How To ~ English PC in Japan

Getting a New English Computer in Japan

Buying an English PC in Japan doesn’t need to be a pain. Here are the options I’ve found.

Get a Mac

Yepp. The shortest way to an English laptop or an English desktop in Japan is to get a Mac. You’ll get a fashion accessory, some street cred with geeks, and a machine that supports 30+ display languages out of the box. Plug it in, go to the System Preferences/International, drag “English” to the top of the list, log out, log in, setup done. 5 minutes of your time, no extra cost, and you have an all English PC. Voila.

Budget tip: Go see it at the Apple Store if you have one nearby, then buy it online at Amazon; it’s cheaper there.

First Mac? Get a Mac Mini. It’s made for “switchers”. Use your current monitor, keyboard, mouse. Don’t forget the VGA monitor adapter if you still use an analogue monitor.
Require a laptop? Get a MacBook Air. The small one and the slightly larger one are both excellent; decide based on size requirement and budget.
For both the Mini and the Air, add an optical drive only if you require one.

Amazon tip: Click on the “Show this page in English” link towards the upper right hand corner of the screen if it comes up in Japanese.

English Windows PCs

All is not lost if you’re a stubborn masochist and require a Windows PC in English.

Go for a Dell

Give Dell a call. I heard they sell English OS PCs in Japan at no extra cost(to be confirmed – will be updated soon). That would be an English Windows 7 Home Premium, or similar, so you won’t be able to switch to Japanese later.
(Gosh I can’t believe I’ve put that brand name on my blog. Sacrilege.)

Build Your Own With Windows 7 Ultimate

I’m yet to see any English Windows versions for sale in Japan. (If you know how to get hold of one please share in the comments).
That leaves us with getting Windows 7 Ultimate. Only Ultimate and Enterprise let you switch languages. Microsoft must hate expats.

The “DSP version” is the cheapest. It’s targeted at system builders and it’s the equivalent of the OEM version in the western world. Around 20,000 yen at Amazon. It’s supposed to be bundled with hardware you’ll put inside the PC. Amazon overcomes this by throwing in a few hundred yen’s worth of hardware, such as a USB card or LAN board. Clever. Windows won’t check for that specific hardware, so don’t worry if you don’t have a use for it. Just nail it to the wall or something. It’s still substantially cheaper than the standard retail version of Windows 7, which is a cool 33,000 yen at the time of writing. The difference? The license agreement. It doesn’t let you move the DSP version to an other PC. Once installed, that’s where it stays. (Re-installation on the same machine, and hardware upgrades are possible of course.)

Of course you could just download a copy off file-sharing sites for free. I wouldn’t fault you as I believe MS is discriminating against expats and international families and they need to sort themselves out. Switching languages has been a standard feature in OS X for ages. Actually in all Unix based systems, even before that. Microsoft is like 10 (20?) years late in the game, yet they have the face to charge extra. They can eat the results of their own poor planning and marketing for all I care.
I can’t, however help you in that any further, so don’t even ask. Sort activation and the updates out yourself, K? 😉

Leave comments below! Anyone call Dell for me, I’m really procrastinating on that one!

2 Responses to How To ~ English PC in Japan

  • rob says:

    “I’m yet to see any English Windows versions for sale in Japan.” I have never seen the Chinese or Japanese versions available for sale in retail at the US or Europe either, but that goes without saying.

    At any rate, Microsoft *does* well Windows online. You can buy it for (Around $30 USD with a student discount), download the ISO file, and burn it to a CD if you have access to a working computer. (I bought the Japanese version of Windows 7 32bit, but you can also get the 64bit edition, as well as English and other languages). They will send you the license/activation code via email.

    • Sandor says:

      Every time I tried to buy Windows online the price offered was significantly more than the shelf price. I wrote it off as a Microsoft rip-off operation. Do you have a direct link to where you buy from? With or without student discount?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Who Am I?

Hi, Sandor here. Thanks for visiting. Computer trouble in Japan? You've come to the right place!

I am 34 years old, and have been fixing computers since 1994, since before I finished high school. Then I got a degree in Computer Science, had my own PC shop, worked at a top laptop maker in England. Then I came to Japan; it's what I always wanted to do.

I pride myself in providing the best service possible and by being honest about my work. I now service all of Japan by a simple mail-in system. Use the "Contact Me" tab on the top menu to get in touch.

Contact Me


Sandor is the best! If you are someone, like me, who needs to have computer stuff explained ‘like you are a 6 year-old’, then you have come to the right guy! I was having trouble with my wireless modem hookup and also needed to upgrade my RAM memory….Sandor very carefully explained what I needed to do, he even found me some videos on YouTube to help me along. If he thought my questions were silly, (and believe me, I’m sure they were!!), he was very polite and made me feel not so naive in the ways of the computer. Thank you so much Sandor…..I will share your name and this site with anyone who needs the help!! Debbie Kuroiwa, Nagasaki City, Japan

Hey Sandor thanks for the Mac advice and for getting me the hard to find parts for my iMac G4 so quickly. You really saved the day. Thanks again. /RF/ Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

Hey Sandor: Just a quick note to say thanks for diagnosing fixing my computer so effectively (and so cheaply). I am writing you from my computer now, and it is still running strong! Much gratitude.

Doug Colbert from Anjo, Aichi, Japan

As a truly satisfied customer - I heartily recommend the services of Sandor to anyone having PC related issues. Of all the people I have dealt with regarding PC related issues in Japan – he is the best. Not only is he an expert in his field – but he aims for the most cost effective solution. I have truly benefitted from his good advice & constant updates and genuinely admire his integrity. What more can I ask for ?

Anirvan Mukherjee ( Vice President - Nomura Securities Ltd, Tokyo )

Hi Sandor! I must to say, we have never met as good computer expert as you are! You were the first, who solved our problems as we wanted to, as we needed to. Your work was always quick, professional and practical. And: you never wanted to organize our computer liking yourself! :-) Since you moved to Japan, we all the time hope, some time you will go back to Hungary!

Ági and Gábor from Budapest, Hungary

...He worked well within the team and his attitude and performance was of a very high standard. He was a very honest and reliable member of the team.

Neil Chauhan, my former boss at Rock Direct, UK

Originals (I'm not just making these up)

Trade Secrets Exposed

 "Computer Speed Secrets"

Computer too SLOW?

There's Always Something YOU Can Do!

Sign up NOW for a FREE 7-week e-course!