How To Use iTunes FULLY in Japanese

Published on February 7th, 2010.

You might have noticed that when you have created your Japanese iTunes Store account, a lot of the music have romanized song titles and artist names. Now of course, to some, this is a big plus, but for people who are picky and like to use the correct tags, there is a solution. It’s a simple fix, actually all you have to do is launch iTunes in Japanese. Doing so also adds new functionality to iTunes which I’ll show you further down in this post.

This is a tutorial for iTunes on Mac OS X Snow Leopard, if you know how to do this on Windows, please let me know in the comment section at the end of this post and I’ll gladly add a tutorial for Windows users too. Also, if you don’t yet have a Japanese iTunes Store account, you can follow these instructions provided by austrian otaku to create one without needing a credit card or gift card.

UPDATE (February 7, 2010): This tutorial shows you how to do this without any third-party applications. There is an even simpler solution to do this, and that is by installing an application called Language Switcher. The application is very easy to understand, just launch it, select iTunes and the language you want to launch it in. Just like in the tutorial below however, this is not a permanent change, you have to repeat the procedure every time you relaunch iTunes. Thanks to Jenny (see comments section) for letting me know about this application!

UPDATE 2 (February 7, 2010): To do this on Windows, you simply just have to go into the settings of iTunes, change your language, relaunch iTunes and log in and out with your Japanese iTunes Store account. (Screenshot) Thanks to austrian otaku.

Step 1

Quit iTunes.

Step 2

Open up System Preferences and click on Language & Text.

Step 3

While in the Language tab, drag Japanese to the top. As you do that, you’ll get the message seen in the second section below. You have two options here, if you want to use your whole OS X in Japanese, you can log in and out. But if you want to just run iTunes in Japanese and everything else in English or some other language, start iTunes and then drag English back up to the top of the list.

If you go with the second option, you have to repeat this procedure every time you quit iTunes. For me that isn’t a problem though as I very rarely quit iTunes.

Step 4

Enjoy iTunes and the iTunes Store FULLY in Japanese!

Now before you start using iTunes in Japanese you have to know the pros and cons. iTunes will automatically turn things into Japanese as you listen to music. This means that your Pop genre will turn into ポップ (Poppu) for example, this doesn’t happen right away though, it only happens when you actually start listening to a song in the Pop genre. Only the most usual genres change automatically like this, like pop, rock and jazz. Whether that is a pro or con is of course up to you, but personally I see it as a pro as I like to use iTunes completely in Japanese.

The only time you actually need to use the iTunes Store fully in Japanese is when you purchase music, so they get downloaded with the right tags.

Step 5 (Optional but Recommended)

If you do decide to use iTunes in Japanese there’s another thing you might find useful, something that I use diligently. And that is the ability to see the readings of artist names and song titles when they use kanji. This feature exists when you use iTunes in English as well, but is then known as sorting rather than reading.

As you can see above in section 1 and 2, I’ve added hiragana readings to both song titles with kanji and artist names. This alone is very useful if you library is big like mine, it’s just too hard to remember all artist names in kanji. But even more useful is that when you do add this, you can also search in hiragana/katakana instead of having to search in kanji. This makes iTunes MUCH easier to use. If you’d like you can also add a fourth section (I use the comment field for this), where you can put translations of titles. In the comment field you could also add the romanized version of either the artist name or song title (or both), if you want to also be able to search in romaji.

To make these fields visible, just right click somewhere in the fifth section seen above. You can of course sort these columns to fit your needs by dragging and dropping.

And finally, to add the readings, right click on an item and go to the tab shown in the picture above, song titles at the top and artist names just below. You can of course select a whole album, and even a whole discography and add the artist name reading instead of doing that one by one. The second section of this picture is where you add translations, romaji or anything you like to the comment field (the large field at the bottom).

And you’re done!

This really adds some great functionality to your library when using Japanese tags. It also enables you to finally learn all those song titles with complicated kanji, and if you add translations you’ll eventually learn the meanings as well ;)

Again, if you know how to do this on Windows, please let me know!

  • Pingback: Japundit

  • Pingback: JapanSoc

  • Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  • http://www.tictaek.com TicTaek

    Sweet. Thanks for the tip man. Definitely giving this a shot. Right…….about…………now!

  • http://www.tictaek.com TicTaek

    Sweet. Thanks for the tip man. Definitely giving this a shot. Right…….about…………now!

  • Jenny

    Umm, this is fine, but you forgot one thing, this method puts the entire system into Japanese, not just iTunes. A better way to do it if you want to keep the system in English is to go to the iTunes icon in the Finder, single click, then cmd-i. In the info screen, it should show the languages it supports. Deselect all languages except for the one you want, then reopen the app.

    Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t work if you are using Snow Leopard like I am. I have seen an app that will change the language for you, but I can’t remember the name. Maybe another user can provide it.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      If you do follow the tutorial you can get it to change iTunes alone, even if it’s a bit of a workaround, but it works. I do this as I don’t want to run the whole system in Japanese. I’m using Snow Leopard so unfortunately that fix doesn’t work for me either (I’ve added that this is a Snow Leopard tutorial now^^).

      But if another user can provide the name of that app, that would be awesome!

  • Jenny

    Umm, this is fine, but you forgot one thing, this method puts the entire system into Japanese, not just iTunes. A better way to do it if you want to keep the system in English is to go to the iTunes icon in the Finder, single click, then cmd-i. In the info screen, it should show the languages it supports. Deselect all languages except for the one you want, then reopen the app.

    Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t work if you are using Snow Leopard like I am. I have seen an app that will change the language for you, but I can’t remember the name. Maybe another user can provide it.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      If you do follow the tutorial you can get it to change iTunes alone, even if it’s a bit of a workaround, but it works. I do this as I don’t want to run the whole system in Japanese. I’m using Snow Leopard so unfortunately that fix doesn’t work for me either (I’ve added that this is a Snow Leopard tutorial now^^).

      But if another user can provide the name of that app, that would be awesome!

  • Jenny

    http://www.tj-hd.co.uk/en-gb/languageswitcher/

    Here’s a link to the app I mentioned. It’s not a permanent change, but at least you can add the app to your startup items and launch the apps there.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Thanks! I will give it a try and add it to the post if it’s good :)

  • Jenny

    http://www.tj-hd.co.uk/en-gb/languageswitcher/

    Here’s a link to the app I mentioned. It’s not a permanent change, but at least you can add the app to your startup items and launch the apps there.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Thanks! I will give it a try and add it to the post if it’s good :)

  • http://austrianotaku.com hikky

    Now here is the ultimate guide for the rest of us (over 90% of PC users) who have chosen wisely:
    Open iTunes, go to settings, change Language to Japanese, restart iTunes, DONE –> LOL
    http://austrianotaku.com/wp-content/2010/02/iTunes_JP.jpg

    • Jenny

      Ah, but you can’t put the entire system into Japanese or another language on the fly. You’re stuck with English. :)

      Older versions of the Mac OS could do something like that, but not the new one. Wonder why they took it out?

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Thank you, that works like a charm on my dad’s PC with Windows XP! *added to the post*

    • http://austrianotaku.com hikky

      @Jenny: You can, you just have to log out and log in again @ Windows. Windows XP times are long over. ^_^

  • http://austrianotaku.com hikky

    Now here is the ultimate guide for the rest of us (over 90% of PC users) who have chosen wisely:
    Open iTunes, go to settings, change Language to Japanese, restart iTunes, DONE –> LOL
    http://austrianotaku.com/wp-content/2010/02/iTunes_JP.jpg

    • Jenny

      Ah, but you can’t put the entire system into Japanese or another language on the fly. You’re stuck with English. :)

      Older versions of the Mac OS could do something like that, but not the new one. Wonder why they took it out?

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Thank you, that works like a charm on my dad’s PC with Windows XP! *added to the post*

    • http://austrianotaku.com hikky

      @Jenny: You can, you just have to log out and log in again @ Windows. Windows XP times are long over. ^_^

  • Jenny

    Ok, the Language Switcher app will allow you to set the language for each app so that it will always open in that language until you switch it again. You don’t need to have it in your startup items either. :)

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Cool, thanks!^^ I haven’t quit iTunes yet but when I do I will look for that setting.

  • Jenny

    Ok, the Language Switcher app will allow you to set the language for each app so that it will always open in that language until you switch it again. You don’t need to have it in your startup items either. :)

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Cool, thanks!^^ I haven’t quit iTunes yet but when I do I will look for that setting.

  • http://jlist.com Peter Payne

    Incidentally, J-List stocks the iTunes prepaid cards, which are a convenient way to buy music or make an account for getting the Wednesday Free Single and so on.
    http://jbox.com/s/itunes

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      I bought 2 cards from J-List last time I did a giveaway here (1×3000 and 1×1500). But honestly I don’t think I will do so again unless you lower the prices. It’s not very smart to pay $42.50 for a gift certificate that is worth $33.50 or $24.50 for one that is worth $17.

  • http://jlist.com Peter Payne

    Incidentally, J-List stocks the iTunes prepaid cards, which are a convenient way to buy music or make an account for getting the Wednesday Free Single and so on.
    http://jbox.com/s/itunes

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      I bought 2 cards from J-List last time I did a giveaway here (1×3000 and 1×1500). But honestly I don’t think I will do so again unless you lower the prices. It’s not very smart to pay $42.50 for a gift certificate that is worth $33.50 or $24.50 for one that is worth $17.

  • Maria

    I almost got super excited that I could by some J-pop! I managed to switch itunes to Japanese but the itunes store still showed up in English. So I clicked on ‘change country’ at the bottom of the itunes store page to see the itunes store in Japanese (this I have tried before). Unfortunately, it still doesn’t let me buy Japanese music online as my account is ‘only valid for purchases from the Australian store’. Any ideas? At least I can sample the songs. :-)

    • http://austrianotaku.com hikky

      You have to get a Japanese iTunes account and get some money onto it. Follow those instructions: http://austrianotaku.com/2009/10/how-to-get-a-japanese-itunes-account/

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      You need a new account for the Japanese iTunes Store, you can’t use your current account. When you sign up for a new account there’s a workaround that lets you sign up without a credit card or gift card (see first link in this post for instructions). Unfortunately you can only use Japanese credit cards and Japanese gift certificates. You can always buy Japanese gift certificates though, that’s what I do. I’m running a giveaway right now where you can win a 1500 yen gift certificate which ends on Sunday, that might be good as a starter ;) http://yonasu.com/1500-yen-japanese-itunes-store-punishment-giveaway/

    • Maria

      awww! ありがとう!すてきです!よかった! I did it! I gave up on accessing the J store 3 years ago and if it had not been for your post, I would be missing out. I’ll search my 1000+ photos of Japan and try to find a funny shot to enter your competition. Thanks!

  • Maria

    I almost got super excited that I could by some J-pop! I managed to switch itunes to Japanese but the itunes store still showed up in English. So I clicked on ‘change country’ at the bottom of the itunes store page to see the itunes store in Japanese (this I have tried before). Unfortunately, it still doesn’t let me buy Japanese music online as my account is ‘only valid for purchases from the Australian store’. Any ideas? At least I can sample the songs. :-)

    • http://austrianotaku.com hikky

      You have to get a Japanese iTunes account and get some money onto it. Follow those instructions: http://austrianotaku.com/2009/10/how-to-get-a-japanese-itunes-account/

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      You need a new account for the Japanese iTunes Store, you can’t use your current account. When you sign up for a new account there’s a workaround that lets you sign up without a credit card or gift card (see first link in this post for instructions). Unfortunately you can only use Japanese credit cards and Japanese gift certificates. You can always buy Japanese gift certificates though, that’s what I do. I’m running a giveaway right now where you can win a 1500 yen gift certificate which ends on Sunday, that might be good as a starter ;) http://yonasu.com/1500-yen-japanese-itunes-store-punishment-giveaway/

    • Maria

      awww! ありがとう!すてきです!よかった! I did it! I gave up on accessing the J store 3 years ago and if it had not been for your post, I would be missing out. I’ll search my 1000+ photos of Japan and try to find a funny shot to enter your competition. Thanks!

  • http://www.joshuazimmerman.com Joshua Zimmerman

    If you’re using a Mac… then any song files that are tagged with Japanese song names or artist names in Japanese should always appear in Japanese. There is no need to switch iTunes over to Japanese just to see the song names.

    This also goes for things you’ve downloaded off the Japanese iTunes Store. The will be tagged with Japanese info, and will appear in Japanese. Heck, this even works with apps from the Japanese iTunes Store.

    http://www.wideislandview.com/?p=1388

    If you want to type song information in manually, just go into System Prefs and give yourself the option to switch between English and Japanese on the fly.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Of course you can see the titles and artist names even if you don’t start iTunes in Japanese. That goes for Windows users too. But the thing is, that if you don’t use iTunes in Japanese many (not all) tags in the iTunes Store will be romanized or in some way altered. Besides getting altered tags when not using the iTunes in Japanese, you will also not get the readings automatically when you purchase the songs.

      Applications are always fully in Japanese as far as I’m concerned, but if you buy music like me and like to get the right tags and readings, use iTunes in Japanese.

    • Chiman

      Hey i know this is a very old tutorial but if your still around would you know if this changes the currency as well? Im currently in US but would like to use CNY to makes purchases in my itunes but have fully US itunes… would you know how to do this?

  • http://www.joshuazimmerman.com Joshua Zimmerman

    If you’re using a Mac… then any song files that are tagged with Japanese song names or artist names in Japanese should always appear in Japanese. There is no need to switch iTunes over to Japanese just to see the song names.

    This also goes for things you’ve downloaded off the Japanese iTunes Store. The will be tagged with Japanese info, and will appear in Japanese. Heck, this even works with apps from the Japanese iTunes Store.

    http://www.wideislandview.com/?p=1388

    If you want to type song information in manually, just go into System Prefs and give yourself the option to switch between English and Japanese on the fly.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Of course you can see the titles and artist names even if you don’t start iTunes in Japanese. That goes for Windows users too. But the thing is, that if you don’t use iTunes in Japanese many (not all) tags in the iTunes Store will be romanized or in some way altered. Besides getting altered tags when not using the iTunes in Japanese, you will also not get the readings automatically when you purchase the songs.

      Applications are always fully in Japanese as far as I’m concerned, but if you buy music like me and like to get the right tags and readings, use iTunes in Japanese.