Amazon launches Kindle store, Paperwhite and Fire in Japan

Amazon (s AMZN) is pushing Kindle into Japan. The Japanese Kindle store opens Thursday, and Japanese customers can preorder the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader and Fire and Fire HD tablets starting today. The devices will also be available at Japanese retail chains, and the Kindle Paperwhite will be sold in some TSUTAYA bookstores.

Kindle’s launch in Japan comes a few months after Kobo, which is owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, arrived there. Google (s GOOG) began selling ebooks in Japan in September. Sony (s SNE) launched an e-reader in Japan in 2010.

The Japanese Kindle Store contains “over 50,000 Japanese-language Kindle books, the largest number of Oricon best sellers and over 15,000 manga titles.” (Oricon, similar to Billboard in the U.S., provides weekly bestseller data on music, books and other categories.) There are a couple of exclusives among the titles available:

The leading best seller selection in the Japanese Kindle Store includes popular book titles such as “Mitsukuni Den,” “Tsunagu,” and “Jinsei Ga Tokimeku Katazuke No Maho 2” and works from authors such as Arimasa Osawa with his entire “Shinjukuzame” series, and Yusuke Kishi with the special limited edition of his best-selling fiction “Shinsekai Yori” only available at Amazon, with a total of 68 exclusive titles. Manga titles include the latest best seller series “Magi”, “Termae Romae”, and the world-famous “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” of which the latest volume # 13 comes out on Nov.2 and is available for digital pre-order only at Amazon.  The 50,000 Japanese-language titles come from a wide range of publishers small and large, including Bungeishunju, Gentosha, Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shinchosha, Shogakukan and Shueisha, all of whom have worked with Amazon to make their titles available in the Kindle Store.

The Paperwhite is ¥8,480 for the WiFi version (USD $106.31) and ¥12,980 for 3G (USD $162.72) and ships November 19. It will also be available through Japanese retail chains like K’s Holdings and Bic Camera, and in “a variety of TSUTAYA bookstores.”

The Kindle Fire is ¥12,800 (USD $160.46, making it a tad cheaper than the 3G Paperwhite) and the Kindle Fire HD is ¥15,800 (USD $198.07). Both can be preordered today and ship December 19. They are also available at retail chains K’s Holdings, Bic Camera, Joshin Denki, and Kitamura.