I remember when I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Japanese drama – I would keep tabs on my favourite actors and actresses’ upcoming releases, and as soon as they aired on Japanese television, I would hunt for them online.
I consider myself an expert at finding online websites to stream Japanese dramas. As a teenager, I wouldn’t pay a penny to watch anything, but as an earning adult, I could afford to spend a few – so our list consists of a mix of both free and paid sites for you to watch Japanese dramas!
AsianCrush is one of the best paid websites out there, but it’s not fully paid, though – there’s their free site which you can still stream from, but ads are appearing on the video every now and then. With the paid version, at $4.99 per month, you get no disruptions and access to more uploads.
You can also watch tons of drama genres on this website like action, horror and comedy – all of the videos are of HD quality, at least 720p and up! This website is one of the more popular ones and has a range of listings, depending on which part of the world you’re in.
You might think that Viki is expensive, but it’s charged at $9.99 per year! Pay once and you don’t have to think about it again until the next year! Run by Rakuten, one of Japan’s leading companies, this website is also available to stream for free! You’re only limited to watching videos in 720p, but I think that’s a small sacrifice to make.
A distinctive feature of Viki is that you can watch a Japanese drama with your friends and family anywhere in the world – there’s a watch party function on it which is pretty unique to this website, in my opinion.
There’s also an app for Viki so you can stream easily on your mobile phone.
One of the largest video streaming platforms available, Midnight Pulp is a lot of people’s go-to for horror, thriller and action Japanese movies – their Japanese drama listing is pretty darn good as well. If you’re into interesting, dark Japanese drama plots, this website’s for you.
The downside to this website is that it’s a paid streaming service. It’s at $4.99 per month, but you can get a month of free trial to see if you like their services. Just a fair warning though, if you’re more into the lovey-dovey Japanese dramas, this one’s probably one to miss out on – they’re very committed to the darker storylines.
Who hasn’t heard of Netflix? I use it on a daily basis! If you don’t already know, Netflix is one of the best sites to watch Japanese dramas! They don’t necessarily have the latest updates, but they’re convenient and almost always have English subtitles.
We all know Netflix comes at a cost of about $7.70 per month, but you can try it out for 30 days for free if you don’t have a subscription yet. Japan is opening up to online streaming services like Netflix, so there are ones that are Netflix-exclusive like Alice in Borderland!
Last but not least on our list of paid websites, we have Amazon Prime. Amazon is one of the world’s largest technology companies, and in Japan, Amazon and Amazon Prime are used widely. Some might say their streaming service is more widely used than Netflix!
Even if you don’t have a prime membership, you can rent the shows to watch. Depending on which Amazon you use, you might not get subtitles, though – I have Amazon Prime for Japan but most of them don’t have subtitles to go with it, which is a shame! I bet if you have Amazon US or Amazon UK, they’ll definitely have subtitles for the shows!
Moving on to free websites, KissAsian is one of my favourite sites to watch Japanese drama! KissAsian is an online streaming site that’s free to use. They’re extremely on the ball when it comes to updating newer episodes that have already been aired on Japanese TV. In fact, as soon as it finishes airing in Japan, you’re going to be able to find it on KissAsian within the next few hours!
A plus side I like about KissAsian is that you can request for a Japanese drama to be uploaded or report a problem, which gets solved almost instantly!
One annoying thing about KissAsian is that it has one too many ads! You’re probably going to get a pop up with almost every click, not to mention some captcha along the way. Their domain always changes as well, which can be quite confusing. But, if you have it bookmarked, most of the time they’ll redirect you to the new domain.
Another free online streaming site for Japanese drama is DramaNice. It’s extremely up-to-date as well, just like KissAsian. Similarly, they’re not only just for Japanese dramas but other Asian dramas as well!
In comparison to KissAsian, DramaNice’s website is more mobile-friendly. You can download directly from the website to your phone or laptop and comment on the site. I personally find the discussion sections pretty useful at judging which Japanese drama I should put on my watch list and which to avoid.
While KissAsian has only subbed videos uploaded, DramaNice does have raw videos – meaning uploads without any subtitles. Hey, if you want something instantly, you can’t be picky, right? They do update the Japanese drama listing pretty fast, but not all of them are subbed!
