Japanese expats, anime fans, and anyone else wanting access to the largest streaming library in the world will need to use a VPN to unblock Netflix Japan. But which provider do you choose, and how do you actually go about getting a Japanese IP and bypassing the Netflix proxy error? We tell all in today’s guide, so read on.
Netflix is increasingly popular, and many people use it instead of an old fashioned television to watch movies and TV shows on their computers. With well over 6,000 unique titles, Japan has the largest Netflix library in the world, (yes, even bigger than Netflix US.) This selection includes a ton of anime that isn’t available on other Netflix sites around the world. 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. But what to do if you’re an anime aficionado or simply love the Japanese cinema, but don’t live in the country?
If you’re a Netflix user who wants to be able to watch Japanese movies and TV shows (plus more content from elsewhere in the world) then you need a VPN. With a virtual private network, you can unblock and access the Japanese Netflix service from anywhere in the world, giving you access to loads of content that isn’t available in your region. Read on to find out more and to see our recommendations for the best VPN for Netflix Japan.
Why Some Content Is Only Available On Netflix Japan
So how is it that Netflix can show some content in Japan, but not elsewhere? The answer is to do with copyright restrictions. When a service like Netflix wants to be able to stream a particular movie or TV show, they must pay the copyright holder for the rights to show it. However, the rights have to be purchased separately for each country. So you could buy the rights to stream a film in the Japan, but you would have to buy the rights to stream the same movie in US separately.
LEARN MORE: What are geoblocks, and how do you beat them?
This means that Netflix does not pay for the rights for all of their content for all countries. It’s a matter of return on investment; why pay for streams in countries where anime isn’t popular? What makes good business sense can leave foreign fans of Japanese entertainment in the dark, but fortunately there is a workable solution.
Using A VPN To Unblock Netflix
Despite copyright restrictions, the good news for Netflix users is that it is in fact possible to watch content from other countries using a virtual private network. A VPN works by installing software onto the device that you are using to access Netflix, which encrypts all of the data that your device sends over the internet. This encrypted data is then passed to a server run by your VPN company, where it is decrypted and sent on to its original location.
The advantage of this encryption-and-proxy process is not only an improvement in your online security and privacy, but also the ability to get around regional restrictions. When you connect to a VPN server, your data appears to originate from the location of the server rather than your actual location. You will be assigned an IP address corresponding to the country of the server rather than your real IP address. This means that if you are based in the US and then connect to a server in Japan, you will be assigned a Japanese IP address. Then, when you visit the Netflix website, the site will think that you are coming from Japan and therefore let you access all of the Netflix Japan content, even though you are actually based in the US.
The only problem with this process is that Netflix has started to use VPN blocking software to stop users from using a VPN on their site. This VPN blocking software detects if a VPN is being used through criteria such as whether there are multiple users accessing the site from the same IP address, or whether your IP address is in a range known to be used by VPN services. If the software detects VPN use, then your connection will be refused and you won’t be able to stream Netflix videos; instead, you’ll be served the dreaded Netflix proxy error.
This is why most VPNs don’t work with Netflix any more. However, the good news is that there are still some VPNs that do work with Netflix, and we’ve identified the particular providers that users can use to unblock the service.
Editor’s note: there is an ongoing battle of blocking and unblocking efforts between Netflix and VPNs. All our recommendations make a noble attempt at staying ahead of the game, but it is inevitable that there will be times when Netflix prevails and blocks even the best VPNs. In such cases, we recommend that you try various servers apart from the ones previously proven to work. Barring that, the best antidote for the problem is giving VPN providers time to adapt, which can range from a few hours to several weeks. Unfortunate, but that’s the price you pay for unlimited global content. We’ll take it.
How To Choose A Great VPN
In order to find the best VPN provider for your needs to unblock Netflix Japan, we considered the following factors:
- VPN that works with Netflix. As not every VPN provider works to let you unblock Netflix, we look for the specific VPNs that do work to let you access other regional versions of Netflix like Netflix US.
- A large network of servers so that you have plenty of options to choose from when you come to connection to your VPN. It also helps to have servers in many different countries for best flexibility.
- Fast connection speeds so that you can stream video content in high definition with no buffering, and so you can also download large files quickly without any delays.
