I recently played around on CiNii Articles while doing some research for a student, specifically into whether there is a pay service that allows access to full text of subscription-based journal articles. It turns out there is, to my astonishment (because I always say “there is no JSTOR for Japanese journals”, which remains true), although it’s almost uniformly science and medicine journals. In the process of playing around, I ran across an article I desperately wanted to read, but was behind a paywall.
I noticed something on the journal site, however: a note that the article costs 630 yen for non-subscribers, with a link to purchase it. Within two minutes, I was registered as a member of the site with a credit card number and on my way to downloading the article as an unrestricted PDF.
This process worked so well and so smoothly that I had to share my experience. Despite wishing, of course, that the article was open access (and that there was a way to restrict my CiNii searches not just to full-text but to open access full-text), I’m highly satisfied with how this worked out and especially with the fact that it’s a DRM-free PDF, so I’m free to save it, print, and put it on any number of devices.
Incidentally, for open access articles, CiNii is absolutely smooth and painless: direct links to PDFs from the “open access” button. Beautiful.
Lesson learned: next time you really, really need or want a Japanese article* and it’s a paid link on CiNii, give it a shot – you may be pleasantly surprised.
* Of course, this tends to not work for humanities journals, which are by and large not online at all, paid or not. This is why I still maintain that there is no Japanese JSTOR.