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TV Guide, Japan

July 4th, 2005

About 8 months ago, I switched from cable to satellite TV here in Japan. When I was on cable TV, there was a program guide mailed to me every month; however, with satellite TV, there’s no guide. Yes, there’s a live “what’s on” channel that you can go forward for one week, and they even have an English version for it–but it’s clunky at best.

So for six months, I subscribed to an English TV Guide magazine, which gave all-English listings for cable and satellite channels (not the terrestrial Japanese-language channels). That was good, but it was also expensive–¥800 ($7.20) an issue, with no price break at all for 6- or 12-month subscriptions. At almost ten thousand yen per year, that’s a pretty pricey TV guide–especially if you only use it for half a dozen channels or so.

I was about to re-subscribe, however painfully, when I figured I’d give it a pass for at least one month. During that time, I found out something that made me feel a bit foolish: you don’t need to pay for it. Each channel publishes its full schedule on their web site, and most–even though they’re Japanese companies in Japan–publish an alternate schedule in English. Each one is presented as a PDF file, and these files are sometimes almost identical to what I’d been paying so much for. All you have to do is visit the sites for the channels you watch each month and print out the PDF file: instant TV guide in English, for only a few pennies. Like I said, I felt like a fool for dishing out that much.

Strangely–or not so strangely, considering–the Fox channel (entertainment, not news) is the only one I watch that does not publish and English-language schedule. Which kind of figures; Fox is also one of two, maybe three channels on all of satellite TV (another is the Disney channel) which does broadcasts bilingual (Japanese and English) in a non-standard format that defies the usual technology for extra audio channels. With other channels, like Super-Channel or AXN, you can set the channel to bilingual mode and it will always be in English from then on. But with Fox, you have to switch from Japanese to English every time you change the channel. Furthermore, it’s not easy to switch; at least on my set, you have to activate the menu, move up one level, across one, and then down to, and then set–pushing five different buttons six times just to change the audio. But worst, the audio cannot be controlled from my DVR–meaning that I have to manually switch audio for every programmed show recorded off of Fox. A huge pain in the neck.

All whining aside, here are the pages where you can download English versions of monthly programming schedules:

AXN
Super Channel
LaLa (a cumbersome PDF, takes a while to display)
Movie Plus
Cinefil Imagica (click “Schedule” on the left)
Fox (Japanese only)

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  1. Anonymous
    July 31st, 2005 at 19:25 | #1

    Thank you SOOOO much for these websites with the schedules. I have been struggling with the on-screen guide, which as you know is in Japanese and only shows the first few words of the title, so I have to guess what the rest is. Argghh! This is going to save quite a few grey hairs. Too bad I can’t treat you to a beer with the savings on hair colour. :} Also the first time for me to visit your blog. It’s nice! -wgb

  2. Barnaby
    January 13th, 2006 at 19:20 | #2

    just wanted to let you know that I recently wrote and email to FOX Japan asking for an english language Guide and they agreed it was strange and have just added it to there timetable page HERE:

    http://www.foxjapan.com/tv/timetable/index.html

  3. Dirk Ross
    October 6th, 2006 at 12:55 | #3

    Dear Webmaster,
    Thank you for your site. It helped me locate a movie that I had just watched on Movie Plus in Russian and German. Since my Russian and German, as well as Japanese are very limited I wanted to find this movie`s title so I can find it in English. Thank you again very much. Movie title, “So Weit Die Fusse Tragen” 2001 Germany; playing on Movie Plus for this Oct only. Interesting and touching movie!!! Cheers from Tokyo. drtanuki

  4. Tony
    January 1st, 2007 at 16:38 | #4

    Yes, here, here, good stuff. My girlfriend was sick and stuck in a Tokyo hotel for a while and this info helped us a lot

  5. Luis
    January 1st, 2007 at 16:42 | #5

    Good to hear that this helped, though I’m sorry to hear about the illness. I know what that’s like–I was laid up both times with maladies the last two times I went home for Christmas…

  6. Graham
    March 26th, 2009 at 01:49 | #6

    Fox know has English pdf.

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