How to Watch US Netflix in Japan
Updated: November 10, 2016
- Start with choosing a VPN and setting up an account
- Next, install the VPN software onto the device(s) you plan to watch US Netflix in Japan on
- Then open the VPN software and connect to a US-based server
- Go to Netflix and either login to your existing account or signup if you have not already
- Enjoy watching US Netflix in Japan
How to watch US Netflix in Japan in more detail:
Netflix is global, finally! I cannot tell you how excited I was to find this out. Finally, no matter where I am outside the US, I can watch my beloved TV shows and movies on Netflix without being blocked based on my location.
My first trip outside the US after Netflix going global was to Japan, and the very moment I landed in the airport I had 1 hour to kill before my AirBNB would be ready. So I decided to stay in the airport, find a comfortable seat, and watch my favourite TV show on Netflix...
But the moment I logged in (from Japan!) I could not find my show at all! I was devastated. I thought Netflix had got in a feud with the show owners and had taken it off Netflix altogether. Surely something like that had happened??
However I quickly found out that there was nothing wrong with my Netflix. Well, other than the fact that the Netflix you are offered in Japan is a different Netflix than in the US! I couldn't believe it. So many TV shows and movies that I get on Netflix in the US are simply not offered in the Japan version of Netflix.
I went into research mode to see why Netflix was doing this and how they know where I am accessing the service from. It didn't take me long to figure this out, and within 30 minutes I had found a solution on how to watch US Netflix in Japan! Yes!
So I want to quickly share my solution with you here, in the chance that you are also wanting to watch US Netflix in Japan. Here it is -- read on!
Why is US Netflix not Available in Japan?
The first thing I had to figure out was why is Netflix showing different versions of its library depending on whether you are accessing it from the US or Japan?
I quickly discovered that this was because of very strict distribution agreements made between Netflix and the owners of every TV show and movie the offer users.
For example, owners of the TV show Orange is The New Black will have agreed to allow Netflix to offer the show to users, but only users with specific countries like the US. Therefore, Netflix will be breaking the distribution agreement made with this show if users can watch the show while in Japan.
This is across the board with every show or movie offered on Netflix, thus creating two very different libraries of media to me when I'm in the US than when I'm in Japan.
How is US Netflix Blocking Access in Japan?
Next step was to figure out exactly how Netflix knows where each and every user is attempting to access the service from. This was a vital part to understand in order for me to get to the solution I lay out below in this guide.
The process Netflix uses to determine the location of each user is called "geo-blocking".
Geo-blocking works exactly as you probably imagine it does. It acts as a kind of door man to a club. This door man checks the IP address of every user that tries to get access to Netflix, then lets the user into the version of Netflix (US or Japan, for example) based on the user's IP address.
So it is your IP address that tells Netflix where you located. This means that if you can somehow change your IP address from showing that you are in Japan, to instead show Netflix that you are located in the US (without having to physically be in the US, of course) then you will get access to the US version of Netflix in Japan.
The moment I figured this out I began researching the most effective and secure way to change my IP address to make me "appear" within the US while on my Japan trip. Very quickly I discovered that the best way to achieve this is through using a piece of software called a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
How to Use a VPN to Watch US Netflix in Japan
Step 1: Sign up for VPN
To most effectively walk you through this setup process to watch US Netflix in Japan, I will use the VPN service provider I decided on, called ExpressVPN.
There are many VPNs out there, however after doing a lot of research and trying out the "best" VPNs, I settled on ExpressVPN because it fit my budget.
So, head over to ExpresVPN (or whichever one you choose) and sign up. Here's what this process looks like with ExpressVPN:
With your plan setup and account activated, which only takes a few minutes max, you will then be ready to download and install the VPN software onto the device you plan to watch US Netflix in Japan with.
Step 2: Download & Install VPN
You will be automatically taken to the download area for your VPN software right after you sign up and confirm your account, which is good.
Here is an idea on how many devices support a VPN nowadays:
The installation process is the same an with any software you download, so just follow the very clear steps and it'll be done in a few seconds. No technical knowledge is required for any of this solution, which is great.
Step 3: Connect to US-based Server on VPN
Next step is to open up your VPN software. You will be instantly presented with a clear interface that asks you to simply choose a location and connect via that chosen location.
This is where you want to select a US-based location, since this is what will change your Japan IP address to a US IP address. Here's how simply the ExpressVPN connection process looks:
Should you want to connect and watch US Netflix in Japan from your smartphone, just download the ExpressVPN app from your device's app store and then connect to a US based location there. Here's how this looks on my Android smartphone:
Step 4: Setup Netflix Account
Just in case you don't have a Netflix account yet, obviously go ahead and sign up to the service. You will need an account with Netflix to do this. Don't worry though -- you do not need to have registered for Netflix within the US to have access to the US version from Japan.
Step 5: Watch US Netflix in Japan
You're done! Once your VPN is connected to a US-based location, then go ahead and reload your Netflix service and you will be warmly greeted with the full US Netflix without having to move from the comfort of your Japan based location.
There you go, pretty straight forward right?
This solution works 100% and is secure, safe and legal. You can also use this to access the US Netflix from anywhere outside the US.
I mentioned earlier in this guide that I personally reviewed a whole host of VPN service providers before settling on using ExpressVPN as it best suited my budget. So to give you more options, I have listed the absolute 5 best VPNs to watch US Netflix in Japan below. Check them out:
Any questions or feedback on this guide? Let me know in the comments section below. I am more than happy to hear from you and help wherever I can.