Looking for a VPN to protect your privacy or access restricted content or streaming services? I’ll walk you through the best VPNs for Japan that put an emphasis on security and speed alongside working well with popular streaming services.
With 91 percent of its citizens connected to the internet, Japan is one of the most connected countries in the world. VPN services are popular among both its local population as well as with the ten thousand tourists passing through the country every month. Government surveillance and internet censorship is far less pervasive in Japan than in its neighbor China, and has the freedom of speech enshrined in its constitution. Japan has acquired a reputation for being considered as one of the most free countries in terms of internet freedom—but some changes in Japanese law have cast doubt on the country’s future.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a privacy tool used to encrypt the user’s internet traffic and route it through an intermediary server located somewhere else in the world, which effectively makes the user’s activities anonymous and untraceable while using the web. Users can disguise their true IP address, and therefore their location, by selecting from a list of VPN servers that will provide a new IP address. It is a great way to avoid monitoring from internet service providers (ISPs), government agencies, and malicious third parties in addition to lifting geographical restrictions on popular online content and streaming services.
In this article, I dive into the details of each individual VPN on this list—but if you’re short on time, here’s a brief summary of my top 7 VPNs for Japan:
- NordVPN: My top choice for Japan. Its 5,200 servers stream high-quality video content abroad, and unblock just about anything. Its security standards are the best in the industry. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee so you can try it out first.
- Surfshark: Surfshark’s powerful security features, fast speeds, and no connection limit makes it a great deal. Try it risk-free for 30 days.
- ExpressVPN: A popular choice for streaming HD streaming content from abroad. Its fast connection speeds makes it ideal for streaming, downloading, and gaming.
- CyberGhost: A beginner-friendly, low-cost VPN that makes no compromises on security or performance. Largest network of servers on this list.
- IPVanish: A great VPN for torrenting and Kodi users. It streams at high speeds, but really shines in downloading and security.
- VyprVPN: A solid security option that works in China and other countries with heavy censorship. High performance, but a bit expensive.
- Hotspot Shield: A fast VPN for torrenting and streaming. Protects your security with trustworthy privacy features.
The Best VPNs for Japan
With so many great VPNs on the market, it is difficult to determine which ones would be best suited for use in Japan. I assembled this list of VPN providers based on the following criteria:
- Fast, reliable servers in Japan
- Wide selection of servers worldwide
- Works with the top streaming websites such as Netflix and local Japanese services
- Keeps no identifying logs
- Multiple simultaneous connections
The following VPNs are recommended for Japan:
NordVPN is my first choice for a privacy and streaming solution while in Japan. Its zero-logs policy makes it a first-rate VPN for privacy-conscious users of the internet. It retains no data about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps, making it impossible for the company to give records of customer data to the authorities.
NordVPN operates one of the largest server networks on the market with more than 5,200 servers in 59 countries to choose from, with more than 80 located in Japan. It also offers specialty servers optimized for anti-DDoS, video streaming networks, double VPN, Tor over VPN, and dedicated IP. NordVPN can circumvent geographical restrictions on popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It supports torrenting as well.
Users of NordVPN have their online traffic protected with 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit SSL keys, and DNS leak protection. A single subscription with NordVPN can protect up to six of your devices at once, and includes support for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- More than 80 servers in Japan
- One of the largest server networks
- Top-notch security protections
- Keeps zero logs
- Fast, stable connection speeds
- Selection based on location only, not by individual server (except in the Windows and Android apps)
- Suffered a data breach in 2018
TOP VPN FOR JAPAN:NordVPN is my favorite VPN for Japan. NordVPN provides the strongest security in the industry and features 80 high-speed servers in Japan. Try it out for 30 days before you commit.
Internet users on a budget should consider using Surfshark, Like NordVPN, Surfshark keeps no logs on its customers’ activities and even accepts payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple for anonymous signup. User traffic is protected with 256-bit encryption and features protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. A kill switch is included, as well as a NoBorders feature that bypasses country-wide internet blocking.
Surfshark offers about 3,200 servers in more than 65 countries that work with a wide range of geo-restricted online content such as Netflix US, Hulu, and TV Tokyo. It allows unlimited torrenting on all of its servers and has no limits on simultaneous connections, so you can protect all of your devices under a single account.
Apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Supported internet routers can be manually configured with Surfshark.
- Reliable connection speeds for streaming and downloading abroad
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Unblocks most streaming sites
- Zero logs policy
- Strong security protections
- Low price
- You might encounter a few slow servers
- Less established name than NordVPN or ExpressVPN
AFFORDABLE SECURITY AND SPEED:Surfshark is a low-cost option that doesn’t slack on security or speed. Gets great download speeds with its wide selection of servers around the globe. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
ExpressVPN rates highly for its fast and reliable internet speeds. It offers more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries to choose from for high-quality video streaming, and offers a few different server locations in Japan, although it does not disclose the exact number of Japanese servers.
