How to improve your Japanese language skills with Netflix Japan



Argentinian Carolina has an extensive movie background in the cinematic universe. She is our resident TV analyst and a seasoned expert in global streaming platforms. She showcases her comprehensive knowledge through her love for Netflix 'Originals', Frozen, The Good Place, and The Dragon Prince.

If you’re studying the Japanese language, you are probably always looking for more resources to improve your skills.

Thankfully, the Internet has made everything easier for us over the past years. Nowadays we can access anime and Japanese TV shows legally through several streaming services, and Asian music is more widespread.

But, Netflix Japan has something for you that maybe you won’t find in any other place.

Keep reading this article, and I’ll show you a helpful tool to improve your Japanese language skills!

What do you need when you’re studying a foreign language?

Before jumping into our main topic, let me give you a general piece of advice that applies when studying any foreign language.

In an ideal scenario, the best way to learn a language is by living in a country where it’s spoken. But, not everybody can travel, and less move to another place just for the sake of learning a language.

So, the next best thing is consuming media in the language we’re learning, such as movies, TV shows, cartoons, music, video games, books, comics, etc.

But, there’s another trick to practice any language in general: watching movies, TV shows, cartoons in their original language AND with the subtitles in the same language.

Japanese adventure

Why this?

Because this way, you’re training your listening skills and your reading comprehension, and at the same time, you learn the correct pronunciation of the words by associating the sound with the written word.

Probably, you might be thinking that in the Japanese language case it’s impossible to find something with Japanese subs, meaning they were with Japanese characters and not romanized.

And here enters Netflix Japan…

Well, my friends, Netflix Japan has everything you need. First, if you’re a Japan enthusiast, accessing Netflix Japan is like opening Pandora’s box.

You’ll find a lot of content not available in any other place that you’ll start salivating over your screen.

And the most important thing: everything has Japanese subs as close captions. And yes, these subs are in hiragana, katakana and kanji.

So this the best deal is to watch anime, Japanese movies, and TV shows with Japanese audio and subtitles.

But since nothing is perfect, you can’t access Netflix Japan outside Japan. Don’t worry! I’ve got the solution for this in the next session.

What you need to unlock Netflix Japan

Netflix varies its library according to the country/region and when you connect with your account, the app automatically detects your location through your IP address.

So, to access Netflix Japan, you’ll need to use an app called a VPN, which will make you jump over this restriction by allowing you to connect to a server located in Japan.

This way, you’ll access Netflix as if you were in Japan without moving from your home.

Also, VPNs are excellent security and privacy tools, that you should consider using aside from the fact of accessing extra streaming content. For more information, you can read all our guides on our website regarding this.

My recommendation regarding which VPN service to choose is ExpressVPN.

It offers fast connections, it’s user friendly, provides a guarantee of a 30-day money-back in case you’re not satisfied, and we can assure you after testing it works with Netflix Japan.

Japanese chance

Two other great options are Surfshark and NordVPN with similar features, and we know they work with Netflix Japan as well. It’s up to you which one you choose.

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Step by step how to unlock Japanese Netflix

Once you have chosen the VPN service of your preference, you need to follow these easy steps to get everything working as quick as possible.

All VPNs have similar ways of setting up, but let’s take my recommendation of ExpressVPN as an example.

Step 1

Go to the ExpressVPN website and chose the plan you wish. Top tip: the yearly package is a lot cheaper than paying monthly!

Step 2

Create your account with your email address, and provide your payment method.

Step 3

Get the app from the Products sections on the website or in the Apple Store or Google Play Store depending on the device you’re using.

Step 4

Log into your account using the credentials you created in step 2

Step 5

Go to VPN locations and search for Japan, choose one of them, double click, and you’ll be connected.

ExpressVPN connecting to Japan

Gain access to Netflix Japan using ExpressVPN.

Congratulations! Now, you’re ready to practice Japanese like if you were living in Japan!

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What can you find on Netflix Japan?

The Netflix Japan library is one of the most appealing around the globe after the USA one.

Besides a lot of content that’s globally available, American and international movies, and series; the Japanese catalogue has a lot of exclusive content like anime, TV shows, and films you won’t find in any other service.

And since all this exclusive content is meant for the Japanese audience only, it comes with Japanese audio and closed-caption subtitles.

