How to Watch Live Japanese Television (For Free!)

This article is all thanks to rjhoolan, who tipped me on this via Twitter. First off, thank you rjhoolan for this tip. It’s freakin amazing! Anyways, if you’re reading this, you probably want to watch some Japanese television. Not only that, but you probably want some LIVE Japanese television. I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the bad: This doesn’t work on a Mac. Supposedly they’re working on a Mac version, but who knows when that will turn out. But, if you have Windows (or are running bootcamp, VMware, or Parallels on your Mac), this should work fine. If you ask me, this is a good enough reason to install windows on VMware, allow it a mere 256mb, and let it do its magic. It’s that amazing.

The service that lets you do this is called TVU networks.  They explain themselves much better than I can, so let’s let them do it.

TVU uses a new broadcast technology called Real-Time Packet Replication.  With this technology, all the viewers who are watching a channel at the same time are cooperating to give everyone the best possible signal.  TVU’s application does not create any new files on your hard disk because you’re watching live TV. [source]

So, that’s how it’s done, but I bet you want to know how to get it up and running, like now. Who wouldn’t? Ridiculous Japanese commercials await!

How to Watch Japanese Television for Free, from Anywhere:

First, you have to download TVU’s player. It’s a bit glitchy, and not the prettiest application in the world, but like Lang-8, it’s functional, and does a great job doing what it does best.

Download TVU’s media player

From there, it’s really easy. Open up the program and switch the language over to Japanese. It’s up on the top left.

After you do that, all of the Japanese channels that are available will show up. I frequent the first three the most, but there’s a lot of stuff there, including music videos for all you music buffs. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching a show about a boxer who seduces a nun. Only in a Japanese drama, right? Only now, it’s live!

Japanese TV isn’t all you can see, though. Of course, there’s television from all over the world, and you can watch it for free as well. I’ve looked at a few American channels, since I don’t have cable TV at my home (why would I, when I’ve got internet to replace it for less money?).

So, I hope you enjoy this! Try to take breaks and go outside once in a while, yeah?

Once again, thank you rjhoolan for finding this and sharing! You are my new favorite person for the day :)

UPDATE 8-25: Since this is a p2p television thing, your connection, as well as the channels available at any given time, are dependent on who’s using TVU at the time. The people sharing are hooking into their tv, and if nobody is watching a channel at the time you want to watch it, you won’t be able to see it to. So, basically what I’m getting at, is you won’t always get all the channels, and it depends on when you are watching, sadly. Still, I’ve had good luck with it, and it hasn’t caused me any problems.

UPDATE 10-12-2008: Here is a better program for watching Japanese television, and everyone (Windows, Mac, Linux) can use it. It’s also a lot prettier and stable, as well. It’s called Livestation, and you can find it here. Thanks Reed!

  • seishunamigo713

    Ah! I wish there was a Mac version! I reaaaally want to see the Hana Kimi SP
    Maybe they will suddenly offer it up for Macs tomorrow.
    Wishes wishes

  • Preypacer

    This sounds pretty cool! I saw you updated on the 12th that you found a better program, but I didn't see a link to or name for the program. I would be very interested to know!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    whoops, I added it now. Thanks!

  • ayumu

    my japanese channels all disappear too. no more TBS, Fuji TV, Asahi and NTV!!! anyone with the same problem here?! i'm really upset cos all the good channels are gone):

  • Akisame

    Same here my TBS, Fuji TV, Asahi and NTV channels have all gone away too! :[ I am really sad about that! Those where my favorites! What happened?!? Does anyone know why they moved them?

  • maya

    Is Livestation for free too? it says trial software in the install agreement.
    i'm not sure which to download now.. i like channels like “terebi tokyo” and “fuji terebi”

    currently (22 and 23 Jan 2009) Keyhole's server is down for updating,
    i really miss it, and willing to try one of these.

  • maya

    ok eew, Livestation is very slow and choppy, but if it worked nicely the quality of picture and sound would be impressive.
    i'm picky with appearance of an application too, but when the thing don't work, looks is useless.

    installed TVU this time, not many chanels, but at least it streams.. kinda..

    i miss Keyhole.

  • hey

    tell us a website to watch japanese tv, no software needed, nothing needed, just open the website, choose what you want, and then you enjoy them :)

  • hey

    i am sorry i forgot the web link

    the website is http://en.udonno.com/live-tv/japanese-tv.html

  • hi

    to watch japanese tv online

    it is free

    http://www.kuhu.tv

    go there and select what you want to watch, then enjoy it

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  • alterego

    I found a site that has alot of currently airing doramas with english titles.

