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Best VPNs for Japan in 2021


For people in both Japan and abroad, a secure VPN offering a Japanese IP can be a very useful tool.

For locals, there’s an issue of tough online privacy laws. Japan cracks down fiercely on P2P connections and piracy – this is where a VPN can be invaluable by masking IP addresses and retaining privacy.

Meanwhile for foreigners, a Japan VPN is a perfect way to watch excellent geo-restricted streaming content: it’s a public secret that Japanese Netflix is a great source for anime, films, and other content unavailable elsewhere.

But with such a wide range of VPNs on the market, which is best for use in Japan? We’ve put plenty of them to a test to find out – and in the end, these were the best VPNs for Japan in 2021.

Top 5 best VPNs for Japan:

  1. NordVPN - Best all-round VPN for use in Japan
  2. Surfshark - Best VPN for multiple users
  3. PureVPN - Good VPN for streaming
  4. VyprVPN - Cheapest VPN for Japan
  5. PrivateVPN - Reliable and secure VPN

How to choose the best Japan VPN

When you’re picking a VPN for use in Japan, as long as you make sure the following points are covered, you’ll find you can do everything you need to:

  • Japanese servers. This one’s a no-brainer, if you’re trying to unblock Japanese content you’ll need a VPN that has servers located in the country. Luckily all the VPNs on this list do.
  • Gets past geo-blocks. Unblocking content isn’t easy. All the top sites, like Netflix Japan, are always improving their geo-blocking technology. That’s why you need a VPN that consistently stays one step ahead. Services like NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN are as reliable as you can get.
  • Privacy. The best VPNs will keep you hidden from snooping ISPs and your data safe from prying eyes. As long as your VPN has a no-logs policy (preferably audited) and is based in a private location (not in a Five Eyes jurisdiction), you’re good.
  • Money-back guarantee. A simple refund policy gives you the confidence to try out a service, all our recommended VPNs offer 30-day money-back guarantees so you’re safe in the knowledge that if you’re not entirely happy you can easily get your money back, no fuss.

The best VPNs for Japan - our detailed list:

For optimum VPN use in Japan, you’ll need to look out for a selection of key features. Let’s explore our top-rated VPNs in detail to see how they match up.

1. NordVPN - Best all-round VPN for use in Japan

NordVPN
Based in:Panama
Simultaneous connections:6
Servers/countries:5,500+ servers in 59 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

Streaming, features, security, value for money - NordVPN has it all, that’s why it’s our number one choice for VPN use in Japan.

Japanese Netflix can be difficult to unblock, but we’ve never had any problems accessing it with NordVPN. This is partly down to its impressive array of servers - there are over 5,000 located in 60 different countries, including Japan. Aside from Netflix in pretty much any region, NordVPN also unblocks all the other main sites, like Amazon Prime, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more. You can watch a whole world’s content whether you’re in Japan or anywhere else.

Not only are NordVPN’s servers consistent, so are its speeds. When connecting to Japanese servers we saw average download speeds of 246Mbps and a worldwide average of 249Mbps.

NordVPN is feature-rich. SmartPlay enables you to unblock streaming services without a VPN connection (a-la SmartDNS). For only connecting certain apps to VPN, and keeping regular connection elsewhere, split-tunneling will be a great help. Also, SOCKS5 proxies will be a secure solution for streaming and torrenting.

Military-grade encryption, two kill switches, based in an ultra-private location (Panama), your data is always safe when you use NordVPN. You can sign up for just $3.30 a month, with a 30-day money-back guarantee included, a bargain for this level of quality.

For more information, check out our in-depth NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark - Best VPN for multiple users

Surfshark VPN banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections:Unlimited
Servers/countries:3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

With a set of features to rival NordVPN and an ace in the hand in the shape of unlimited connections, Surfshark is our next top pick of VPNs to use in Japan.

Surfshark boasts an impressive server count of over 3,000 connections around the world, with several found in Japan for you to use. They're fast, too – Japan connections averaged lightning-quick download speeds of 251mbps when using the WireGuard tunneling protocol.

You can make the most of that fast connection by watching HD content on one of the many streaming services Surfshark unblocks, including Netflix Japan, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Youtube, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and HBO Now.

With unlimited simultaneous connections, you can connect all of your devices to the VPN, the rest of the household can too! This is brilliantly useful, and with features such as split-tunneling and SmartDNS helping you stream and torrent safely, everyone will want to use the VPN.

