If you happen to have a Netflix account, or your family does, you’ll find that location restrictions prevent you from accessing the Netflix account from Japan. The same goes for Hulu, NBC.com, and a host of other sites that provide access to movies and TV shows in the United States.
There are lots of ways to get access to TV shows including the link sites such as sidereel.com that are popular with folks abroad. Another way is to have an IP address in the United States and access that through some sort of proxy.
A very quick and easy way to make access the content is to use Hotspot Shield. Hotspot Shield is free for use on computers and basically sends your traffic through an IP access in the US, thus providing access to US only content. Hotspot Shield is originally designed to provide security to people using public wifi hotspots. It does that, but for the international user, also provides the additional benefit of making the computer appear to be in the US thus circumventing the location restrictions of many sites.
I don’t know if there will ever be a way for sites in the US to fix this loophole, but as long as it lasts people in Japan can make use of their family’s Netflix account to watch movies and tv shows online. It also provides access to the sites of US tv stations such as NBC, CBS, and even cable stations.
In addition to this, online radio services such as Pandora are also accessible.
Logic dictates that Hotspot Shield should work in countries other than Japan as well, but I have not tested this.
The free version works fine despite some ads coming up in my browser and being displayed at the top of the screen, worked fine for me. The paid “premium” version is $30 a year ad free and faster, providing tech support as well. I’ve only worked with the free version and not felt a need to upgrade yet.
There are also versions available for iOS devices (Android coming soon) that provide access to US content. The iOS version is free for a week and then $.99 cents a month or $9.99 for a year. I have only tried the one week trial and had no problem with it. It gives you the option to turn the VPN on or off through the device’s settings.
My disclaimer here is that I’ve only tried hotspot shield with Netflix for a short time, though I’ve been using HotSpot Shield for over a year. Until recently I haven’t felt that the content loaded fast enough to make it a viable option but I’ve recently been able to watch Netflix from Japan without a hitch.
I am not as familiar with the iOS version, but was able to watch Netflix on my iPad in Japan using HotSpot Shield during the 7 day trial period. I haven’t had any problems with the app so far.