25 Best Japanese Dramas to watch on Netflix
Carolina, who originally hails from Argentina is a movie buff through and through. She enjoys nothing more than binge-watching the latest Netflix series and is a big fan of their 'Originals' line. Her favourite movie is Frozen and she's a big fan of The Good Place & The Dragon Prince.
Japan always has been a closed market when it comes to the entertainment industry.
Although anime and manga have proved to be a massive international success, Japan produces entertainment for the Japanese audience and doesn’t bother to spread it through the world.
Because of this, it’s harder to find Japanese dramas and movies available globally for streaming on Netflix.
The ones you can find in most regions are Netflix original series, but if you’re looking for the J-drama breaking ratings in Japan, the task is more complicated.
But don’t worry! I’ve done the exhaustive research for you! Keep scrolling if you’re a fan of Japanese drama.
How to watch these shows
On this list, I’ve chosen most of the J-dramas you can find globally on Netflix. Some of which are available on select regions only, but it’s totally worth checking them out which is why they’re included.
The last four series are only available on Netflix Japan, and they only have Japanese subs. They’re good options if you’re studying Japanese language and want to practice it, or if you’re simply an enthusiast of J-dramas and want to check them out anyway.
If the series that aren’t in your region have caught your attention, you’ll need a VPN app to watch them.
A VPN allows you to hop Netflix regions with your standard account and access movies and TV shows from other countries.
I recommend using ExpressVPN because they work with plenty of regions and they’re super-easy to use. Download their app, connect to the country listed for each show below and enjoy streaming.
A couple of other VPN apps worth checking out are Surfshark and CyberGhost VPN if you’ve got time to shop around. The choice is yours!
1. Atelier (2015)
13 episodes – Drama, Comedy – Available Globally
Also known as Underwear, Fuji Television developed the series for Netflix.
A coming of age drama about Mayuko Tokita, a young woman who loves fabrics and fashion design and gets a job at a small high-class lingerie design house called Emotion, based in Tokyo’s Ginza district.
There, she must struggle to find her place in a world with different values where glamour and competition are the keys to success.
2. Doctor X – Surgeon Michiko Daimon (2012)
6 Seasons – 59 episodes – Comedy, Drama, Mystery – Available in India, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong – Recommended VPN Locations: Japan and Singapore
Michiko Daimon is a 37-year-old freelance surgeon, who defies the health system in crisis by going by herself from hospital to hospital taking care of the cases the system refuses to accept.
Her motto is “I never fail”, and the secret of her success is putting the patient first by giving priority to their health.
3. Erased (2017)
12 episodes – Drama, Fantasy, Mystery – Available Globally
Satoru was born with time-travelling ability. When his mom is killed, and he’s accused of her murder, he goes back 18 years to save three of his classmates and his mom’s life.
Based on the acclaimed manga Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi by Kei Sanbehi which also has an anime series and a live-action movie adaptation, available on Netflix in selected countries as well.
4. BG Personal Bodyguard (2018)
2 seasons – 16 episodes – Drama – Available in India, Hong Kong, and Singapore – Recommended VPN Location: Singapore
Akira Shimazaki is a divorced man who lives with his teenage son while working as a security guard at a construction site.
He used to be a professional bodyguard, but after an accident, he quit the job. Now, the private security company where he works is preparing a bodyguard unit, and Akira, who has kept his past as a secret, starts working as a novice bodyguard.
5. Blazing Transfer Students (2017)
8 episodes – Action, Adventure, Comedy – Available Globally
Seven students all going by the name Kakeru, played by the members of Johny’s West boyband, are recruited for a mysterious mission at a high-school under the orders of shadowy principal.
6. Crisis: Special Security Squad (2017)
10 episodes – Action – Available in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India – Recommended VPN Locations: Japan and Singapore
Under the direct orders of the head of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Security Bureau, The Special Investigation Unit is a secret force joining agents from different fields.
Agents Akira Inami and Saburo Tamaru are tasked with investigating special threats to the country, racing against time to keep order and justice.
7. Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light (2017)
8 episodes – Drama – Available Globally
Based on a true story, this drama tells the story of a father and son, and how they rebuild their distant relationship by playing Final Fantasy XIV online.
Hakutaru has been a workaholic all his life which has made him be apart from his family, mostly his son. Now, suddenly, he quit his job, and his son, Akio, sees a chance to bond with his father through the online video game Final Fantasy XIV.
8. Good Morning Call (2016)
2 seasons – 27 episodes – Comedy, Romance – Available Globally
Coproduced by FujiTV and Netflix, this series is based on the popular romance manga by Yue Takasuka.
Nao Yoshikawa is a high school student who has rented an apartment in Tokyo while her family is back to the country to run their farm.
Victim of a scam by the rental office, she finds herself sharing her apartment with Hisashi Uehara, a good looking boy who happens to be the most popular in her class.
They agree to stay as roommates to share the rent and at the time they keep their situation as a secret from their classmates.
9. Hibana (2016)
10 episodes – Drama – Available Globally
A Netflix original series based on the novel Spark by Japanese author Naoki Matayoshi.
The series follows the story of the aspiring stand-up comedian Tokunaga whose life and career changes when he meets Kamiya, a seasoned manzai artist.
10. Ju-On: Origins (2020)
6 episodes – Horror, Mystery – Available Globally
The Ju-On horror franchise gets another entry in this TV series developed for Netflix. The 13th instalment in this story about a cursed house in Tokyo, Japan, and the vengeful ghosts who inhabit it.
The series works as a prequel to the original movies, but from a realistic point of view, where the origin of the curse is explained through real crime cases that happened at the cursed house.
11. Kakegurui (2018)
2 seasons – 15 episodes – Drama, Mystery, Thriller – Available Globally
Hyakkaou Private Academy is an elite institution meant for the wealthiest people’s children.
The student ranking is according to their gambling winnings. The winner gets everything, the losers become the winner’s slaves.
One day, Yumeko Jabami, a new female transfer student arrives at Hyakkaou Academy revealing to be a compulsive maniac gambler ready to take everything over.
12. Legal V Ex-lawyer Shoko Takanashi (2018)
9 episodes – Drama – Available in Japan, Singapore, and India – Recommended VPN Locations: Japan and Singapore
Shoko Takanashi is an ex-lawyer who got her license revoked due to some troubles with her ex-boss.
Now, she’s back working from the shadows trying to redeem her reputation by recruiting a group of lawyers.
13. Perfect World (2019)
10 episodes – Romance, Drama – Available in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and India – Recommended VPN Location: Singapore
Based on the manga of the same name by Rie Aruga, the series tells the story of Itsuki Ayukawa, an architect who suffered an accident while playing basketball in college and became paralyzed from the waist down having to be confined on a wheelchair.
Tsugumi Kawana works at an interior design company, and one day her company must work together with an architecture firm. There, she meets Itsuki who happened to be her former classmate and first love.
14. Switched (2018)
6 episodes – Drama, Sci-Fi, Available globally
A Netflix original series based on the manga named Sora wo Kakeru Yodaka (The Ugly Duckling Who Ran Through The Sky) by Shiki Kawabata.
Ayumi sees how her classmate Umine commits suicide due to depression.
After seeing Umine falling from the school rooftop, Ayumi passes out. When she wakes up, she finds herself in Umine’s body while Umine is in Ayumi’s body.
15. Signal (2018)
10 episodes – Crime – Available in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and India – Recommend VPN Location: Singapore
A remake of the Korean series of the same name from 2016.
Kento Saegusa is a cold case profiler in 2015 who takes to mysterious walkie-talkie communicates with a detective in the year 1989. Both of them team up to solve crimes together and in some cases to prevent them.
16. Tokyo Bachelors (2019)
8 episodes – Drama – Available in Japan, Singapore, and India – Recommended VPN Location: Singapore
Three friends in their 30s and 40s, a lawyer, a dentist, and a banker, trust each other and enjoy their single life.
But, they start to question if living as a bachelor is really worth it and begin to think about love and marriage.
