Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mayumi Negishi report for the Wall Street Journal on Japan being Apple’s fastest-growing market in the past two years.

“Apple’s brand is just overwhelming here,” said Eiji Mori, a Tokyo-based analyst at BCN Inc. “It’s not about specifications. It’s not about rationale. It’s about owning an iPhone.”

Two factors in the iPhone’s Japanese success are Japan’s wealth and the degree to which its phone market resembles the U.S., a “postpaid” market where the phones are subsidized by carriers and sold with multiyear contracts. “The U.S. and Japan are unique in that sense,” says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Toni Sacconaghi.

In markets where most consumers pay for the handset upfront, the iPhone’s big price tag damps sales.

This is great news for Apple given how the Japanese market is traditionally biased towards Japanese handset makers. And it is also important to note that Japanese tend to shun Samsung because it is a Korean brand.