Japan is famous for a lot of things, be it the fleeting beauty of a cherry blossom tree, the hustle and bustle of modern-day Tokyo, or the Buddhist temples that are rich in culture and history.
If you’re a weeb like me, your love of anime and manga might drive you to visit the country responsible for legendary classics like Cowboy Bebop and Death Note. You might even want to stream a couple of episodes while you’re there. Having a trusted VPN for Japan on your side can help with that.
A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to surf the internet, torrent files and stream content in a secure and safe manner. It helps encrypt your browsing data, bypass geoblocks and download the files you want, ensuring no one can see what you’re doing. Plus, you’re more susceptible to attacks if you like to connect to free public WiFi spots. If you’re an avid traveler, it’s a must-have.
ExpressVPN is the best Japan VPN you can use while you’re there. It’s got fantastic speed, state-of-the-art security and even offers Japanese servers. The drawback? It’s expensive. Apart from ExpressVPN, there are a few other VPNs you can consider during your travels, and in this article I’ll list five of the best VPNs for Japan.
So get yourself some sushi and keep reading to find out the top Japan VPNs you can use — from paid to free VPN options.
Why You Need the Best Japan VPN
Think of yourself as a modern-day samurai, and your mission is to protect your online data. Your weapon of choice? A VPN.
Top reasons for using a VPN include accessing streaming services, protecting yourself from internet surveillance and bypassing online censorship. Luckily Japan isn’t a country that restricts its citizens in terms of surveillance and internet censorship, but it’s always a good idea to put your best foot forward before venturing into Japanese territory.
Internet Surveillance, Censorship & Cyberattacks
Compared to other countries like China and Russia, Japan has internet surveillance and censorship laws that are much more consumer-friendly. Currently, only a couple of sites are censored, and while you’re there, you’ll probably be able to access all your usual online hang-out spots.
However, Japan is no stranger to cyberattacks. In 2020, there was a spike in ransomware attacks that preyed upon several Japanese companies. These targeted companies had to pay around $1.17 million to prevent data leaks of sensitive information.
Hence, Japanese internet users take their internet privacy very seriously. You should grab a page from their books and do the same while you’re there.
Netflix Japan VPN & Torrenting Protection
On top of protecting you from the prying eyes of hackers or Big Brother, using a VPN can also grant you access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more. You don’t have to worry about not being able to binge Arrested Development, as using a VPN allows you to bypass geoblocks and access your regional library of choice.
Japan also takes copyright violations pretty seriously. The last thing you want is to end up in trouble with the government for torrenting copyrighted material. Let me give you a reality check: you can be fined up to 2 million yen (roughly $19,000) and/or have your touristy butt thrown in jail for a sentence of up to two years.
I bet a Japan VPN is looking a lot more tempting now, eh?
Long story short: using a VPN will keep your online privacy secure while going about your business online. Even if you aren’t planning on torrenting much, it’s smart to use a VPN and protect your data from hackers or those with malicious intent online.
What It Takes to Be the Best VPN for Japan
There are several features you should keep an eye out for as you hunt for a good VPN, such as a no-logs policy, a wide-reaching server network and secure connections. Ensure the VPN has an effective kill switch so that your IP address remains unknown in case the internet connections drop unexpectedly.
If you’re on the move a lot during your travels to Japan, it also makes sense to check device compatibility. However, most popular VPN names like ExpressVPN have app availability for Android, iOS, Mac, Windows and Linux.
Finding a VPN with Japanese servers is also preferable but not a requirement to make the best of your surfing experience there.
The 7 Best Japan VPN Services
Finding a VPN that works for you can take time simply because there are so many options to choose from. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of the top VPNs you can consider while in Japan, which includes both paid and free services, as well as some that have servers in Japan while others don’t.
- ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Japan with stellar security and top-notch speeds.
- NordVPN — An extensive server network with a little compromise on speed.
- Surfshark — Unlimited number of simultaneous connections for the tech-loving traveler.
- ProtonVPN — The best free Japan VPN.
- Windscribe — Offers a free (but limited) VPN plan you can use for streaming Netflix.
- CyberGhost — An affordable VPN with subpar speeds for the budget traveler.
- Hotspot Shield — A fast VPN with questionable security.