Military-grade encryption keeps your data safe and a kill switch ensures you won’t be exposed if the VPN connection drops out. There are very few downsides to using Surfshark, and with subscriptions costing as little as $2.49 a month with a 30-day money-back guarantee, it’s exceptional value for money too.

For more detail, read our full Surshark VPN review.

3. PureVPN - Good VPN for streaming

purevpn
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections:10
Servers/countries:6500 servers in 150 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

A popular VPN that’s great for streaming, PureVPN is our next pick for use in Japan.

PureVPN competes with the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN when it comes to servers, this VPN has over 6,500 servers in around 140 countries, with plenty to connect to in Japan.

Using one of PureVPN’s Japanese servers will enable you to unblock all the content you want - and that includes Japanese Netflix as well as other favorites such as BBC iPlayer and DAZN.

Speeds are good, whilst not as fast as some other options. Average download speeds of 168mbps (157mbps when connecting to Japan) will easily get you streaming HD content with no annoying buffer.

Features include split-tunneling to shift your VPN connection on specific apps only (although currently, this is only available for Android devices) and a reliable kill switch. If you’re big on torrenting you might consider the port forwarding add-on, which you can include with your subscription for less than a dollar.

Subscriptions for PureVPN cost $3.33 for the cheapest plan, and you get a generous ten simultaneous connections for your money. There’s also a 31-day money-back guarantee included in case you change your mind.

For more information, check out our PureVPN review.

4. VyprVPN - Cheapest VPN for Japan

VyprVPN banner
Based in:Switzerland
Simultaneous connections:5
Servers/countries:700 servers in 70 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

VyprVPN is a solid all-rounder. Great speeds, consistently unblocks streaming sites, top-tier security, and a really attractive price point.

VyprVPN has over 700 servers located around the world in locations including Japan, the rest of Asia, Europe, and the US. This server selection is well adept at unblocking streaming sites, so whether it’s Netflix Japan, BBC iPlayer, or Disney+ you want to watch, VyprVPN will get you in wherever you’re located.

VyprVPN’s tunneling protocols include the industry-leading WireGuard, which you can use to get average download speeds of 242Mbps, while this speed drops a little to 157mbps for connections to Japan, it’s still ideal for streaming. Another useful tunneling protocol is Chameleon 2.0, which can help you access geo-blocked Japanese sites from countries that prohibit the use of VPNs.

VyperVPN’s instant kill switch and military-grade encryption ensure you're as safe and private as can be, so wherever you’re working from you don’t have to worry about your data being compromised.

Split-tunneling is one of the features on offer, but we should note it’s only available on Android and iOS devices. VyprVPN doesn’t offer SmartDNS, but with its cheapest subscription costing only $1.66 a month, we can forgive VyprVPN for lacking a few features.

If you are interested in learning more details, read our in-depth VyprVPN review.

5. PrivateVPN - Reliable and secure VPN

PrivateVPN banner
Based in:Sweden
Simultaneous connections:6
Servers/countries:150 servers in 62 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

An underrated gem in the VPN market, PrivateVPN has some solid features that make it a good choice for use in Japan.

Even though PrivateVPN has just 150 servers in global locations such as Asia, the USA, and Europe, it does a great job unblocking streaming content in these regions. Netflix Japan, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer were all easily accessed using PrivateVPN.

Average download speeds on Japanese connections clocked in at 155Mbps. The WireGuard tunneling protocol is currently only available on PrivateVPN’s beta version, so hopefully, we’ll see it on the main apps soon. In the meantime, you can use OpenVPN, or StealthVPN if you want to connect from a location that restricts VPN use (like China).

On the features side of things, PrivateVPN keeps you secure with one of the best kill switch functions we’ve ever tested out. Lightning-fast, you can count on it to keep your IP address hidden, even if your VPN connection drops out.

If you’d like to give PrivateVPN a try without any commitment, you’ll be pleased to know this VPN offers a seven-day free trial, with no payment info required so you don’t have to worry about accidentally signing up if you don’t cancel in time. As for the regular subscriptions, with prices as low as $2.50 a month, it’s really good value anyway.

For more information, check out our in-depth PrivateVPN review.

