Learning Japanese? Netflix is a surprisingly good way to find anime and TV dramas that have Japanese subtitles. When I was learning Japanese, one of my favorite things to do was to make flashcards from anime with Japanese subtitles. Back then, I had to download the subtitles manually and add them myself (it was almost ten years ago)!
Today, there are better options for Japanese learners. Netflix is an entertainment platform, but it also has anime and TV dramas with Japanese subtitles.
Netflix outside Japan: How many shows on Netflix have Japanese subtitles?
As you may know, the shows available on Netflix differ by country. If you subscribe to Netflix in Japan, pretty much every single show will have Japanese subs included. This is not the case if you subscribe from another country like the United States.
However, even if you are subscribing outside of Japan, Netflix still has a decent number of shows with Japanese subs. According to one thread on the Duolingo forums, Netflix has 46 anime series and 13 movies with Japanese subtitles:
“I compiled this list from two separate “A-Z” searches. One for TV Shows, and the other for Movies. I checked all 100 shows, and 40 movies, listed. At present, there are 46 Anime Series, and 13 Movies of Animes, with Japanese subtitles on Netflix.”
As the shows on Netflix are always changing, these numbers are likely different now. However, despite some small variation, the general numbers of shows should be the same. And several dozen shows should give you plenty of content (anime, TV dramas, etc.) to supplement your Japanese studies with.
One advantage of using Netflix is that many of us have Netflix subscriptions already. This means you can login and look through the available options at zero cost. Don’t have a Netflix subscription? No problem. They offer a free trial that gives you a free month. (By the way, we’re not sponsored by Netflix or anything. We just know a good tool when we see one.)
However, if you are a hardcore learner, a few dozen shows might not be enough. To get even more shows with subtitles on Netflix, you will need to sign up for a Netflix Japan account.
Use a Netflix Japan watch even more shows Japanese subs
Typically, a Netflix Japan account is meant for people who live in Japan. Unsurprisingly, this means that most of the content available (anime, movies, TV dramas, comedy shows, etc.) comes with subtitles in Japanese. It’s a Japanese learners’ paradise!
However, as I mentioned earlier, there is one complication. To make a Netflix Japan account, you have to be located in Japan. As most Japanese learners do not live in Japan, this can be a problem.
Luckily, the ever-creative Japanese learning community has a solution that lets you register for Netflix Japan even if you are not located in the country.
Signing up for Netflix with a VPN
As we are located in Japan, we do not need to use a VPN to access Netflix. However, the use of a VPN is commonly recommended on internet forums for Japanese learners.
A VPN (short for “virtual private network”) lets you change your IP address to one that is located in Japan. By doing so, you will then be able to register for a Netflix Japan account and watch all your favorite shows with Japanese subs.
To do this, you will need to subscribe to a VPN service like ExpressVPN or NordVPN (I have a subscription to Nord), which will let you change your IP to a Japanese one. Again, I am not affiliated with either of these companies, but they are the ones that I often see recommended for (a) reliability and (b) cost-effectiveness. Also, both options come with trial periods where you can try them risk-free.
What kind of shows are available on Netflix Japan?
You might be wondering what shows are available on Netflix Japan. The list of shows is always changing, but here are some anime that Eri and I have watched recently on Netflix:
- Slam Dunk
- One Piece
- Major and Major 2
Of course, there are hundreds of other options, including newer shows and “Netflix Originals,” which are only available to subscribers.
Netflix Japan also has many Japanese dramas and movies. Personally, I prefer anime to Japanese films (except for the older classics like Kurosawa, Ozu, etc.). But there is likely to be something available for everyone.
For more on learning Japanese, check out our post on how to learn Japanese with anime.