    Konoban.com

  • Miku_Sakurai

    Here in California there's a Japanese station…
    I love it, and it even has subtitles.
    But I should try this, too.

  • narutobleach111

    miku you are very very lucky{damn you}

  • rinoacooly

    I live in California as well, what channel is this? (I might live in the wrong part but…)

  • Miku_Sakurai

    I don't remember, but I believe it's called Fuji TV.

  • Miku_Sakurai

    I don't remember, but I believe it's called Fuji TV.

  • Mimi

    actually it does! click on the finder mark on the right corner after you click on the link!

  • Mimi

    actually it does! click on the finder mark on the right corner after you click on the link!

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  • Nikasantos1997

    Can you add english subtitles to it?? where??

  • Nikasantos1997

    Can you add english subtitles to it?? where??

  • Jorge1977

    keyhole tv for Japanese tv is ok but screen is too small, try the MMS (Windows media player) links – much better quality.
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/watch-japanese-tv-streamed-live-for-free/

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  • Mamoru Fan

    Um.. when I wen’t to the site it said I had to pay what gives?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I dunno, this article’s really really old, so things probably changed

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  • http://goarticles.com/article/Free-Live-CBS-FOX-CNN-And-NBC-TV-Online-On-Your-Pc-Is-This-Really-Possible/1513405 Richardkelly89

    Watch japanese television online streaming for free: http://bit.ly/iJHfLl

  • Sunohara-Youhei

    So less Japanese channel. Got any Idea make more Japanese channel?

  • http://twitter.com/linhlyn linhlyn

    Thanks. Great info!:) But, why my TVU has only one JApanese channel. I searched fuji channel but it didn’t get it >.< Too bad, i am in Japan now, but my TVU can't catch anything.

  • xxserenekoxx

    Mac version available, I just downloaded it! ^o^

  • Hiuh

    Livestation won’t work at all for me :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    sorry :( super old post – not sure how well any of these work anymore :(

  • Mopaltv

    You can watch too in this website http://www.mopal.jp

  • Dr. Kwyatt

    Looking at LiveStation (the update you posted to the stabler alternative, I can’t see any way to watch Japanese TV. Got a bunch of other languages, but no Nihongo. Wod up?

  • blabla

    i’m sorry but TVU player doesn’t work on my pc. There’s always a message with “connect failed”. but i got the newest version of Windows media player so whats the problem?

  • http://twitter.com/EricParoissien Eric Paroissien

    Nothing special here; TVU player downloads and installs well, but then you have the regular handful of free Japanese channels that have always been around, better viewed directly from the official site; Japanese channels in Japan are far more than these handful, quantity, quality …
    For the simple reason that Japanese market is the best protected in the world, even on the net they found a way to be an island, making sure that if you want anything Japanese, you’ll pay the high price.

  • http://twitter.com/EricParoissien Eric Paroissien

    and if you want to learn Japanese you can use my subtitles for movies and dramas:
    http://paroissien.com

  • Vladimir Stephens

    Will the VPN service of HideMyNet work? I’m not too tech-savvy but they have a 30 day money-back guarantee and everything! Hope to get a reply! Thanks

  • ZodiacBrave11

    For anyone that might chance upon this page: TVU Networks have shutdown their freeware media player as of today (Feb 25, 2013)

  • http://www.facebook.com/KanjiDecoder Sean Donovan

    TVU sucks, Keyhole Tv sucks.. There is still JTV24 and its free but you need a VIP key to watch without interruption… Do you know anyone that can a hack a vip key?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hanna-Jansson/100000853217218 Hanna Jansson

    too bad this isn’t avaible anymore :/

  • Callum.

    Could somebody please tell me which channels broadcast Japanese wrestling, and at what time? :)

  • Karu

    You should try and add KeyHoleTV in the post!!!

  • DemonnPrincess

    Ah okay thank you. I have tried to get it to work several times and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working. I thought something was wrong on my end(never thought to try on the other laptop or my cousin’s laptop…don’t always like installing things on other people’s computers in case something goes wrong.)

  • SZ

    So which one is working for now? I want to watch NTV ‘_’

  • Kristine

    I want to watch Fuji TV do anyone know where I could watch it online streaming for free?