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Japanese Netflix Programs: Learn Japanese with Netflix

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It’s wonderful if you can learn Japanese and have entertainment at the same time. Yes, it is possible with online streaming services! One of the most famous and popular is Netflix, which nowadays offers a wide range of Japanese shows and movies. A lot of Japanese movies on Netflix are available with subtitles in both Japanese and English, so it’s ideal to learn by listening to actual pronunciation, reading what words mean, and/or checking vocabulary and spelling. In terms of understanding Japanese culture, Netflix can also be a great source for this.

When it comes to learning and entertainment, watching Japanese shows on Netflix is much easier and useful than watching them on TV or at actual movie theaters. Watching Japanese shows on Netflix doesn’t require traveling to theaters, you don’t need to bother checking schedules, and you don’t need to remember to record. Most of all, you can repeat lines at any time, and as many times as you like, with subtitles so that you can learn Japanese more efficiently.

Whether you just want to enjoy watching Japanese movies on Netflix casually, or you want to try learning conversational Japanese, Netflix is one of the best options for you. Either way, watching Netflix Japanese shows will boost your Japanese skills and allow you to see Japanese culture in action.

So what’s on Japanese Netflix? Here’s JapanesePod101’s list of recommended Japanese Netflix titles for an enjoyable Japanese learning experience!

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Table of Contents

  1. Midnight Dining / 深夜食堂 (Shin’ya Shokudō)
  2. Hibana: Spark / 火花
  3. Terrace House / テラスハウス
  4. Ainori Love Wagon / あいのり
  5. Atelier / アンダーウェア
  6. Solitary Gourmet / 孤独のグルメ
  7. Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman / さぼリーマン甘太朗
  8. Million Yen Women / 100万円の女たち
  9. Dad of Light / ファイナルファンタジーXIV 光のお父さん
  10. Jiro Dreams of Sushi / 二郎は鮨の夢を見る
  11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Midnight Dining / 深夜食堂 (Shin’ya Shokudō)

Midnight Diner is a Japanese TV series, based on the manga of the same title: 深夜食堂 (Shin’ya Shokudō). This Japanese show is currently one of the best Japanese Netflix shows. This drama is mainly about a diner which operates at midnight, and follows the owner’s interactions with his customers.

The setting of the show is a small Izakaya named “Meshiya” in Shinjuku, the big city that never sleeps in Tokyo. As Shinjuku is busy with its nightlife, there are always customers who visit this midnight diner (open from midnight to seven o’clock in the morning). Customers come to the diner for delicious traditional Japanese food and relaxing conversation with the master chef after their stressful day. What’s interesting is that each customer has a unique and touching story.

You’ll learn about how Japanese people talk about their lives, dreams, and love lives, and get a taste of Japanese traditional night foods and drinks. When it comes to the language they use, it may be a bit difficult for beginners, as the characters speak in a very casual style (sometimes with slang), which is far from using the structured formal language. However, this can be useful learning material for grasping colloquial Japanese.

You’ll probably hear Japanese curse words in some episodes, but here’s a tip for you: Japanese Curse Words You Should Never Use.

2. Hibana: Spark / 火花

Hibana, the Japanese word meaning “spark,” is a Japanese Netflix show based on the award-winning novel written by a Japanese comedian. Inspired in part by the author’s real life, the story is about two young manzai comedians and their struggles as they try to become big stand-up comedians. This show has ten episodes, and each episode focuses on one year of their lives, totaling a span of ten years.

This Japanese Netflix show attracts viewers’ attention and draws them into the story as it depicts human drama with stark reality, both heartwarming and heart-wrenching. The drama is well-filmed to show human relationships and the reality of competitiveness in the comedy industry.

For Japanese learners, it’s useful to know how people use conversational Japanese around close friends, seniors, and juniors, using both the formal and informal language. For this reason, we recommend this show for intermediate-level Japanese learners. This show also gives insight into the culture and industry of Japanese comedy.

Many Japanese comedians are from the Kansai area, and they speak Kansai dialect. For more information on this topic, check out our Japanese Dialects guide!

