This month saw the global expansion of Netflix move into potentially one of it’s biggest markets – yes Japanese Netflix has arrived. It’s often surprised people who have been watching Netflix for years when they touch down in Tokyo that the Netflix button on their phone or media device stops working. After all the Japanese love movies and TV, there’s a fast internet infrastructure across most of the country and a high disposable income.
Why has it taken so long? Well many point to the struggles of Hulu who tried to enter the Japanese market about four years ago and never really got started. The fact is that Japanese viewing habits are actually quite dated, with some reluctance to pay for online entertainment services. Japan has several high quality national broadcasting channels(similar to the BBC) run by NHK and quite a few funded by direct advertising.
Also in Japan, people still rent much of their entertainment on DVDs and BluRay unlike places like the USA and Europe. It is perhaps why Netflix has been biding their time and building up enough Japanese content to support the new service. Well it looks encouraging, and for those outside Japan the majority of Netflix is still in English, some title with subtitles but there appears to be lots of new Japanese content and of course the anime section is packed to bursting.
It’s probably going to change a lot over the next few years but looks good value for Japanese subscribers at something like $5 a month. For those of us who subscribe to Netflix in another country, there is a way to check out the Japanese Netflix if you want to see what’s there. I am hoping to discover a treasure trove of those wonderful old Japanese science fiction/monster movies which I love to watch.
So how to connect to Japanese Netflix if you’re not actually in Japan? Well of course, Japanese Netflix as usual is geo-restricted – that is locked to those people with a Japanese IP address. However many of us have discovered how to change country on Netflix account simply by switching the location of their registered IP address. It’s not so difficult and here’s a video demonstrating one method of watching Japan Netflix from anywhere in the world.
As you can see, it’s not even necessary to change your IP address completely to a Japanese one (which saves redirect your browsing to downtown Tokyo at the same time). Using a Smart DNS proxy server like the one offered by Overplay you can simply redirect through their control panel to whichever version of Netflix you want. I have’t investigated fully what different stuff is on the Japanese Netflix but I’ll bet there’s some hidden gems there even for English speakers.