- Software support for different operating systems so that you can install the software on any of the devices that you use to watch Netflix, which could include your phone, your computer, your smart TV, or your games console.
- Excellent security. As well as letting you unblock Netflix, a good VPN will improve your cyber security by keeping you safe from hacking attacks and other online threats.
Best VPNs To Unblock Netflix Japan Anywhere
When we looked at each of these factors we came up with the following recommendations for VPN providers for unblocking Netflix Japan:
ExpressVPN is the all around winner of VPN services, with no compromises in the areas of security, speed, and ease of use. It is the most reliable VPN that we’ve come across in our testing of VPNs that work with Netflix. You can see the guide on the website for more information about using ExpressVPN to watch Netflix, or just reach out to their customer service department if you’re having trouble.
As the name suggests, ExpressVPN has super fast connections which are perfect for streaming, as well as strong security with 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy on usage data. There is a massive network of servers to choose from, with over 3,000 servers in 160 different locations in 94 countries, including Japan. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Linux, plus some games consoles and modems.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
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- 94 countries, 3,000+ servers
- Very simple and easy to use
- Strict no-logs policy for personal information
- Great customer service via chat.
- Slightly pricier than competition.
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 5,100 servers in around 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.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Very affordable plans
- Fast and stable connections
- DNS leak protection, kill switch
- Based in Panama
- 30-day money back guarantee.
- Some servers can have average d/l speeds
- Sometimes slow in procesing refunds (but always do).
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CyberGhost is the ideal VPN for new users who want a simple and easy to use VPN. In order to use the CyberGhost service, you just have to open up the software and select Unblock Streaming. Then you’ll see a drop down menu with options, and you select Netflix. Now you will be connected to a server that gives you access to Netflix and all the settings and configuration will be taken care of for you automatically. It’s a snap to set up and the connections are plenty fast for streaming HD videos.
In addition to ease of use, the security is also good with 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. If you want to connect to a server manually then you can do so, and you can choose from a network of 5,900 servers in nearly 90 countries. For help troubleshooting connecting or streaming issues with Netflix, their customer support team is just a call or email away. The software is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
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- Special profile designed for torrenting privately
- Versatile and user-friendly
- Zero logs and good privacy features
- Live chat support (24/7).
- Sometimes experiencing average speeds.
PureVPN‘s offering goes beyond other providers on the market. In addition to standard VPN functionality (with an expansive network of 2,000+ servers in more than 140 countries worldwide), a subscription to PureVPN nets you a whole security suite that can be used to protect your device. These features include anti malware and anti virus protection, an anti spam filter for your email inbox, DDoS protection, app filtering, a kill switch, a dedicated IP address, and a NAT firewall. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Android TV devices, plus there are browser extensions available for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Of course, PureVPN is also a popular choice for users who want to unblock Netflix. Please note that your mileage may vary with countries outside the US, including Japan. Netflix is adamant about cracking down on VPNs, and PureVPN is no exception. It makes our list for the same reason that all others do: The provider is dedicated to countering these blocking measures. If you can’t seem to get your anime fix from Netflix Japan, just give it some time.
You can see information about using Netflix with the PureVPN service on their website along with a guide on troubleshooting Netflix errors. Don’t hesitate to reach out to their customer help line if you don’t find these resources immediately useful.
Read our full PureVPN review.
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.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
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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 around 650 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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Why Do Only Some VPNs Work With Netflix?
Around last year, lots of users noticed that their VPNs no longer work 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.
FULL GUIDE: How to get a unique VPN IP address
- Another way a VPN can be detected is if the IP address you have been assigned is one of those that 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 that many VPNs do not work with Netflix any more. But all is not lost. There are still VPNs that do work with Netflix.
There is some content which is only available on Netflix Japan or other regional versions of the site and is not available on Netflix elsewhere. If you are a Netflix user who loves Japanese media and you want to unblock the service to access content on Netflix from anywhere in the world, then you need a VPN.
With a VPN you can get around regional restrictions to stream any content available on any regional version of Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix’s VPN blocking efforts are super effective vs. most providers. The ones we’ve listed above have a proven track record of keeping ahead of the game, so if you find your desired content is still blocked, you can trust your VPN to do whatever they can to make it right. Just be patient.
Do you use a VPN with Netflix? Which VPN provider have you found to be best? Let us know in the comments below.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.