However, on DramaNice, the advertisements come at the beginning of the video and you can’t skip them. But hey, if we’re pretty used to YouTube already, this website is a breeze. Oh, and also, be sure to bookmark the website as DramaNice also changes its domain quite frequently.
Here’s another free website that I use to watch Japanese drama: ViewAsian. Most of the videos are subbed and you can search for drama by categories like crime, action and romance.
If you’re watching a movie then this won’t matter but if you’re watching a drama, there’ll be a thumbnail on the drama listing to show you how many episodes are in it. It’s much more convenient than having to click one by one – imagine deciding on watching one and then finding out it has hundreds of episodes!
Dramacool is one of the streaming sites I used when I was younger. It appealed to me more than the rest at some point due to its simple web interface – navigating around was a breeze and it was easy to find Japanese dramas that I wanted to watch. On top of that, it lists the latest episodes updated for the season on the front so you don’t have to go around clicking to check.
There are even multiple video servers for you to switch to if the default one is not playing or plays slow. There is also a “switch off light” function that darkens the website screen when watching your Japanese dramas to have that cinematic effect.
The last of our free websites to watch Japanese drama is JDorama. It’s one of the most popular ones out there! On some other free sites, you won’t be able to find old dramas, but here, you can find those that were released from as far back as 1964! Oh, and don’t worry, there are also newer ones on the website as well.
JDroama is one of the oldest and yet popular websites to watch Japanese drama online for free. It has a section where you can find the most famous Japanese shows in each season of the year. Aside from that, you will find the trailer of each movie and TV show on its homepage. Moreover, it has a vast community where you can join and discuss trending shows in Japan.
With both paid and free websites, five of each, what excuse do you have not to watch Japanese drama? Which will you choose — are you going to test out the free websites or bite the bullet and go for the paid ones?
I have to admit — I’m a shopaholic. But who doesn’t like shopping? There’s always that part of us that wants to get the new collection’s pair of trousers, or for some of us, it’s anything that’s made and designed in Japan.
Whether you’re in Japan or overseas, it’s kind of hard to shop in-store — especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of stores go online, and recently Japan has been following suit. Hooray for us!
So if you’re looking to get your hands on some Japanese-made or Japanese-designed fashion products, here are top 10 Japanese online stores — some even offer international shipping!
First off, we have the famous Japanese lifestyle fashion brand that offers casual clothing pieces, Uniqlo. They offer everything from basics to new collections, but everything is timeless — you can wear right now as well as ten years from now. That’s the beauty of this brand.
They’re not stagnant, though. It is constantly expanding its categories as well as partnerships. The past few collaborations include Walt Disney, famous artists as well as local talents like anime illustrators to produce every piece of clothing on the rack including graphic tees.
Not to mention their top-notch quality — Uniqlo is dedicated to providing only the best of products. You won’t see a slip up in quality in any aspect; the fabrics are always soft on the skin; designs are constantly innovating; comfort has always been the key.
Uniqlo ships domestically in Japan and, depending on where you are in the world, Uniqlo does ship internationally too.
Under the same company as Uniqlo, GU is considered like the discounted version without compromising quality. It’s an extremely popular clothing brand that offers both basic pieces as well as modern and trendy ones — all at affordable and, dare I say, cheap prices!
Not only are there modern designs but also collections to include traditional Japanese pieces like yukata and kimono. What’s more, GU does occasionally feature quirky ones that reflect Tokyo’s fashion scene — from eye-catching prints to funky embellishments, you’ll be taken aback by what this classic brand comes up with.
This brand is also extremely supportive of collaborations, especially with local artists and brands. One notable one is their collaboration with a popular anime series, Sailor Moon, offering graphic tees and other exclusive pieces.
GU, unfortunately, doesn’t offer international shipping — but you can find ways around that.
This online Japanese marketplace is much like a combination of Amazon and eBay — This e-commerce website is the largest one in all of Japan. From brands and manufacturers to normal consumers, you get sellers that offer not only clothing products but also Japanese cosmetics, household appliances, electronics and much more. Prices of products can have a huge range, giving you the choice without compromising the quality.
