Denki News

March 12, 2007

Buying songs from the Japanese iTunes Store

Filed under: iPod & iTunes, Japan — icruise @ 3:06 pm

I’m not a big fan of what is commonly called “J-Pop” but when I lived in Japan I made a conscious effort to find some Japanese artists that I did like. I rented a lot of CDs (yes you can rent CDs in Japan — a good thing, since they are close to $30 apiece) and eventually found quite a number of artists that a liked a lot. But when I moved back to the US, I was pretty much cut off. It is possible to import Japanese CDs to the US, but it’s expensive and you certainly can’t do much experimenting with new bands that you’ve never heard of before.

When the iTunes Music Store opened in Japan, I had hoped that it would allow me to buy Japanese songs, much as the US version of the iTS had helped me keep in touch with American music while I was in Japan. But unfortunately, they required you to have a credit card with a Japanese billing address just to open an account. You can listen to the 30-second previews, but not download anything — even the weekly free songs.

However, I recently found out that if you buy an iTS prepaid card from Japan, you can use it to create a Japanese iTS account without any credit card at all, allowing you to download Japanese songs. There are even places on the net (such as J-List) that sell Japanese cards for this express purpose. There are instructions on the J-List page telling how to go about creating an account with a prepaid card. You need to have the card first, though, since if you try and create an account without it, it will insist that you have a credit card. The only tricky part is that you have to have a Japanese address of some kind (even though it will likely never be used). I don’t know how strict the system is about putting in a real address, but J-List has said that you can even use their address as a dummy. However, I couldn’t find their Japanaese address on the site, though, so you might need to contact them if you want to try that.

Anyway, I can finally download Japanese music now, so I’m happy. Here are some of my favorite Japanese artists. Clicking the links will take you to their iTS page. Unfortunately, the iTS doesn’t have the greatest selection for some of them — I have 13 albums by my favorite band Spitz, and only one of them is on the iTS. They do have a couple of greatist hits albums that have some of their best stuff, though. There are also some major artists that aren’t on the iTS at all, such as Mr. Children and the Southern All Stars.
Utada Hikaru
Yamazaki Masayoshi
Inoue Yousui
Makihara Noriyuki
UA (prononuced Ooh-Ah)
Chage and Aska
Yaida Hitomi



  1. By and large, I have a tough time buying any Japanese music without the DVD visual version.

    Comment by Radicalpatriot — March 13, 2007 @ 1:36 am

  2. Hi, I live in Japan and the people at Bic don’t know anything. I want to buy a prepaid Itunes card but if I buy it here, does that mean I can’t buy songs from the American Itunes store and I can only buy Jpop songs?

    Comment by Carter — April 17, 2007 @ 8:31 am

  3. If you buy a prepaid card in Japan, you can only buy from the Japanese iTunes store, but there is a lot more than just Jpop on the Japanese store. You can get a lot of American artists there as well.

    Comment by icruise — April 17, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  4. It really sucks that American’s can’t buy from the iTunes Japan store… Plus, when I buy my CD’s from YesAsia (, they don’t let you preview the songs on the CD, and they’re a lot more expensive. I wish that iTunes Japan would be avaliable to Americans…

    Comment by Aeris of Iniquity — April 17, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  5. Has something changed in iTunes since you published your message above? I cannot access Japan iTunes at all. I have tried selecting Japan from the “My store” toggle at the bottom of the iTunes store page, changing the date/time and location settings on my computer to “Japan”, changed the language of iTunes and preference settings to Japanese – all to no avail. I also tried downloading iTunes to a different computer from the Japanese iTunes download site, but it still opens as the American version of iTunes. How is it that you can see Japan iTunes and I can’t?! Any advice would be much appreciated!

    Comment by Kyarorin — April 20, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  6. No, it still works — I just tried it on a different computer, too. As far as I know, Apple has never done anything to prevent people from accessing foreign iTunes Stores. You could always browse them, but purchasing was a different matter. Are you saying that selecting the 日本 (Japan) link at the bottom of the iTunes page does nothing whatsoever for you? What about the other countries’ stores?

    Comment by icruise — April 20, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

  7. Yes, I cannot get to the site, even to browse. If I select 日本 as “My store”, the page simply refreshes to the American iTunes store. I have tried on both Macs and Windows machines, and – as I mentioned in my post – I have tried messing with teh settings to see if there is anything I can change to convince the “cookie monster” that I am Japanese! Hmm… What could it be?!

    Comment by Kyarorin — April 20, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  8. Oh – and I forgot to mention – no, I cannot get to any other country sites. (I tried “Norway”, etc.)

    Comment by Kyarorin — April 20, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

  9. That’s very strange. You might try using a different network if you are able to, just to make sure it isn’t some weird issue with your router or Internet provider.

    I’ve always been able to access the Japanese store, and from what I read, other people have been too. So I think this is more of a glitch of some kind than anything. That may not make you feel any better, though.

    Comment by icruise — April 20, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

  10. Kyarorin, that is really strange because I am able to access the Japanese Itunes site. I hope it works for you soon.

    Does anyone know if it is still necessary to give our address when making an account even if we’re just redeeming a pre-paid card/gift certificate (and not using a credit card)?

    Comment by Carter — April 21, 2007 @ 3:28 am

  11. Thanks for sticking with me on this. It was indeed a network issue! I’ve gone to our school network director, and while he hasn’t yet figured out why, at least I know I can access if I go elsewhere. Domo arigato!

    Comment by Kyarorin — April 24, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  12. Thanks for the tip! 😀 I think I might have to do that in the future. At the moment I’m mainly buying cds from Play-asia, Yesasia but some of the rarer ones can only be found on HMV/Amazon and they do cost an arm and a leg once you consider shipping.

    Comment by flickaflick — June 5, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  13. Are songs in J-iTS DRM protected? I believe in US they sell non-DRM versions, but I’m not sure since I’ve never used iTS. I’d definitely join iTS if I am able to get jpop there.

    I also wonder what they do with the Japanese address… if they won’t mail you anything, maybe I can use my old Tokyo address?

    Comment by sky — October 18, 2007 @ 12:42 am

  14. Another site where you can get these cards is

    They also have a handy section dealing with the address issued mentioned in the post.

    It’s a membership site but it is free to join.

    Comment by Aaron — November 20, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  15. To Sky’s question above:
    It doesn’t really matter what address you use for the iTS address. Using your old Tokyo address is fine. It only needs to be a valid address if your are paying with your credit card, in which case they check the address against the address on file with the credit card company, pretty much the same as when you buy anything with a credit card online.

    Comment by Aaron — December 5, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  16. I’ve got the opposite problem, I want to buy movies from the American site, but my credit card is registered in Japan. The Japanese site doesn’t seem to even sell movies. Any advice?

    Comment by genkipengi — December 24, 2007 @ 1:39 am

  17. You have to logout, and refresh the itunes store to access the japan store. At least that’s what I’ve read. I’m anxiously waiting to get my Maximum the Hormone fix!

    Comment by Dustin — April 13, 2008 @ 8:05 am

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