Best VPNs For Japan in 2019
Although the Japanese enjoy relatively uninhibited internet access, authorities have recently taken steps to curb that freedom. While Japan is nowhere near in the lockdown state of countries like China or North Korea, anti-terrorism efforts have inadvertently lead to a situation where your every Tweet or Facebook post could be monitored.
in 2017, the Japanese government passed a Conspiracy Law that gives them the freedom to monitor individuals in an effort to serious crimes. That means that anyone found planning or preparing a crime could be arrested and charged even if the crime itself is never committed. These crimes include seemingly harmless felonies like collecting mushrooms and copying sheet music.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Just because you aren’t paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you” and, if you’re heading to Japan, paranoid is good, but a VPN is even better, acting like a virtual invisibility cloak for the privacy-conscious.
Top VPNs for Japan
#1 ExpressVPN – Best VPN in Japan for the Privacy-Conscious
For many international travelers to Japan, geographical restrictions that prevent them from accessing sites like Netflix, are some of the most frustrating. As most of you are no doubt aware, Netflix bites back at VPNs hard and fast which is why opting for one as lithe and versatile as ExpressVPN is the only way to guarantee access from anywhere in the world. ExpressVPN has been dodging geo-blocks since most of its rivals were still in virtual nappies, so it knows what it’s doing and does it well.
ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest but then, you get what you pay for… unless you sign up for a 15-month ExpressVPN subscription today, in which case you’ll 90 days for free! This is excellent value for money given that ExpressVPN has a proven history of not logging any information pertaining to their users’ activities, download times, or geographical location. This means your data really is safe and can’t be shared, even with government authorities or law enforcement officials, because it doesn’t actually exist.
To find out more about ExpressVPN’s suitability as the best VPN for Japan, read our full review or just sign up for ExpressVPN’s unbeatable speeds and security today.
Starting from as low as $6.67
#2 SurfsharkVPN – Best VPN in Japan for the Gadget Maniac
Do you travel with so many gadgets and electronics that you could be mistaken for a hi-tech spy from the Mission Impossible team? If so, finding a VPN that will protect them all so you can operate your laptop, smartphone, Kindle, and GPS device simultaneously is a must. Surfshark VPN understands your plight and it clearly touched a nerve because this newcomer is offering unlimited simultaneous connections – something that’s virtually unheard of!
Surfshark VPN’s generosity isn’t the only thing that impressed us, and their speeds, ability to access Netflix and standard of encryption are all industry standard. What makes Surfshark VPN really special is that it offers all these at a very low price and while utilizing a comparatively tiny server network. Surfsharl VPN has just over 500 servers worldwide compared to NordVPN’s 5,000 or so and ExpressVPN which has in excess of 2,000. What this means is that, in certain parts of the world, speeds may be inconsistent or even sluggish, although, if you’re looking for a top VPN for Japan, Surfshark VPN has proven itself to be a fearsome competitor.
With a strict no-logging policy, military-grade security, complex encryption and a plethora of additional security features, Surfshark VPN is, like it’s namesake, fast and lethal, slicing through geo-blocks and casting off cyber threats. Quite how Surfshark VPN is performing so well with such limited resources is a conundrum for many but, in the meantime, it’s a cost-effective and reliable choice with a solid customer support service.
Starting from as low as $1.99
#3 CyberGhost VPN – 8.5/10 – Best VPN in Japan for Technophobes
CyberGhost VPN prides itself on usability and simplicity and makes creating a fake IP address in Japan both fast and straightforward. With CyberGhost VPN’s consistent international speeds coupled with Japan’s impressive internet pace, you’ll be able to stream from Netflix as though you were curled up at home.
Although not in the same league as ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN is a solid service through which you can stream live sporting events and play geographically restricted games without any serious impact on speed. CyberGhost VPN also has 32 servers within Japan so, if you want to stream Japanese TV when you get home, you’ll be able to do that with CyberGhost VPN as well.
CyberGhost VPN is as easy to install as it is to operate and, should you have any difficulties, there are a host of guides and tutorials available on the website and an informative live chat service to boot. Although there were a few issues regarding its logging policy in the past, CyberGhost has addressed these and is now a secure and reliable no-logging VPN.
For those wanting ease of use over and above sophistication, CyberGhost VPN offers a great service that will give you secure protection with very few hassles. Affordable and flexible, CyberGhost VPN is compatible with a wide range of platforms and covers up to seven simultaneous devices, making it ideal for the modern family.
Starting from as low as $2.75
#4 NordVPN – 7.5/10 – Best VPN in Japan for Jetsetters
There is very little that NordVPN doesn’t do right and its testament to the quality of the three previous VPN providers that NordVPN is relegated to fourth place.
When NordVPN first appeared on the scene, it had some of the best encryption around, but that has now become industry standard. Nevertheless, NordVPN is a user-friendly cybersecurity product that offers additional security options including DoubleVPN that will appeal to both the paranoid and the security-aware.
If you really are plotting to pick mushrooms in Japan, use NordVPN’s Double VPN to encrypt all your traffic. With a DoubleVPN server situated in neighboring Taiwan, NordVPN will give you double the security without impacting too heavily on your speeds.
Speed is the crux of the matter and NordVPN’s battle to maintain consistently high speeds all over the world is the reason it languishes behind the likes of ExpressVPN and Surfshark VPN, but there are benefits to NordVPN that will appeal to some. For instance, the world map graphic makes it easy to select and connect to servers, while its efficient customer support will promptly solve any issues reported on its live chat service.
Starting from as low as $2.99
Internet Freedom in Japan
Although Japan remains one of the best when it comes to internet freedom, the introduction of the Conspiracy Law has had a negative impact. While individuals continue to enjoy a considerable amount of freedom, certain groups of people are less fortunate. Reports indicate that Japanese law enforcement agencies have been monitoring journalists, and a report by the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Human Rights Committee identified the Conspiracy Law’s high criminal penalizations “could generate a chilling effect on the activities of journalists and human rights defenders”.
For the most part, access is available and connections are fast and reliable and, as a rule, Japanese authorities rarely interfere with accessibility or request website blocks. Last year, however, the government did issue a request asking ISPs to block three manga piracy sites. While the blocking of piracy sites seems fair enough, the consequences of such a move have negative implications. In order for an ISP to block a site, it must monitor all its users’ online activities which could violate their constitutional right to “secrecy of communication”.
If this is sounding somewhat terrifying, bear in mind that online privacy and freedoms are being compromised all over the world and, compared to countries like the UK, Japan remains committed to free access and personal privacy.
Top Streaming Sites in Japan
It may be difficult to believe, but very few Japanese residents have actually caught onto the whole streaming frenzy, and only around 16% visit streaming sites on a regular basis. By comparison, in the US, over 50% of the population stream regularly. For streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, this means a huge, untapped audience, but for those traveling to Japan and hoping to stream original content, it doesn’t bode well.
With Hulu extending into Japan, many hoped to see more original Japanese content becoming available but instead, the streaming service experienced so many problems that it ended up effectively bribing its Japanese clients to stay by giving them one month’s subscription for free and a 1,000 yen gift voucher for either Amazon or iTunes.
To be fair, with Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix leading the way into Japan’s expanding streaming market, you won’t be getting anything new by using a popular Japanese streaming service, although the content does vary from country to country. In fact, the Japanese version of Netflix is barely recognizable even without the smorgasbord of anime you might have expected. Much of the British content found in the US Netflix library doesn’t appear in Japan and, while much of the Japanese content isn’t subtitled, the original programs created by Netflix are.
It’s unlikely Japanese streaming services will have you so addicted that you’ll want to watch them from other international locations but, if you do, use a VPN to connect to a Japanese server and it’ll be just like home (but without the shirako, or fish sperm sack, to snack on).
3 Reasons you Need a VPN in Japan
While Japan does enjoy largely uncensored access to a fast connection, there are nonetheless a variety of reasons why it’s advisable to use a top VPN like ExpressVPN when traveling to the country.
1. Avoid government surveillance
While we’re not suggesting you’re heading to Tokyo with the intention of committing a crime, not even one as innocuous as thinking about starting to plan a possible boat race, hiding your online activities from the authorities is nonetheless advisable. The Japanese seem a little over-enthusiastic about their newfound powers under the Conspiracy Law and have already arrested a group of three anti-nuclear activists for… wait for it… sharing the cost of renting a van. Rather than leaving your private and probably innocent messages open to interpretation, save yourself the worry get all your traffic encrypted with a top-class VPN.
2. Stay Connected
If you’re halfway through a gripping series on Netflix, you probably don’t want to have to wait until you get home to find out what happens next. By subscribing to one of the best VPNs for Japan, you’ll be able to create a fake US IP address and watch the next episode while hanging out in Hokkaido, while Netflix thinks you’re really in Houston.
3. Get Protected
Whenever we travel, we tend to make sure of unsecured public Wifi connections which make us vulnerable to cyber threats. The best VPNs for Japan will throw a disguise over both you and your device, keeping your personal data safe from prying eyes and cybercriminals. After all, identity theft is identity theft whether it happens in Japan or Jacksonville.
Despite the lack of religious freedom in Japan, its residents and visitors enjoy a significant amount of internet freedom and a fast network,. However, with the passing of the new Conspiracy Law, those freedoms and the right to personal privacy are under threat. The best VPN for Japan can help you to secure that personal freedom and right to privacy by encrypting all your traffic so that not even the most advanced government surveillance system would know if you were dastardly planning to copy a sheet of music.
Seriously, though, keeping safe on the internet is imperative, whether you’re traveling to Japan or Iceland, and you really shouldn’t leave home without a VPN. Even if you’re not actually going to Japan at all, you may want to use your VPN to connect using a Japanese IP address because the internet freedoms are greater there than in the US.
A VPN is an essential piece of traveling equipment that can save you money and a great deal of worry. Not only can ExpressVPN make sure you can access your bank account while in Japan, but it can also unlock Netflix, protect you on public Wi-Fi, give you the freedom to access the content of your choice, and save you money on hotels and flights. It seems some things still do just what it says on the tin.