Netflix has been available in Japan since 2015 and by now it has a massive catalogue of video content which is available for its users to stream. As well as a catalogue full of the same TV shows and films that you’d see in the US or in Europe on Netflix, Netflix Japan also offers an enormous library of anime for streaming. For anime fans, Netflix is becoming a more and more appealing option for streaming thanks to its large catalogue, good subtitle options, high quality video files, and the fact that Netflix now gets some anime series before other markets or sites do.
As just a few examples, some of the anime series available to stream on Netflix Japan include Violet Evergarden (which can be watched with subtitles in Korean, Chinese, English, and Portuguese), The Garden of Words, Tokyo Ghoul, Blame, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Gunslinger Girls, and Kill la Kill. You can also watch classic animes like the Ghost in the Shell movie, Cowboy Bebop, Card Captor Sakura, and Dragonball.
For this reason, lots of Netflix users who live elsewhere in the world also want to be able to watch Netflix Japan. The anime library alone makes this a very tempting prospect. However, in the last couple of years Netflix has cracked down on its users making use of VPNs in order to watch content from other countries, so many VPNs now no longer work for Netflix Japan. But fortunately, we have identified some VPNs which do still work with Netflix and which you can use to enjoy Japanese content from anywhere in the world. Read on to find out more about the best VPNs for watching Netflix Japan.
Why Users Need A VPN To Watch Netflix Japan
If you have a Netflix account and you live outside of Japan but still want to watch all of the great Japanese Netflix content, then you used to be able to use any VPN. A VPN is simply a small piece of software which you install onto the device you are using to watch Netflix and which encrypts all of the data that the device sends over the internet. Without a VPN, when you visit a site like netflix.com then the site can easily read your IP address and tell which country you are browsing from. The system will then serve you a version of the site which is restricted to your specific area – for example, it might be localised into your local language or, as in the case of Netflix, only give you access to certain content if you are in a particular location. With a VPN, on the other hand, you can trick the site into serving you any country’s version that you wish.
A VPN works because the encrypted data that leaves your device is sent to a server somewhere else in the world to be decrypted before it is sent on its way to its original destination. As well as improving security, this means that it appears as if your traffic has originated from where the server that you connected to is rather than where you actually are. So all you had to do to see another country’s version of Netflix was to turn on your VPN, connect to a server in another country – in this case, Japan – and visit the Netflix website. Then you would be able to see and play any Japanese content that you want.
Sounds great, right? So what’s the problem?
Why Do Only Some VPNs Work With Netflix?
Around last year, lots of users noticed that their VPNs no longer worker with Netflix. If you used a VPN and tried to watch Netflix from another country, videos wouldn’t play and you would get the dreaded error message: “Whoops, something went wrong. Streaming error. You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
So what is going on with Netflix now? Why did some VPNs stop working with the service over the last year or so? The problem is that although Netflix used to have a rather relaxed attitude towards people accessing their content with a VPN, recently they have grown a lot as a company and also started to make more original content of their own. As Netflix grew bigger, there was more and more pressure put on them from copyright holders to protect their copyright. For example, 20th Century Fox might have a film, and they make an agreement with Netflix that they can show that film in the US and in Canada only. But if Netflix users in Europe can easily access that film, then the copyright holder is losing out on revenue that the audience could generate in their region. The other issue is that as Netflix has got into making its own series like Orange is the New Black or Jessica Jones, they have been very motivated to prevent unofficial use of their service in order to protect their own copyrights.
All of this means that Netflix became much more concerned with stopping people from using VPNs to get around region locks and watching content from regions other than their own. The Netflix servers now have VPN detection software which analyses incoming connections and blocks them if the connections appear to come from a VPN. So now your trusty VPN might not work on Netflix any more. The way this VPN detection works is not fully known, but it is likely to be a combination of factors:
The first way a VPN is detected by Netflix is if a connection has a shared IP address. Most VPN providers used shared IP addresses, meaning that many different people route their connections with the same IP, as this is good for anonymity and privacy. However, Netflix can guess that if one IP address is being used by hundreds of people at once, then it is likely a VPN connection. Netflix then blocks this one IP, stopping all of the VPN users from being able to access their content.
Another way a VPN can be detected is if the IP address you have been assigned is one of those than are in a range known to be used by VPNs. VPN providers typically buy up large numbers of IP addresses in sequence, so Netflix blocks whole ranges of IP addresses that it suspects belong to a VPN.
