On a “good year,” nearly 3 million people visit Japan!
If you’re a part of that number or one of the county’s 126 million citizens, you need one of the best VPNs for Japan – especially if you plan on torrenting!
To give you a head start, I tested dozens of VPNs that claim to be perfect for Japan.
And I found NordVPN offers the best experience for me in terms of being P2P-friendly, unblocking international and local Japan content while keeping my privacy safe, and delivering fast internet speeds.
But four others deliver excellent results too.
So if you want to find out what the best VPN for Japan is for you, tag along for the whole journey!
Top 3 VPNs for Japan (September, 2023)
Surfshark offers excellent streaming speeds and some of the best VPN security on the market, meaning you can watch your favorite Japanese shows without lag worldwide! On top of that, you get unlimited simultaneous connections to keep all your devices and activities safe online in Japan, including P2P activities.
Our top recommendation for a Japanese VPN is NordVPN, thanks to its blazing fast speeds coupled with some of the best VPN privacy features in the industry. This means expats and citizens alike can safely enjoy their favorite online activities in and out of Japan – like playing Lost Ark! This is primarily thanks to the provider’s 80+ Japan servers!
Private Internet Access has the largest number of VPN servers in Japan by far – nearly 200 of them! This makes it easier than ever to get incredible speeds while streaming Japanese shows or accessing your online bank account. The provider is also P2P-friendly, so if you’re itching to torrent some anime, you’re in luck!
Although Japan’s internet is relatively free from government censorship, they have some of the harshest anti-torrenting laws in the world.
This is why I consider P2P-friendliness, unblocking capabilities, and speed to be three essential features to look for in a Japanese VPN.
You need to be able to access torrent sites, torrent in a safe online environment, and get fast torrent speeds.
But you also need excellent encryption and other security and privacy features.
Of all the VPNs I tested, five stand out from the rest as the best VPNs for Japan.
Keep reading to find out why!
Here Are My Top 5 Picks in a Hurry!
Juggling a boba tea and bento box while rushing for the train?
Don’t stress – here’s a sneak peek at my top five VPNs for Japan if you’re in a hurry:
- NordVPN – Top Recommendation for Japan
- Surfshark – Unlimited Multiple Devices
- Private Internet Access – Most Japanese VPN Servers
- ExpressVPN – Premium VPN Security
- Mullvad – Best Privacy for Japan
However, if you want to find out which of these VPNs is the best Japanese VPN for you, read the full breakdown below (boba tea recommended for the read)!
NordVPN is an industry leader in offering the best security and privacy features without slowing your internet. This, combined with NordVPN being P2P-friendly, means you can torrent in Japan from the comfort of a secure online environment without the Japanese government spying on you. Plus, with 80+ Japan servers, you won’t struggle to unblock Japanese content from anywhere in the world – or play games like Lost Ark!
Detailed List of the 5 Best VPNs for Japan
During my tests, I focused heavily on P2P compatibility, the ability to unblock websites, fast internet speeds, and security and privacy features.
So, no matter what you’re looking for in a VPN for Japan, I’m sure you’ll find it in one of these five providers.
But to help you make the best decision here’s a complete comparison of their strengths and weaknesses:
1. NordVPN – Top Recommendation for Japan
NordVPN is considered an industry leader for a reason.
This makes NordVPN not only the most reliable VPN for Japan on my list but also one of the best overall VPNs for torrenting in Japan – especially as all of its servers are P2P-friendly!
This is better than even my runner-up, Surfshark, which doesn’t allow seeding/uploads (whereas NordVPN does)!
NordVPN also lets you choose between three excellent VPN tunneling protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and the provider’s proprietary protocol, NordLynx.
I recommend sticking with either OpenVPN or NordLynx.
Thanks to its robust security, the former has been an industry standard for years, while NordLynx is an even faster version based on the newer WireGuard protocol.
I always love seeing proprietary protocols from VPN providers!
And as far as this list goes, ExpressVPN is the only other VPN that offers a proprietary protocol.
Speed is, of course, also essential, especially if you’re streaming Japanese shows locally or from abroad.
Luckily, as I said, NordVPN is no slacker here – it’s one of the fastest streaming VPNs I’ve ever used!
