Over the past few years an increasing number of foreign subscription service businesses have set up shop here in Japan. I’d like to cover a few of these services and why you might want to consider subscribing to them.
Amazon Prime in Japan is an incredibly good deal and I highly recommend it for anyone living in Japan. It’s reasonably priced (check the link for current pricing) and it quickly pays for itself.
The best known benefit is free Prime shipping for same or next day delivery. However Prime in Japan has an additional shipping benefit and that is being able to set the delivery time in small time slots. Packages will actually arrive during the scheduled time slot so you don’t have to wait around and you won’t have to struggle through a Japanese redelivery phone system.
For those who don’t have a car in Japan it is incredibly convenient to order heavy & bulky items from Amazon.co.jp and have them delivered at a time you specify. Need a new carpet? A new futon? 10kg of rice? How about a case of Yebesu, Strong Zero, or sparkling water? All of this (and just about everything else) is available from Amazon Japan and you can have it delivered to your house, for free, at a time you set in advance. That certainly beats trying to drag heavy items home from the supermarket!
Prime members get additional benefits from Amazon Japan which include discounted prices on some items, Prime-only items, and time-limited Prime-only sales.
Completely separate from shopping & shipping Amazon offers Prime Video and Prime Music. Prime Video has a big selection of both foreign and Japanese content as well as Amazon’s original content. Some foreign content has Japanese subtitles while some does not. Japanese content (movies, TV dramas, etc) does not have English subtitles however. Prime Music offers a good selection of channels but you may find that a separate dedicated music streaming service has a greater selection.
Overall Amazon Prime is an unbeatable value and since the first 30 days are free, give it a try!
Netflix finally made it to Japan! Even better, they have an extensive catalog of both foreign and domestic content that changes regularly.
You can’t see the official catalog before you sign up but there are 3rd party sites that keep things indexed. As of this writing there are about 6200 items in the Netflix Japan catalog making it the largest of their sites.
Netflix Japan’s various subscription packages are reasonably priced and your first month is free. If you like visual entertainment then Netflix is a must-have!
Hulu is another company that has entered the Japanese market in the last few years. Their default website language is Japanese but if you scroll down to the very bottom you should see an “English” option in the lower right corner.
At the time of this writing Hulu Japan has a catalog that is somewhat smaller than Netflix Japan offers but is still substantial in size. There is certainly some overlap with Netflix but at the same time also content that is available only on one service or another. Many people subscribe to both Netflix and Hulu while others prefer one or the other. If watching TV is a major form of at-home entertainment for you then getting both is an affordable way to increase your viewing options.
In September 2016 Spotify launched their Japan service and it is awesome. In early 2018 Spotify made their Family Plan subscription available in Japan which has made Spotify an even better deal.
If you’re a big fan of Japanese music you may be disappointed with the somewhat limited Japanese music selection. The Japanese music industry is not particularly interested in licensing to streaming services especially the major publishers here. However if you like anything besides Japanese music you will find the catalog to be extensive and the apps very easy to use.
The basic Spotify Japan website is Japanese only at the time of this writing but their iOS and Android apps will operate in the language of your phone (or English), just as you would expect.
If you love music then Spotify is an essential subscription. It’s a fantastic addition to the Japanese marketplace!
Happy subscribing everyone!