ExpressVPN does not store traffic logs on its users, but it does keep metadata about the date of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used. Your individual IP address isn’t stored, however, so your privacy is still respected. Users who want additional privacy can sign up anonymously by paying in Bitcoin.
This provider uses the 256-bit AES-CBC encryption protocol as well as both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch is included to protect your data in the event your connection to the VPN abruptly drops.
Streaming-oriented users will be able to use ExpressVPN with even the most stubborn streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It also supports torrenting.
Mobile and desktop apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
- Fast connection speeds makes it ideal for streaming and downloading
- Servers in Japan
- High level of privacy protections
- Unblocks the most stubborn streaming services
- Stores no logs
- 24/7 customer support via live chat
- Only 5 simultaneous connections
- Not the cheapest VPN on this list
FAST DOWNLOADING:ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs out there. Has strong privacy and security features built into its apps. Try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Due to its location in Romania, CyberGhost is not subject to data retention laws, and keeps no logs on its users’ activities. It was recently acquired by a UK-based firm, but the company nonetheless insists that it is still subject to Romanian law. It offers over 7,200 servers in 91 countries including 53 in Japan.
User traffic is secured with 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default in addition to 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. An internet kill switch will immediately halt web traffic in case of an abrupt loss of connection to prevent you from browsing the internet without protection.
- More than 50 servers in Japan
- Low cost, high security
- Easy to set up and use
- Servers optimized for streaming and secure browsing
- No logs or data retention requirements
- Isn’t the best VPN for China or the UAE
- Few customizable features
BEGINNER-FRIENDLY:CyberGhost is a good place to start for VPN newcomers. Plenty of fast servers in Japan. It includes a 45-day money-back guarantee.
IPVanish operates more than 1,600 servers in 75 locations around the world with 20 in Japan. The only data stored by IPVanish are the user details needed to set up an account for the first time, but after that, it logs no further data. It offers 246-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048 key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch is included in case the connection suddenly cuts out.
This VPN provider’s selection of streaming content is limited in comparison with other VPNs on this list since it can’t unblock geo-restricted content on Netflix and Hulu, but it can unblock BBC iPlayer. It allows torrenting on all of its servers, which makes it a good choice for users in Japan given the country’s strict anti-torrenting laws. IPVanish is popular among Kodi users due to its fast speeds and minimal downtime.
Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android and desktop apps are available for Windows and MacOS.
- Offers 20 fast servers in Japan
- Major emphasis on security
- Allows torrenting
- Keeps no logs
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Doesn’t work in China
- Smaller server network than some of its competitors
GREAT FOR FAMILIES:IPVanish operates a network of super-secure, torrenting-friendly servers. Doesn’t consistently unblock Netflix and Hulu. Try it out first or get your money back within the first 30 days.
VyprVPN owns and operates its whole server network, which means its users’ information passes through fewer hands. Its traffic is secured by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. It also includes an internet kill switch, and is one of the few VPNs that work in China.
Premium subscribers can access the proprietary Chameleon protocol, which scrambles OpenVPN metadata so deep packet inspection can’t recognize it.
It offers over 700 servers to choose from, including plenty in Japan. Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS.
Although the company forbids torrenting, it works with geo-restricted content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
- Servers available in Japan
- Company-owned server network
- Works in China
- Strong security features
- Slightly slower than some rivals higher on this list
- Two-tier pricing structure can be confusing
- No cryptocurrency payment method
WORKS IN CHINA:VyprVPN defeats online censorship. A powerful privacy-oriented VPN and keeps no logs, but is more expensive than many others. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Hotspot Shield operates over 1,800 servers in 80+ countries including Japan. Its high speeds makes it a great choice for streaming and torrenting. It works well with platforms like Netflix US, TV Tokyo, and BBC iPlayer, so you will have a wide variety of viewing options.
This VPN keeps some aggregate logs but deletes all personally identifiable information once your session ends. Its security features include 256-bit encryption, protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, and a kill switch. Automatic wifi protection and split-tunneling features are included as well.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and iOS.
- Great for streaming and torrenting
- Unblocks some of the most stubborn streaming platforms
- Consistent and reliable server speeds
- Strong on security
- Some privacy problems in its past
- Fairly small server network
GREAT FOR STREAMING:Hotspot Shield unblocks some of the most stubborn streaming services from abroad while protecting your privacy online. Hotspot Shield comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee so you can try it first.
