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!

  • y

    Gasp! A boxer who seduces a nun? Sounds like 1Pound no Fukuin/One Pound Gospel!! <3
    Say no more, some serious J-drama watching awaits.

    Thanks to you and rjhoolan for the tip!!

  • TDoWF

    I am posting a link to this page on my fav BBS hope it is ok with you…… cuz i done did :)

  • yuka

    can you give us a follow-up when the mac version is ready?? thanks ;-)

  • Mathias

    Awesome! Thanks for the hint. Not only can I watch Japanese TV now, but also American TV, even though I assume that you can't watch all available channels, 'cause I don't see ABC or NBC. Great anyways. ^^

  • astrorainfall

    Awesome idea but too bad this doesn't work on Macs. Zanen…

  • Mrwindupbird

    Great find :D

  • Rob_Hoolan

    Hehe I'm happy you all enjoy my tip off.

  • クリス

    This is a good alternative to watching Japanese media. Normally I'd ask my friend to record a couple stuff for me on her DVR and send it to me. Maybe this will lighten up her load. Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to check it out when I get off work.

  • JF

    Hmm, I've tried this on Windows XP running from VMWare on a Mac, but it's incredibly unstable. :( The WMV channels work, but when it comes to the TVU ones, 9/10 they crash the app while it connects, and if it does connect (like it did with Asahi where some guy was wearing a bikini and sliding down a waterslide) it randomly decides to freeze up and crash (which led to hearing a splash and then “すごいーごいーごい” as the audio stuttered in the dying moments of the application :P)

    Thanks for the tip still though.

  • JackTamaki

    Too bad I have a Mac. :( I still like Macs better, but a lot of great applications out there aren't available on the Mad yet. My family has a communal Windows computer, so maybe I'll try to see how it will work on that one. Hopefully a Mac version of TVU networks will come out before I go to college and lose access to my family's home computer. XD

  • Syntobu

    Anyone know how this compares to keyhole tv? for those who haven't heard of it, no mac version, but there is a linux version.

  • Rob_Hoolan

    The quality is a tiny bit better and there are channels from all over the world on TVU player.

    But its doesn't have some of the station that keyhole TV has.

  • BZou

    Dude AMAZING FIND!! Mad props to you and rjhoolan.

  • lmazon

    I had problems getting this to work. I couldn't watch many channels, and the application would suddenly shut down, sometimes with an error. I hit the forums, and found this is a common issue with the latest version of the application. Somebody has posted the previous version. It's an executable, so just download it an run it. When it asks you to upgrade, say no. This seemed to fix things for me. It's missing a couple new features, but it works. Here it is:

  • CuriousKitty

    Amazing find! I was able to get it up in running in a little under 3 minutes. I'm currently watching Lost dubbed. lol

  • pestonio

    Wow, it works so easily, nice find guys.
    As if i needed another reason to watch TV…

  • Maciel

    thanks you Koichi for the post and rjhoolan for telling Koichi about this lol

  • Tatsuri

    I love TVU Player. I was able to watch Last Friends because of this program.
    KeyHole TV is another one, but the quality isn't as good.

  • Kazen

    Imazon, thanks so much for posting that link. I was having the same problems, but they're all fixed now. So begins an unhealthy obsession! ^_^

  • Viet

    I don't remember the last time a show made me want to beat the shit out of one of its characters.

  • ch1ka

    My mum loves you!

  • justin

    i put it on both my vista and xp box, it randomly crashes at between 15 seconds and 5 minutes on both :( exactly the reason I can't use keyhole.

  • K3NJ1

    That's awsome – can't wait to get home to try it out, but it sounds too good to be true – have never had consistent results with streaming software, especially on a wireless set up…

    Thanks anyway

  • Mai

    Oh noes! My poor Mac ;__;~ I shall go to the campus computer labs to watch :D.

  • lawnmowerlatte

    This is fantastic. I can't wait to fire up VMWare. Do you think anyone is broadcasting childrens' shows?

  • insomniacgamer

    i've used this program since forever… works great :)

  • Finlay Clark

    Wow nice! Thanks Koichi and rjhoolan!

  • Ledzep1

    Thank you so much!!! I was just about to shell out like 20 bucks a month for TV japan… My only question is that if this is live and I live in LA that means the best shows (primetime) are on at like three in the morning right?

