Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA, Earth
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I can only address your question 1), I'm afraid. It is possible for the 5% tax to be refunded, but there is a lot of paperwork (and legwork) involved and your friend will not receive the refund until several weeks/months later. It will have to be done by him/her because a passport copy is required. Also, this is only available to persons visiting Japan on tourist visas. Anyone with any sort of residence visa, short term or otherwise, will not be able to get the tax refund.
The one possibility you should consider is having your purchase made at a larger chain electronics store (e.g., Bic Camera, et.al.) as they will do all of the paperwork for you and give you the 5% refund on the spot (they get your refund check when the paperwork comes through). The problem with this is that the larger stores' prices are generally higher than you will find on Kakaku.com
Personally, I don't understand why you want to go through this hassle. What you may save over going with ********** would not be worth it if you had any warranty issues. In fact, if you get unlucky and have to pay duty, you will probably end up paying substantiontially more than buying it via **********.