You’re going to Japan for vacation or work but you’re worried you won’t be able to access certain things while away from home. And are there any differences between the service in your country and in Japan? It’s important to make sure your favorite services work while you’re there!
Table of Contents
- Video Streaming: YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime Video
- Music Streaming: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora
- Dating Apps: Tinder, Bumble, Meetup
- Exploring the City: Google, Google Maps, Uber, Food Recommendation Sites
YouTube is very popular and works great in Japan. Your device may automatically change the location to Japan and therefore show you recommended content from YouTube Japan. You can change your location in settings.
Netflix is also very popular around the world and is growing in popularity in Japan. If you have a Netflix account in your country, you should be able to use it seamlessly when you travel as long as that location has its own Netflix. Netflix caters content to each location, however, so your show may not be available when you travel to Japan. Even if you download shows and movies to watch on the flight, for example, the title may become unavailable after a while once you arrive in Japan if the title is not including in Japan’s Netflix content.
Hulu on the other hand, is only available in the United States. There is a Hulu Japan; however, the two services are run separately and account holders of one do not have access to the contents of the other. The content available is also quite different. While Hulu Japan does have an extensive library of foreign shows, there is a focus on currently airing shows within Japan. There are talks that Hulu will expand internationally soon, but there are no set dates, and the details of how that will affect the connection between US and Japan’s Hulu accounts have not been revealed.
HBO Go is not available outside of the United States. There are many HBO titles available on Amazon Prime Japan but not all.
Similarly, Crunchyroll is not available in Japan. Anime content is available on other streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.
Amazon Prime and Prime Video get a little tricky. You cannot access Amazon Prime Japan with an Amazon Prime account from a different country. You can, however, watch a restricted selection of shows from your own Amazon Prime Video account. Please check if the title is available under “Watch While Abroad”. Another option is to download the shows so you can watch them while in Japan. However, you do not have access to Japan’s Prime Video content without an Amazon Prime Japan or Prime Japan Video account.
If you have a free Spotify plan, you can listen to your music for up to 2 weeks with no issues abroad as long as there’s not internet restrictions. After 2 weeks, you will have to upgrade or change your location. When you change locations, certain songs will become unavailable. Also, Japan’s desktop version of Spotify has a 15 hour streaming limit per month.
With a Spotify Premium plan, you should face no restrictions or limitations. Premium also allows you to download songs before your trip, so if you would like to play music without wifi, this is an available option.
Apple Music as well as Google Play Music work in Japan. Download your music to listen without wifi.
Certain streaming sites are only available in certain countries. For example, Pandora is not available outside of the United States. Please check first!
Japan has its own dating apps, but aren’t always English-user friendly. Here are some internationally used options.
Tinder can be used in Japan. Just change your location settings. However, Tinder is not only used as a casual dating app, but is also used as a way to make friends or meet language exchange partners. It’s best to be clear with your matches what you are looking for.
Due to the large number of overseas users, you can meet a lot of English-speakers through Bumble. For those unfamiliar, it's a dating app where the women make the first move to their matches. If you’re looking to meet local people, however, it might be a little more difficult. While the app is becoming more popular, it’s still not nearly as well-known as Tinder or the top Japanese dating apps.
While not a dating app, if you are looking to meet people, you can find a large variety of different events every day on Meetup. You can browse different groups by interest. The opportunities are endless. There are language exchange groups and mixers for international people. Whether you’re in Japan for a short while and want to meet new people at a casual event, or if you’re looking to make friends or find a partner, Meetup is a great place to get started.
Exploring the City
Google can be used in Japan and Google Maps as well. Google Maps shows different transportation routes, including the ability to hail a ride through different apps, which are DiDi (a collaboration between DiDi Chuxing from China and Softbank), JapanTaxi and Uber. (Please keep in mind that these services may not be available everywhere in the country.)
Uber is only available in Tokyo and the number of cars available is very very small. This causes uber to be more expensive. With very convenient public transportation options available as well as the abundance of taxis, Uber is still not very well-known to the Japanese public. However, the recent promotion of Uber Eats and the upcoming Olympics may provide Uber with the boost it needs.
While other countries may be used to using sites like Yelp, Zomato, Google, OpenTable and Facebook to make decisions about where to eat, Japan has their own very popular food recommendation sites. Tabelog, Gurunavi and Hot Pepper Gourmet are among the most commonly used. They do have English versions, but they tend to not be as extensive or have as much information as the Japanese sites, which include reviews and ranking information. The same goes for Yelp, OpenTable, and Google. They are available in Japan - however the options and reviews are quite limited when compared to overseas. TripAdvisor, which has a collaboration with Gurunavi, is quite popular with tourists when it comes to seeing ranking and reviews. You can find the TripAdvisor logo at various locations throughout Japan, and you can read the reviews in English.
Travel to Japan without having to give up your favorite things. And if it’s not available in Japan, try out the Japanese equivalent, or make plans to have everything downloaded to bring with you! After all, traveling is an adventure!
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