As of October 2012 (or there abouts) the laws in Japan changed slightly but with significant impact for many netizens using music and video downloaders.
Downloading, though it was always illegal, has now become a criminal act. Previously, you could get sued. Now, you get fined and go to jail! So if you are a downloader, be aware of this new risk! DO NOT TORRENT!
Luckily, if you are in search of videos there is an easy solution. Rent a DVD. It does mean you have to pay but it really isn't that much and even better, any English DVDs you hire in Japan likely have Japanese subs - great if you want to watch a little American or British TV or drama series with a Japanese friend.
Where can I hire DVDs in Japan?
There are many places you can hire English movies on DVDs throughout Japan, though if you live in a very rural area you might find it a little difficult to find a shop.
Some DVD or video rental chains are:
- GEO(S) - with the big yellow sign. Here it is free to sign up and get a card.
- TSUTAYA - maybe with an orange sign also rents DVDs, videos and comics. Registration cost ￥500. With TSUTAYA, you can also hire DVDs online which is great if you want to hire something and you live in a rural area without a DVD rental shop.
Rent English movies online
You may also like to try these online options:
- Netflix - As if I even have to mention this one. Since this article was first written, online options have become more and more international. With it's subs and voice-over options, this can also be a convenient study tool.
- Google play - My personal go to. Just like watching a YouTube video. You have access to the video for (I think) two weeks but once you start watching it, you lose access after 48 hours. You can watch it as much as you want within that time.
- iTunes - Though I personally haven't tried this, a co-worker uses iTunes to hire movies.
- http://posren.livedoor.com (Japanese only)
- http://www.dmm.com/rental/ (Japanese only)
http://rental.rakuten.co.jp/(no longer available)