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. A .jp domain 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. That’s why .jp domains sometimes cost $US100 or more through those sites.

Introduction to registering a .jp domain

As usual, if you want to go cheap, you have to go local. Competition in recent times has pushed the prices down considerably. For 1 year, you will typically pay about ¥2,360 to ¥3,000.  This is much more expensive than the $US10 for .com domains, but a lot better than the ¥6,000 to ¥7,000 it used to cost a few years ago.

Since there is little price difference among 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.

Japanese registrars

You should be aware that Japanese registrars only offer service in Japanese. If you have problems and require support in English, they will likely refuse to help you. If that’s a problem, just pay a bit more and use an international registrar.



Star Domain

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; therefore, something like the translation feature of Google Chrome should work quite well.

I used to use this service a lot, but I would recommend this service more for hobbyists than professionals.

1 year: ¥2,360
Payment: Paypal + all credit cards accepted

Go to Star Domain

Onamae.com

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. They are a big company though, with the backing of GMO internet, so you would hope they are less likely to just disappear without a trace.

The domain registration and management interface is quite arcane. Even if you speak pretty good Japanese, it’s a hassle to use. That said, this is the one I have used most frequently of late.

1 year: ¥2,800
Payment: All credit cards accepted

Go to onamae.com

Value Domain

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 its 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. The original Japanese is hard enough to work out, so I’m sure it won’t make much sense in English either.

1 year: ¥3,124
Payment: All credit cards + Amazon Pay

Go to Value Domain

International registrars

If you don’t speak Japanese, then you’d be best to go through a more conventional domain registrar such as 101domain.com, which offers .jp domains from US$49.99/year.

Registering .co.jp domains

Most people won’t make a big distinction between yourcompany.jp and yourcompany.co.jp, but if you are looking to impress conservative Japanese business partners or customers, then the .co.jp domain definitely has more cachet.

Requirements

If you’re looking to register a .co.jp domain, then you’ll need to fulfill a few strict requirements.

  1. You must be registering it on behalf of a Japanese corporation. (You cannot register a .co.jp domain for a non-Japanese company.)
  2. You are only allowed one .co.jp domain per corporation.
  3. You cannot anonymize the registration as you can with .com domains. All information will remain public on JPRS.

Process

The main difference with the regular process is that you must prove that you are a Japanese corporation. For this, the registrar needs information such as the date of incorporation, registered address, and the representative director. You will also need to provide the registrar with a tokibotohon certificate—an official document of incorporation particulars issued by the Bureau of Legal Affairs. Some registrars may let you use the domain before supplying the certificate, but they will cancel it if you don’t supply the certificate within a certain time.

Cost

The cost of .co.jp domains is only slightly more expensive than a regular .jp domain. Onamae.com and Star Domain have a list price of ¥3,660, Value Domain charges ¥3,660, while 101 Domain charges US$100.00.

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