Japan is well-known as a global hub of technology and innovation. However, internet censorship and restrictive policies around accessing content can make browsing difficult without the right tools. That‘s where using a virtual private network (VPN) comes in handy.
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about choosing, setting up, and using a VPN in Japan. Whether you‘re a resident looking to bypass censorship or a traveler wanting to stream and access content from back home, we‘ll help you pick the best VPN for your needs.
Why You Should Use a VPN in Japan
There are several key reasons travelers and residents alike should consider using a VPN while in Japan:
- Access Blocked Content: Many streaming sites and digital services block Japan-based IP addresses. A VPN allows you to route your traffic through servers in other countries to bypass these restrictions.
- Enhanced Privacy: Japan passed a broad "anti-terrorism" bill in 2017 that granted authorities sweeping surveillance powers. A VPN encrypts your browsing activity and helps protect against snooping.
- Public Wi-Fi Protection: Free public hotspots in places like cafes and hotels are often insecure. A VPN creates a secure tunnel to keep hackers from stealing sensitive info over Wi-Fi.
- Bypass Censorship: While not as restrictive as some countries, Japan does censor some content deemed inappropriate or illegal. A VPN allows you to route around these limitations.
- Mask Torrenting Activity: Japan has cracked down on pirated content. A VPN hides your IP address to avoid snooping ISPs when torrenting.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN for Japan
With hundreds of VPN providers out there, narrowing down the best option for Japan takes research. Here are the key factors to evaluate:
- Connection Speed: Look for VPNs with reliably fast speeds, which are crucial for HD streaming and lag-free browsing.
- Server Network: The larger the server network, the more options you have to evade blocks and find fast connections.
- Streaming Unblocking: Prioritize VPNs proven to unblock top sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
- Security & Privacy: Seek VPNs based outside surveillance alliances, with zero-logging policies, and other security features.
- Pricing: VPN plans range from a few dollars to over $10 per month. Balance your budget with the level of service you need.
- Reliability: Check reviews and tests to verify a VPN‘s claims around speeds, server coverage and uptime/stability.
- Ease of Use: User-friendly apps for all major platforms and simple setup processes make life easier.
Top 3 VPN Recommendations for Japan
Based on extensive testing and research, we recommend these 3 highly-rated VPNs for use in Japan:
1. ExpressVPN – Best Overall
With top speeds, proven unblocking abilities and extensive server network, ExpressVPN is our top choice for Japan. While priced higher than some rivals, you get premium performance and reliability.
Some key strengths:
- 3,000+ fast servers in 94 countries
- Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc.
- Compatible routers to secure all devices
- 256-bit AES encryption and no activity logs
- 30-day money back guarantee
2. Surfshark – Best Budget Option
For an affordable but full-featured VPN, Surfshark is a great fit for Japan. It offers competitive speeds and unlimited device connections for a fraction of the cost.
- 1,700+ servers in over 60 countries
- Strong unblocking capabilities and streaming optimization
- Masks torrenting and works in restricted networks
- RAM-only servers with no hard drive logs
- Allows unlimited devices on one account
3. NordVPN – Most Server Locations
With over 5,200 servers worldwide, NordVPN offers the largest and most diverse server network on our list. Great for finding nearby, uncongested connections.
Some top features:
- 5,000+ servers in 60 countries, 700+ in Japan alone
- Onion over VPN for enhanced privacy and anonymity
- Double VPN option for routing through two servers
- Fast speeds, works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, more
- RAM-only servers and strict no-logging policy
Setting Up Your VPN in Japan
Once you‘ve selected the right VPN for your needs, the setup process is straightforward:
- Download the VPN app for your device platform – iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, etc. Most offer browser extensions too.
- Create your account to establish your credentials and subscription.
- Log into the app and connect to a server location of your choice – Japan for local access or another country to avoid blocks.
- Enable the VPN connection and you‘ll be browsing via the secure encrypted tunnel.
For a set-it-and-forget-it experience, install your VPN‘s app on your router if the provider offers it. That way all devices on your home network will be protected.
Accessing Streaming Sites and Geo-Blocked Content
One of the biggest uses for a VPN in Japan is unblocking restricted sites and services. Here are tips for bypassing the most common blocks:
- Netflix – Connect to a US, UK or Canadian VPN server to access those Netflix libraries. Be prepared to switch servers if blocked.
- Hulu – Requires a US-based IP address, readily available from any quality VPN provider.
- BBC iPlayer – Only accessible when connected to a UK VPN server. Streams smoothly with a decent VPN.
- YouTube – Some videos are only viewable from certain countries. Connect to servers in those regions to open restricted content.
- Sports Streaming – Sites like NBA League Pass and MLB.tv enforce blackout restrictions. Use a VPN to virtually relocate outside blackout zones.
Securing Public Wi-Fi Access in Japan
Free public Wi-Fi is widely available at cafes, hotels, airports and other venues across Japan. But these networks often lack encryption and expose your data to snooping. A VPN keeps you safe.
Follow these tips when connecting to public hotspots:
- Connect VPN First – Initiate your encrypted VPN tunnel before joining the Wi-Fi network for full protection.
- Use HTTPS Sites – Stick to sites using HTTPS encryption and avoid HTTP pages that expose activity. A VPN adds another layer of security.
- Avoid Sensitive Tasks – Don‘t access financial accounts or share private info over public Wi-Fi, even with a VPN active.
- Disable File Sharing – Shut off options that allow file and printer access over the network to prevent data leaks.
- VPN on All Devices – Install your VPN on smartphones, laptops and tablets to remain secure as you move between hotspots.
Final Word on Choosing a VPN for Japan
Japan presents unique challenges when it comes to maintaining online privacy, bypassing censorship and accessing content. With the right VPN provider on your side, you can enjoy the internet freely and securely.
Focus on verified speed, extensive server networks, reliable unblocking and a commitment to user privacy and security. We recommend ExpressVPN as the best all-around option, with Surfshark and NordVPN also offering excellent performance and value.
Once set up, your traffic will be encrypted and you can bypass restrictions from streaming sites, sports leagues and other sources. Stay safe on public Wi-Fi and protect against increased government surveillance.
Are you using a VPN in Japan currently? Let us know your experience and if you have any other recommended providers we should check out!