout, multi-vitamins, fish oil, and protein bars (optional). I’ve ordered the products by level of importance, with whey protein being the most important. Protein bars are optional, but I recommend it for those who are busy and don’t have time to cook a quality protein packed meal. Furthermore, the protein bars that I order are packed with 15-20 grams of fiber! Also, I tried to find products with the most value for each category. In other words, I found the cheapest quality product with good reviews for each category.

If you want to add all the above items to your cart, simply click here.

TIP: What I usually do when ordering protein is I set the filter for price to $10 to $50 via the left menu. This narrows down the whey protein by price. Then I sort the results by “Heaviest” which can be found on the top left area of the results box. What this does is that is shows only whey protein priced from $10 to $50 with the heaviest ones first. The heavier ones are usually the 5LB proteins. When you buy more protein, it usually is cheaper. Then with the price filter I had set above, I know I won’t be spending all my salary on just protein. I also recommend buying more of the same product, rather than buying 4 different products. Some products will give you a discount if you buy a bulk amount starting from 4. Also from time to time, there will be sales where there are massive discounts so be on the lookout for those.

The Return

I apologize for the recent disappearance. I’ve been very busy and finally started to settle down living in Japan. In fact, I’ve even joined a gym. Not no local gym that’s sponsored by the government where you pay about 400 yen to get in each time and you have a time limit of 2 hours. Each ward should have it’s own. Those gyms are meant for the old people in Japan, where there’s an abundance of. I mean no offense to the elderly, but I say this because the gyms are not equipped for bodybuilding, let alone just getting in shape. I’ve been to two different local gyms and none of them even have a bench press, which is probably the most popular workout ever. Anyway, there just happened to be an Anytime Fitness that opened up nearby. For their grand opening, they waived registration fees and the key card fee (this is what lets you in). I pay around 7,000 yen or about $70 a month. Yes, that’s no mistake, I said $70 a month. Welcome to Japan. Actually, $70 per month is considered cheap in Japan. Most gyms here cost over $100 a month. No joke. And on top of that, those gyms are not opened 24 hours. Depending on your membership, you can only go during certain days. Furthermore, you can only go during certain times during those certain days. I’m not joking. Luckily for me, Anytime Fitness is opened 24 hours, hence the “Anytime” and I can go whenever. To add to that, I can go to any Anytime Fitness location, not just in Japan, but worldwide. I’ve actually already taken advantage of that and have been to 3 different locations in Tokyo. All this for only $70 a month. It’s a freaking steal in Japan, right? Okay, I went overboard with the introduction and I haven’t even started the topic yet. If you’re serious about training and want to learn more, check out my post on How to Lose, Gain, or Maintain Weight.

Anytime Fitness - Tokyo, Japan

Anytime Fitness – Tokyo, Japan

Bodybuilding

So after joining a gym, I wanted to buy whey protein powder and supplements. Apparently, buying protein powder and supplements in Japan is super expensive. I know stores like Don Quijote have whey protein and supplements, but super expensive and their brands that I’ve never heard of (Japanese generic brands). I’m not hating on the Japanese brands, but if I’m buying expensive whey protein and supplements, I’m gonna buy it from brands that are at least known in the bodybuilding industry. And so I did some research. I remember back in the states, I would order from Bodybuilding.com. Turns out you can change the country of the store, meaning they can ship to Japan! I was stoked. Prices were decent and there’s always deals and coupons to get a steal. Prices were even in yen and it was all in English. I thought it was too good to be true. And it was. When I got to the checkout page, the shipping fee was a lot. Although there were 3 options to choose from, the Super Saver option was still super expensive. The shipping fee pretty much killed the deal.

iHerb

And back to researching I went when I came upon a website called iHerb.com. Despite the name, there were also a whole bunch of other types of products such as beauty products, herbs, some other stuff, and most importantly, “supplements and sports”. Although iHerb’s prices of whey protein weren’t that great, the prices of their supplements were. However, keep in mind that the shipping fee makes up for the higher cost of protein powder which I’ll talk about more in a bit. There was even a coupon that took $10 off if you’re a new customer. I’ll talk more about the coupon later. And lastly, most importantly, the shipping was “cheap”. Shipping was only $4.00. Yes, ONLY $4, well as long as your order was under 30 pounds. But that’s a steal! I could order 30lbs of whey protein and shipping would only be $4. And on top of that, delivery time is 3-5 days. That’s crazy. Furthermore, if your order totals $40 or more, you get FREE SHIPPING. Wait, there’s still more. If your order is over $60, you can an extra 5% off on top of that. Tell me not, that’s a steal. I should stop here. I feel like if I continue, this article will never end. Ugh, here we go… I just remembered that iHerb has a trials or samples page. What that means is that there’s a bunch of samples that you can try for as low as $0.25. On top of my protein powder order, I added a whole bunch of $0.25 and $0.50 items to my cart. Even if I didn’t need it, I still added it anyway. But yeah, be sure to check out the trials page too.

Beware of Customs Fees

iHerb has it written on the website, but I had to learn this the hard way. For those that are ordering from Japan, make sure your total order doesn’t exceed 16000 yen. When I shop on iHerb, I have the currency set as US dollars. Use a currency exchange calculator and make sure the value in yen is under 16000 yen. Just to be safe, make sure the value is at least 1000 to 2000 yen under 16000 yen. You will be charged an extra 3000 yen for custom fees if your total price is above 16000 yen. You will have to give the 3000 yen to the delivery person in order to receive your products. If you cancel, you won’t get a 100% refund. So the best thing you can do is make sure you don’t order anything that exceeds 16000 yen.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article will point you in the right direction in getting quality well-known protein and supplements for an affordable price and quick delivery time. I know things in Japan are expensive, but I feel there has to be a better option sometimes. I wish you the best of luck in achieving your fitness goals.

iHerb Coupon Details

Enter the code DPJ857 to get 10% off your first order. First-time customers only.

