Oct 5, 2018

The NHK 8pm fiasco

I believe everyone here is familiar with the pain that is dealing with the “NHK people” who come and knock on your door, asking to collect money for the TV channel. If you don’t, then consider yourself quite lucky and hope it stays that way (or perhaps because you pay it and you’re happy about it, in which case, good for you). 

One random evening during the first month after I have arrived to Japan and I was still figuring out which direction is North from my house, I was visited by one of these NHK money collectors.

*Ding dong*

My doorbell rang, which was extremely rare at that time. It was either someone from my company coming over with paperwork or to check on me, or someone getting the wrong door. I looked through the peephole and there stood a man in office dress. It was 8pm, which quite confused me, and in the middle of my confusion, I answered and opened the door, unknowing who he was or the annoyance he was about to bring.

“I’m from NHK, blahblahblahblahblah…”

Given my level of Japanese, I had no idea what he was saying, but I remember NHK being one of the biggest TV channels available nationwide, at some point I mumbled “…..TV?”

The NHK 8pm fiasco photo

“Yes!! Blahblahblahblah…” and he proceeded to talk more until I told him I had no idea what he was saying. He kept trying to confirm that my Japanese is not good by… directly asking if my Japanese was not good. Then he scratched his head and tried his best to use his English (or rather, English vocabulary) and gestures to explain his purpose.

After 20 minutes of unsuccessful communication, he said he would come back another time.

The next evening, he came back with an English pamphlet, explaining that it was my “duty” to pay. I was sceptical that it could have been a scam, and even if not, I thought it was unreasonable.

He asked whether I have a TV, and I replied, “No”.

“A car that has a TV installed?”


“A laptop with TV signal?”


“A cellphone that can watch TV on?”

“… You can do that with cellphones and TV!? (No anyway)”

He did not believe me, as he heard sounds of TV coming from my room which I had connected to my laptop and was watching YouTube videos at the time. I told him that it was not my TV, but one temporarily provided by my company, but he insisted that I still had to pay the money.

He was not a bad person from what I could tell. He was young, hardworking, sympathizing, and he really was just doing his job. Did he question the job he was doing? Perhaps not, or that he wasn’t in a position to.

In the end, he said that I should at least be paying for the time that I will be keeping the TV, be it just the two months before I return it to my company.

We came to this deal that the next evening he returned once again with a short term NHK contract that would automatically deduct money from my bank account for two months, and then the contract would end and it would stop. He also kindly asked me to contact NHK again when I purchase my own TV. After all the nightly visits, I honestly thought that paying for two months means he (or they) would stop visiting me for good to challenge my Japanese.

Now here is the kicker. I waited for months and months and the money was never deducted. I talked to my colleagues afterwards and they all told me, “Wow, next time just don’t open the door. They can’t force you to pay money like that. Or next time just say "no" to owning a TV.”

Besides the rule being unreasonable, if the process of paying is something more official than a guy knocking on your door around 8pm, it might have been a bit more successful in that less people would hate it.

This post was created by a blogger on City-Cost through the blogging themes



A Q&A and blogging community about life in Japan (plus a load of life-in-Japan stats!). Get your questions answered, share your experience! | Inquiry -> KyodoNewsDigital International Media | Tokyo, Japan | +81 3 6252 6402



Best place in Japan for a cheap meal (Japanese-style fast food)?

Make your selection to see the results so far