If you’re serious about collecting Japanese music there’s only two things you need: an Amazon Japan account and your own Japanese address.
Amazon Japan is like any other online music store that sells Japanese music (i.e. CDJapan, YesAsia). You can create an account, order new CDs, and have them shipped to your door. Any of the other sites mentioned will do and are better for ordering in English. Amazon Japan does have an English site although parts of it are still in Japanese.
Why do I need a Japanese address?
Amazon Japan also sells discontinued (out-of-print) CDs through third parties. Sadly, they will not ship these items to the U.S. No problem. Tenso provides Japanese addresses and safely ships items to the U.S. Now you’re able to order rare CDs and save money on used items.
iTunes Japan is yet another source for new releases and out-of-print (OOP) music with the advantage of instant downloads. They may not have everything you need but I’ve seen their selection dramatically grow over the past couple years. iTunes Japan also requires a Japanese address. You’ll also need iTunes Japan cards available from JBOX or JAPAN CODES. (set up an iTunes Japan account)
Unless you understand Japanese you’ll have difficulty searching for artists and albums on the Web. Google Translate works with text and links. Google Translate is especially useful if you’re buying used CDs. Merchants list condition, imperfections, damage or missing items.
Finding anime song listings with Anison database
Anison.info has a database to help you confirm track information. It’s in Japanese so use Google Translate to navigate the site.
Perfecting Google Translate’s results
Google Translate does an okay job of translating. I don’t like the diacritic symbols it uses (i.e. the long ō) instead of the romanji I’m used to (i.e. ou). To make sure Google translated a song title correctly copy and paste it back into Google search along with the anime name. Take MEGAZONE23′s ED Higeki no Idol for example, “higeki no idol megazone23.” If Google’s results say, “Did you mean” chances are Google Translate got it wrong. Of course, ANN is the easiest place to check ED and OP titles.
They just added this feature recently. Gmail automatically detects what language the email was sent in and is preset to translate into English. It’s handy for me since I can’t read Japanese. Normally, I would guess what it was or copy and paste it into Google Translate.
Before using translate feature
I use Google Translate to help me with Japanese CD listings. It works pretty good for the most part. It also gives you a romanji translation which is pretty accurate. The English translation needs some work though. I tried to translate a song title from my Gunbuster soundtrack. The title was:
いけいけぼくらのガンバスター!! (TVサイズ カラオケ)
Google came up with a pretty good romanji translation:
Ike ike boku-ra no ganbasutā! ! (TV saizu karaoke)
My best guess is:
Go! Go! Our Gunbuster! (TV size karaoke)
Google came up with:
Gamba star of our bitch!! (TV size karaoke)
Which is pretty interesting.