How To Watch Japanese TV From Abroad in 2020

Japanese television offers a wealth of content. Childrens’ programming, anime, drama, comedies – and don’t forget their wacky game shows – are all available via Japanese streaming television services.

Japanese television networks offering streaming services include TVer, Daiwa, Impress Stream, NBS, RCC, NHK and numerous others.

Unfortunately, many Japanese television streaming services are geographically restricted to viewing only by those residing on the island of Japan. This means Japanese citizens who are traveling internationally, or Japanese expats who are living abroad, do not have access to their favorite Japanese programs.

However, there is good news on the television-viewing front. There’s a way to view your favorite Japanese programs while you’re outside Japanese borders.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) service can make it appear as if you are still in Japan, opening up access to Japanese television streaming services.

A VPN “spoofs” a user’s location, making it appear to the rest of the internet that the user (and their connected device) is in a different location. If the user selects a VPN server located in Japan, that server will assign a Japanese IP address to the user’s device, making it appear as if the device is connecting from inside Japan. (More about this later.)

The Best Way to View Japanese Television From Abroad

Japanese streaming services usually restrict viewing to an audience residing in Japan. This isn’t unusual – most streaming services do this, no matter where they might be located.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) delivers access to Japanese television streaming services from anywhere around the world. This allows Japanese travelers and expats to enjoy their favorite movies and television episodes.

ExpressVPN is the top VPN available today for unblocking geo-blocked content from nearly any country, Japan included. The provider’s comprehensive global server network, fast connection speeds, and excellent privacy and security protections add up to the best VPN protection you can buy.

ExpressVPN offers a risk-free, 30-day money-back guarantee.

You’ll find that most streaming services will either limit viewing of their content to residents of their home country, or, in the case of international streamers like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, the content you can view on the service will vary greatly from country to country.

Either way, you may or may not have access to your favorite shows and movies, depending on where you are currently located.

However, by using a little tool called a VPN app, you can enable access to all of your favorite streaming content, no matter your current location.

Why Do Japanese Streaming Services Ban International Viewers?

While you may faithfully pay your monthly subscription fee to your favorite Japanese streaming service, if you go outside of their contracted streaming area, you’re likely barred from viewing the service’s content.

Streaming services don’t do this because they’re heartless. They do it because lawyers are heartless, and they’re the ones that draw up streaming contracts.

The contracts that streaming services agree to with movie and television studios restrict access to the contracted content to a specific geographical area. 

These agreements serve a dual purpose. First, it allows the producers to sell the content more than once, thus increasing their revenue. Second, it helps avoid issues with restrictive governments and religious groups in certain countries that may have guidelines that run counter to the content. (I think it’s mostly the first reason, though.)

How Do Geo-Restriction Blockades Work?

To understand how geo-blockades work, you need to understand what an IP address is.

Every connected device you own is identified on the internet (or any other network it connects to) by a unique IP address.

An IP address allows other devices to identify where an information request came from and where the reply should be sent to. (Much like your home postal address. Ask your parents about snail mail, kids.)

Each country is assigned a certain range of IP addresses for use by its residents, so an IP address can also be used to identify a device’s geographical location.

This allows online sites and services (such as steaming services) to detect your location and determine whether or not you are inside their designated viewing area. If you’re not in the correct area, you’ll be blocked from accessing the service’s content.

How Can I View Japanese Television If It’s Blocked?

If you’re currently outside of Japan, you need to “spoof” your IP address, acquiring an IP that is located inside Japan. The most reliable method for “spoofing” an IP address is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN assigns your device a new IP address by routing your internet connection through an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server located in another country. (For our purposes, the VPN server is located in Japan.) The rest of the internet (Japanese streaming services included) will see you and your device as residing inside of Japan.

Once a Japanese streaming service sees that Japanese IP address, it will gladly throw its virtual doors open wide, inviting you to partake in your favorite content.

While we’re focusing on accessing everything your favorite Nipponese streamer has to offer, I’d like to quickly take a look at the other advantages a VPN has to offer.

In addition to opening the door to your favorite virtual cinema, a VPN is also an excellent tool for unblocking other geo-blocked content, such as gaming content, financial services, and other blocked content and services.

A VPN also protects your online activities by encasing your internet connection in a tunnel of encryption. This prevents nosy third parties – like your Internet Service Provider (ISP), hackers or even nosy government types – from monitoring your online antics.

That encryption also helps prevent your nosy ISP from throttling or blocking your connection when you’re engaging in “unapproved” activities, such as streaming from certain providers or sharing files via P2P.

Which VPN Should I Use to Unblock Japanese Television?

A few short years ago, nearly any reputable VPN service could offer you reliable access to blocked content. Unfortunately, those days are gone.

Streaming services – including NBS, RCC, NHK, Netflix, HBO and many others – have become adept at detecting and blocking VPN access to their servers.

When this happens, the VPN must respond by setting up new VPN servers sporting fresh, unblocked IP addresses to restore their users’ access to the streaming service.

Well, at least until the streamer notices the new IP addresses, blocks them, and the whole game of virtual whack-a-mole begins anew.

Because of this, you’ll want to subscribe to a VPN provider that has the resources to compete in this online chess match with the streamers, and has the desire to win.

I’ve found one provider that delivers reliable access to television streaming services in Japan and other countries, as well as providing excellent protection and enhancement for all of your online activities.


ExpressVPN Mar 2020 unblocks Japanese TVTested
Mar 2020

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This VPN provider boasts a wide-ranging global server network, fast connection speeds, top-notch device and router support, and excellent privacy and online security protections.

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1. Connection Speed

When you’re considering a VPN provider to use for the task of unblocking any streaming service, always take a close look at what their connection speeds are like.

You’ll do well considering ExpressVPN if speed is king for you. (And, why wouldn’t it be?) The provider delivered the fastest protected download speeds of any VPN provider I have tested, delivering more than enough speed for HD video, and when the time comes, it’ll be able to handle 4K streams too. (Depending on your normal download speeds, that is.)

You’ll also never have to worry about data caps shutting you down just when you get to the good part, as ExpressVPN never imposes any daily or monthly data caps on their customers’ usage.

2. Multi-Platform Support

Most streaming services are accessible from multiple device platforms, including mobile, desktop, set-top and gaming devices. This makes multi-platform support an important consideration when shopping for a VPN provider.

ExpressVPN has the most popular platforms well covered, and then goes a few steps further. The provider offers apps for the Android, Amazon Fire, iOS, Windows, macOS, Chromebook and Linux device platforms. Plus, it offers compatibility with numerous router makes and models.

In addition, the provider’s MediaStreamer DNS service allows set-top devices, gaming consoles, smart TVs and other streaming-capable devices to access blocked content.

Up to 5 devices can simultaneously connect to the VPN service on the same set of login user credentials.

3. Customer Support

While I’ve always found ExpressVPN to be a reliable service, I will admit when I’ve had a few questions for tech support over the years. That’s when I appreciated the provider’s around-the-clock customer support.

ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live support chat, a trouble ticket submission and tracking system, prompt emails, and an easy-to-use troubleshooting and support knowledge base.

4. Global Server Coverage

While our main focus in this article has been on the island of Japan, you’ll also find that a VPN provider’s global server coverage has a large impact on the global content you’ll have access to. TL;DR: The more server locations, the better.

ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers stationed in 94 countries around the world. That includes plenty of servers stationed in both Tokyo and Yokohama.

5. Pricing

Admittedly, ExpressVPN is more expensive than many of its competitors, but the return on investment it offers makes the price well worth it.

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ExpressVPN offers a no-risk, 30-day money-back guarantee.

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