Web Development
Web Design
Web Localization
Web Marketing
X

Client Testimonial

Jeffrey Allen Consulting

"Tokyo Web Designs really provided us with great solutions for our website. Everything was explained to us along the way and at every step we were provided with creative options to choose from plus give our own input. We really felt like a partner from the start to the finish of the project. The thing that impressed us the most was the level of personalized service we received. Every request or question that we had throughout the process was handled quickly and professionally. We wholeheartedly recommend Tokyo Web Designs to anyone who is seeking help in developing a website." - Jeffrey Allen Consulting

Press ESCAPE or Click on X (right-top) to close this popup.

X

Client Testimonial

MacMillan LanguageHouse

"We were looking to give one of our best selling products a branded presence on the web and provide our customers with added support for the product. Tokyo Web Designs not only helped us with all our requests, but also provided us with some very good suggestions on how to improve the look and impact of the site. It was a pleasure working with them and we appreciate all the hard work they put into our project." - Darren Halliday, Sales & Marketing Manager

Press ESCAPE or Click on X (right-top) to close this popup.

X

Client Testimonial

Parts Agent Australia

"To have a successful business you need to have the right people and right associates to give you a competitive edge. Tokyo Web Designs have given our growing company that edge. They created exactly what we wanted. No fuss and no bother. They created clean, simple, Internet shop front that worked. Now we are able to give potential customers easy access to our business and information to generate sales." - Cliff Lugton, Director

Press ESCAPE or Click on X (right-top) to close this popup.

X

Client Testimonial

The Flying Pieman

"Starting online sales requires a high level of specialist knowledge and expertise. The feedback and suggestions we received from Tokyo Web Designs during this process were invaluable. From start to finish everything was very transparent and initial discussions of what we wanted and how best to achieve it were very free flowing in both directions. With all the other challenges we had in preparing for our transition into selling online, this was one area which was stress-free. For foreigners in Japan looking to start an online store, I would recommend looking no further than Tokyo Web Designs." - The Flying Pieman ミートパイ ストア

Press ESCAPE or Click on X (right-top) to close this popup.

X

Client Testimonial

Orange Road English

"Tokyo Web Designs provided just what we needed! We now have an easy to maintain website for our 大宮 英会話 教室 (English Conversation School). One feature we especially like is the blog which allows us to post ビジネス英会話 (Business English) conversation study tips and advice for our students."

Press ESCAPE or Click on X (right-top) to close this popup.

Ever wondered how many unique website domains are registered out there? Well a visit to domaintools.com reveals that at the time of writing this article, the active number of “.com” domains  alone is almost 80 million. By contrast the number of “.jp” domains finally passed the 1 million mark in 2008. With such a huge disparity you might well ask “why bother with anything other than  the industry standard ‘.com’ domain name extension”?  In this article we are going to look at whether you need a Japanese domain name and what your options are.

Can’t I just use “.com”?

If your target audience is truly a global one then there probably isn’t any need to look at the alternatives. Many successful Japanese companies choose to operate with a “.com” domain. However, if you are specifically targeting customers in Japan you should at least consider the advantages a local domain name extension will give your site in Japanese language search rankings. Most SEO experts will agree that Yahoo Japan and Google Japan give extra search engine result weighting to “Japanese” websites since these sites are more likely to carry content relevant for their users. So for this purpose a search engine will look at the domain name extension of websites in its search index.

What other choices are there?

.co.jp

Before going further, lets look at what local Japanese domain name options are available. Prior to Jan 1st, 2001 the standard Japanese domain extension was “.co.jp”. These are still used by a large number of companies but there are some important bureaucratic obstacles that make this option less attractive. Firstly, it is available only to a locally registered business entity and you will need to provide documentary proof of the fact. Secondly, you are limited to only one domain per business. So for example if you registered “abc.co.jp” and then later decided to you would also like to add “xyz.co.jp” you are stuck.

IDN

Another option which has been available for a while is to register an IDN (International Domain Name). This means that rather than alphanumeric characters you can in fact register a domain name using Japanese Kanji/Katakana/Hiragana script. Extending this is the ICANN decision in 2008 to liberalize domain name extensions. So as of this year it will be possible to have a Japanese script domain name PLUS Japanese script domain extension.

However before you go rushing off to stake a domain claim on www.日本.日本 you should consider that there are significant problems with IDNs in general. Firstly, if your user is at a computer which does not have East Asian character IME support installed, there is effectively no way to conveniently access the site. Unless it is already bookmarked there is no way for users to enter the URL directly into the URL browser box.

Secondly, there are important browser and mail agent constraints. Most browsers will reinterpret the URL request, so アニメ.com will resolve to http://www.xn--cck5dwc.com/.  The important exception is Internet Explorer 6. A lot of people are still using this old browser (unfortunately) which effectively shuts them out from accessing your site. A related problem is the issue of email. NO email system currently supports Japanese characters as part of the email address. So in the case just mentioned you would be telling your business partners to contact you at “johndoe@xn--cck5dwc.com”. Unless you are Rain Man that fails the phone message test.