Rakuten also has an international website that includes Japanese resellers who are willing to ship their products outside of Japan. While it’s not as big of a marketplace as Rakuten Japan, you’ll still be able to access Japanese products when you’re out of the country.
Since 2004, This online Japanese clothing store provides an online platform for brands to sell their products online. Zozotown is the largest online fashion retail website in all of Japan and has various offshoots including ZOZO, a custom-fit clothing brand, and ZOZOSUIT, an at-home measurement system.
Zozotown has a huge selection of not only Japanese brands but also international brands including Adidas and Nike with exclusive pieces. They act as the middleman for Japanese customers to get their hands on international brands, and the same for the other way round — for international customers to get their hands on Japanese brands.
Zozotown offers international shipping — they have two separate shopping pages: a Japanese one and a US one. The Japanese one only supports domestic shipping but the US website ships to the US as well as other countries in the world.
Harajuku is the most iconic place to be when it comes to Japanese fashion — multiple subcultures were born in this neighbourhood. WEGO is a Japanese clothing company that is famous for its combo of casual and Harajuku-style designs.
This Osaka-based local brand aims to cater to a fashion-forward audience of their mid-20s, and is famous for its exclusive collaborations with other major brands like Kappa and Disney. Now that WEGO has an online store, there’s no need to run down to the nearest WEGO outlet when the next collection drops. Simply go onto their website to browse through their designs.
Unfortunately, WEGO doesn’t support international shipping just yet — but there are platforms that act as the middleman for it.
Salz Kimono offers the chance for people — regardless of whether or not you’ve been to Japan — to get a taste of Japanese souvenirs. This online store offers authentic Japanese products including vintage kimono and yukata, as well as original designs like graphic tees, dresses and unique accessories.
Alternatively, you can even make use of their customization services where you can custom-make your own kimono and even zori sandals!
The best part about Salz Kimono is that this online Japanese clothing store ships internationally — and fast!
Mercari is an online customer-to-customer marketplace, one I use quite often. What’s great about Mercari is that you can find one-of-a-kind pieces of impeccable condition at stellar prices — even though they’re mostly second-hand, you won’t even notice it!
There are two Mercari shopping pages: the Japanese one and the US one. If you want Japan-exclusive items, it’s on the Japanese Mercari.
One of the most famous Japanese fashion brands is Punyus, founded by Naomi Watanabe. Naomi Watanabe is a famous Japanese comedian — her aim for this brand is to challenge the sizing standards of the Japanese fashion industry. Japan is known to offer extremely petite sizing, but Punyus offers sizes up to US 16, proudly showing off their body inclusive factor.
Punyus aims to spread the word of body positivity through every piece of clothing and new designs. In fact, even the brand name loosely translates to the Japanese word for “chubby”. Punyus designs are a refreshing take of the Japanese fashion scene, bringing in modern styles of streetwear, hip hop and even “kawaii”.
Many big-name celebrities including Lena Dunham publicly support Punyus’ movement.
If you’re a fashion enthusiast like me, you probably have heard of BAPE — also known as A Bathing Ape. It’s popular for its modern lifestyle and streetwear aesthetics, started in 1993. BAPE has become such a successful clothing brand that it has successfully landed collaborations with big names such as Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Kid Cudi.
The brand doesn’t forget its Japanese roots, though — local collaborations like the one with Hello Kitty still takes the Japanese fashion scene by storm! Sadly, BAPE Japan website doesn’t ship outside of the country — but there are other BAPE shopping platforms that potentially do ship to yours.
Amazon Japan is like Rakuten. The Japanese version of Amazon is one of the most famous e-commerce sites in the country and offers products that are only available here. It’s also great for getting unique clothing pieces from resellers and manufacturers at affordable prices.
Not all Amazon Japan sellers offer international shipping — but most of them do. So don’t be bummed out just yet; make sure you set the filter on Amazon Japan for “international shipping” before you start your browsing.
Well…what are you waiting for? What’s stopping you from going on to one, or all, of these sites and get a head start on your monthly shopping spree? Even if we’re quarantining at home, we still have to look fab — why not be fab in Japanese brands?