Here’s a look at how NordVPN’s speeds compared to the other VPNs on my list:
|VPN Provider||Without VPN (Download)||With VPN (Download)|
|NordVPN||198.12 Mbps||182.33 Mbps|
|Surfshark||216.73 Mbps||214.21 Mbps|
|PIA||203.80 Mbps||179.67 Mbps|
|ExpressVPN||212.46 Mbps||207.39 Mbps|
|Mullvad||200.13 Mbps||181.31 Mbps|
Plus, of the 5,200+ RAM-only servers under NordVPN’s belt, 80+ of them are in Tokyo.
The only other VPN on this list with more Japanese servers is Private Internet Access!
And although NordVPN only has a single Japanese location, there are enough individual servers to guarantee streamers, gamers, and torrenters won’t suffer slow speeds caused by network overload.
In other words: you can play Lost Ark from abroad while torrenting and checking your bank account(s) simultaneously!
Or you can watch TV Tokyo or stream Hulu JP from the comfort of your hotel room while overseas!
Best of all, with its affordable subscription plans (all of which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee), there’s no excuse not to give NordVPN a try risk-free:
But if you want to save even more, sign-up with this link to unlock a special discount price!
2. Surfshark – Unlimited Multiple Connections
So, if you’re itching to torrent your favorite US shows while streaming Demon Slayer on Netflix US – all while your family members do similar activities – you’re in luck!
And while there are some trade-offs, Surfshark doesn’t slack when it comes to speed, privacy, or security.
In fact, most times, I find Surfshark is even faster than NordVPN!
Surfshark matches NordVPN almost shot for shot on the security front by offering 256-bit AES encryption with the IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard protocols.
The only discrepancy is, of course, the lack of a fully-rounded proprietary protocol.
The closest Surfshark comes to this is Shadowsocks, which is a great option if you want to streamline your connection for extra speed.
Just keep in mind it only protects your browser.
There’s another catch.
As mentioned in NordVPN’s section, although all 3,200+ Surfshark servers are P2P-friendly by default, the provider blocks P2P uploads.
This is fine if you just need to get work documents sent to you via P2P file-sharing, but not if you want to maintain a good seed-to-leech ratio.
Nevertheless, you can still stream content worldwide to your heart’s content – whether it be US content from Japan (like Netflix US) or Japan content from overseas (like Fuji TV)!
Surfshark is also one of the first providers to use RAM-only servers, giving it a huge leg-up while NordVPN dragged its feet on making the upgrade.
And like its bigger competitor, Surfshark uses Private DNS on all of its servers, too.
Plus, if you’re a gamer like me, you’ll appreciate that Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for gaming – including playing Lost Ark from anywhere, thanks to the provider’s Japanese servers!
In the end, Surfshark holds its own against the giants of the VPN industry while still offering budget-friendly subscription plans and a 30-day money-back guarantee:
And you can get a GIANT discount on your Surfshark subscription by signing up here!
3. Private Internet Access – Most Japanese VPN Servers
Private Internet Access (or PIA) surprised me by being one of the top three VPNs for Japan.
Admittedly, the fact it has more than double the number of VPN servers in Japan than any other provider on this list definitely helps.
However, as PIA no longer shows its servers on its site, I contacted its customer support to verify.
And, unfortunately, they were unable to confirm the amount of Japan servers – or any other servers, for that matter.
But giving PIA the benefit of the doubt, and judging from resources like its blackpaper, we can assume its server network will only continue to grow during and after its infrastructure upgrades.
Plus, based on the tests I put PIA through, it’s safe to say the provider still offers thousands upon thousands of servers.
For these reasons, I decided to keep PIA on my list as the third most trustworthy VPN for Japan.
Speaking of my tests – they showed PIA’s speeds are still top-notch…so long as you’re not too far away from the server.
As we found when initially comparing PIA to NordVPN, the further away you get, the more dramatic the speed loss.
PIA is also a mixed-bag for streaming, though it’s still an excellent choice for unblocking Hulu US.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to unblock Hulu JP or Netflix US.
But I did have luck with BBC iPlayer and Fuji TV.
