For many years now (possibly as many as 15), my husband has had a really nifty poster in a storage tube in our closet. This poster is too good (and likely valuable) to merely tack up on the wall with thumb tacks and we had never run across a poster-size frame while shopping in brick and mortar places in Tokyo so we never put it up. As time went by, the situation with our apartment was such that we didn't have a sufficiently large wall expanse to hang it on regardless so we forgot we had it until we started cleaning out the junk we had stashed in the closet a few years ago.
With the new air conditioner installed and functioning well and my plans for changing the furniture arrangement offering up some wall space, I decided it was time to take action and get this decorative beauty on a wall. The main problem with getting started is that I was uncertain where to find a frame for it. Fortunately, the Internet is there for us in these times of crisis so I did some searching starting with Amazon Japan. There was no joy there so I went to the Japanese branch of allposters.com. Unfortunately, with the cheapest frame starting at ¥17,000 ($137) all of their frames were too expensive. My plan is not to show a lovely frame but rather to protect the poster and display it neatly.
After a bit more searching around I finally found a place called "Poster Jam" which sells a wide variety of posters and frames including aluminum ones for around ¥1200-¥4000 ($10-$32). The price varies depending on the size of the frame. For this price, I didn't quite know what to expect but the drawing on the web site showed that there would be a backing, a frame, and a film to cover the poster. That was pretty much all I needed.
My husband was a bit wary of ordering in Japanese from a place like this because you can never be absolutely sure if you're filling in the forms correctly. While I think he has a point, there is one thing about ordering things from places like this in Japan that makes the situation far less risky. That is, it is very common for sellers to offer C.O.D. as an option when buying. Since you don't have to enter credit card information, even if you screw up the form, you won't be charged anything if they don't manage to deliver.
Fortunately, the form was pretty easy to fill out with a combination of my limited reading skills, my much better ability to type in Japanese, my husband's reading skills (which are far superior to mine), and the aid of my Mac's Japanese-English translation widget for confirmation of what we thought we were reading. The order went off without a hitch. The confirmation e-mail said that the delivery may take 5-7 days but it actually only took one and a half.
My friendly neighborhood Yamato delivery fellow brought this huge box today. You'll note that there are a fair number of "fragile" stickers attached to the box so that the frame isn't damaged in transit. Our bed is a queen-size one so you can get some idea of how large the parcel was. I can see why the postage on this is ¥600 ($4.80) given the size of the thing.
Incidentally, this Yamato delivery fellow knows me and I know him well because he handles delivery and pick-up of my freelance work with my former company. When he brought my package, he even asked me if I had anything to send out. The way the C.O.D. was handled (at least in my case) was that the delivery fellow called me first and told me he was on his way with a C.O.D. parcel that would cost me ¥4,080. This is rather a good idea both to make sure I'm home and that I'm ready with the money.
Inside the box, the frame is well-padded with a large sheet of bubble wrap. There's also a receipt in an envelope and a well-illustrated instruction sheet telling you how to take the frame apart for inserting a poster and how to install the hanger. You only need to remove two screws to remove the top of the frame to remove the film and prepare to insert the poster. Of course, given "Shari's Law of Small Screws", I dropped them twice and was on my hands and knees on the floor searching for where they'd bounced off to.
The clear film used to cover the front is flexible but adequately sturdy. It's protected on both sides by peel-off backing. The white backing faces the front of the frame when it's sent to you and is thicker in order to reduce the chances that the film will be damaged by a bump or nick. Given the size of the sheet, it's slightly unwieldy but quite manageable if you work with the entire frame on a large flat surface.
After you peel the backing off of the clear film, you can place the poster on the back board of the frame (which is pretty much just cardboard but does the job) and either place or slide the film over it. Our poster has been rolled up for so long that I had to slide it over to hold the edges down as I slowly uncurled it. If you have a poster which can lie flat, it's probably a lot easier to place.
The hanger pieces come in a little bag. Before you put the top of the frame back on, you need to slide them down along the sides. Of course, I didn't notice this until after I'd already put the top back on so I had to go another round with the screws and, being the lawful type, I obediently dropped one again.
The design for the hanger on the back is pretty ingenious. The weight of the frame when it hangs holds them in place. I'm pretty sure this is a very trustworthy hanging system but I'm less sure about my ability to tie a bow that holds so I'll probably re-tie this into one huge honking knot before actually hanging it up. The poster can't be hung until my furniture swap is done though and that won't happen until next Monday or Tuesday.
Finally, you may see the nifty poster we've kept hidden away all these years. At the top, the Japanese says something about "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" being a "super nonsense movie" and that's actually pretty accurate. Since this is a Monty Python item and it's Japanese, it's a slice of geek nirvana. The picture can't convey just how slick this looks in person because you lose the sense of the size and nice clean look of it. Also, the color is off because I had to cover the lens with a tissue so as not to get a huge glare spot on it. If you've got a great poster you want to display, you definitely want to frame it because it looks so much better this way.
My experience with Poster Jam leads me to give them a big thumbs up. The frame is very nice for the price and they were fast to process the order and deliver it to me. They were also easy to order from (even in Japanese). The only problem with the frame that I can see is that the frame doesn't hold the pieces together as tightly as would be nice. If you jostle the poster inside the frame around a bit while attaching the hanging pieces, it can be shaken out of where you've carefully placed it. To some extent, the static of the clear film on the front will hold the poster in place but perhaps not enough for a relatively thick and heavy poster like ours. When I tied the back on, the poster slipped down a bit but I was able to shake it back up without taking it apart. However, the odd size of our poster required me to order a frame somewhat larger than its true size. If you get a frame that just fits (or order a custom-made one), this isn't an issue.