How we selected and tested these VPNs

This is how we found out whether a VPN was worth joining this list:

  • Good for streaming. Unblocking streaming content is one of the most popular uses of a VPN, but as sites like Netflix Japan improve their geoblocking technology, you need a VPN that does the job consistently. The VPNs on this list are all efficient at content unblocking.
  • Speed. A speedy connection is vital for streaming. The last thing you want is your movie buffering at a tense moment. The VPNs on this list consistently deliver fast speeds worldwide.
  • Security. A top VPN will always offer robust security. Features like Vault-like encryption, no-logs policies, and kill switches are the things to look out for to ensure your data is always protected.
  • Price. Value for money is a top priority, and the price needs to reflect the service. Our recommended VPNs strike the right balance of cost and quality, so you can sign up with confidence.
  • Customer support. Sometimes you might need a helping hand to guide you through a feature or assist with a query, there’s where reliable tech support comes in. We’ve chosen VPNs that have several support options such as 24/7 live chat and informative guides.

Why do I need a VPN in Japan?

  • Staying private. Japan doesn't have the same online restrictions as some of its neighboring countries, but ISPs and authorities can still track your data and activities, just like most countries. If you want to keep your online use hidden for any reason, a VPN will cloak your activity and give you total online privacy.
  • Accessing Japanese entertainment. If you’re not in Japan but still want to watch some Japanese content, using a VPN to connect to a server in Japan will mean you can access all the Japanese content you want without any error messages popping up.
  • Protect your data. If you like to download content online, ISPs and content owners could come calling. Not only can a VPN.

Online censorship in Japan

Thankfully, you can use the Internet fairly freely in Japan. People can access everything available online, including apps, social media, blogs, content sites - it’s all good in Japan.

However, Japan does have some very strict laws against downloading unlicensed content, which could be a big problem if you regularly use P2P file-sharing/torrents.

If you’re caught downloading unlicensed music, movies, anime, manga, magazines, or literary texts online you could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Of course, the easiest thing to do is to only download licensed content, but sometimes with torrents, you could end up downloading something you didn’t realize was unlicensed in error.

This is why it’s vital to have a VPN if you’re using torrents, regardless of what you’re downloading. With a VPN hiding your IP address and your data from content owners, websites, and your ISP, no one will ever be able to see what you're downloading. Since the best VPNs have strict no-logs policies, your browsing data will never, ever be stored and you can do whatever you want online with complete anonymity.

Using a VPN to access Japanese Netflix

Netflix Japan has a fantastic content library, it’s loaded with TV shows, movies, and anime that aren’t available anywhere else. But if you want to access all this brilliant content from outside of Japan, you’ve got a problem in the shape of a geo-block wall that will give you a ‘this content is not available in your region’ error message.

So what can you do? Get a VPN and follow our simple instructions:

  1. Pick a VPN that’s known to get past Netflix Japan’s geo-blocks, we recommend NordVPN.
  2. Sign up for the VPN, download its app, and install it on your device.
  3. Once setup is done, launch the VPN app.
  4. Find, and connect to, a server in Japan.
  5. Open up Netflix, sign in to your account and you’ll see you have full access to Japanese Netflix and all its wonderful content!

In case you get stuck at some point, check our guide on how to watch Japanese Netflix.

What are the best free VPNs for Japan?

There are plenty of free VPNs available for use in Japan, but are they any good? Short answer - no.

Free VPNs usually come as either outright free, or as a ‘freemium’ version of a paid VPN. The first option is never a good idea for several reasons. Free VPNs recoup cash by selling on your data to snooping third parties, and their service will not be anywhere near the quality you’ll get from a paid VPN. Features will be missing, servers will be scant, and performance will be poor. There’s even the risk that malware could be lurking away in free VPN apps, as there have been reports of devices being infected after using them.

Freemium VPNs are better in the sense that they’ll usually come from a reputable brand, so you won’t have to worry about security threats, but they’ll be considerably scaled-down versions of the proper product. So while they might be a good way of getting a feel of the VPN, you’ll likely want to upgrade to the paid version to get the features you need. Windscribe and AtlasVPN are two you can try.

Conclusion

So if you want to watch Japan’s excellent streaming content from anywhere in the world, or just stay secure and private when you’re in the country, a VPN is the simple solution.

With a VPN on your devices, you can unblock Netflix Japan and watch the latest anime that isn’t available anywhere else, download torrents without your ISP knowing, protect your data from digital snoopers, and make sure your info isn’t stored anywhere.

So pick one of our recommended VPNs for Japan, unblock some content, and stay safe online too.

FAQ


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