I have been a lurker here for a while. Thanks everyone for all the useful information and experiences. I thought I would give back a little...
I have collected a few 1/3 scale dolls and in the process learned a lot in the last year about ordering dolls and accessories from Japan (to the US). I did not want to deal with middlemen or shopping services so I focused on companies that would ship to the US and had support in English. In general I found all of these companies to be reliable and honest. Here is a list of some of the easiest companies that I have found to work with. These are all based in Japan. have English websites. take foreign orders, and accept Paypal. This is not meant to be an all inclusive list of hobby stores that sell dolls to the US or ship internationally, but to be more of a review of the ones that I have found and personally used after countless hours of research. These companies also happen to all sell 50cm Obitsu based dolls, which are great dolls for posing and photography.HLJ (Hobby Link Japan)http://www.hlj.com/top/Dol
*Entire website is in English.
*Carries Azone 1/3 BJD dolls
*Carry VMF50 1/3 BJD Dolls (uses a modified 50cm Obitsu based body. Sexy detailed body, somewhat anime style faces. Maybe I will write a separate review of these another time)
*Carry Tokyo Doll silicone dolls from 1/12 scale to 1/3 scale. These look exactly like Arte Tokio 60cm dolls to me.
*They have a "Private Warehouse" where you can store your purchases for up to 90 days and ship when you are ready.
*Great communication, shipments took 3 to 5 days to arrive. I have used them numerous times in the last year.
*They do not carry any "True BJD" dolls. Obitsu bodies have sophisticated joints and are actually very nice, but these may be snubbed by some Dollfie fans. SO, if you are looking for strung dolls then this may not be for you.Hobby Searchhttp://www.1999.co.jp/eng/doll/
*Decent English on the website, some item details may be in Japanese.
*Decent Shopping Cart
*Carry many of the same items as HLJ that I listed above.
*Communication was good and shipment took 4 or 5 days to arrive. I used them twice in the last year
*Same as HLJMandarakehttp://ekizo.mandarake.co.jp/shop/en/
*Carry a wider variety of 1/3 dolls and accessories.
*You can find some very hard to find items, limited releases and used dolls.
*Dollfie and other brands of strung BJD are available.
*Shipping times good.
*I had success in using them to locate a hard-to-find / out-of-production doll.
*The English on their website seems to be machine translated.
*You may have a hard time finding what you want even if they have it because you may need to search using Japanese kana.
*Part of your order may be cancelled due to unavailability. I believe this happens when a storefront item sold but the website inventory was not updated.
*Least sophisticated shopping cart.Paraboxhttp://www.parabox.jp/eng_new/index.html
*If you are looking for Obitsu related then they have the most variety
*Many doll making parts and supplies.
*Shipping took 3-5 days. I used them several times with a good result.
*Site navigation is not great.
*Limited to primarily Obitsu related products.Amiamihttp://www.amiami.com
I have not had the opportunity to use this company yet, but they have been on my radar as a good potential source. Let me know if you have any experience with them.
I hope you find this helpful,