Watching TV in Japan

From Akita Wiki


In some countries, watching local channels is as simple as plugging your TV into your wall, search for channels, and you can watch local TV right away. However, Japan requires a bit more work in order to watch TV.

You will need to understand what TV you have, if you have the necessary components, and find where you can plug in your TV cable in which room.

Components: B-CAS card

B-CAS card (standard)
Mini B-CAS

The B-CAS card is either a credit card-sized (or SIM card sized) card with a chip that will decode TV signals for you. This was implemented around the early 2000s in order to combat pirated signals as well as for digital rights management and copy protection schemes (thus, very old TVs will not have a B-CAS slot built in).

Today, all TVs in Japan need one in order to watch Japanese television. This includes TV units in cars (these usually will utilize the mini B-CAS card)

Your TV must have one of these B-CAS cards installed or inserted. If you don't have one, you need to order one ( carries these for about 1200 yen). Many TVs already include one of these in the back of your TV set.

If your TV does not have one (for example, if you have a TV from the US), you will need to buy a separate, and potentially expensive digital decoder, recorder, or TV tuner that will accept B-CAS/C-CAS cards.

Components: The TV cable cord

Coaxial Cable with signal splitter

You need to buy a coaxial cable first (アンテナケーブル in Japanese). These can be purchased at any electronics store or even at Daiso. These cables have a round housing with a needle in the middle (the output to connect your TV in your house or apartment will have a round shaped plug with a hole in the middle).

Some TVs will have two inputs for 地デジ TV and a separate one for BS/CS TV. Depending on which set of channels you want to watch, just plug your cable into one of those inputs.

Some cables will have a splitter so you can plug in both inputs at the same time.

Then plug the other side into the corresponding hole in the wall.

The channels: 地デジ TV

地デジ ("jideji" or Terrestrial Digital broadcast) will include all the local (city and/or prefectural) channels.

For Akita, these include local stations like NHK-G, NHK-E, AKT, ABS, and AAB.

The local channels are considered free.

The channels: BS TV

BS (or Broadcast Satellite) gives you access to national channels, however without a NHK subscription, you may be limited to a few channels (and some TVs will obstruct certain channels or block them completely unless you pay for them).

Many of the free channels include NHK's national channel, some subsidiary channels, and shopping network channels.

Watching them despite the message won't incur any fees nor alert the NHK man, but if the NHK knows you have access to NHK either by TV or phone, they may come after you for dues. Note that it is technically illegal to not pay for the NHK service, regardless whether or not you use watch TV or use the service. If you have even a smartphone, you're expected to pay the NHK man.

Access to BS TV channels will require some equipment to be installed in order to receive these channels (some buildings have a receiver already installed outside the building).

The channels: CS TV

CS (or Commercial Satellite) are your premium cable channels that you need to pay a separate company for to access and will be completely blocked unless you paid for the service.

For CS TV, a separate "C-CAS" card may be required, and a separate receiver (in addition to any receivers you already have) may also be required to be installed outside your building.

Setting up your TV

1. Check your Japanese TV set for the presence of a "B-CAS" card. If it has one, congratulations, you can watch broadcast TV on your set. If it does not or if your B-CAS slot is empty, then you need to buy one at an electronics shop or on Amazon.

2. Next, decide if you want to watch local TV or national TV. The set of channels you want to watch will decide which input you want to use on your TV: 地デジ for local channels, BS and CS for national (with caveats, see below).

3. If you're all set on the B-CAS, have your TV plugged in from the set to the wall and power cable plugged in, then turn on your set and go to the TV channel set up.

4. Go into channel set up. When setting up your channels, you'll be asked which postal code you're located. Make sure to use your place of residence's postal code of where the TV is located. This will configure which channels are assigned to what channel number.

5. Finally, if your TV set up mode doesn't have an auto-scan for available channels add the working channels to your channel list. And you're all set. Be sure you hit the "地デジ", "BS", or "CS" button for the corresponding channels your TV is set up for on your remote or input settings.

See Also

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