The Forbidden Fruit

Your Favorite Outdoor Brands Offer Better Products in Japan, Here’s How to Get Them


April 18, 2018 Buying Guides By

It’s a little-known secret that your favorite outdoor brands like The North Face, Snow Peak, Montbell and Columbia, all make products that are only available in Japan. This happens because the brand may not feel like the market for a product exists in the U.S., or because they are testing the waters in Japan before they bring a product to the global market, or in the case of The North Face’s Purple Label, they simply want it to remain Japan-exclusive.

But that doesn’t mean that these products are simply “off limits.” Thanks to a service called ZenMarket, the forbidden Japanese fruit is finally available in the U.S. To use ZenMarket, follow the steps below as outlined by our style writer John Zientek. If you’d like to learn more about the service, you can check out the full story on ZenMarket here. Below, we’ve picked out some of our favorite Japan-only outdoor items.

How to Buy Goods From Japan Using ZenMarket

Shop on ZenMarket. Use ZenMarket to browse sites like Rakuten, Yahoo Auctions and Amazon, or enter the URL of a site you want to shop.

Get a quote. If the item is available for purchase, add to your cart and ZenMarket will confirm the price and availability of the item.

Pay or Deposit Funds. If your item is immediately available for purchase, pay the confirmed price. If you are bidding on an auction, you must first deposit funds to your ZenMarket account to place a bid. The ZenMarket service fee is a flat rate of 300 Yen (less than $3).

Wait a couple days. ZenMarket will order your item and wait for it to be delivered to its warehouse. If you were shopping an auction, ZenMarket will buy your item from the seller and wait for it to be delivered (may take longer according to individual sellers).

Choose the shipping method. After your item arrives at the ZenMarket warehouse, choose your shipping method, specify your address and wait for confirmation of the shipping price. If you are ordering more than one item, you can choose to have multiple items shipped in the same box.

Pay for shipping. Complete the interaction by paying for shipping on your boxed items.

Receive your package. Depending on your shipping method, your item should arrive in one to two weeks.

Ask questions at any point. If you need assistance, simply type questions into ZenMarket’s convenient chat. ZenMarket employees can communicate with auction sellers, help you find items in Japanese online marketplaces, check your items upon arrival to the warehouse (and send photos) or explain any confusion that may arise in the process.

What You Should Buy From The North Face

While The North Face’s rare, Japan-only Purple Label gets all of the attention, there are plenty of products that are equally as cool available from the brand’s regular Japanese website.

Emergency Jacket by The North Face ~$483
Made from Dyneema, the Emergency Jacket is lightweight, ultra-durable and waterproof.

Zephyr Cardigan by The North Face ~$282
The Zephyr Cardigan is a stylish, high-performance jacket that uses The North Face’s Ventrix active insulation.

Red Point Very Light Tee by The North Face ~$221
A short sleeve down-insulated shirt!

XP Fuse Box by The North Face ~$211
Made from X-pack fabric, the XP Fuse Box is water resistant and has room for a 15-inch laptop.

What You Should Buy From Snow Peak

While Snow Peak remains a trendy, outdoor-lifestyle brand in the U.S., in Japan it’s a full-blown outdoor brand making everything from ultralight tents to high-end bicycles. In addition to what you see here, the brand’s extensive collection of bags is also worth a look.

SUSD-2 by Snow Peak ~$13,025
Who knew Snow Peak made a bike?

Military Sleeping Bag by Snow Peak ~$184
As its name suggests, this sleeping bag is inspired by the military and is insulated with synthetic fibers.

Fal Pro.air 2 by Snow Peak ~$436
While Snow Peak offers tents geared toward car camping in the U.S., its backcountry-appropriate tents like this one are only available in Japan.

What You Should Buy From Columbia

In contrast to the brand’s U.S. presence, Columbia is incredibly trendy in Japan. So trendy in fact, that like The North Face, Columbia offers a Japan-only collection called Black Label. It’s loaded with stylish outdoor lifestyle products that are filled with technical features, but don’t sacrifice on style.

Bennett Runner Jacket by Columbia Black Label ~$242
The Bennett Runner is made from ripstop nylon and features Columbia’s Omni-Tech membrane.

Cypress Point Anorak by Columbia Black Label ~$191
This pullover anorak is lightweight, breathable and features a DWR coating.

Wedder Garden Jacket by Columbia Black Label ~$221
This jacket is inspired by Columbia’s classic Multi Pocket Fishing Vest.

Carbonate Brook Vest by Columbia Black Label ~$252
This vest is based on the vest that Columbia President Gart Boyle made her husband in 1960.

What You Should Buy From Montbell

While many of Montbell’s products are available in the U.S., one notable collection isn’t: cycling. In Japan, Montbell offers a full range of cycling products from jackets to gloves.

Cycle Dry Shell by Montbell ~$233
This cycling jacket uses Gore-Tex’s Shake Dry membrane.

Cycle Rain Shoe Cover by Montbell ~$43
These waterproof booties are ultra-stretchy and feature a waterproof zipper in the back making them easy to put on.

Cycle Rain Pants by Montbell ~$177
While intended for cycling, these Gore-Tex pants can easily be used hiking or running as well.

What You Should Buy From Burton

Like other brands on this list, Burton also offers its own Japan-only collection called AK457. It represents the brand’s most technical products (not unlike its AK collection in the U.S.), including bags, base layers and outerwear. We’ve picked out a few of the highlights, but the full collection is worth a look.

AK457 Guide Pack 31L by Burton ~$313
Burton’s AK457 pack is equally well-suited to backcountry pursuits, travel and the everyday commute.

AK457 Duffel Bag 105L by Burton ~$280
If you need to carry your entire wardrobe with you on a trip, this is the bag to get.

AK457 Base Layer Hi Neck Fleece by Burton ~$168
This fleece features a scuba-style hood and is made from Polartec Power Stretch Fleece.

AK457 Micro Fleece Pant by Burton ~$317
Whether you’re snowboarding or runinng errands, a pair of fleece pants is a necessity.

AK457 Packable Down Jacket by Burton ~$343
High-quality, minimally branded and black — what more could you want from a down jacket.

AK457 Mid Fleece Pant by Burton ~$209
Made from Polartec’s Hi Loft fleece, these make the perfect base layer for ultra-cold days.

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