Free VPN options
There is a wide variety of free VPNs to choose from, but I advise against using one. Even though it is tempting to save your money with a free option, free VPNs offer neither the speed nor security of a reputable paid service.
Free VPN providers usually lack the resources to invest in strong encryption standards, a large server network, and other assets necessary to deliver a quality experience. Your internet connection will most likely be disrupted by slow speeds, frequent loss of connection, and bandwidth caps. These are not optimal conditions, especially for those who use VPNs to stream HD video.
The privacy standards on most free VPNs are insufficient as well. Because free providers are obviously not making money from subscription fees, they find alternate sources of revenue in tracking and selling their users’ personally identifiable information to third parties without their knowledge or consent. Ad revenue comes from inserting intrusive ads into the user’s browser, and some free VPNs are even laced with malware. If an online service is free, usually that means the user is the product, not the client.
Is torrenting legal in Japan?
Japan is known for its severe anti-torrenting laws. Illegally uploading media such as video games, anime, and manga comes with penalties of up to 10 million yen fines and even two-year prison sentences. In 2013, 27 people were arrested for uploading copyrighted media to the internet without the permission of the relevant copyright holders. Some users of Reddit and Quora have suggested that the focus of the Japanese law enforcement is more focused on catching uploaders of copyrighted content instead of those who download torrents, but the legal risk is nonetheless present for downloaders as well.
Here’s a guide for the best VPNs to use for P2P filesharing if you plan on using a VPN in Japan for torrenting purposes. If you do intend to torrent I recommend you stick to content you have the legal right to access.
How free is the Japanese internet?
Freedom House ranks Japan’s internet as “free” with a high score of 96/100, noting the absence of restrictions on social media apps, access to online content, or persecution of popular bloggers. The constitution of Japan upholds the value of free speech and explicitly prohibits censorship.
But national concerns within the past decade have led to some shifts in the government’s attitude toward free speech and censorship. In 2013, lawmakers in Japan passed the “Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets”, which criminalized the publishing of national secrets regardless of intent or content. Freedom House warns journalists, whistleblowers, and civil rights organizations that this act may have some serious consequences for their operations. The United Nations Human Rights Committee commented that the legislation has only vaguely defined the limits of legally acceptable behavior and actions punishable under the act.
The act was drafted following a recommendation by Japan’s communication ministry to apply the same regulations to the internet that already defined the limits of legally-acceptable activities for newspapers and broadcast television channels. The report, titled “Final Report on a Comprehensive Legal System for Communications and Broadcasting” stated that “there is a need for an active effort from the government…as it is difficult for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to individually make judgments regarding concrete harmfulness”.
So far, there have been no arrests of media personnel under this new legislation. Those found guilty of revealing state secrets could receive a maximum penalty of a ten-year sentence in prison.
In 2016, Foreign Policy reported on former Prime Minister Abe’s restrictions of media freedoms in Japan. According to Foreign Policy, three television anchors were mysteriously removed from their jobs under unclear circumstances, causing some to believe that the dismissals were coordinated by the government.
Developments such as these caused the UN to carry out a fact-finding mission in Japan where UN representatives spoke with journalists, educators, and government officials. After its investigation, the global body declared that the “independence of press in Japan is facing serious threats”.
“Across a range of areas, I learned of deep and genuine concern that trends are moving sharply and alarmingly in the wrong direction. This is especially acute in the context of media independence,” added David Kaye, UN’s special rapporteur. The day after the report, Japan’s ranking in press freedom by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders slid 11 places to 72 out of 180 countries surveyed.
Japan VPN FAQs
How do I access Netflix Japan via VPN?
If you want to access Netflix Japan while travelling outside of the country, just connect to one of your VPN’s servers in Japan and you will be able to access your home streaming services from anywhere. If you are still unable to unblock Netflix Japan, try connecting to other Japanese servers, or clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. Failing that, you can always contact your VPN’s customer support team.
Is using a Japanese proxy server better than a VPN from Japan?
Proxy servers and VPNs are both capable of replacing your IP address with that of another and letting you browse the web anonymously, but only a VPN encrypts your internet traffic. VPNs are more reliable privacy solutions than proxy severs for keeping your information safe from being monitored by ISPs and other entities.
In which Japanese cities does NordVPN have servers?
At the time of writing, NordVPN offers more than 80 servers in Tokyo. Go to NordVPN’s website to find out more about their VPN servers in Japan.
- The Best VPNs for Japan
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. IPVanish
- 6. VyprVPN
- 7. Hotspot Shield
- Free VPN options
- Is torrenting legal in Japan?
- How free is the Japanese internet?
- Japan VPN FAQs
- How do I access Netflix Japan via VPN?
- Is using a Japanese proxy server better than a VPN from Japan?
- In which Japanese cities does NordVPN have servers?