In fact, the only other VPNs on this list offering port forwarding are Mullvad and ExpressVPN (to some capacity).
Overall, PIA isn’t my first choice as a reliable VPN for Japan.
But it’s still in my top three, thanks to everything mentioned above and its affordable prices (including a 30-day money-back guarantee):
If you want to try PIA risk-free, unlock EXTRA SAVINGS by signing up with this link!
4. ExpressVPN – Premium VPN Security
ExpressVPN is another industry leader that I’m not surprised is one of the best options for Japan – especially thanks to its premium security!
To put it in perspective, no matter which of its 3,000+ servers you connect to, you’ll always be protected by ExpressVPN’s proprietary TrustedServer RAM-only setup.
This is excellent news for torrenters, as it means every server is optimized for P2P activities.
No other VPN on my list can boast of a proprietary, thoroughly tested setup like this!
ExpressVPN was also one of the first providers to be independently audited, with only NordVPN beating it to the punch.
So while the audits give you peace of mind, its excellent speeds (sometimes 5.8% faster than NordVPN!) ensure you’ll never suffer buffering while streaming all your favorite Japanese and international shows – like TV Asahi’s AIBOU: Tokyo Detective Duo.
This is especially true if you use Lightway, the proprietary VPN protocol ExpressVPN offers.
Like NordLynx, it’s based on WireGuard, making it highly secure and super-fast.
But two things are stopping ExpressVPN from ranking better.
The first is it only offers three VPN servers in Japan.
This isn’t too bad, as it’s still enough to enjoy your favorite Japanese content while abroad.
The second thing is ExpressVPN’s premium price tag.
You get what you pay for, but you will pay more for ExpressVPN than any other VPN on my list:
Don’t let its price hold you back, though – you can get a GIANT discount if you sign-up with this link!
5. Mullvad – Best Privacy for Japan
Mullvad is a much smaller VPN provider than the others on my list.
But don’t let that fool you because it’s also one of the most privacy-focused VPNs on the market!
In other words, if you’re a privacy-conscious expat or citizen in Japan and you’re looking for an anonymous online experience – including torrenting – this is the VPN for you!
The anonymity starts with Mullvad’s unique sign-up process, which generates an anonymous account number.
No username or contact details necessary – in fact, no personally identifiable information at all!
Mullvad is the only VPN on my list that offers a sign-up process like this.
Even more interesting, Mullvad pioneered many privacy and security VPN technologies that are since recognized as the best in the industry – all while being a relatively small, open-source VPN that’s peer-reviewed by hundreds of programmers worldwide!
But that’s not all.
Mullvad also has dedicated independent audits from Cure53 (the same team that did Surfshark’s most recent audit).
You can also use all of its 779 servers worldwide to torrent in Japan (or anywhere) while optionally using port forwarding for an even better P2P experience.
As mentioned earlier, Mullvad is one of the few VPNs on this list that offers port forwarding at its full capacity.
Plus, with speeds that are almost as fast as NordVPN’s, you’ll likely have to run a speed test to notice any difference at all!
This sings even higher praise for the anonymous torrenting that Mullvad promises its Japanese users and expats.
Moving on, one of Mullvad’s few weaknesses – and the main reason I put it at five on my list – is that you can’t use it for streaming (at the moment).
And having so few servers to begin with, it’s only able to offer 14 in Japan.
But there’s a good mix of OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge servers (Bridge servers are obfuscated for people connecting from heavily restricted countries) to choose from.
But shortcomings aside, here are two more things that set Mullvad apart from the crowd:
Considering Mullvad is one of the most privacy-friendly VPNs for Japan, those prices are very affordable.
They also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee (unless you pay with cash).
But if you want to boost your online privacy and save a bit of money, Mullvad offers a 10% discount on all cryptocurrency payments!
Finding the Best VPN for Japan
You can’t go wrong with any of the five VPN providers I discussed above.
But if you’re not sure which is the best for you, use this buying guide!
What to Look For in a VPN for Japan?
