The Netflix streaming service was made available in Japan in 2015. Netflix’s Japan-based servers offer a mix of Japanese and international content, including popular television shows and movies, both from home and abroad.
Netflix restricts the content available in a country for access only by Netflix viewers located in that country. This means that content available in Japan may not be available in other countries, and vice-versa.
Happily, Japanese Netflix viewers traveling abroad, or international Netflix viewers who simply want to expand their streaming horizons, have a way to view Japanese Netflix content from outside the Land of the Rising Sun.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an excellent tool for opening access to streaming content in other countries, Netflix Japan included. A VPN accomplishes this by temporarily assigning your connected device a new IP address, making it appear that you are physically located in another region of the world. (In this case, it’s Japan.)
However, don’t select a VPN service at random and expect it to reliably unblock Netflix Japan.
Over the years, Netflix has become rather good at detecting VPN users who attempt to connect to their servers. When they detect that an IP address belongs to a VPN server, they quickly block that address.
What this means is that you need to find a VPN provider that has a solid history of evading Netflix’s detection, and that responds quickly if one of their IP addresses are detected and blocked – which is important, considering most VPN providers have fewer Japan-based servers than they have in other countries.
While these articles usually follow a “top 5” format, there are only 3 VPN providers that currently offer reliable access to Netflix in Japan.
How to Watch Japanese Netflix Using a VPN
Using a VPN to access Netflix content in Japan requires you to follow only a few easy steps:
- Subscribe to a Japanese Netflix-capable VPN provider. (I use ExpressVPN.)
- Install the provider’s VPN app(s) on your device(s).
- Log into the VPN service.
- Select a server located in Japan.
- Load the Netflix app or website and start bingeing!
What Is the Best VPN for Watching Netflix Japan?
After putting my favorite VPN providers through extensive testing, I’ve found that the following 3 VPN providers still offer reliable access to Netflix Japan. TL;DR list of providers:
- ExpressVPN: The best option for watching Netflix Japan. The provider’s Japan-based servers offer reliable access to Netflix servers in that country. ExpressVPN’s fast connections are easily up to handling even 4K streams from the streaming service.
- NordVPN: This is the low-price leader on this list of 3, making it an attractive VPN option for users on a budget. The provider also has most of the Netflix platforms covered with app support.
- Surfshark: A lesser-known VPN provider, Surfshark delivers reliable unblocking of Netflix Japan and other streaming services. It offers 4K-capable connections, offering optimal movie viewing enjoyment.
You’ll find out that VPN providers all have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Some may provide lightning-fast speeds while offering limited global server coverage. Meanwhile, another VPN may offer exactly the opposite set of advantages and limitations.
When ranking the best VPNs to use to watch Netflix from Japan while in other countries, I considered the following features:
- Reliable ability to access Netflix Japan
- Global server coverage includes servers in Japan
- Fast connections
- Strong connection protections
- Strong privacy protections
- Excellent native app support
Here’s my list of the 3 best VPNs for watching Netflix Japan:
ExpressVPN is the top choice for a VPN that provides reliable access to Netflix streams originating from Japan. The provider’s well-protected connections provide fast access to the streaming provider.
In addition to Netflix Japan, ExpressVPN offers reliable access to Netflix in numerous other locations around the globe, as well as plenty of other streaming providers, such as Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video.
ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, including Japan.
You’ll find that ExpressVPN’s connection speeds are easily up to handling Netflix’s streaming requirements. 1080p and 4K streams are no problem. No data caps or bandwidth limitations ever show up to spoil the show.
No logs of any kind are kept on ExpressVPN’s servers, ensuring that the history of your online activities will never be available to outsiders. Use an anonymous email address and the provider’s Bitcoin option and you’ll go completely incognito.
Native app support is available for the iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Amazon Fire TV and Kindle Fire device platforms. Chrome and Firefox extensions are available to protect your in-browser viewing sessions.
The provider’s MediaStreamer DNS service opens Netflix access to game consoles, set-top streaming boxes and smart TVs. (MediaStreamer does NOT encrypt your connection like the provider’s VPN service does, so keep that in mind.) ExpressVPN is also compatible with a large number of routers, if you need more than 5 simultaneous connections.
- Works well to unblock Netflix Japan as well as other streaming services
- Excellent global server coverage
- HD- and 4K-capable connection speeds
- Optimal privacy and security safeguards
- Top-notch multi-platform app support
- Priced higher than other VPNs on this list
BEST VPN FOR UNBLOCKING NETFLIX JAPAN:ExpressVPN is the best VPN for reliably accessing Netflix Japan, as well as other streaming services around the globe. The provider’s servers deliver fast, well-protected connections, perfect for any video binge. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN snags 2nd place in this roundup thanks to its large number of servers located in Japan, as well as its budget-friendly pricing.
This provider offers access to Netflix streams in Japan, as well as other countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, France and Italy. The provider offers a page of helpful Netflix-related hints on its website.
This provider’s global server network is made up of 5,600+ servers in 60 countries, and plenty of those servers are located in Japan.
While NordVPN offers the slowest connection speeds in this top 3 list, it’s still more than up to delivering smooth HD streams from Netflix servers. The provider never imposes data caps or bandwidth limitations on its customers’ activities.
