Here’s a fun fact — Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic about Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury — is available on Netflix. But unless you’re living in Japan, I couldn’t really blame you for not knowing this because it is only available on Netflix Japan. And yes, that was a surprise to me just as much as it is to you.
That being said, if you want to enjoy it from abroad (as well as some of the other shows that the service decided to only include in its Netflix Japan library), there is a way — you just need to know how to get Japanese Netflix. I’ll show you how by including step-by-step instructions on how to unblock Netflix Japan with a virtual private network.
I will also include three excellent VPN service providers that allow you to access Netflix Japan (and other streaming sites) and briefly discuss why each one should be an option. Spoiler alert: ExpressVPN takes the win and is the best way to watch Japanese Netflix. But don’t let me spoil it all for you.
How to Get Japanese Netflix from Outside Japan in Three Easy Steps
When it comes to enjoying a show or two, you have two main ways of accessing Japanese Netflix — a proxy and a VPN. But if you value your privacy and security (and don’t want to be hit with a Netflix proxy error message), you should steer clear of proxies.
Proxies won’t really get the job done. Netflix will attempt to detect a proxy before you even get to the user selection screen. Even more, a proxy won’t add any kind of encryption to your connection, and you can forget about features like a kill switch or DNS and IP leak protection.
That being said, using a VPN is remarkably simple when you want to watch Netflix Japan. Here is how to access Japanese Netflix in three easy steps — I’ll use ExpressVPN as an example.
1. Download and install ExpressVPN
Head to ExpressVPN’s website and click on the “Get ExpressVPN” button from the menu at the top of the website. This will lead you to the plans and account creation screen. After you subscribe, you can download the suitable app for your device. Then, install the app you’ve downloaded.
2. Connect to a Japanese server
Open the ExpressVPN app on your device and use the three dots button to open the server list. Then, use the search bar at the top to find Japan. Once you’ve located Japan in the list, click it, and give it a few seconds. You should now be connected to a Japanese server.
3. Navigate to the Netflix website and log in to your account
Now that you are connected to a Japan server via ExpressVPN, you can navigate to the Netflix website and log in to your Netflix account as usual. You should now be able to watch Japanese Netflix shows that aren’t available elsewhere.
Why Can’t I Watch Japanese Netflix Outside Japan?
Netflix restricts users from accessing parts of its content throughout the world; it’s not just a Japan-Netflix thing. The reason for this is licensing. Some shows have exclusive licensing agreements with other providers in some countries, which means Netflix can’t stream certain shows in other countries.
Netflix uses your IP address to detect which country you’re in and shows you the appropriate library of shows. This restriction is far from ideal for users, and it creates quite a disparity in terms of what Netflix library users can access.
Netflix Japan has some shows that no other library has, but on the other hand, there are a lot of shows that you won’t find in the Netflix Japan library — it works both ways.
How to Choose a VPN to Unblock Netflix Japan
With so many VPNs to choose from, it is probably difficult to pick the right one to use when you want to watch Netflix Japan. However, there are four main things that a VPN should do in order to be a good option for accessing Netflix Japan.
Large selection of server locations
Having plenty of server locations to choose from means that you can connect to the location that gives you the best performance and most reliable connection. Besides, suppose one server fails to get through to Netflix Japan. In that case, you can try another Japanese VPN server if multiple locations are available.
Fast and reliable service
If you’re going to enjoy Japanese Netflix, you need a fast connection that won’t drop often (or even better, at all). This way, you won’t get any buffering screens or any other streaming issues in general.
Strong encryption and additional security features
A VPN should also add a layer of protection to your connection. Strong encryption like AES-256 encryption, as well as features like a kill switch, DNS and IP leak protection. Even a double VPN functionality, will make streaming Netflix (and browsing in general) a lot more secure.
Strict no-logs policy
One of the main goals of a VPN service is to add privacy to your browsing experience, and a strict no-logs policy means that the VPN itself won’t save any user data except for your login credentials.
Best VPNs to Watch Japanese Netflix
Not every provider has a suitable VPN server for Japanese Netflix. After trying out a few options, my three favorite ones were ExpressVPN, NordVPN and SurfShark. They’re all solid options, but they aren’t exactly identical when you want to watch Japanese Netflix — here are some of the details you should know about them.
- The fastest VPN out there
- Multiple locations in Japan
- 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN for Japanese Netflix out there, period. This makes it perfect for streaming, but there is also the fact that it has servers in both Tokyo and Yokohama, giving you a bit of flexibility. Even though it’s not exactly cheap, it performs admirably in every possible way, making the subscription very much worth it.
- Excellent security & privacy
- Great for any streaming platform
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Somewhat inconsistent in speeds
NordVPN provides excellent performance, and the fact that it can access streaming sites with zero issues makes it a great VPN for Japanese Netflix. To add to this, it’s more affordable than ExpressVPN and one of the best VPNs for security and privacy, too. Unfortunately, it only has one server location, Tokyo, which is why it comes in second on my list.
- Great device compatibility
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Smaller server network
If you aren’t keen on spending too much money on a VPN, Surfshark is a good choice to unblock Netflix Japan and its library. Its speeds are solid, even though you can only connect to servers in Tokyo. Thanks to great device compatibility, you can watch Netflix on any device you own, including a smart TV like an Android TV, though split tunneling is not available on all OSes.
How to Get Japanese Netflix for Free
You can’t really watch Japanese Netflix for free, per se, because there is no such thing as a free Netflix subscription. That being said, there are ways to get a free VPN that won’t incur additional costs on top of your subscription.
Windscribe, my top recommendation for a free VPN for Netflix, doesn’t offer Japanese servers on its free plan, but my second-best option, TunnelBear, does. The thing is, you only get 500MB on the free plan, which isn’t nearly enough if you intend on watching Netflix for more than half an hour. You could tweet about TunnelBear for an additional 1GB, but even that isn’t much for streaming.
The only other option for a quality VPN with servers in Japan is ProtonVPN. This VPN has three server locations offered for free, and Japan is one of them (in addition to the U.S. and the Netherlands). However, ProtonVPN’s free plan offers “medium” speeds and none of the advanced features.
Unfortunately, there are no other alternatives. Most other free VPN services aren’t a good option for watching Netflix Japan because they either compromise on performance or, even worse, compromise on security. Some will even bundle malware with their installation file, and you don’t want to deal with that aftermath.
However, what you could do to get a free VPN provider in a way, is to make use of the generous money-back guarantees that the aforementioned VPNs give you. For example, if you only want unblocked Netflix Japan for a month, a VPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee has you covered. Pay the VPN service for a month, ask for a refund, and suddenly the expensive VPN services are now free VPNs.
Conclusion: Watch Japanese Netflix
When all is said and done, a VPN service is the way to go for Netflix users that want to watch Japanese Netflix. Out of all the options, ExpressVPN takes the win if you’re going to stream Japanese Netflix, thanks to a combination of great features and simple UI.
Do you go for ExpressVPN, or do you go for the more affordable NordVPN or Surfshark? Will you try one of the free VPNs? Let me know in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading!