Make the most out of Netflix for your Japanese learning

Listening is such an important part of learning any language, and Japanese is no exception. Over the years I’ve mostly gotten my daily dose of Japanese through watching anime or Japanese dramas, as I’m sure is the case for many of you. Some of them have Japanese subtitles, others don’t, and depending on your learning preferences, you might have searched the internet for that elusive Japanese subtitles download pack to add to your videos. I’ve never been able to do that because I was pretty technologically challenged, but also because I wasn’t comfortable messing with the legalities and logistics of all that.

Now that we have so many legal (paid!) options such as Netflix, Crunchyroll, Dramafever, amongst others, it’s so much easier to get Japanese audio wherever you are. However, I’ve noticed a few problems that arose from my journey into Japanese entertainment that you might have also encountered:

  1. What do you do when you’ve watched all the anime and dramas in the genre that you enjoy, and you don’t feel like watching anything else?

  2. You’ve spent so much time watching Japanese entertainment that you’ve fallen behind on all the English language stuff your friends and family have been binging on?

  3. What if you simply don’t like anime or dramas?

If you have Netflix (doesn’t have to be Netflix Japan), there’s a really good way to have more variety in the type of things you are able to watch, while maintaining your daily quota of Japanese listening or even reading practice!

Step 1: Change your Netflix profile language to Japanese

  • This is the most important step because the option for Japanese dubs will not show up if your profile is in any other language! I recommend using a separate profile because the default audio language will be Japanese whenever available. It would be easier to keep it separate from the profile you or your family normally use.
  • Not only will you be able to practice reading katakana, but you’ll also learn the Japanese version of titles you like! New topics for those long chat sessions with your Japanese friends!

Step 2: Browse through the list of Netflix Originals (Netflixオリジナル作品) and choose something you want to watch

  • As a rule of thumb, Netflix Originals will often have Japanese dubs (very good voice acting actually!) as these are the titles available to all the different regions in which they provide the service. There are some exceptions though, so you will have to double-check (Riverdale, for example, which is a shame).
  • This means you can watch Stranger Things, House of Cards, and whatever newer shows they have added!
  • Edit: They also have a bunch of anime too!

Step 3: Decide what language you want to set as subtitles (I would NOT suggest Japanese - I’ll explain)

  • If the original audio is not in Japanese, then the Japanese subtitles will not match the Japanese dub. I’m not sure why, but it seems as though the Japanese subs are direct translations of the English CC. Until Netflix fixes this and uses whatever script they gave to the Japanese voice actors instead, then it isn’t worth setting up Japanese subtitles. It would be much better using the English ones.
  • However, if the original audio is in Japanese, then go ahead and select the original subs (日本語 オリジナル)! I do this when I’m watching Japanese dramas on Netflix, no need for any script download thingamabob! What a relief!

So there you go! Hope this is helpful!
Let me know if there’s anything else you think I should add!


Thanks for this, I might look into it :slight_smile:

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You’re welcome! I set up another profile for the Japanese stuff because the audio is Japanese by default if they have it. It’s a lot easier having a separate profile so you can jump back to English easily :slight_smile:

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I guess that makes sense, I share netflix with the rest of my family, so I was wondering whether I could do that or have to swap it over each time.

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I should probably clarify that! Each profile can have its own default language, there’s no need for a complete language overhaul! :hugs:

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Any good Japanese originals you would recommend for beginners?

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Great tip! I just made a separate profile on Netflix for studying Japanese. Thanks!

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VPN is your friend. just sayin…

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There’s no reason to VPN here.


Awesome! Just changed my profile’s language.

It’s a great way to start shows I wasn’t really into before! The simpler the better.

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If you say so…

Legitimately curious, are Netflix shows region locked or something? I’ve never really thought about it before but I’d probably guess so and using a VPN would unlock more shows/movies which are from Japan.

There is region locked material. The variety of Japanese material is much larger if you VPN.


What do you usually enjoy watching? When I’m lazy and just wanna relax, I’ll actually watch some family-oriented shows that have Japanese audio!
Lemme know what you like, I’ll see what I can recommend.

Sure you can use a VPN but what are you planning on watching? I wrote this for people who already have Netflix from their own country/region as it allows them a greater variety of shows that have Japanese audio.

Personally, I’m not going to pay for Netflix Japan on top of what I already have. Most VPNs don’t work for Netflix anymore (last time I checked while I was abroad). Also, it’s a lot more hassle for me since I use my PS4 to watch it :nerd_face:

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Good to hear! It seriously made things a lot better for me! I’ve even re-watched some shows :blush:

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You know best my friend. Carry on.

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I’m just lazy :grin:

Sorry if I’ve offended you :see_no_evil:

I just use smart DNS and go directly to the Japanese Netflix. In addition to the Japanese shows, they have a better selection of english shows than the Australian version.