Like a hot plate of okonomiyaki or Hello Kitty, internet culture is a defining characteristic of Japan – and although the country doesn’t have the same web restrictions as many of its neighbors, a Japan VPN can still be a very useful tool for maintaining online privacy and expanding your streaming.
If you’re heading to the country on holiday or business, the best VPN will get you access to the streaming media you’re used to and home-language versions of your favorite sites. For residents, a Japan VPN will keep your browsing private, and avoid network throttling when streaming or gaming.
Also, if you're a fan of Japanese media, a Japan VPN will be able to get you access to tons of exclusive content on services like TV Tokyo and Fuji TV, plus expand your Netflix subscription to include all the anime available on Netflix Japan.
What makes the best Japan VPN?
While Japanese residents aren’t subjected to the kind of tracking and censorship as those living in China, like almost any developed nation the government and internet service providers (ISPs) take an interest in your activity. Subsequently, you’ll want your Japan VPN to be hot on privacy – with so many excellent services available, choosing one that lacks basic privacy features should certainly be avoided.
If you live in Japan, you’ll want to pick a Japan VPN with plenty of servers in Japan and the rest of East Asia. As one of the most connected countries in the world, this shouldn’t be too difficult to find. However, what may be trickier to find is a service that can reliably unblock both local Japanese content and international streaming services – very useful for residents and visitors alike.
Ticking all those boxes and more is ExpressVPN. With excellent connection speeds all over the world, military-grade encryption and serious streaming power, it’s our top pick for a Japan VPN. However, there are plenty more contenders, so keep scrolling to discover the top five VPNs for Japan today.
1. ExpressVPN – the best Japan VPN on the market
Whether you live in Japan or are just visiting, ExpressVPN is the very best service to have protecting you. With unbeatable streaming power plus excellent privacy features, it's the full package. Plus, you'll get a 30-day money-back guarantee and three months free on a 12-month plan.View Deal
2. NordVPN – big name is excellent in Japan
NordVPN is widely known as one of the best services on the market, and while it's been overtaken in recent years by Express, it's still a force to be reckoned with. Plus, at just $3.71 a month, it's great value too.View Deal
3. Surfshark – great streaming and incredible value
One of the cheapest VPNs available, Surfshark is also a great choice for those spending time in Japan. With guaranteed access to streaming sites such as Netflix, iPlayer, TV Tokyo and Fuji TV, it offers mega value for just $2.49 a month.View Deal
The best Japan VPNs today
If you want protection and security online when you're in Japan – or just want to explore TV that's exclusive to the country – ExpressVPN is the best service available.
With three separate server locations in Japan, you can make sure you're getting the very best speeds available, and this server variety also ensures reliable streaming and all-round peace of mind.
In terms of privacy, ExpressVPN boasts 256-AES encryption, a great selection of protocols so you can tailor your experience towards security or speed and Perfect Forward Secrecy, plus a kill switch and split tunneling.
However, what most users will notice first is the simplicity of the apps. While they deliver powerful configuration and great in-depth features, even newbies will be able to get protected in a single click. This prioritization of user experience is a staple of Express's product, and something we really appreciate.
Alongside all the classic streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, you'll also be able to tap into exclusive services like TV Tokyo and Fuji TV. While non-residents may have to sign up to get watching, people who are already members can use ExpressVPN to access all this content from outside of Japan.
What really makes ExpressVPN the best Japan VPN is the combination of pretty much every feature you could ask for in a super-simple package – and that's why it tops this list.
Get 49% off plus 3 free months of the best Japan VPN
Tom’s Guide readers can get three free months of ExpressVPN by signing up to its 12 month plan – and you’ll be streaming Japan-exclusive content in minutes. However, if it’s not for you, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all its plans, so there's no risk in case you change your mind.
If you're on this page, it's likely you've heard of NordVPN – with huge marketing campaigns and a top-quality product to match, it's one of your best choices as a Japan VPN.
That's down to its great streaming power, privacy-focused experience and its massive number of servers located in the country. Although you'll only have one location (Tokyo), you'll be able to use a mega 140+ servers. That's great news for streamers and torrenters who want to make sure their servers aren't overloaded.
On that note, all Nord's Japan servers fully support P2P sharing, so you won't have to go through trial and error to find one that works.
In our testing Nord easily got us access to Netflix Japan, and is also able to access national streaming services. Plus, great connection speeds mean you won't be waiting around for things to load.
All we can really fault NordVPN for is its app design – on mobile the map-based interface can be a little clumsy, and while that's a minor problem, it does slightly impact how pleasant the VPN is to use. On the whole, though, it's a solid choice for your Japan VPN.
If you're looking for a fully functioning Japan VPN for a little as possible, Surfshark could be the right choice for you.
While it's not quite as in-depth as ExpressVPN, for the price there's very little to fault it. On the provider's site there are claims of being able to access - amongst other things - TV Tokyo, Fuji TV, Wowow TV, HBO, Prime Video, Netflix and Showtime. Some providers are more cautious with their claims, but this demonstrates Surfshark is pretty confident in its abilities.
For some, another bonus will just how simple Surfshark is to use – while you'll get protocol switching, a kill switch and more under the surface, the apps are designed so that anyone of any experience can get up and running in seconds.
However, for those who are confident with VPNs and looking to configure tons of settings this might hold them back. But, really, everything's good to go out of the box.
The biggest selling point is Surfshark's price, though: just $2.49 a month. That's half the price of some of its more expensive competitors, and makes it the best cheap VPN on the market.
So, if you want to get a great Japan VPN for as little as possible, Surfshark could be the right choice.
With over 10 million users around the world, CyberGhost is a hugely popular option. It's not hard to see why either, as it boasts the widest server selection this list along with clever Smart Rules and streaming optimization.
As a Japan VPN, it doesn't miss a beta when accessing Netflix, plus it's reliable for getting into Japan's regional streaming services too.
What we really like is CyberGhost's filtering system, which selects the best server in your chosen country for certain tasks. That means torrenting or streaming servers can singled out to provide you with the best connection possible.
While CyberGhost is a little let down by its apps, it's very well priced and is a reliable Japan VPN contender.
IPVanish rounds off this list in style – as soon as you open the app you'll see what we mean. Totally different in aesthetic to its competitors, it's much more stereotypically 'techy', but we appreciate that. However, for newbies it may offer up a bit too much info for ease of use.
In terms of being a Japan VPN, the service provides five servers in a single Tokyo location. While not incredible, it's more than enough for travelers and residents alike.
Something we really like is the fact IPVanish has an unlimited connections policy. Just like Surfshark, this means you'll be able to cover any number of devices with a single plan, which is a huge selling point over providers that limit usage.
However, while IPVanish is a an excellent VPN – we wouldn't recommend a service we didn't think was top quality – for most people there are probably better options.
Why do I need a Japan VPN?
Although Japan's internet is much freer than many of its neighbors', the government and ISPs still track user activity – just like pretty much any other country. To avoid this, you can use a VPN to anonymize you IP and activity, giving you true web privacy.
However, many people use a Japan VPN to access Japanese media outside of Japan. That could be local TV networks, or Netflix Japan, which carries tons of anime not found anywhere else in the world.
Is a Japan VPN legal?
Yes, having a VPN in Japan is perfectly legal. However, a VPN doesn't make activities that are against the law legal. So, for example, if you download pirated software, you're still breaking the law.
Furthermore, Tom's Guide in no way condones breaking the law with a VPN, and only recommends their use for legal activities.