NHK – Japan’s National Broadcasting Network

All Things to Know about NHK Japan

History and Establishment: NHK before the war

Like in most parts of the world, the television in Japan has gained its popularity after the Second World War. The widespread development of television broadcasting in 1950s Japan kick-started industries, especially in media and film. Although broadcasting has been popular in Japan through the radio pre-war, the introduction of the television to the Japanese significantly affected and changed their culture.

Among the original and oldest broadcasting network in Japan would be the Nippon Hoso Kyokai or more popularly known as the NHK. The words Nippon Hoso Kyokai literally means Japan Broadcasting Corporation. As its name suggests, it is one of the biggest broadcasting networks in the country – like a flagship of all networks nationally.

This particular broadcasting company was formerly known as the Tokyo Broadcasting Station which was originally established in the 1920s. This well-known network was the king of the airwaves during this time. By mid-20s, two other broadcasting companies from Nagoya and Osaka merged with the Tokyo Broadcasting Station which eventually marked the beginnings of the NHK.

According to historical reports, it was in the early 30s when NHK started to provide radio programs in both the English and Japanese language and was more popular under the name Radio Japan. The reason why the company chose to provide English language programs was to reach the Japanese who resides in places such as Hawaii.

History and Establishment: NHK during the war

As it was considered as the biggest broadcasting agency during the time, the Imperial Army of Japan took it as an opportunity to reach the people of Japan.  Before and during the war, any information that was published by the broadcasting company was considered as ‘official announcements’ coming from the Imperial Army Headquarters. In fact, then leader of Japan Emperor Hirohito used NHK to broadcast his surrender speech. According to historical records, this particular speech marked the end of the Second World War.

What is interesting about the historical records of the company, NHK was the home of the popular yet controversial Tokyo Rose. The Tokyo Rose were a group of English-speaking female broadcasters popular in Japan during the time. They have raided the airwaves in different parts of the globe and was discovered by the Allied troops to broadcast Japanese propaganda.

What makes the Tokyo Rose even more popular during the time was that they have leaked information on the Allied Forces’ losses in the Southern Pacific. Experts believed that the Tokyo Rose was originally intended to demoralize families of American soldiers in different parts of the world.

History and Establishment: NHK after the war

After the Second World War, the Americans helped the Japanese get back to their feet. They played an important part in the drafting of the Japanese post-war constitution. Because of the popularity of the Tokyo Rose outside of Japan, all international broadcasts and programs of NHK have been banned. It was only in the 1950s when international broadcasts from NHK have been allowed once again.

This marked the beginning of the growth of the NHK empire. The company has finally branched out from their comfort zone of radio broadcasting to television in 1950. Their popularity and influence were so widespread that NHK had the opportunity to broadcast the 1965 Olympics. According to experts, this televise has the record for being the first Olympic games to be widely televised.

The Home of Japan’s National Broadcasting Center: NHK Studio Park

A place that is known as the NHK Studio Park is the national headquarters of the popular broadcasting network.  What is special about this place is that it is open to the public and outsiders can observe what goes on inside the network behind the scenes between 10 AM to 6 PM. People can enter the park for as low as 200 yen.

Other than the fact that outsiders can get to watch what happens inside the network, they can also experience what it is like to work as one of the staff. There are hands-on experience programs available where the visitor can get program creation and voice dubbing workshops. On top of that, there is a theater inside the network station that archives all of the past shows of the broadcasting center. It allows its visitors to re-enjoy old shows broadcasted by NHK.

This large broadcasting network has their headquarters located in Shibuya. Anyone can visit the NHK Studio Park by riding the JR Yamanote line and getting off at the Harajuku station. Visitors can also choose to ride the Subway Chiyoda Line and getting off at the Shibuya Station.

Different subdivisions of NHK

There are two main divisions of NHK which are well known domestically. These are the NHK General TV and the NHK Educational TV. On top of these two main divisions of NHK, there is an international broadcast known as the NHK World.

NHK General TV

The NHK General TV is the main service of the NHK. It is broadcasted throughout the country. It is well-known for broadcasting special shows such as the New Year’s Eve Show, the daytime show Asadora and the year-long drama called Taiga. NHK General TV is also responsible for providing weather reports that indicate the changes of the temperature during December, August, Feb, and more.