All of this has meant than many VPNs do not work with Netflix any more. But all is not lost! There are still VPNs that do work with Netflix.
How We Select A VPN For Recommendation
We’ve chosen our top recommendations for VPNs for watching Netflix Japan. When we came to asses the VPNs, there were five key factors that we looked at:
- Works with Netflix. Firstly and obviously most importantly, any VPN we considered for recommendation would need to work with Netflix. We looked for those VPNs that have been confirmed to still work for the Netflix website.
- Servers in Japan and many other countries too. In order to watch Netflix Japan, you need to use your VPN to connect to a server in Japan. So you want a VPN provider with servers available there – and it’s also useful to have servers in many other countries if you want to watch their versions of Netflix too.
- Fast connections. In order to stream high definition video content, you need fast VPN connections so that you aren’t held back by buffering, stuttering, or slow load times.
- Good software support. It is helpful to have VPN software that works on all of your devices – including your PC, laptop, phone, and tablet – so you want software support for a variety of platforms.
- Strong security. A bonus of using a VPN is the security improvements that it brings. For the best security you want a VPN provider with strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy.
VPNs That Work With Netflix
When we looked at these five factors, we came up with the following recommendations for VPNs to use for watching Netflix Japan:
ExpressVPN is a favourite VPN among tech savvy users due to its strengths across the board. It has super fast connections and strong security, with 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. The server network is massive, with with over 1000 servers in 145 different locations in 94 countries including Japan, so you can easily watch content from anywhere in the world.
ExpressVPN is known to be one of the most reliable VPNs when it comes to Netflix. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Linux, among many others.
When you want the very best security as well as a reliable way to get around region locks, then we recommend NordVPN. Its security features include the standard strong 256-bit encryption and no logging policy that we would expect, but it has a unique and important feature called double encryption. This means that data sent over the network is encrypted two times over for the maximum security possible. The connections are fast enough to stream high definition video and the server network has more than 1000 servers in over 60 different countries including Japan.
In our testing, we’ve found NordVPN to be effective even on sites with VPN detection, and it absolutely works with Netflix. The NordVPN software can be installed on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows Phone, plus the Chrome and Firefox web browsers.
If you want the best way to get around VPN blocks of all kinds, like those used in China as well as those used by Netflix, then we recommend VyprVPN. As well as good security with 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, VyprVPN has a unique feature in their special Chameleon protocol. The Chameleon protocol works by encrypting not only your data, but also your metadata – that is, the information about the origin and destination of your data. Some VPN blocking software works by comparing the origin of the data as shown by the metadata with the location shown by a user’s IP, and if these two do not match, then blocking the connection. Chameleon gets around this by encrypting the metadata so that it can’t be read, meaning there is no indication that a VPN is being used. This means you can use this VPN even on networks with VPN blocking.
VyprVPN can be used with Netflix, and they also have advice on their site on how VPNs can improve Netflix speeds if you are being throttled on specific websites by your ISP. As well as these features, VyprVPN has speeds which are adequate if not the fastest, a network of more than 700 servers in 70 different countries, and software available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
When your biggest want is the strongest possible encryption, then you can’t do better than StrongVPN. It has incredibly strong encryption of up to 2048-bit, so it will protect your data from even the most sophisticated encryption cracking attempts. Of course, there’s also a no logging policy to complement this outstanding security.
The server network on offer is much smaller than the other three VPN providers above, with servers in just 46 cities in 26 countries. However, this does include servers in Tokyo, Japan so you can happily use the service for your Netflix Japan needs. In that vein, connections should work with Netflix just fine but in case they don’t, StrongVPN offers a guide to accessing more sites which are geographically blocked.
The connections are fast enough for streaming video and you can use an unlimited amount of bandwidth with no speed limits. You can get the software for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
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It’s not as easy to access Netflix content from other countries as it used to be. Since Netflix started cracking down on VPN use on their sites, many VPNs do not work for Netflix any more. But for those users who desperately want to get access to Netflix Japan so that they can watch all of the great anime content, there are options available. We’ve recommended four different VPNs which work with Netflix and which you can use to watch Netflix Japan content from anywhere in the world.
Have you tried out any of these VPNs? If so, what was your experience with them like? Or alternatively, do you have another tip for a great VPN to use for Netflix Japan? Then let us know about it in the comments below.