Mar 24, 2019

How to buy console games in Japan when your Japanese isn’t perfect yet

A lot of people that like Japan also like Japanese video games. Once you live in Japan you have easy access to Japanese games, but depending on how good your Japanese level is there are a few things to consider when buying games. 

Nowadays a lot of games are released as a global version that contains several different languages. So if you buy the Japanese version you will still be able to play in the language you are used to. This is this the case for most Nintendo games so you can buy these without worrying about the language.

However, for some games, there are different versions for Japan and overseas. For example, the recently released Kingdom Hearts 3 was released in two versions. The Japan version only contained Japanese language and voices and the overseas version contained English voices and game text in English and several other languages. This apparently was due to the fact that it was not possible to fit both the English and the Japanese voice data on a single DVD.

If your Japanese is good enough to play games you will not have to worry about this too much but otherwise before buying a game you might want to check whether it does contain your preferred language. Unfortunately, when researching games on Amazon or the website of the publisher in some cases there is no information about languages which leaves you no other option than contacting the publisher. This is especially tricky when it comes to preordering because sometimes it is still unsure which languages will be included in the Japanese version when preorders start.

In case the Japanese version does not contain your preferred language you will either have to import the overseas version which is quite pricey or you can buy it from the e-store of your country but then you will only have the digital version and might miss out on limited goodies that come with the physical version.

How to buy console games in Japan when your Japanese isn’t perfect yet photo

The back cover does not provide any information either.

You might think that nowadays it would be easy to simply offer additional language files as a download so you can play in any language no matter which version you have, but I assume the average Japanese gamer doesn’t care much about languages besides Japanese so this something some Japanese publishers do not put a lot of effort into. I personally would even mind paying a small fee for additional language files but I guess the demand is just too small.

Which language do you prefer for games?



Hi, I’m Eli. I’m from Germany and moved to Japan a few years ago. I am a typical nerd and like collecting Pokémon merchandise.Follow me on twitter (@hannari_eri) for the latest nerd News from Tokyo. I also write a blog in German over here. https://lifeinjapanisstrange.wordpress.com/