No matter your budget or use-case for a VPN for Japan, always make sure it offers the following features (at a minimum):
- Privacy – although Japan has great online and offline privacy (other than in public baths, of course!), it’s also a very technology-minded country. And that means you have the Big Five (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft) trying to collect your personal information at all times. Your VPN should have a strict no-logs policy and protect you against IP and DNS leaks. Ideally, it should also use RAM-only servers and offer obfuscation.
- Security – going hand-in-hand with privacy, your VPN should use airtight security when handling your data. This means 256-bit AES encryption, the best protocols (WireGuard, WireGuard forks like NordLynx, and OpenVPN), and an automatic kill switch. If your VPN is also regularly audited by an independent cybersecurity company, even better!
- Fast Servers – using a VPN is always going to slow your internet down. But a reliable VPN’s speed reduction will be so minimal that you barely notice it. Speed optimizing settings and features, like a built-in ad-blocker (NordVPN and Surfshark both have one) and lightweight protocols like WireGuard, is a huge plus.
- Japanese Servers – if you’re leaving Japan to vacation or work overseas and you want to protect your online privacy while accessing your local bank account, you need to connect to a Japanese VPN server. The same goes for unblocking Japanese TV stations like Fuji TV and TV Tokyo!
- Unblocks Websites – Japan doesn’t censor its internet too much. But some websites will block connections from Japan or have a Japanese version of their content. So if you want to access that content while visiting Japan without translating everything from Japanese to your language, your VPN needs to unblock websites.
- Streaming – in the same way that some websites have different versions for different countries, streaming platforms like Netflix have different content libraries. A VPN that can reliably unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer is almost always guaranteed to let you stream your favorite movies and shows from other platforms too!
- P2P-Friendly – one of the few things Japan does typically block are P2P platforms. No matter what you’re using P2P file-sharing for, you need a P2P-friendly VPN. Extra points if all of its servers support P2P and if you can use port-forwarding.
- Fair Prices – pricing is sometimes a complex metric to measure. Many VPNs cut corners on security and privacy to offer lower subscription fees, while some charge ridiculously high fees to create a false sense of security. Always practice critical thinking to make sure you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting.
What’s the Best Free VPN for Japan?
Ideally, you should not use a free VPN in Japan – or anywhere else in the world.
As I said earlier, many VPN providers cut corners when it comes to privacy and security, so they can afford to charge less for their service.
Free VPNs aren’t charging anything at all and have to cut corners even more.
In fact, most free VPNs are either completely fake or so infected with malware that they might as well be fake.
Just as bad, to pay for their website hosting, app development, and servers (if they even have any), free VPNs usually harvest as much of your personal information as possible so they can sell it.
However, if you absolutely need a free VPN for Japan, ProtonVPN is a trustworthy provider that uses the freemium model.
“Freemium” means it subsidizes its (limited) free version with profits from its premium subscription plans.
There are 23 free ProtonVPN servers to choose from, including three in Japan.
And unlike most freemium options, there aren’t any bandwidth limits!
But there’s also no P2P support, and you can’t stream with a free account.
So although ProtonVPN is an excellent free VPN for Japan to use as a short-term solution, you’ll want to upgrade to a premium provider as soon as possible.
Don’t forget – you can get a MASSIVE discount if you sign up for NordVPN with this link!
How to Watch Netflix US With a Japan VPN?
Netflix US has a lot of shows and movies that aren’t available in the Japanese Netflix library.
Luckily, you can easily watch Netflix US with a VPN for Japan by following these steps:
- Choose one of my recommended best VPNs for Japan (or use the buying guide to find one) and buy a subscription.
- Download and install the VPN app.
- Sign in to your user account after launching the app.
- Pick a server in the US – keeping in mind that some VPNs have specialized streaming servers for Netflix – and click to connect.
- Open your browser and run an IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak test to make sure you’re properly connected.
- Log into your Netflix account and enjoy your favorite Netflix US shows and movies from Japan!
Still getting Netflix JP content?
How to Get a Japan IP Address For Banking and Other Accounts?
If you’re a Japanese citizen traveling abroad, you’ll find that many of your online accounts – especially your online banking profile – won’t let you log in from outside Japan.
This is because you need a Japanese IP address to access Japanese sites and content.
So how do you get a Japan IP address?