  • Lauren

    Mine is constantly freezing, closing itself, and asking me to send error reports! Anyone else have this problem and know why it's happening? I can't watch a channel for more than 20 seconds without it having an epi!

  • emiko

    yay! now i can watch japanese dramas! still looking for the hana yori dango movie! it came out in the beginning of the summer and i STILL cannot find it! poor me :( . . . lots of good drama coming out of japan though! so i'm really excited!

  • WOTDsctoo

    !!! Wow! Thank you so much Koichi and rjhoolan!!!!

    Japanese TV rocks. Major props!

  • Chris

    For all with problems, I had very similar issues. However, lmazon, a user here, posted somewhere above amidst all the thank you's (and for my part, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!) with a solution that worked for me. Here it is again:

    “I had problems getting this to work. I couldn't watch many channels, and the application would suddenly shut down, sometimes with an error. I hit the forums, and found this is a common issue with the latest version of the application. Somebody has posted the previous version. It's an executable, so just download it an run it. When it asks you to upgrade, say no. This seemed to fix things for me. It's missing a couple new features, but it works. Here it is:

  • Lana

    This is so cool. I wish there was a way to see subtitled shows on this, though.

  • Tonio

    This is a great find! Thanks soooo much!
    By the way, I also had problems with the program randomly shutting down, but the advice given above is what solved it. Just get a slightly older version of the program and things will work fine. The version I have doesn't display a drop-down menu for languages, but I can still search the list manually for the Japanese flag.

  • Sukotto

    I can't believe I didn't know about this sooner! I love it!

  • Sougen02

    Whoa-ly crud. Thanks!
    If only I knew about this before! lol

    What I worry is… how long do you think it will be before eventually you will have to pay to watch live?? 0.0

  • Kash

    will this rape my bandwidth?

  • solstyce

    Awww.. oh well. That's too bad it won't work on Macs yet, but I can wait for it.
    Luckily I have both platforms :)

  • Viet

    depends how long you watch…

  • Elliott

    You don't need to download the application to watch it!
    I'm watching it on firefox via a plugin. Maybe the same will work on Macs?
    (Just go to the Watch TV section)

  • Kazen

    Is it me or did all of the live Japanese channels (NTV, Fuji, TBS, Asahi) disappear? T_T

  • Kazen

    Teach me to post without checking the forum first. This seems to happen now and then:

  • koichi

    Yeah, maybe nobody's watching them right now, which means no p2p

  • Ana

    I used this program sometime ago to watch Lost, I can't believe I didn't realize I could watch Japanese TV with it. lol

  • Kyo

    Interesting I was actually looking for a App a few days ago to watch TV Tokyo or any Japanese show really. Well I couldn't find one till this guy referred me to this site, and the download link for KeyHoleTV

    Well here is the main site, but I will post the actually download as well. The only con I can say so far is the player window is quite small, and it can be laggy at times as well.

  • Sean

    It seems that the Japanese channels have all been removed,the Live ones anyway,and can no longer be viewed by anyone.The broadcasters apologized and appeared to give an explanation of why they removed it but due to my weak grasp of Chinese,can't translate to everyone here yet.

  • Chimiko

    I've tried to use TVU, but it didn't work for me, so I've stuck to KeyHole for the time being.

  • LuLa

    Oooooooooops!!!!!!!! This TVU thing was great! I was able to watch SMAPxSMAP live but then I don't know what happened!!!! FujiTV is not available anymore!!!!! Nor TBS or NTV!!! Nooooo!!!!!!!!! Does anybody know any other way to watch Japanese television live besides KeyHole????

  • Chris

    “The only con I can say so far is the player window is quite small…”

    you can make the player window bigger by double clicking on it to open it in a new window and then just drag the corner to make it bigger

  • 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!

  • 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

  • hi

    to watch japanese tv online

    it is free

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

  • alterego

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

  • 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.

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  • Mamoru Fan

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

  • koichi

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

  • Richardkelly89

    Watch japanese television online streaming for free:

  • Sunohara-Youhei

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

  • 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 :(

  • koichi

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

  • Mopaltv

    You can watch too in this website

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Eric Paroissien

    and if you want to learn Japanese you can use my subtitles for movies and dramas:

  • 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)

  • 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?

  • 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?