3. Terrace House / テラスハウス

This Netflix Japanese show is based on the reality TV show that aired on Japanese Fuji TV with five series, and now they’ve made a Netflix original series. This reality show follows the lives of young Japanese strangers—three girls and three guys—living together in one posh house. Viewers get to see how different people get to know each other and form human relationships (and sometimes romance) over time.

This show doesn’t have a particular story, nor dramatic turn of events. However, this is a good way to know how the younger Japanese generations interact with each other in everyday life. Although they share their lives under one roof, each member still engages in their own work or study outside the house, and they’re free to enter and leave. This setting makes the show more realistic and interesting.

If you want to make new Japanese friends and speak natural Japanese (which normal textbooks don’t teach), this can be the ideal show to watch. You can learn how to speak when you’re getting to know someone new, and how to start conversations.

This Japanese Netflix show is recommended for Japanese learners at the intermediate level. The conversations are mostly informal and spoken among young people, without structured or formal language.

4. Ainori Love Wagon / あいのり

This Japanese show on Netflix is originally from the popular Japanese TV program which was first aired two decades ago. The Japanese word Ainori means “ride together,” and can also mean “love ride,” based on how it’s read. This reality show follows seven young, single Japanese participants who go on a road trip to foreign countries in a pink van. The goal of participants is to find real love and become a couple with another participant while on the budget-type trip. They’ll then finish traveling and return to Japan together.

Ainori is an interesting love reality show which also introduces foreign countries and cultures during the participants’ travels. Each participant has a unique personality, and as you keep watching, you may find some favorite characters whom you want to support and see them happily form a couple. Unlike Terrace House, which features fancy people and a posh house, Ainori has more events, adventure, and drama as the participants travel to foreign lands.

We recommend this show for intermediate Japanese learners. Similarly to Terrace House, conversations are informal, without structured or formal language. It’s good for learning how young Japanese people talk and communicate with each other.

If you want to learn more about love phrases, check out Romance and Love in Japanese here!

5. Atelier / アンダーウェア

Atelier (the title of the original Japanese version is アンダーウェア meaning “Underwear” ) is a Netflix Japanese drama produced by Fuji TV for Netflix. It has thirteen episodes, and the real and famous lingerie company sponsors and supports this drama, making it more realistic in detail.

This show centers on a girl who has started her career at a high-end lingerie company and struggles to do well there. Through all the happenings, the story focuses on her interactions and relationship with her boss and the owner of the company. The character settings remind viewers of Anna Wintour and Miranda Priestly.

This Japanese Netflix drama provides viewers with a chance to learn some business conversation in Japanese for the office setting, and gives viewers insight into the daily life of a young employee. It’s good for intermediate-level learners.

6. Solitary Gourmet / 孤独のグルメ

Looking for good Japanese Netflix shows about food?

Solitary Gourmet is based on the original Japanese comic of the same name, and it has been produced as a Japanese TV drama series. It’s now available on Netflix.

This show is about nothing but Japanese cuisine, and it’s great for Japanese food lovers. The story follows a Japanese salesman who travels to different places across Japan for business, and visits various restaurants. He has a great passion for food, and he feels ultimate happiness when he indulges in eating delicious food.

It may sound boring, as it’s about a businessman eating alone, but this show actually offers something more and can be very addictive. In each episode, the main character tries out new restaurants and bars, and he enjoys every detail of speciality food. It’s intriguing how he tastes food and describes it to himself (in his head) in detail.

This is recommended for Japanese food fans and those who are interested in the Japanese food culture. You’ll learn a lot more about Japanese cuisine than just sushi and ramen. Also, watching this show is a great way to improve your vocabulary, especially in terms of adjectives.

7. Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman / さぼリーマン甘太朗

This is another one of the top Japanese Netflix shows which is based on the manga comics featuring food, but this one is about sweets. What’s interesting and attractive about this series is that the featured cafes, patisserie, and sweets and desserts are real, although the story itself is fiction.

