Best VPN for Japan 2021: Land of the Rising Wiretap

Looking for a way to stay safe online in Japan and access geo-restricted content? These five VPNs will keep your connection secure and enable you to bypass geoblocks. Read on to find out which service is the best VPN for Japan.

Arjun Ruparelia
By Arjun Ruparelia (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-07-12T13:34:36+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey

Instances of cyberattacks in Japan have been increasing, raising security concerns for Japanese internet users. While Japan isn’t a country where internet censorship and surveillance cause any grief to the citizens, having the best VPN for Japan is still critical for solid security.

In addition to protecting your data, a VPN can even give you access to geoblocked content like Netflix’s U.S. library. Whether you live in Japan and regularly use public networks or are just on a vacation, a virtual private network (VPN) is a must-have.

Since each VPN server is assigned multiple IP addresses, it helps you stay off the blocklists. However, the internet is crowded with VPNs, which means choosing a good VPN is like looking for a needle in a haystack. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • ExpressVPN is the best Japan VPN. It offers great connection speeds, top-notch security and Japanese servers.
  • If you’re on a budget, NordVPN, Surfshark and CyberGhost are excellent alternatives. However, if you’re looking for a free VPN, ProtonVPN is an ideal choice.
  • Although Japan is mostly free from censorship and surveillance, it’s still important to protect your data with a VPN. It’ll encrypt your browsing data, hide torrenting activity and allow you to bypass geo-restrictions.

To make things easier for you, we tested some major VPNs and chose five that work the best, including ExpressVPN, our top recommendation.

  • Most major VPNs work in Japan, but some are better than others. ExpressVPN is the best choice for users looking for a Japan VPN.

  • ProtonVPN offers access to a Japan server for free. It also offers strong encryption and unlimited data at no cost.

Best VPN for Japan Comparison

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What Makes the Best VPN for Japan?

There are certain quintessential features you should look for in a VPN. Before we dive into those details, here is a preview of our suggested best Japan VPNs.

  1. ExpressVPN — Best Japan VPN with servers in Tokyo and Yokohama
  2. NordVPN — Excellent security, no-logs policy and P2P servers
  3. Surfshark — Low-cost option with unlimited simultaneous connections
  4. CyberGhost — Affordable VPN with excellent security
  5. ProtonVPN — Best free VPN with Japanese servers

A VPN that uses secure VPN protocols and offers strong encryption ensures your safety as you surf the internet. When you look for a VPN, check for a no-logging policy to make sure that the VPN doesn’t collect any information transmitted through the network. You should also look for a kill switch, so your IP address remains protected even if the connection is unexpectedly interrupted.

In addition to security, you should look for a VPN that has an extensive server network. A VPN assigns you a different IP address, effectively masking the IP address provided by your internet service provider. So, a VPN with Japanese servers can assign you a local IP address. Some VPNs offer a dedicated IP address, which can help you stay off the blocklist and bypass streaming restrictions. 

You can also use a VPN to bypass geoblocks and access geo-blocked content. If you look forward to streaming your favorite shows on Netflix U.S. while in Japan, make sure you choose a VPN that offers fast connection speeds for buffer-free streaming.

For those who will use the VPN on multiple devices, it’s important to check which operating systems are compatible with the VPN. Most major VPNs have an app for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux. 

Japan has strict copyright laws, and violating them could put you behind bars. If you plan on torrenting, it’s best to use a VPN that has a no-logs policy to hide your online activities. Plus, a VPN that has P2P-friendly servers, good connection speeds and unlimited bandwidth offers the best torrenting experience. 

The 5 Best VPNs for Japan

We tested some major VPN services to see which ones fit the bill, and five VPNs made it to our list. These VPNs have all or most of the features we discussed above. We’ll go through each VPN’s features, so you can decide which one will suit you best, starting with our number one pick, ExpressVPN.

1. ExpressVPN

expressvpn desktop client
ExpressVPN offers split tunneling on a per-app basis.

More details about ExpressVPN:

  • Pricing: $6.67 per month, plus three months free on the yearly plan
  • Provider website: www.expressvpn.com 

Pros:

  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • Top-notch security
  • Two server locations in Japan

Cons:

  • Expensive

ExpressVPN is the best Japanese VPN because it offers an all-around service and excellent online security. It uses AES 256-bit encryption, best-in-class VPN protocols, DNS leak protection and a kill switch to keep you secure if your connection is interrupted.

It also has a no-logging policy, which means no one, including ExpressVPN’s employees or the government, can see your browsing history. What’s more, ExpressVPN comes with a split tunneling option that lets you route traffic from select devices or apps through the VPN and allows direct internet access to other devices and apps.