NordVPN follows a strict no-logs policy and accepts cryptocurrency as subscription payment.
The provider’s multi-platform app support includes apps for devices on the iOS, Android, macOS, Linux and Windows platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available.
The provider is compatible with numerous routers. Up to 6 simultaneous connections are allowed under one username.
- Plenty of Japan-based servers
- Top-notch privacy offerings
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Attractively priced
- Slowest connection speeds on this list
BEST BARGAIN VPN:NordVPN is the best VPN for Netflix Japan viewers who are looking to save a few bucks. While it isn’t the lowest-priced provider on this list, it offers the most bang for the buck. The provider’s speeds may be the slowest in this roundup, but the monetary savings may ease the pain. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark is the 3rd and final VPN to provide reliable access to Netflix Japan. Its fast speeds and optimal security protections helped it make the list.
In addition to reliable unblocking of Netflix Japan, the provider delivers reliable access to Netflix streams originating from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France and other countries.
While the provider’s global server coverage of more than 500 servers in 50+ countries is a bit lacking when compared to that of other providers on this list, those servers offer reliable Netflix access.
Surfshark delivers fast connection speeds that can easily handle the demands of HD and 4K video streams. Plus, you’ll never need to worry about violating a monthly data cap or having your fun restricted due to bandwidth limitations.
All of the provider’s connections are protected with kill switch and ad-blocking protections, and the provider’s Multi-Hop feature routes your connection through multiple servers to further obfuscate your real IP address and location.
Your online privacy is also safe in Surfshark’s hands thanks to its no-logs policy. The provider also accepts Bitcoin to protect your payment privacy.
Surfshark’s app support has all of the most popular device platforms covered, providing apps for the Linux, iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and Fire TV platforms. Firefox and Chrome browser extensions are available.
Router-based protection is also available. In addition, the provider offers a somewhat unusual unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
- Reliable access to Netflix in Japan and other countries
- No simultaneous connections limit
- Top-notch encryption and no-logs privacy protections
- Global server coverage needs a bump
PERFECT FOR FAMILIES:Surfshark is a relatively recent addition to the world of VPN providers. The provider wasted no time in providing reliable, fast connections to Netflix in multiple countries, Japan included. The provider’s unlimited simultaneous connections policy should attract users with large families. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch Netflix Japan?
Even though it’s considered impolite in Japan to say this, I must say “No.”
First off, Netflix is always on the lookout for viewers who are using a VPN to access their service. When the streaming provider detects a VPN IP address, they block them. Pure and simple.
When they do this, it’s up to the VPN provider to set up a new IP address. Then Netflix discovers that IP address, blocks it, and the whole vicious cycle begins anew.
This virtual chess game requires a VPN provider to have plenty of resources in order to stay in the battle of wits. Do you really think a “free” VPN will have the resources to stay in the game? (Here’s a hint: I was only able to find 3 VPN providers that offer reliable unblocking of Netflix Japan, and those 3 charge for their services!)
A free VPN is simply not going to offer reliable access to Netflix in any country. Plus, when you connect to a free VPN provider, in many cases your server selection is limited to a few countries. And that’s only if the provider doesn’t automatically connect you to a server of their choice.
More reasons not to attempt to use a free VPN to access Netflix include the fact that many freebie providers throttle their users’ internet connections and impose daily or monthly data caps as well. Neither of those “features” are exactly copacetic to a satisfactory streaming experience.
There are also privacy concerns with using a “free” VPN. Sans-cost VPN providers have been known to track their users’ online activities and then sell that information to advertisers and other interested parties. Still other VPNs have been caught inserting unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their customers’ browsing sessions.
Sorry, but none of the above adds up to any good reason to try a free VPN. It’s better to budget a few bucks per month for VPN protection. It’s worth it in the long run.
What Else Is a VPN Good for?
While the focus of this article has been on using a VPN to access Netflix Japan, a VPN is not a one-trick pony. There are plenty of other reasons to subscribe to and use a VPN provider.
In addition to Netflix, a VPN can open access to content that might normally be blocked in your area.
While this includes Netflix and other popular video streaming services, a VPN can also open access to gaming servers, websites and other services that may be blocked by the services themselves, your government or Internet Service Provider, or your school or employer.
A VPN can also prevent your ISP from throttling your connection speeds. Believe it or not, some ISPs will throttle your connection speeds if they detect you’re engaging in P2P file sharing or accessing websites and services they don’t approve of.
Last but certainly not least, a VPN can protect your privacy and enhance your security when you’re online. A VPN encases a user’s internet connection in a shell of encryption, which acts like a tunnel, protecting your online travels from observation.
This encrypted protection comes in particularly handy for road warriors and others who make regular use of unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those found in coffee shops, hotel rooms and even your local Sam’s Club.
Most Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t encrypted, leaving your online travels vulnerable to observation and even data theft. A VPN’s encrypted protection keeps your activities safe from the bad guys.
If you’re like me, you like to take a little bit of home with you when you’re traveling. And if your little bit of home is Netflix Japan, a VPN can provide access to your favorite shows and movies.
Using a VPN – such as my #1 provider, ExpressVPN – delivers your favorite form of entertainment, with no connection throttling or data caps. It also protects your internet travels from prying eyes, while opening access to content from around the globe.
For more information, visit the ExpressVPN website.