Want more deets? Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of each VPN service below.
- Incredibly fast
- Japanese servers in two locations
- Great security features
When it comes to the best Japan VPN you can use, ExpressVPN tops the list. The VPN offers 3,000 servers spread across 94 countries, so you have a diverse choice of cities you can hop around to get access to the content you want. It’s also an all-rounder in terms of performance across various features, including online security, speed and access to streaming.
If your VPN connection gets interrupted, it protects your real IP address from being discovered by activating a kill switch that shuts down your internet. This speedy VPN also has a no-logs policy and servers that run on RAM, so ExpressVPN literally has no data on your VPN usage.
ExpressVPN has two city servers available in Japan: Tokyo (no surprise there) and Yokohama. For the best speed, you should choose the server closest to you, which ExpressVPN can automatically pick out depending on your location.
If you’re a weeb and want to watch anime and stay protected while you’re there, you’re in luck. ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for streaming, thanks to its low impact on your connection speed, especially when using its proprietary Lightway VPN protocol. ExpressVPN also grants access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and more.
The only drawback ExpressVPN has is its price. You get your money’s worth with an annual subscription, but its premium price tag might put the budget traveler off. However, this VPN provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you ample time to experiment and see if the VPN suits your needs.
- More than 80 Japanese servers
- Double-hop encryption
- Access to every major streaming service
- Inconsistent speeds over long distances
NordVPN comes in second place for the best Japan VPN. With over 5,100 servers worldwide, NordVPN does more than just boast an extensive server network. It’s right up there with a custom VPN protocol of its own (the NordLynx protocol), DNS leak protection and a kill switch to protect your online identity. It also features double-hop encryption, which doubles your protection by routing your connection through two different VPN server locations.
In Japan, the VPN has more than 80 servers, although they’re concentrated in one location (Tokyo). However, NordVPN does suffer from slower speeds when connecting from a distance. So if you’re missing home and want to access Netflix U.S. to catch up on some classic American TV, you may have to exercise patience when streaming.
Compared to ExpressVPN, NordVPN’s pricing is a little bit more affordable. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind within the first month.
- Strong security & encryption
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Cheap pricing
- Japan servers in 63 locations
- Inconsistent speeds
- Limited servers for streaming
In third place for the best Japan VPN is Surfshark, which is a VPN that boasts a vast server network of over 3,200 servers across 65 countries. You can rely on the VPN to give you a solid torrenting and streaming experience, although it suffers from the same speed inconsistency as NordVPN.
Surfshark VPN has 63 Japanese servers, but again, like NordVPN, you only get one city location — Tokyo. Its biggest pro is that you get unlimited simultaneous device connections. If you like to stay connected through multiple devices — like your phone, laptop and tablet — you can derive a lot of benefit from this VPN.
Surfshark’s camouflage mode stops websites (including streaming services) from noticing that you’re using a VPN. It also has a “noborders mode,” which directs you to secure servers if it notices any restrictions placed on your network.
The VPN is known for its pricing, as it offers amazing value for your money while still offering most of the security features that ExpressVPN and NordVPN have. To get the best value for your money, I recommend opting for Surfshark’s two-year plan. While the VPN doesn’t offer a free trial, you always have its 30-day money-back guarantee you can use.
- Unlimited data
- Strong encryption
- Japan servers in 29 locations
- Poor speeds
- Not ideal for streaming or torrenting
If Ernest Rutherford were alive today, he’d be positive that this VPN is the best one to use in Japan, free of charge (I’ll walk myself out for the physics pun). While its free option offers lower speeds and fewer features than a paid VPN, its unlimited data makes it the best free VPN you can opt for while in Japan.
The VPN uses OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption, and you can connect to three locations as a free user: the U.S., the Netherlands and Japan (the only reliable free VPN option that offers this location). In Japan, it offers access to two city locations (Tokyo and Osaka) with 29 servers in total.
However, the free plan comes with reduced speeds that will test your patience, especially if you’re trying to stream Spirited Away on Netflix or torrent a file. On the other hand, it’s a solid choice if you’re looking to simply surf the web. While the free plan doesn’t have a data cap, the unreliable speed makes it unattractive for streaming. If you’d like to stream more, you can check out ProtonVPN’s paid plans.