Just follow these six simple steps:
- Purchase a VPN subscription for one of the best VPNs for Japan listed above. Here’s how many Japanese servers each provider has:
VPN Provider Servers in Japan? Number of Servers NordVPN Yes 80+ Surfshark Yes 13 Private Internet Access Yes 180+ (Unconfirmed) ExpressVPN Yes 3 Mullvad Yes 14
- Download the VPN app to your device and install it.
- Open the app and sign in to your user account.
- Choose a Japan VPN server from the app’s server list and connect.
- Run a quick IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak test in your browser.
- Log into your Japanese accounts with your new Japan IP address!
How to Watch Netflix JP?
Just like you need a US IP address to watch Netflix US, you need a Japan IP address to watch Netflix JP.
To achieve this, follow the same steps as above (under “How to Get a Japan IP?”) – purchase a subscription to a reliable VPN for Japan, download and install the VPN app, connect to a Japan server, and enjoy accessing Netflix JP!
How to Torrent in Japan?
Japan has relatively free internet (with some caveats), but its stance on torrenting is incredibly harsh.
In fact, Japan has some of the strictest anti-piracy laws in the world.
Back in 2012, the Japanese government made it illegal to download copyrighted movies and music.
And in 2020, they added manga, magazines, and even academic texts to the list.
If you’re caught downloading any of these media in Japan, you run a high risk of spending up to two years in prison or paying a fine of up to two million yen – about $18,210.
The good news is they’re still willing to ignore “casual downloaders.”
But given that Japan doesn’t offer a clear definition of what’s meant by the term, it’s better to be safe than sorry – especially if you want to maintain a good seed-to-leech ratio, as all uploaders will be targeted.
So how do you torrent in Japan safely?
Follow these steps:
- Choose a P2P-friendly VPN for Japan from my list above and sign up.
- Download and install the VPN client for your device.
- Open the app and sign in.
- Connect to a P2P-friendly server (most reliable VPNs will allow P2P activities on all of its servers or have specialized servers specifically for torrenting).
How Are Japan’s Internet Privacy Laws?
Although Japan scores 96/100 for a rating of “Free” by Freedom House, that isn’t the whole picture.
While it’s true there aren’t any restrictions on access to online content and social media apps, the “Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets” potentially limits the freedom of political activists, whistleblowers, and journalists.
In plainer words, the Act criminalizes the leaking and publishing of anything that might be considered a national secret.
While this can be considered necessary for Japan’s national security, the biggest issue is that the Act is overly vague on what is and isn’t considered a national secret.
The UN carried out a fact-finding mission in 2016 after three outspoken news anchors were quietly fired and Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s largest liberal newspaper, was subdued.
The report states that the “independence of press in Japan is facing serious threats.”
So far, there still haven’t been any arrests made under the Act.
But with a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment on a guilty conviction, there’s little doubt it’s fostering a practice of self-censorship.
With the definition of a state secret being so broad, using a reliable VPN to communicate safely – especially with friends, family, or other contacts overseas – is a must.
Are VPNs Legal in Japan?
Yes, VPNs are legal in Japan.
The country’s 96/100 “Free” rating by Freedom House is at least honest in that Japan doesn’t place any restrictions on access to online content, including VPNs.
However, using a VPN for illegal activities In Japan (or elsewhere) does not make them legal.
Can I Get Arrested for Torrenting Anime in Japan?
Yes, you can get arrested for torrenting copyrighted anime in Japan, as well as for illegally downloading any other copyrighted material.
However, it’s worth noting that Japan is more focused on targeting those who upload copyright material and is willing to overlook “casual downloaders.”
The Land of the Rising Sun has a lot more internet freedom than its stricter neighbors like China, North Korea, and Russia.
But with vague restrictions on publishing anything that can be considered a national secret, active tracking by ISPs, and heavy restrictions on sharing copyright material, Japan’s internet isn’t as free as it seems.
For this reason, no matter who you are or what you do online, using one of the best VPNs for Japan is a must.
NordVPN is my top recommendation.
Thanks to its robust encryption, fast speeds, and P2P-friendly, RAM-only servers, NordVPN offers the best all-around solution.
Don’t forget you can get a significant discount on your NordVPN subscription if you sign up with this link!