Japanese emotions

Of course, you can watch whatever you want, but believe me that with all the exclusive content, you’ll prefer to explore every nook and cranny of Netflix Japan.

What to watch to improve your Japanese language skills

Whether you’re making your first steps in learning Japanese, or you’re preparing for sitting the Japanese-Level Proficiency Test, or you just want to keep your skills in shape, I’ve made a short list of recommendations according to the language level.

Japanese Elementary Level

When you start studying Japanese, you’re equal to a preschool or elementary kid.

You need to learn to write again because Japanese has a different alphabet, actually is a combination of a syllabary (hiragana and katakana) and ideograms (kanji).

Also, you need to learn basic words and memorize them.

Netflix Japan has several anime and TV shows aimed at young children that could be useful for anyone new to the language.

Hello Kitty Magical no Aiueo (Movie) – A short movie that mixes animation and live songs to help children to learn the syllables, shapes, colours, and basic words.

Nontan (Series) – An animated series for young kids about a kitten, Nontan, and his friends. Educational, easy to understand, great to learn basic vocabulary.

Cinnamon no Ouchi de Challenge (Series) – A series from Sanrio, based in one of their characters. Great for learning about food, daily activities at home, and friendship.

Shimajiro no Wao! (Series) – Shimajiro is a young tiger who lives with his family in Challenge Island. The series follows his daily life with his friends and family. Easy to follow and understand, great for learning vocabulary about daily activities.

Butt Detective (Series) – A hilarious anime for kids about a super detective very meticulous and polite know as Butt Detective because of the shape of his head.

Besides the silly humour, it’s very educational mostly in all the polite vocabulary you can learn. The subs are in hiragana only meaning they are easy to follow.

Japanese friendship

Japanese Intermediate Level

When you reached the intermediate level, you’re mastering most of the grammar structures. At this point, you can read, write, and you mostly can understand everything while listening.

These series and movies aren’t so childish, but, they don’t deal with complicated or specific vocabulary, so, they’re going to be kind of easy to follow.

Pocket Monster (Series) – The first Pokemon series. Although it’s available globally, on Netflix JP, you’ll find the original version as it was aired in Japan, without cuts and changes.

The Genie Family 2020 (Series) – A sequel to the original series aired 50 years ago. A family of genies residing in a bottle awakens in the modern world.

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Series) A series from 1991 set and based on the Dragon Quest video game franchise, follows the adventures of Dai, a boy who dreams becoming a hero.

Future Boy Conan (Series) – Directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1978, this series is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale in a world devastated by war and people living in islands. A boy named Conan brings hope to the survivors.

Kimi ni Todoke (Live-action Movie) – Based on the manga of the same name, the story revolves around Sawako, a girl who is bullied by her classmates because of her appearance. When the popular boy, Kazehara, begins talking to her, everything changes.

Japanese Advanced Level

If you’re among the lucky ones who have achieved this level, you only need to keep in shape what you have accomplished so far. Maybe you don’t even need the subs anymore. Nevertheless, kanji practice always is good!

Slam Dunk (Series) – A classic basketball anime about Hanamichi Sakuragi, a juvenile delinquent, who finds his place in the basketball team of his school.

Attack on Titan (Series) – A world divided in walled cities trying to protect themselves from humanoid Titans that eat humans.

Doctor X Surgeon Michiko Daimon (TV Drama) – A successful medical drama about a freelancer surgeon who defies the medical system in crisis.

GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka (TV Drama) – A classic series based on the manga of the same name about a once juvenile delinquent who finds himself teaching at a high school full of riot students.

Garasu no Ashi (TV Drama) – A four-episode mini-series family drama. Young Setsuko is married to a man way older than her, who was her mother’s lover. When he dies in a tragic car accident, her life will go upside down.


Studying Japanese can be a real challenge, but luckily we have a lot of tools to make the task easier.

Netflix Japan is one of these tools because in its library it offers a lot of Japanese exclusive content with Japanese subs, which are perfect for improving your language skills.

To access Netflix Japan, you’ll need a VPN like ExpressVPN, Surfshark, or NordVPN, and while you binge Japanese series, you’ll keep your devices and online privacy protected by the VPN!.

It’s a win-win deal!

Did you work out our four Japanese words hidden throughout this guide? I would love to know so drop me a comment below.

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Kanji illustrations © Megumi Ito –

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