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.
Bilingual and Digital Broadcasts
Most TV sets 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 beside 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 Services
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 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.
Major cable television companies are:
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 Telecommunication 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 Communication 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
CS Satellite Digital Television
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.
To continue reading a full story and learn more about practical information you should know, please click Television Services in Tokyo.