If you’re targeting a Japanese audience, a .jp domain can be an easy way to indicate that the service is intended for Japan and Japanese web users. .jp domains can be registered by anyone, anywhere and are administered by Japan Registry Service (JPRS).  JPRS only deals with registrars that are incorporated in Japan, so if you are using a service like Godaddy or Namecheap, then they are going through a Japanese registrar – which is why .jp domains typically cost $US100 or more through these sites.

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As usual, if you want to get cheap, you have to go local.  Competition in recent times has pushed the prices down considerably.  For 1 year, you will typically pay about 2,700 to 3,000 yen.  This is much more expensive than the $US10 for .com domains, but a lot better than the 6 to 7,000 yen it used to cost a few years ago.

Since there is little price difference amongst the budget providers, you should probably make your decision based on other factors – probably most important is ease of use.  Here are a few options and some comments on each.



Star Domain

1 year: 2,780yen

Star Domain has a relatively simple and well designed registration and management system.  Like most of the cheaper registrars, you need to buy credit first and then use it to register a domain.  The interface is mainly text based and therefore something like the translation feature of Google Chrome should work quite well.

This is the registrar that I prefer.

http://www.star-domain.jp/

Onamae.com

1 year: 2,990yen

Onamae.com has been around for a really long time (in internet years) and is just a bit more expensive than Star Domain.  Unfortunately it suffers because they try to offer everything else in addition to domain registration (hosting, remote desktop, blah, blah) through the same site.  The designer has also gone a bit over the top with javascript and stylised images, so it’s not going to work very well through a translate tool if you can’t read the Japanese.

I can’t comment on the domain management interface because I haven’t registered a domain through them.

http://www.onamae.com/

Value Domain

1 year: 2,990yen

This is the registrar I used to use before I discovered Star Domain.  While they are similarly priced to Star Domain, the major downfall with this service is their incredibly complicated menu system.  Also the support is quite poor.  One time when I accidentally paid twice through their payment gateway, they refused to refund the double payment as they were a ‘low service’ company!  The interface is almost entirely text based, so no barriers for the translate tool in Google Chrome – except the original Japanese is hard enough to work out so I’m sure it won’t make much sense in English either.

https://www.value-domain.com/

If you’re looking to register a .co.jp domain, then you’ll need to have some kind of Japanese corporation.  You don’t need to have a Kabushikigaisha (KK), .co.jp registrations are also open to LLPs and LLCs.  Make sure you choose a good domain though as you are only permitted a single .co.jp domain per entity.  The registration process is also a little trickier.

If you don’t speak or you can’t handle Japanese, then you’d be best to go through a more conventional domain registrar such as 101domain.com which offers .jp domains (but not .co.jp domains) from US$52/year.

 

Photo credit: Original Mount Fuji Image by Ivan Walsh

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