17. Mob Psycho 100 (2018)
12 episodes – Sci-Fi, Thriller – Available globally
Based on the popular manga of the same name by ONE, this limited series tells the story of Shigeo Kageyama nicknamed Mob who is an average 8th-grade student.
However, he has a secret: he’s actually an esper with psychic powers.
He suppresses his powers to live a normal life, but when an evil organization is recruiting espers, Mob will see himself in trouble.
18. Million Yen Women (2017)
12 episodes – Comedy, Drama, Mystery – Available Globally
Based on the manga of the same name by Shunju Aono, the series follows Shin Michima, an unpopular novelist who lives with 5 mysterious women.
They pay Shin one million yen rent each one, a considerable amount of money for renting a house. In exchange, he can’t ask any questions about them.
19. The Many Faces of Ito (2017)
8 episodes – Comedy, Drama – Available Globally
A Netflix original series about a jaded screenwriter in her 30s mines a group of four lovesick women for their stories making them believe she’s going to provide them with romantic advice.
20. Wise and Foolish (2015)
8 episodes – Comedy – Available in Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore – Recommended VPN Locations: Japan and Singapore
Japan Prime Minister, Muto Taizan, one day finds he has switched bodies with his useless son, Sho.
Now, without any solution at hand, they must face their new life and responsibilities.
21. Love and Fortune (2018)
12 episodes – Drama, Romance – Available Globally
Tired and frustrated of her life with her boyfriend, Wako, a woman in her 30s, develops an interest in Yumeaki, a high school boy half her age.
Bonus only in Japanese.
22. Arakawa Under the bridge (2011)
10 episodes – Comedy, Drama, Fantasy – Available only in Japan – Recommended VPN Location: Japan
Based on the manga of the same name by Hikaru Nakamura, which also has an anime adaptation.
Set in Arakawa, Tokyo, the series follows a group of strange people living under a bridge. Kou Ichinomiya, a young man with a golden rule of never being indebted to anyone, one day falls into the Arakawa River and almost drowns.
A girl named Nino saves him. Now, Kou is in debt with Nino for saving his life, and he asks her what he can do in return. Since she confesses she loves him, he begins his life living under the bridge where a group of weird people live there too.
23. I” S (2018)
13 episodes – Romance, Comedy – Available only in Japan – Recommended VPN Location: Japan
Based on the popular manga of the same name by Masakazu Katsura, I” S tells the story of 16-year-old high school student Ichitaka Seto, who has fallen in love with his classmate Iori Yoshizuki.
Ichitaka is very shy, and he can’t confess to her, although he plans it every day. But then, Itsuki Akiba enters the scene.
She’s Ichitaka’s childhood friend who has a crush on him and has been absent for several years because she had moved to the US. Now, a triangle full of I” S has formed!
24. Ushijima The Loan Shark (2010)
3 Seasons – 27 episodes – Drama – Available only in Japan – Recommended VPN Location: Japan
Based on the manga of the same name by Shohei Manabe that besides this TV series, also spawned a four-movie series.
Kaoru Ushijima is a lender and the last resort for the poorest people, but he’s merciless when it comes to getting his money back.
25. Million Joe (2019)
12 episodes – Drama, Mystery – Available only in Japan – Recommended VPN Location: Japan
Kurei Soichi is a manga editor working on the popular series Million Joe.
Magata Suneo, the manga artist, suddenly dies. Kurei is devastated and thinks the manga deserves an ending, so he suggests to Suneo’s assistant to hide the death and keep working on the manga with the author’s notes.
Japanese dramas are hard to find for streaming globally, luckily, Netflix is here to make our task easier.
Along with their original series, there are a bunch of popular J-dramas available on selected countries that really worth binging.
This list comprises most of the J-dramas you can find on the streaming platform.
Don’t forget to access many of these you’ll need to use a VPN app. I recommend ExpressVPN.
Sign up for their service, connect to the country listed for the drama you want to watch and then enjoy all the extra Japanese Netflix content.
What’s your favourite Japanese drama? I would love to know so drop me a comment below.