Netflix is one of the best websites for watching high quality TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, much of its Japanese content is not available worldwide. This guide will walk you through how to break Netflix region locks and easily watch the shows you want. Let’s start – or as they say in Japan, hajimarimashou
Do countries have different Netflix libraries?
Although Netflix is available in more than 190 countries, the available content depends on where you are. There are many shows that you can only watch in certain countries. “Japanese Netflix” or “American Netflix” simply means that country’s unique content library.
How does Japanese Netflix compare to American Netflix?
Japan has had the world’s largest Netflix library for several years. In 2021, for example, Japan has around 4,000 films and 2,200 series available. It’s even bigger than the United States, where Netflix started, which has a similar number of series – around 2,000 – but only ~ 3,700 movies.
But there are also several popular Western shows that you can’t find on American Netflix:
- The Big Bang Theory
- Brooklyn nine-nine
- Sons of anarchy
Some shows, like 24, were available in the past, but others, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, were never available in America.
Shows like these are a major reason people want to access Japanese Netflix. But we can’t easily access the Japanese show library – and the reason is copyright law. Why can’t we access it?
Netflix’s communications director explains why some shows are only available in certain countries here:
Basically, Netflix has to buy the rights to broadcast a show in each country individually. It costs the company dearly – almost $ 15 billion in 2019. Shows like 24 and The Big Bang Theory are much less popular in Japan than in America and, therefore, are cheaper to license. Japan has also been slow to embrace uploading content – it wasn’t until 2018 that the country adopted music streaming, for example. As a result, many content owners do not stream their content.
Finally, other platforms such as Crunchyroll hold the exclusive rights to broadcast numerous programs in the West, in particular anime.
How to unblock Japanese content on Netflix
The easiest way is to move to Japan, but it is not convenient for most people. An easier method is to break Netflix’s region locks with a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a private and secure way to access the Internet. A VPN connection refers to the process of establishing a private link between one or more local and remote network devices.
When you use a VPN, your device routes all of your internet traffic through an encrypted link to one of the VPN’s servers. Doing so will mask your IP address with the IP of the VPN server. Since sites like Netflix use your IP address to determine where you are, you can set your online location to almost any country in the world with a VPN. This way, you can break region locks anywhere online, not just Netflix. To give a concrete example, if you connect to a VPN server in Tokyo, Netflix will allow you to watch exclusive content in Japan using your regular Netflix account. When you want to go back to the US Netflix library, you can just turn off the VPN.
Why use a VPN to unblock Netflix?
There are many ways to hide your IP address online, such as by using the Tor project or a proxy server. But VPNs are the most common choice to unblock Japanese Netflix, because of their speed, convenience and customer support.
The Tor Project allows you to change your location online, but for security reasons, it also bounces your internet traffic on three different servers before it reaches Netflix. VPNs typically only use a single server for faster, more consistent speeds.
VPNs don’t require you to manually change your network settings, like most proxy servers. On your turn, you can close the VPN at any time to return to your regular Netflix library. Most VPNs are also available on mobile, so you don’t have to watch shows on your computer.
Since VPNs are commercial products, their providers almost always offer customer support through email, instant chat, or phone lines. This can be useful when dealing with an unstable connection or slow speeds or when setting up the VPN for the first time.
On Japanese Netflix, you can enjoy both exclusive Japanese content and popular Western shows that are not available on American Netflix.
It’s unfortunate that you can’t watch all of the content on the site by default, even when you pay for a Netflix subscription. But unless international copyright law changes, this situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. Fortunately, a VPN makes it easy to break those region locks and access Japanese Netflix from your regular accounts. VPNs provide a good balance of speed and convenience for casual users interested in manually setting up their network.