How to access Japan-only iPhone apps

itunesjapanese

By Joshua Zimmerman

One of the most annoying things about the iTunes Store is the way it treats different countries. Every iTunes Account is linked to the country of origin, usually the country the credit card is from. While this isn’t a problem when you’re living in your home country, this is a big problem when you’re living in Japan because there are some iPhone applications that are only available in the Japan iTunes Store. One example is the very wonderful free weather app named Weathernews Touch. Unless you have a Japanese account, you’re not able to download this free app.

weathernewstouch1 weathernewstouch2

But don’t lose hope, there is a very easy, and free, way to get a Japanese iTunes account without using a credit card. (You can also use this to get access to music, movies, and TV shows in the Japanese iTunes Store as well.) Just follow these easy steps.

1. Get an e-mail address.

You need an e-mail address that is not already being used with iTunes. So if you already have an iTunes account set up, you’ll need to use a different e-mail than the one you’re already using. If you’re in need of a free e-mail account, try gmail.com.

2. Switch stores.

Open up the iTunes Store. If you’re already logged into your account, log your account out. Scroll down to the bottom of the Store. Click the country icon, and change it to Japan.

iTunes Country Icon

All Country Stores

3. Find a free application.

Once in the Japanese Store, search for Weathernews Touch (or any free application). Click the FREE APP button.

Store Weathernews

4. Create your account.

A window should pop up asking you to sign into your account. Click on Create New Account. Then keep hitting “Continue” and fill out all the information. When you get to the billing section, there will be an option labeled “None”, found to the right of all the credit cards.

Create New Account

Create New Account 2

Create Account 3

5. Wait.

Once you fill out everything and submit your information, you’ll have to wait for Apple to send back a confirmation e-mail. This could take a long time. Days even. So if you don’t get it right away, just relax and take a nap.

6) Verify your account & sign in.

Once Apple does e-mail you back, click on the verification link. Afterwards, sign into the iTunes Japan Store using your new e-mail address and download to your heart’s content. When you’re finished with the Japan Store, log out and just scroll down to the bottom and change back to whatever county’s store you were using before.

Bonus: Buying

If for some reason you want to buy something on the store, such as a Japanese movie or music, you can easily add money without a credit card. Just head down to your local 7-Eleven and buy yourself an iTunes gift card. Then log into your Japanese iTunes account and register your gift card.

itunesgiftcard

WARNING: Before posting messages about how it doesn’t work, please read the guide and try again. There is also always the chance that Apple could close this loop hole with an iTunes update. So if you’re reading this and it’s not the year 2009, you should probably try doing a Google search.

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33 thoughts on “How to access Japan-only iPhone apps”

  1. Massively helpful – thanks! Been trying to get the new Sekai Camera app and now Ive got it.

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  2. No problem man. I’m glad its proving useful to people!

    I’ve even downloaded a few ‘pay’ apps on the iTunes Japan Store thanks to a 1,000¥ gift card I bought at a 7-11.

    The same approach can be used to access any store in the world. Just be sure to log into the ‘foreign’ store every now and then, as your iPhone will only access updates for the store you’re currently logged into.

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  3. Hm, it seems that when I tried it, there is no option for having no credit card ..

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  4. You have to be sure that you click on a free application first.

  5. 1) Exit your current account (if you have one).
    2) Go to the Japanese iTunes Store.
    3) Find a free application.
    4) Go through the whole signup process, there should be an option for “None”.
    5) Wait a long time for your account to be approved.
  6. There is always the chance that Apple has removed this loophole. Just try again and let me know.

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  7. Joshua,
    Great information! I successfully logged in to the Japan iTunes Store and found some cool stuff. I actually received the confirmation email in about 10 minutes. I attempted to use an iTunes Gift Certificate (not card), but I had no luck. I guess Apple is closing in. Ha! Ha!

    Brad

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  8. You could always buy some Japanese iTunes gift card via ebay if you need to buy pay applications.

    I’m glad its working for you! But I’m surprised about your confirmation message coming so quickly…. mine took the better half of a week!

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  9. Worked like a charm! Instant confirmation e-mail if you submit your name in Katakana. Thanks a ton for the article!

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  10. That’s not really a loophole… it’s exactly what Apple wants you to do. It’s in the directions since it is against the user agreement to use any other itunes store than the one you are living in.

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  11. just did this and it worked perfect. so thank you. by the way, when you complete this process, it says that they sent you a verification email, which is what you have to wait days for. However, if you click resend verification, it sends it immediately. I started using my account right away.

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  12. Jeff,

    Lucky you! I clicked “Resend Verification” every day for a week before I got an email. Actually, I ended up getting six emails from Apple. One for each time I clicked “Resend.” I’m glad its working for you!

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  13. THANK YOU!!!
    I live in Japan as well and some of the apps (like ぐるなび) are exactly what i needed!!! Worked perfectly!!!
    どうも有り難うございました=D

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  14. I’m Japanese and living in Australia. It was really sad I coudn’t use my own language apps on my iphone4. BUT you fixed it! Thanks heaps!

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  15. Hi, I was wondering if the iTunes gift card is exclusively to Japan iTunes store? Cause I want to get a paid app from the Japan iTunes store but do not have a credit card. Thanks. And also, I can just get the card from any 7-11 store? Thanks.

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  16. I got an apps using another email address just like you said, but it won’t sync into my iphone (because, I assume, the id is different?) so what to do?

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  17. You can buy Japan iTunes prepaid cards from http://www.japan-codes.com
    It’s an online store that sells gift cards, game cards from Japan.

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  18. It will not allow me to add my account. It continues to tell me to contact iTunes Support.

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  19. Thanks so much for posting this. I was so annoyed with Apple for this, until finally I discovered your neat little trick.

    I noticed some people were not getting the “None” option for the credit card. I had the same problem at first. You have to make sure you log out of your current account first, click on a free app and enter the registration process that way. Do no go up to “Store” on the top left of iTunes. For some reason, when I did it that way at first, there was no “None” option.

    Anyway, thanks again! I can finally get my wife can finally get her puris ;-P

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  20. I used this guide mainly to get hold of the iOS version of Densha De Go – combined with commenter NAT’s link above for purchasing an iTunes gift card, it took less than 15 minutes to from start to end. Many thanks!

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  21. Also found this site while figuring out how to buy the DenGo! Yamanote Line IOS app. Also went through these steps (along with Nat’s) and got the game running in 15 mins. Very happy!

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  22. Hi all,

    Mainly because of what I read on this page, I rushed out and got a $20AUD iTunes card, only to have it not accepted… then I read the back and found “Valid only on Australian iTunes Store…”

    It’s my own fault – I should have read your disclaimer here, and also read the card. Anyway, at least I got the card with the least value.

    This sure makes Apple and iTunes feel a little less cool to me right now.

    James

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  23. Hey I have a question. I did all of this and downloading a couple free apps but they won’t go over to my ipod now. It’s a generation 4 ipod touch so shouldn’t it work. They won’t move over no matter what I do. Is there something I need to do first? D:(

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  24. 1-Month away ’til my awesome year in Japan begins…got the (partial) scholarship, got the pumped up excitement — but of course, sadly lacking in the “endless cash” department.

    I thought the MacBook Air would cover my Japanese language App needs — whoops.

    And my Galaxy Smartphone’s Droid apps…some good, some (eh)…

    So, should I plunk the cash? $500 more for what seems to be the state of the art way to learn Japanese? OR …?

    REALLY appreciate your replies!

    Robert

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  25. Great tip. Still works. My wife was bummed because the American version of the Gurunavi app is apparently not as good as the Japanese version. Now we can have both. Only problem is we can only get free apps since we live in the US. Unless we buy itunes gift cards every time we visit. Do those itunes gift cards from 7-Eleven expire?

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  26. Hi. Nice hint. Just wondering why I can not set a password for my new account. I can’t read japanese ^^’ and there is no possibility to copy the message turning red who should say me what I’m doing wrong. I tried combinations of words and numbers and even japanese characters. Any tip ?

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  27. What do I type for the adress?

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  28. When I get a new apple I’d it wants a credit card right away or an iTunes card so there is now way to download anything until you type in either a credit card or an iTunes card bought in Japan

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  30. It’s actually a great and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this useful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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