Thirdly, kanji itself is a problematic language script at times since many words sound the same phonetically but use different kanji symbols. So again, when telling someone you IDN verbally, you will need to sometimes be clear about which kanji character set you are referring to from potentially a list of identical sounding words.

Finally, there is a usability barrier even for people who are familiar with Japanese as their native language. A good article here at Stippy.com best sums up the keyboard gymastics required to enter an IDN.

“For many Japanese who do consider themselves Internet capable, the factor that holds them back from IDNs is the henkan, or conversion factor. To actually get to 価格.com using its IDN, you have to type the following key strokes into your browser’s address bar:

1. kakaku

2. SPACE (to convert “kakaku” into 価格)

3. ENTER (to tell the computer that 価格 is actually the correct kanji out of several possibilities. Thank god 価格 was the first choice.)

4. HANKAKU/ZENKAKU key (to convert input method back into romaji to enter the single byte TLD, the .com part)

5. and then finally the “.com” on the end. You end up tapping the keyboard that many more times to get to the exactly the same site, not to mention that your computer then has to translate what you typed back to a convoluted single byte web address!. Less tapping is better and surely more user friendly – Romaji here is clearly the better choice.”

So although promoters of IDN domain registries will no doubt beg to differ, it seems that choosing a Kanji/Katakana/Hiragana domain and/or domain extension for your site is probably a poor decision. In any case it would seem anecdotally that most Japanese who are comfortable with using computers are also comfortable with using Latin alphabet Romanji characters.

.jp AND .ne.jp

This leaves two further options, the “.jp” and “.ne.jp” domain extensions (there is no real advantage between the two, except that the first option has fewer characters). For businesses or individuals who want to target a specifically Japanese audience, a .jp or .ne.jp domain are the best choice. They come without the bureacratic hang ups of “.co.jp” and without the technical and usability traps of an IDN. Some people might ask, “but doesn`t a ‘.co.jp’ domain give more credibility?”. Well to answer that we would say that it apparently hasn`t harmed some of Japan`s most successful web companies.

Here is a break down from Alexa.com of the top 20 Japanese websites by domain name extension:

  • .com – 8 websites
  • .jp – 4 websites
  • .co.jp – 4 websites
  • .ne.jp -2 websites
  • .net / .org – 2 websites

A further advantage of choosing a .jp or .ne.jp is that there is a much greater possibility of getting the ideal domain name for your site. Most of the best “.com” names were snapped up long ago. However there are many good domain names still available with “.jp” or “.ne.jp” extensions.

We should also mention the downside of local domain names. Whereas “.com” domains can be bought for around $10-$15 a year (sometimes included for free with hosting packages) a Japanese domain name extension will cost several times this amount . You will need to do the math for yourself but usually the extra investment will pay off with improved search engine visibility if you are selling something to a Japanese market.

Where can I buy a .jp domain?

JP-domains.com

GoDaddy.com

3 Responses to Japanese Domain Names

Blog Posts By Month:

Choosing a Designer

7 Things to Consider

We hope these articles help you when choosing a web designer consultant in Japan or abroad.

  • 1. Website Localization?
  • Localization means adapting your website to succeed in a specific country or region. If you are looking to create a Japanese web site design, there are good reasons to seek assistance from a Japan website designer with experience in the local environment ...continued

  • 2. The 0.05 Second Rule
  • "You don`t get a second chance to make a first impression". Most of us are familiar with that old advice. Recent research is revealing how quickly that first impression of your website is actually formed ...continued

  • 3. All That Glitters Isn't Gold
  • It`s easy to be impressed by many of the slick, FLASH and Javascript powered "eye-candy" web templates available for download at seemingly attractive prices. But there are some inconvenient truths which you should be aware of before taking the cookie cutter route ...continued

  • 4. DIY Web Building Pitfalls
  • Thanks to web page editors like Dreamweaver, putting a website online is now easy. Building a GOOD website is still difficult ...continued

  • 5. Don't Make Me Think!
  • This is Web Usability expert Steve Krug`s golden rule. He explains "..if Web pages are going to be effective, they have to work most of their magic at a glance. And the best way to do this is to create pages that are self-evident, or at least self-explanatory"...continued

  • 6. If a Tree Falls in the Forest..
  • This is the beginning to a rather well known philosophical riddle that raises questions about whether something can exist if it is not capable of being perceived. We'd like to change the question and ask "if a website exists in cyberspace but nobody can find it, does it really serve a purpose?" ...continued

  • 7. Standards-schmandards?
  • At Tokyo Web Designs we are continually surprised by the number of websites we see that appear to have been put together with no regard to valid web standards. This is disappointing considering that it isn`t really hard to do so and the benefits of "clean" coding practices are potentially great ...continued

Visitor Poll

When paying online by credit card are you MORE comfortable inputting your card details...

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Users Online

4 Users Online