Use coupon code SAVE2017 and get $5 off your first order! First-time customers only.

All customers in Japan get 10% off when using Promo Code MIDJP. Click here to visit iHerb and apply the promo code automatically. *This offer is available until Monday, July 3rd at 10 a.m., Pacific Time (7/4 at 2:00 AM JST).

 

Transferring Money From US to Japan

Standard

Recently, I had to transfer a large amount of money from the US to Japan. I needed the money quick and I wanted a good rate. I searched all over the internet and found results such as Japan Post Bank, Western Union, and Seven Bank. I even had a friend, who just happened to be visiting, help bring some cash over and exchanged it at Japan Post Bank and Sakura Exchange in person. If you’re transferring money from US to Japan, I found Transferwise to be the best option for exchanging a large amount of money quickly and at a good rate. Before I start talking about Transferwise, I want to go over the other options first and why I found Transferwise to be best for my situation.

Exchanging in Japan

Japan Post Bank

Do not ever exchange cash at Japan Post Bank. The rates here are very low if you exchange in person. On the day that I went, the real exchange rate was about 114.3. Japan Post Bank gave me a rate of about 111.23. Furthermore, they charged me a fee.

Sakura Exchange

Sakura Exchange is a chain of small kiosks that that exchanges money. You can find several locations in Tokyo. Although the rates here are quite low as well, they gave me a higher rate than Japan Post Bank and they did not charge me a fee. I went to Sakura Exchange about half an hour after I went to Japan Post Bank and the rate was about 111.7 (Japan Post Bank was 111.23). Go here only if you need to exchange in a hurry or if you need to exchange a small amount of cash.

International Wire Transferring

Japan Post Bank

Wire transferring money from US to Japan Post Bank usually has a better rate than exchanging in person. However, wiring money can take up to a week if not more (depending on the US bank you are sending from). Even after Japan Post Bank receives the wire transfer, they will need to find out the reason for the transfer from you. That means they hold onto the money and you will receive the money on your account only after they contact you. You will need to let them know the reason for your transfer and say that this money has no relation to terrorists.

Furthermore, if you make a mistake on the wire transfer details such as accidentally forgetting to input the branch code, Japan Post Bank will hold onto the money and require you to contact them. They will only contact you once. You will have to contact them if you miss their call. I waited about 10 days before finally calling them. I had no idea where my money was. When I tried calling, they said I had to go to a physical location in person. When I did go in person to ask, the bank said they couldn’t do anything to help. I just wanted to find out what happened to the money! So then I call them again and they finally said they will investigate the situation and let my local bank know. So then that means I had to go back to the bank again in person and find out what had happened. Ridiculous. After they finally investigated what had happen, it turned out that the branch code number was missing.

Western Union

I have never used Western Union before so there is not much I can say about its services. You can use Western Union at most ATMs in Japan such as Seven Eleven. Unfortunately, they have a international transfer limit of 1 million yen which was not suitable for my situation.

Seven Bank

I have an account with Seven Bank and I am quite happy with its services. It is very convenient to use, especially with their ATMs all over Tokyo. Since Seven Bank uses Western Union for their international money transfer, the transfer limit is the same. So unfortunately, their international money transfer limit was not high enough for my situation.

Transferwise

Unlike banks where they have hidden fees and make money by giving a lower exchange rate, Transferwise gives you the exchange rate and fee upfront. On top of that, the exchange rate is extremely high. The rate they give is just slightly below the actual real exchange rate. Transferwise makes their money from the fee they charge. Although the fee they charge is slightly higher than banks, the high exchange rate Transferwise gives makes up for it and helps you save a lot more. When making a transfer, the rate is saved for 24 hours. So you have 24 hours to send the money, while keeping the rate you have when you create the transfer. You can create several transfers and have it saved for 24 hours so that you can keep the best rate. Rates change throughout the day. However, after you send money to the bank make sure you cancel the other transfers with the lower exchange rate so that the money will be exchanged with the higher rate saved.

Transferring money from US to Japan

Screenshot taken at 11:15PM on 3/15/2017 Japan time.

How Transferwise differs from the typical bank wire transferring is that no money is wired internationally. They have banks all over the world. For example, they have a bank in the US and a bank in Japan. When you make a transfer on the Transferwise website, you are asked to send money to their bank in the US. After they receive your money in USD in their US bank, their bank in Japan will send you money in JPY. There actually is no money exchange that occurs. The money you send stays in the US and they just send you money from their bank in Japan. This allows them to give a high exchange rate and quicken the money transfer time.

I made multiple transfers on Transferwise and I received the money in my bank with 3 to 5 days (although they give a later estimated date of arrival). I understand that Transferwise is new and it is kind of suspicious in the sense that money is sent to a bank in the US, not Japan, and that the street address of the wiring details is Jamaica Street. In fact, I did a test transfer of $100 just to be safe. I received the money with no problems, so I moved on with doing a bigger transfer and received it safely and swiftly.

The only downside of doing a money transfer with Transferwise is that the money has to be sent from an account with the same name as the receiving account. That means if you want money sent to an account in Japan with your name on it, it has to be sent from an account in the US with your name on it as well. So it can’t be sent from a different name such as from your parents or siblings. The only exception is that if it is a joint account with your name on it as well. Just make sure your name is listed as well when sending the transfer.

Once you get the bank account information prepared on the Transferwise account, making transfers will be easy and quick. I strongly recommend this service if you are transferring money from US to Japan.

Feel free to use my exclusive invite link to make a free transfer of up to £500 (roughly $530): https://transferwise.com/u/alanl36