  • NHK News – The broadcasting network is quite well-known for their nightly newscast that provides all the information on the latest current events in the country.
  • NHK Anime – For those who wish to watch popular anime which have been broadcasted on the NHK channel, there are a number of websites available on the internet that provide free, subtitled shows. Also, NHK works hand-in-hand with the Anime News Network or ANN to provide the internet world full updates of the latest manga and anime status. In addition to this, the website also provides updates for the latest games and music. They are quite popular not only in Japan but also in the US and Australia.
    What makes this particular website popular is that writers and contributors provide forums and discussions where anime fanatics can give an overall assessment or review of a particular manga, anime or game.

NHK Educational TV

Similar to the NHK General TV, the NHK Educational TV is also a main television service of the network. It is generally known as the NHK ETV. However, the difference is that this particular channel shows more educational programs and are good for children.

This channel was launched in 1959 and has been on the air since. Normal shows broadcasted on the NHK Educational TV are those about Japan’s culture. There are period films, documentaries, historical shows and even science shows which are broadcasted in this particular channel. Often times, the NHK ETV also shows educational anime which are all intellectual in nature. There are also shows on sports that broadcast live baseball competitions and much more.

Some of the most recommended shows on this channel include the Anatomy of AI which is a show that explores on the wonder of artificial intelligence and how these machines are now becoming more human. There are also shows about pets and how to take care of them. Another recommended show is the documentary about origami and how it can help the mind solve very difficult problems. Part of the NHK ETV is the NHK for School which is a special section of the channel that focuses on shows regarding topics discussed in school.

Learning about NHK World

  • NHK World News - The NHK World is to provide international audiences updates and news of what is happening in Japan. Although the nightly NHK World News still provides updates on the news all over the world, the NHK World still has some shows about Japanese travel, culture, and food.
    What is special about the NHK World is that it is available not only in English but also in 17 more world languages. These languages include Chinese, Russian, French, Korean, Arabic, and much more. This helps in widening their international audience. There is also a tab on the NHK World Website that helps their audience in learning Japanese free. There are lessons and materials available on their website free for their international audience.
  • JIB TV – What is interesting about the NHK broadcasting center, is that they have produced what is known as JIB TV. This is a small Japanese company working under the larger network of NHK  that produces English-language programs not only about Japan but also Asia. Working separately from NHK World, JIB TV produces programs for an international audience. This means that NHK World does not only focus on providing the latest news but they also try to create more variation for their international audience.

New Technologies for NHK

  • NHK Live – NHK World provides a live broadcast known as the NHK News line. What is special about this particular website on the internet is that it provides the latest news and weather for ten minutes every hour. They also do live broadcasts of analyses of events from Japanese experts in Japan and also the whole of Asia. This particular website is available in English. After the NHK News Line, there are other shows that feature travel, culture, and food in Japan. Furthermore, they also have web shows that have a series of daily episodes lasting for about 20 to 30 minutes. Online visitors can look at the schedule on the NHK World TV live website.
  • NHK Online – Nowadays, news and information about Japan become even more accessible to many through the help of international broadcasts of the NHK. However, they have made information much easier to access through the help of their websites where visitors can browse through information about Japan and the country’s relationships with other countries. However, if this is not enough, there are now apps available for both tablets and smartphones that provide live broadcasts from television and radio.
  • NHK Easy News – Interestingly enough, there is a link on the NHK website that provides free Japanese language lessons for their international audience. However, there is now an “easy Japanese” program which has been produced by the NHK Radio Japan. There is also a website available on the internet. NHK Easy News provides the latest news updates in easy to understand Japanese. It is a good platform to learn the language while also learning important current events inside and outside of Japan. It is an interesting and exciting way to learn the language.
    Another important thing about the NHK Easy News is that the articles are written in the simplest patterns. Most kanji words are written in Hiragana instead and there are simpler explanations for hard to understand paragraphs. This website is friendly not only for children but also for beginner learners of the Japanese language.

The Present and Future of the NHK

NHK is one of the oldest broadcasting networks in Japan. Through the years they have started to grow and expand to encompass different aspects of the media. They have dove not only in providing daytime shows and daily or the nightly news, they have also provided other interesting media avenues such as the NHK Easy and NHK Live.

Experts all over the world are still expecting NHK to grow even bigger and tap on even more aspects of the media. With their aggressiveness in using technology, they have reached thousands of audiences in different parts of the world. They are among the first that provide live broadcasts of their shows on the internet and provide language learning platforms in the form of news.

In the coming years, they are also expected to use even more advanced technologies to reach even more audiences all over the world. NHK might be one of the leading broadcasting networks not only in Japan but all over the world in the coming years.

What is the NHK Seating? 

Despite the fact that this company used the acronym “NHK” it is not actually a part of the TV broadcasting network. The NHK Seating is a Japanese firm that produces top of the line car seats. They export their products to different parts of the world.