How to watch BBC iPlayer in Japan



Pennsylvania's Jeff is a seasoned streaming technology expert at WatchTVAbroad. His expertise spans global legal streaming services, particularly for sports like MMA and boxing, TV shows, and movies. His knowledge, born from a late-teen passion for media, is extensive and highly respected.

BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular online streaming services in the UK and it’s famous across the world for good quality shows.

But what if you want to watch in Japan?

Well, if you’ve already tried, you’ll know it’s blocked.

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be like this and there’s a straightforward way to get watching in Japan using a ‘VPN app‘ – which I’ll explain further down in this guide.

iPlayer is filled with so much content that you can always find something new and exciting to watch, that is – if you weren’t in Japan.

In other words, if you’re from the UK and you plan to travel to Japan, move there permanently, or you’re a Japanese resident – you cannot access it by conventional means.

Instead, you will need a bit of help, so keep reading, and you will soon be streaming all your favourite content.

What you’ll need

As mentioned, BBC iPlayer is blocked outside of the UK.

This is really unfortunate if you’re a UK traveller or expat who wants to enjoy home content. The same if you’re not from the UK but want to catch some shows on the service.

Luckily, it is a problem that has a solution, and the answer is to use a VPN.

Japanese Ribbon

VPNs are online privacy, security, and anonymity apps that allow you to hide your online traffic, as well as your location, and appear to be from another place in the world.

In other words, you can sit comfortably in Japan and appear to be located in the UK, which will allow the BBC iPlayer into granting you access from abroad.

Best place to get a VPN

The problem lies in the fact that there are hundreds of VPNs out there. Not all of them work with the iPlayer.

In fact, it’s pretty tricky to find a working one since the service is actively blocking VPNs.

Luckily, there are still some services that are avoiding detection thanks to their continuous efforts, and the best one is ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN has plenty of connection points in the UK, as well as in 93 other countries.

It is also extremely fast, which makes it perfect for streaming in high quality without buffering, and it even has a 30-day money-back policy.

Alternatively, you can also choose NordVPN or CyberGhost, both of which work well, so you’re free to choose the one you like best.

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Steps to stream iPlayer from Japan

If you decide to try out a VPN and access BBC iPlayer from Japan, here is what you need to do.

1. Choose a good VPN

This is likely the most important part since there are only a few VPNs that will do the job properly. As mentioned, our recommendation is ExpressVPN.

2. Sign up

The first thing to do is to go to your chosen VPN’s website and sign up for an account.

You won’t have to enter a lot of personal details, but you will have to provide your payment information and choose a VPN plan.

3. Get the app

After that, decide which device(s) you want to watch the iPlayer on, and then download the appropriate dedicated app from the VPN site or the app store.

Using ExpressVPN you can get it from the ‘Products‘ section of their site, or download it via your usual app store by searching their name.

4. Connect

Install the app like any other, login, and find their list of servers.

You will have to locate a server in the UK. Then hit ‘Connect.’

ExpressVPN app connecting to the UK.

Stream iPlayer in Japan using ExpressVPN.

5. Access the iPlayer

At this point, you are pretty much done. All that remains is to go to the iPlayer site or use their app and enjoy their content as much as you like.

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What else can I do with the VPN?

A great thing about VPNs is that they unblock pretty much all content on the internet if you connect to the right server.

As mentioned, ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries, which means that you can unblock pretty much anything on the internet. This includes other streaming services, various websites, social media, forums, news sites, and much, much more.

Illustration of women watching TV on sofa

More importantly, VPN can protect you from malware and hackers, make public Wi-Fi safe to use, prevent websites from tracking you, as well as hide your online actions from everyone, including your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or the government.

Choose a good VPN that doesn’t keep logs, and you won’t even have to worry about the VPN service itself knowing what you do while online.

VPNs are genuinely the ultimate privacy and security apps, which is excellent for everyone, and especially travellers.

Most importantly of all, you can watch TV and movies from across the globe.


BBC iPlayer is filled with popular content that UK viewers know well, but it’s also gained popularity across the world due to the quality of programming.

Unfortunately, the service is also geo-restricted, which means that you can only access it from a specific location. That location is the UK.

So, if you want to enjoy content in Japan, you have to use a VPN app to unblock iPlayer.

VPNs can help you unblock anything, including BBC iPlayer. Get one from ExpressVPN, download their app and connect to the UK.

Then head over to the iPlayer website or use their app and watch anything you want in Japan or anywhere in the world.

Ready to start viewing?

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Illustration © Gregory Turik |

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