Multiple Japanese Servers

With around 3,000 servers spread across 160 server locations in 94 countries around the world, including two in Japan, ExpressVPN’s server network is quite extensive. Plus, ExpressVPN’s speeds are as fast as they come — it truly is the fastest VPN

Having a large number of servers means you don’t need to wait for Violet Evergarden to become available globally. You can use the VPN to access the Netflix Japan library and view all the latest anime whenever you want. It also lets you access other popular streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, making it our best VPN for streaming

expressvpn get started
ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted and reliable VPNs in the market.

ExpressVPN offers a strong feature portfolio and comes with a premium price tag. However, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you happen to change your mind after making the purchase. To learn more, read our comprehensive ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

nordvpn server locations
NordVPN has a large server network, including 80-plus servers in Japan.

More details about NordVPN:

  • Pricing: $4.13 per month on the two-year plan 
  • Provider website: www.nordvpn.com 

Pros:

  • Double-hop encryption
  • 80-plus servers in Japan
  • CyberSec (ad blocker)

Cons:

  • Poor speeds over longer distances

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are neck and neck in most parameters. While both VPNs feature best-in-class VPN protocols, AES 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, split tunneling and a kill switch, NordVPN goes a step further with double-hop encryption. This means your requests are routed through two server locations, providing an additional layer of security. 

However, NordVPN sometimes delivers slow speeds on servers located at a distance, which keeps it from taking the top spot. Its server spread is among the best in the market with 5,000-plus servers in 59 countries, including over 80 servers in Japan. 

Great for Streaming & Torrenting Protection

NordVPN gives you access to every popular streaming service, including Netflix U.S. and BBC iPlayer. You could also watch Kenji’s Room on J Sports even if you’re not in Japan. If you plan on using NordVPN for torrenting, you’d be glad to know that it’s our best VPN for torrenting

NordVPN also offers great online privacy. In addition to a strict no-logging policy, it has the Onion over VPN feature, which is available with NordVPN’s two-year plan, its best value option.

nordvpn features
NordVPN comes with a strict no-logs policy, obfuscated servers and plenty of other features.

NordVPN is still priced very affordably — below ExpressVPN — and it also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind after you’ve made the purchase. Head over to our NordVPN review to learn more about the Onion over VPN and other NordVPN features.

3. Surfshark

surfshark client
Surfshark has a simple, easy-to-use interface.

More details about Surfshark:

Pros:

  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Strong encryption
  • Camouflage mode

Cons:

  • Inconsistent speeds 

Next up is Surfshark. It has 3,200-plus servers across 65 countries, including Japan. Surfshark lags behind the previous two options in terms of speed but still manages to deliver a smooth streaming and torrenting experience. You can connect to a UK server from Japan and access BBC iPlayer or connect to a Japanese server to watch The Seven Deadly Sins on Netflix Japan.

Surfshark offers great value for money if your focus is online privacy and security. It has almost all the security features that ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer, such as split tunneling and AES 256-bit encryption, plus some more at a relatively lower price point.

Camouflage Mode

The VPN has “camouflage mode” that keeps ISPs from knowing you’re using a VPN, “noborders mode” that allows access to countries where VPNs are blocked, and the CleanWeb feature that blocks annoying ads. All this at a considerably smaller price tag, provided you opt for the two-year plan.  

surfshark for streaming in japan
Surfshark has Japanese servers, which means you can watch Netflix Japan wherever you are.

Read more about these features in our Surfshark review or try the VPN out yourself. There is no free trial, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee you can fall back on in case you don’t want to continue with the service.

4. CyberGhost

cyberghost app
CyberGhost is a reliable VPN with 50-plus servers in Japan.

More details about CyberGhost:

  • Pricing: $2.25 per month on the three year plan, plus three months free
  • Provider website: www.cyberghostvpn.com 

Pros:

  • Automatic kill switch
  • 50-plus servers located in Japan
  • NoSpy servers

Cons:

  • Slow over long distances
  • No controls for kill switch

Our next VPN provider, CyberGhost, is a pocket-friendly option for the privacy and security conscious. It has a massive network of servers (including over 50 in Japan), which gives you ample options to bypass geoblocks of pretty much any region. 

Speeds are good for the most part, too, except when connected to a distant server, though it should still be enough for most activities like HD streaming or torrenting. 

It has a no-logging policy and 256-bit AES encryption. However, if you want to make things airtight, you can use CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers located in Romania, which is not a member of either the Five Eyes or 14 Eyes alliance. The NoSpy servers cost extra, though. CyberGhost also has a permanently enabled kill switch, and there is no option to turn it off.

Accessing Streaming Services

CyberGhost claims it unblocks most streaming services, but we could access only Netflix U.S. Most streaming services — including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and BBC iPlayer — aren’t accessible with CyberGhost. On a positive note, it has no limits on data, so the next time you want to binge-watch Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, you don’t need to worry about running out of data. 

cyberghost features
CyberGhost offers a free trial, so users can make an informed decision.