You can learn more about ProtonVPN’s pricing here.
- Free plan
- Simple UI
- Solid speeds
- Japan server is not included in the free plan
- Limited to 10GB of data in the free plan
Windscribe is the second-best free VPN you can use while in Japan. It offers 10GB free in its free monthly plan and has the edge over ProtonVPN when you’re looking at the speeds. Windscribe provides access to Netflix for streaming, but I wouldn’t recommend this given the free plan’s data limit.
Suppose you’re a casual internet user and don’t plan on spending much time streaming. In that case, Windscribe is a good choice as the 10GB data limit will cover most routine online activities like surfing and the occasional YouTube video.
Windscribe’s main drawback is that its three Japanese servers based in Tokyo are not available as part of the free plan. Luckily, you can opt for the affordable “build a plan” model and pay a dollar a month to get access to just the Japan servers, should you require them.
- Over 50 Japan servers
- NoSpy servers
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- No controls for the kill switch
- Slow over long distances
If you’re traveling to Japan with a tight drawstring around your purse but you want to get past the restrictions of the free VPN suggestions I just made, CyberGhost may be the best Japan VPN for you.
With servers in over 60 countries, including over 50 in Japan located in Tokyo, it gives you more than enough options to bypass geoblocks across several regions. Its speeds are solid except when you’re connecting to servers farther away from your physical location (which is to be expected).
CyberGhost is a pioneer in implementing the fast and secure WireGuard protocol (with AES-256 encryption) and abides by a strict no-logging policy like the other top VPNs on this list. If you’re feeling a little more conscious about Japan’s informal partnership with the Five Eyes alliance, you can use their NoSpy servers in Romania for added protection.
While the VPN doesn’t always successfully bypass the geoblocks for all major streaming services, you can still make use of its no data cap to binge-watch Cowboy Bebop or Fruits Basket.
CyberGhost offers a free trial, plus a generous 45-day money-back guarantee if you’re willing to test out the longer plans. If you want to make the best value of this dirt-cheap VPN, I suggest opting for the longer plans.
7. Hotspot Shield
- Free plan with a 500MB monthly data cap
- Split-tunneling options
- Solid speed
- Past privacy issues
- Pretty expensive
- Unreliable security
Hotspot Shield calls itself the “world’s fastest VPN,” but this is somewhat questionable, especially with ExpressVPN’s LightWay protocol. It offers over 3,200 servers across 70 countries and a variety of advanced security features, including an AES-256 encryption, a kill switch and split tunneling options. It also has excellent unblocking options for streaming platforms.
It offers over 80 servers in Japan, based in one location, which have fast speeds thanks to the VPN’s Catapult Hydra protocol. Streaming via the Japanese servers also yielded consistent speeds. However, Hotspot Shield is a bigger gamble when it comes to your online security due to the VPN’s history of selling user data to advertisers.
The VPN maintains that it doesn’t keep any logs. Still, if you’re connecting through your mobile device, it does collect your unique mobile ID, OS, hardware and network information the moment you open the app, not just during your connected time. Hotspot Shield also stores your data in encrypted form during your session but claims to delete it afterward. Sounds a tad shady to me.
However, this VPN warrants mention due to its fast Japanese server speeds and limited free plan. It does offer a 45-day money-back guarantee if you’re feeling like a daredevil in the world of VPNs.
The Best Free Japanese VPN Services
Generally speaking, using a free VPN is a no-no if you have the option to go for a paid VPN. Many free VPNs don’t have the credibility you expect from a service meant to protect your online identity. They may have slow connection speeds, be unable to connect to the content you need or download viruses on your device.
Few free VPNs are trustworthy, like ProtonVPN and Windscribe, which are both reliable. Both of these work in Japan, but if you’re looking to access Japanese servers from outside of Japan, ProtonVPN is your best bet.
Before entering the Land of the Rising Sun, taking the time to protect your internet access with a VPN is a good idea.
ExpressVPN is the top choice, thanks to its impeccable speeds and reliable security. If you’re looking for a free VPN, ProtonVPN would be your best option. Do you have any personal preferences for Japan VPNs? If so, name-drop ‘em in the comments!
Ganbatte on your Japanese travels!