VPNs for Japan: 5 Best Services + 5 Passable Free Ones
With how much the Internet has permeated all aspects of Japanese life, certain measures have to be taken to improve one’s net security. Among those measures, virtual private networks are some of the most widespread and convenient to use.
However, the rising awareness of cybersecurity risks and VPNs as a means of defending against them has led to many mediocre, poor, or outright harmful services being made with the sole aim to make money on unsuspecting netizens. To avoid being scammed, citizens of or travelers to Japan should read this VPN-Review article describing proven good VPNs.
It took us more than seven months to conduct this research and come up with the two lists of 5 VPNs each: one of the best services ever and the other of relatively good free services.
- ExpressVPN: offers 5 strong protocols and 94 countries with diskless (that is, impossible to store user data on) servers.
- NordVPN: has a built-in kill switch and servers in 62 countries. Allows using Double VPN feature for extra protection.
- Surfshark: is one of the best services for Japan at the most affordable prices.
- CyberGhost VPN: can be set up on up to 7 devices simultaneously.
- Private Internet Access: provides safe protocols and encryption for Japan. Has very detailed configuration.
- VPNGate: a Japanese-made fully free service with lots of servers in Asian countries.
- ProtonVPN: a super-secure but slow-ish service with no traffic limit.
- Windscribe: provides you with 10 Gb of free traffic per month.
- Hide.me: has only 2 Gb of traffic free of charge but requires no registration to use.
- HotspotShield: a reasonably powerful VPN that shows ads while you use its free version.
- Warning! You should know that VPNs generally slow your Internet down. However, you can compensate for it by choosing a service that has many servers close to you, since the distance between the user and the server affects the speed.
Internet in Japan: achievements and problems
Though Japan is ranked to be on the 67th position in the world Press Freedom Index 2018 conducted by Reporters without borders website, it doesn’t mean that everything is at free access for Japanese netizens.
Despite the fact that Japan is considered rather democratic towards freedom of speech, in 2015 the government obliged the providers of telecommunications to block access to any news sources that contain ‘’bad’’ news on Fukushima Disaster that actually contradict the official version about its negative impact.
That’s why in Japan VPN services will let internet users read the true pieces of news on the issue.
Japan is the country with a very severe attitude towards piracy. It was pushed to ban downloading copyrighted works (mostly music and video content) from the Internet to use them for private matters. The punishment for copyright infringement has become strict since 2012. Illegal downloading via torrent trackers may lead to about two years in prison or a fine of two million yen. In theory, every single download of songs or films can lead to convictions, but actually it seems too hard for the authorities to track all netizens that might be accused of copyright abuse.
Still, in Japan, a VPN will make users’ online presence invisible due to IP changing and traffic encrypting. (Disclaimer: we don’t condone breaking the Anti-Piracy Law of Japan).
Five best VPNs for Japan
We have rigorously tested several dozen VPN services for many months before coming to a conclusion: ExpressVPN is the best service to use in Japan. Though its plans can be pricier than those of its competitors, to our mind, this difference is deserved, as this VPN provider does its utmost to make its clients safe online.
But this article wouldn’t have been complete without mentioning other good VPNs. We tried to make as diverse a list as possible to take all netizens’ needs into consideration, be it price, infrastructure, convenience, etc.
Best VPNs for Japan: Main characteristics comparison
(out of 10)
|Speed, Mbps||Country selection||Logging policy||Torrenting||Price (per month)|
|ExpressVPN||10||90+||94||No logs +
|NordVPN||10||70+||59||No logs +
|CyberGhost VPN||9||70+||90||No logs||Yes||$2.75|
- Wide infrastructure
- Topmost privacy protection
- Speedy & reliable
In the modern VPN market where there are hundreds of providers, it’s hard to become the best one. ExpressVPN manages to do just that, though.
Its infrastructure size is immense: 3000+ servers in 160 locations of 94 countries, Japan included. It provides a wide choice of protocols and other options. Moreover, it makes use of diskless servers that make it impossible to store any info on users’ behavior so that no law enforcement agencies can request that data.
|1 month||6 months||1 year|
- Extra safety features
- 5200+ servers
- Relatively cheap on the longest plan
NordVPN is another great service. With its 5200+ servers worldwide and 140+ servers in Japan, it is one of the biggest providers.
Additionally, it has a lot of rather obscure but useful features. Take Double VPN as an example: this option allows you to enhance your protection by doubling the VPN channel. Do note that this affects your internet speed negatively but bolsters your security.
|1 month||1 year||2 years||3 years|
- Super-cheap price
- Easy streaming and torrenting
- Nice speeds
The first thing one notices about Surfshark is its price, and understandably so: its 2-year subscription only costs $1.99 per month (around 215 yen as of July 2020)! While there are cheaper services around, Surfshark combines this price with a great security level.
For users’ convenience, this service has special servers dedicated to P2P and streaming, allowing you to find a suitable one much quicker.
|1 month||1 year||2 years|
4. CyberGhost VPN
- The largest server infrastructure
- 7 simultaneous device connections
- Quite speedy
CyberGhost is distinguished by its enormous server network. It has 6200+ servers for you to choose from! To see how many of them suit you and find out more about the provider in general, you can make use of its 1-day free trial.
All in all, CyberGhost is ideal if you need to access IP addresses of many countries, as it has 94 states.
|1 month||1 year||2 years||3 years|
- Trustworthy reputation
- 10 simultaneous connections
PIA is a US-based service that offers a lot in terms of fine-tuning your connection. Especially useful for torrent users, there’s even a port forwarding option that makes filesharing faster and safer.
PIA boasts having 3200 servers, which is quite a lot.
|1 month||6 months||1 year|
Five free VPNs for Japan
Though, of course, we’d never advise you a non-secure service, you have to keep in mind that a free VPN is inherently not as good as a paid one because its developers don’t have as much money or incentive to support it as they do a paid service.
However, the free VPNs we are about to list are as good as they get. You’ll notice that they are mainly free versions of paid VPNs, which makes them safer.
Be aware: Free VPN services come with limits on traffic, speed, locations, etc. They can be useful if you don’t need much of those for your needs, but otherwise, a full service might be a better option.
Our Japanese readers will be pleased to learn that this VPN is developed at the University of Tsukuba. It’s a totally free service without any set-in-stone limitations and it uses some cutting-edge protocols like SoftEther. Moreover, most of its locations are Asian and Japanese, specifically.
However, instead of servers rented or owned by the company, it uses its clients’ computers. But don’t worry: it’s entirely optional and you don’t have to do this.
ProtonVPN is a Swiss VPN with 3 locations on its free plan. It has no traffic limit but there is a certain speed restriction.
This VPN is known for its commitment to security and freedom of speech throughout the world.
Out of the services with traffic limits, Windscribe is arguably the most generous one: it gives you 10 Gb a month. Still, it’s not too much but suitable for infrequent browsing or just a couple of traffic-heavy downloads.
With its 2 Gb per month limit, hide.me doesn’t allow you to use the Internet to its fullest. However, if you don’t need a VPN for something like watching the US Netflix, it can be useful nonetheless.
One of the more popular free VPNs, Hotspot Shield does have a bit of a problem in that its free version is prone to showing ads quite frequently. If that’s not a big deal for you, then this service may be a good fit.