The oddly timed three-years-plus-three-month plan, of course, provides the best value. On a monthly basis, the plan proves to be more pocket-friendly than both NordVPN and Surfshark. Plus, you can use the generous 45-day money-back guarantee on longer plans to try CyberGhost and or read our CyberGhost review to see if it fits your needs.

5. ProtonVPN

protonvpn ios app
ProtonVPN has a user-friendly mobile app with a quick-connect button that connects you to the fastest server location.

More details about ProtonVPN:

Pros:

  • DNS & IPv6 leak protection
  • Strong encryption 
  • Unlimited bandwidth

Cons:

  • Poor speeds
  • No live chat 

ProtonVPN offers great service without charging a dime, which claims it a spot on our best free VPNs list. Most free VPNs have a data cap, but that isn’t the case with ProtonVPN. Instead, ProtonVPN’s free option offers slower speeds and fewer features. 

Even with its slow speeds, though, ProtonVPN’s free version is a good deal if you want to browse the internet securely. It has apps for all major operating systems, including iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and Linux.

Best Free Japanese VPN

It offers 256-bit AES encryption on all plans, including the free plan. As a free user, you can connect to one of the three server locations: the Netherlands, Japan and the U.S. This makes ProtonVPN a great no-cost Japanese VPN. However, ProtonVPN’s free plan isn’t ideal for streaming or torrenting. 

protonvpn desktop client
ProtonVPN offers three server locations on its free version, one of which is Japan

If you’re looking for a free VPN that offers strong encryption while you browse the web, ProtonVPN is a solid choice. The paid plans come with a lot more features, though. So, if you want to use a VPN for streaming and torrenting, you should consider investing in one of the paid plans. You can read about the paid plans and features in our ProtonVPN review.

Free
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Basic
  • : Unlimited GB
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Plus
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 5
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Visionary
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 10
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Free VPNs for Japan

Many free VPNs, especially ones that lack credibility, can expose you to several risks. They can compromise your privacy and flood your screen with ads. Many often offer slow connection speeds, fail to unblock geo blocked content and even allow the government to collect your data. In worst cases, you’ll end up with a trojan or spyware on your system. 

You can avoid these issues if you stick to a verified VPN service, like the ones we include in our best free VPN list.

However, even the best free VPNs come with several limitations. For example, free VPNs Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear come with a 500MB per month data cap. Some also limit your free server locations. For example, Windscribe restricts its free plan to 10 server locations (not including Japan), and ProtonVPN limits you to three. 

However, ProtonVPN is an exception if you’re looking for a free Japanese VPN. Not only does it have Japanese servers, but it also offers top-notch encryption, so you don’t have to compromise on online security. 

Why Do I Need a Japan VPN?

Japan takes copyright violation very seriously, which means you need to be careful when torrenting. If you’re caught torrenting copyrighted material, you may be sentenced up to two years in jail and fined up to 2 million yen. So, it’s best to keep your torrenting activity untraceable with a good VPN. 

Several other reasons warrant a VPN while using the internet in Japan. For instance, you may want to stream content from Netflix U.S. or BBC iPlayer or block those pesky personalized ads. Plus, if you frequently use public networks, your sensitive data may be vulnerable to theft. A VPN with strong encryption can keep hackers from extracting any valuable information.

Internet Censorship & Government Surveillance in Japan

Japan has one of the most consumer-friendly data retention laws — only a handful of sites are currently censored. However, if the government chooses to block more sites in the future, you’ll need a VPN to get around these blocks.

While Japan isn’t a member of the Five Eyes alliance, Japan does cooperate with its members. This cooperation is expected to strengthen in the future, which means you’ll need a way to protect your privacy from the government. A VPN with a no-logs policy and strong encryption will render your browsing data unusable, even if the government manages to get it.

Final Thoughts: The Best Japanese VPN

Hopefully we’ve managed to outline each of the five VPN’s strengths and weaknesses well enough for you to make a decision. Ideally, you should choose a VPN that has secure VPN protocols, a no-logging policy and a good server spread. This will help you maintain data integrity and give you the option to bypass geo-restrictions imposed by several countries.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have multiple features coming from multiple VPN providers, especially if you’re new to VPNs. We recommend ExpressVPN, a tried-and-tested VPN that offers the best combination of features. ExpressVPN has a no-logging policy, kill switch, strong encryption and excellent speeds. Plus, you can always use its 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not impressed.

Do you have experience using a VPN in Japan, either as a resident or a tourist? Which VPN did you use? Did you face any issues or found a really useful feature? Let us know about it in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading.