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Study Abroad in Japan: Music and Movies

tips and links to resources that will help Smith students to become more confident independent learners during their stay in Japan


If you want to access the Japan I-Tunes store you will need to create a user name and login for the Japan store and provide a mail address and either a credit card or purchase a Japanese I-Tunes card. The I-Tunes cards are particularly handy, since they don't expire so you can use to purchase songs, programs or iPhone apps.

One thing to remember is that I-Tunes checks IP addresses as well as your I-Tunes account information, so the cards you buy over there do not work once you get home. (They used to, but don't anymore)



One of the first things you need to know before you buy DVDs and try to play them, is that most commercially sold DVDs have set region codes. North America is Region 1. Japan is Region 2. Hong Kong is Region 3. Often you can find Chinese DVDs that are Region All, but All Region DVDs by Japanese manufacturers are rare.

Why should you care? If you have a stand-alone DVD player that you bought in Japan, it will be set to Region 2 and the DVDs you bring from home won't play on it. Likewise, if you buy Japanese DVDs in Japan and take them home to play on your family's DVD player. If you have a laptop that can play DVDs, it will tell you that the DVD is for a different region and ask if you would like to switch the region setting. You can say yes, but you may only switch region settings 4 times before it sticks permanently.

There are multi-region DVD players that you can buy. There is also multi-region software that you can load on a laptop to get around these issues. A search on the Internet will give you the details you need to figure out what is best for you.

What should you buy in Japan and what should you buy in North America?

A lot of Japanese movies are being released in North America and are therefore Region 1 with English subtitles. But, if you are interested in the NHK dramas or any of the television dramas, you will not find them released in the North American market. Nor will you find Takarazuka theater performances or many No, Kabuki, or bunraku performances. If those areas are of interest to you and especially if you think you want to do a senior thesis on a performance or play, you should bring them back with you.

Blue-ray discs are different. I haven't tried a Japanese one on my blue-ray player, but Japan and North America are on the same region for blue-rays. So for Japan enthusiasts, this is a very good thing and you might want to choose blue-rays instead of DVDs.