The story of this Japanese Netflix series centers on a salaryman, Kantaro, who is considered a go‐getter and hardworking businessman. However, his seemingly fast and efficient work is actually motivated by his endless passion for sweets and desserts. He manages his work in such a way that he can sneak out to eat sweets in various places across Tokyo. Each episode focuses on a particular kind of sweet.

This show is good for Japanese learners, especially those who love sweets. If you live in Tokyo or have a chance to visit Tokyo, you can actually try the sweets featured in this show! If that’s possible, try to learn what Kantaro says to describe sweets; you’ll be able to practice those phrases while tasting yummy sweets. This show also offers a great chance to learn formal business Japanese.

8. Million Yen Women / 100万円の女たち

This Japanese show on Netflix is also based on a manga, and the series was co-produced by TV Tokyo and Netflix into a live-action drama.

This mysterious plot features a young novelist, and five beautiful women who suddenly moved in with him to pay him a crazy one-million yen per month to help his living. Each of the five women has unique characteristics and background stories, making the story more attractive.

He wonders why these women came to his place to offer him such crazy help, but it’s forbidden to ask them questions. However, through living with them, a small piece of the mystery is revealed little by little in each episode.

This is one of the most fascinating Japanese Netflix programs today. This show is very amusing as the story is shrouded in curious mystery and viewers are pulled into its unique world to discover the secret. You can simply enjoy watching it, but it can also be good material to learn conversational Japanese. It’s recommended for beginner- and intermediate-level learners.

9. Dad of Light / ファイナルファンタジーXIV 光のお父さん

Improve Pronunciation

This was originally a TV drama based on a true story from a blog, and is the first live-action series to commercialize the game Final Fantasy XIV.

The story focuses on a father and his son as they reconnect by playing the online role-playing game Final Fantasy XIV. The son, who feels distant from his father after years of little conversation, tries to break the ice. He remembered that he and his father played Final Fantasy III together when he was a kid, and they had a good bond through the game. He hopes that this passion for FFXIV will help them reconnect and he plans to become friends with his father in the online game without telling him who he really is. Over time, through playing and working together in-game, he tries to understand and communicate with his father better.

This Japanese Netflix TV series would be very interesting for gamers, particularly those who already have some knowledge about Final Fantasy. This show features a lot of game-related vocabulary, and is recommended for beginner- and intermediate-level learners.

10. Jiro Dreams of Sushi / 二郎は鮨の夢を見る

If you couldn’t tell, Japanese Netflix TV shows about food are quite popular. This one also features food, but is different from the others on this list because it’s a documentary film. The film was directed by David Gelb, and the documentary focuses on Jiro Ono (小野 二郎 Ono Jirō), who is an eighty-five-year-old sushi master.

The film features the legendary Jiro’s renowned restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro which has three Michelin stars. His restaurant, located in the middle of Ginza, one of the most expensive districts in Tokyo, has merely ten seats, but the minimum price per person is from ¥30,000. The documentary also focuses on Jiro’s relationship with his two sons, both of whom are also sushi chefs (and one of them is his eventual heir).

This documentary gives insight into the ultimate Japanese craftsmanship and pursuit in the art of food. The Japanese spoken in this film isn’t a perfect tool for learning, but it still helps you to deepen your knowledge of Japanese.

11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

Best Ways to Learn

I hope this Japanese Netflix list of the best shows on Netflix to learn Japanese is helpful, and that it makes your Japanese studies more enjoyable! By now, you should have a better idea of how to use Japanese Netflix content to make learning fun and efficient.

Ready to watch Japanese Netflix? Which of these Japanese Netflix programs are you most interested in? Let us know!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find more useful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills. For example, Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations to practice your Japanese with audio. If you’re a fan of Japanese anime, How to Learn Japanese with Anime? and 76 Must-Know Japanese Onomatopoeia Words are helpful. If you’re planning to visit Japan, check out 3 Reasons to Learn Japanese Before Traveling!

Know that your hard work will pay off; with enough practice, you’ll be speaking like a native in no time!

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