While there are many television options in Japan, availability depends on location and housing construction. Many new apartments are “cable ready” or are equipped with a common parabolic satellite for viewing satellite TV programs. Be sure to ask your realtor which TV options are included when you are looking at properties. If the house or apartment you are interested in does not have any television options, you need to confirm with the realtor that you may have a television service installed on your own.
Most TV sets sold in Japan come with a “bilingual” feature making it is possible to watch overseas programs in their original language. Additionally, it is possible to purchase “region-free” DVD players at some shops which can play both Japanese and other region DVDs. This is especially important if you plan to bring DVDs from home, yet might want to purchase or rent DVDs while you are in Japan.
Regular Japanese television offers very few programs in other languages besides Japanese; whereas cable or satellite TV broadcast many foreign programs, movies, sports and news that can be viewed in their original language. In order to view programs in their original language, you will need a “bilingual” or multi-system television.
Following the lead of other countries in taking advantage of the latest technology, Japan will switch over completely to digital broadcasting by July 24, 2011. It is therefore recommended that you purchase a bilingual, digital television set so as to be ready to receive digital broadcasts.
Cable television companies in Tokyo provide their services by area. These cable companies broadcast many programs from abroad, including such news channels BBC and CNN, popular channels like FOX, MTV and family channels such as the Cartoon Network and the Disney channels. All of these stations are available in English or original language. Many properties, especially in the Minato Ward area, are cable ready. Please confirm with the realtor or property management if cable is available or not. If cable TV is an option, you may subscribe directly with the cable television company that serves your area for a nominal monthly fee.
Cable Television Tokyo Ltd.
Available in Minato and Shinjuku Wards
Cable TV, Digital music service, Internet and IP telephone available
Free dial: 0120-037-109, Monday ~ Saturday, 9:30 ~ 18:30
Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Ltd.
Available in Setagaya, Chuo, Suginami, Taito and Sumida Wards
J:Com digital cable TV, Internet, Fixed Phone and IP telephone available
Free dial: 0120-999-000, 9:00 ~ 21:00
Its Communications Inc.
Available in Setagaya, Meguro, Shibuya and Ota Wards
(along Tokyu Toyoko line)
iTSCOM cable TV, Internet and Hikari Hybrid IP telephone available
Free dial: 0120-109-199, weekdays, 9:30 ~ 20:00, weekends and holidays, 9:30 ~ 18:30
If your home is not wired for cable TV, then you may want to subscribe to a satellite TV service. Again, please confirm with the realtor or property management, that you may have satellite TV service installed.
Satellite broadcasting offers many local and foreign channels, that can be viewed either in Japanese or in the original language, grouped in packages that include a variety of Japanese and foreign programs for a nominal monthly fee. It is also possible to subscribe to individual channels on a monthly basis along with special packages such as a “soccer (football) channel” and pay-per-view options for some sports, movies and special programming. There is a 2 week free trial period which starts immediately upon receipt of your contract which allows you to watch foreign programs as soon as you move into your new home and also gives you time to see what programs are available and choose whatever package is best for you. Payment for programs and tuner rental can be made by credit card.
Most foreign nationals subscribe to either SkyPerfecTV! or SkyPerfecTV! Hikari for which details follow.
SKY PerfecTV & SKY PerfecTV!HD
(124/128 degree east longitude CS digital broadcast). A multi-channel TV broadcast service via satellite or cable charged monthly. Pay-Per-View television also available via telephone line or fiber optic network.
Tel: 0570-039-888 or 045-287-7777 or 045-339-0202 then press 9 for English at anytime after the Japanese announcement starts, 10:00 ~ 20:00
SKY PerfecTV! HIKARI
A multi-channel service delivered via fiber optic network using internet protocol.
www.skyperfectv.co.jp/hikari (in Japanese)
The Japanese public television company, NHK, also provides BS (Broadcast Satellite) satellite programming. There are 2 BS channels which offer limited overseas programming. The BS channels are included as part of some cable and satellite programming. Viewers who do not have the BS option already included are charged an additional satellite subscription fee in order to receive the BS channels.
There are many online sites that stream overseas television programs that can be watched on your PC and by adding hardware and software options, it is possible to expand the number of programs available and even to view live programs real-time.
A SlingBox is a device which allows you to watch TV from your home country via the internet. The device is connected to a cable/satellite tuner box, either in your home, and transmits the channels to your computer wherever you are in the world. A further device called a SlingCatcher connects the SlingBox to your TV set, thus enabling you to watch your favorite TV shows on a big screen.
In Japan, there are PC TV options providing programs not included in the cable and satellite companies’ regular line-up.
Indian channels available via internet.
Channels from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Requires IPTV Set Up Box
Tel: 090-9112-4221 Central Tokyo
080-3520-4370 Other areas