How to Use Netflix to Learn Japanese

There are a lot of available tools that you can use in order to improve your target language skills. One of them is Netflix and I’d like to talk about how to use Netflix to learn Japanese.

For most of us, we either have an account in our own names, or we borrow one from the friend or family member that is nice enough to pay the subscription every month.

You are paying that, right Mom? LOL!

But no really, here are some of the ways you can take full advantage of the streaming service.

Watch Shows in Japanese

I think the most obvious way, is to watch shows in Japanese. Luckily there are a lot of anime and Japanese movies that are available for your viewing pleasure.

I’ve been using Netflix for over ten years now, and I have seen the trend of Japanese shows (and anime) go in a single direction: Up!

I believe that this trend will continue as the things that come out of The Land of the Rising Sun continue to become more and more popular around the world.

This means that your selection of shows will continue to improve, which is important since enjoying the process of learning Japanese is vital for any kind of long term success.

An easy thing to do is to play the show in Japanese with English subtitles on and follow along with the story in order to learn it and see what everyone is saying.

Then you can turn the subtitles off and watch it again on the same day, or even the day after.

This will allow you to be immersed in the Japanese language while you watch the show, but since you already watched it once with the English SUBs on you will still know what is happening in the story.

By doing it this way, you can really focus in and decipher what the characters are actually saying in Japanese by using both the visual cues of what is happening on screen, and also the memory of what they said when you watched it with the English text.

You might think that Netflix is only useful for improving your aural skills, but actually there’s a way to help improve your reading as well. I’m talking of course about the Japanese subtitles!

Read the Japanese Subtitles

Not all Japanese shows will include subtitles in Japanese, but more and more of them are coming out as time goes on.

I’ve personally only seen them on a few anime that I’ve watched myself, but I’ve notice one thing in common with all of them:  They are Netflix Exclusives!

As time goes on, and Netflix becomes more powerful as a company, they are able to take over the world create deals that allow them to be the first and sometimes only ones who get to stream a show to us, the viewers.

It then makes sense that any show that Netflix is promoting heavily would not only be dubbed in many different languages, but also subbed in many as well.

I would recommend that you look for those two special words “Netflix Exclusive” if you are trying to find one that has Japanese subtitles which you can turn on and read as the show plays.

Generally speaking, these subtitles are meant for native adults and teenagers. That means that there will be very little (if any) furigana shown above kanji.

If you’re reading along and you run into something that you don’t know how to pronounce, listen to the audio and see if you can catch it that way.

Even if you don’t want to improve your reading skills per se, you could still turn on the Japanese subtitles for those parts when the characters speak really quickly and you can’t tell what they are saying.

Hey, I’ve done it for English movies before!

Learn About Japan’s Culture

Here’s something you might not have considered: Learn about the Japanese culture and history by watching the documentaries!

Since a country’s language and culture are usually closely knit together, it makes sense that the more you know about Japan in general, the better you will be able to understand Japanese.

There are lots of interesting shows on Netflix that talk about the history of Japan, the culture of the samurai, the sushi industry, and much more.

These can be both educational and a lot of fun to enjoy, since you get to go on an adventure and explore Japan, but within the convenience of your own home, and in English to boot!

Think of this as a nice supplement to your core language studies.

Download Episodes and Practice Listening

One of the super cool things that you can do with the Netflix app on any mobile device is to download full episodes.

This is a feature that was implemented so that people would be able to enjoy shows while they were in areas with poor connectivity.

I know these areas well… (-_-)

But something that a lot of people aren’t aware of with this feature is that you can play the episode on your phone, then lock the phone by pressing that side button, and then play just the audio from the episode from the lock screen!

This is not only a great way to save on battery life when you want to spend some time immersing in Japanese throughout the day, but it is also a great way to really hone your ears with the language.

Since you won’t be reading the subtitles, or seeing what is going on in with your eyes, you will have to rely heavily on just your ears to determine what the dialog is about.

This is typically a much harder way to study Japanese then the other techniques mentioned in this post, but it produces better results if you’re able to stick with it.

It might be best to use a combination of this technique along with the others in order to really study and learn the Japanese presented in each episode.

In fact, a lot of the things that you can do with Netflix that I’ve talked about today are the same things you need to do in order to Learn Japanese from Anime which I’ve talked about in the past.


I think not!!!

All for the Low Price of $XX.xx per Month!

I don’t actually know what the current monthly rate of Netflix is (Yes, I mooch off family!) but you can check it out for yourself by clicking on the link below.

See it here:

But like I said before, it’s pretty likely that you are already using Netflix in some way yourself.

It has become one of the standards of living for most people, right up there with smartphones and Twitter.

Anyway, I hope you guys all found this information helpful. I personally never realized just how useful Netflix could be for learning Japanese until I started using it in all the ways I’ve discussed in this article.

If you know of any other ways it can be utilized to improve your nihongo skills, let me know!

4 thoughts on “How to Use Netflix to Learn Japanese”

  1. Hi Nick… Hajimemashite nick san.. Anatawa ogenki desu ka? watashi wa genki desu.. watashi wa nihongo ni gakuse deshita… thank you so much for this wonderful website.. Hi I m sourabh from India.. I could not believe that someone can bring a website like this.. I think your content is exclusively for me as I learned Japanese in Kolkata for almost 2 years and appeared for N 5 exam where i did exrtremely well. It is like a nostalgic feeling.. I really love Japanese culture and language.. Now You have someone who will daily visit your website and your contents.. Again thanks a lot.

    • Sourabh-san, yoroshiku ne! Hey, that’s totally awesome! I’m glad you have found it to be useful!

      That’s pretty sweet that you passed the N5 on the JLPT and did pretty well too! I’ve heard that it can be quite tough to study for, and then pass that test. I’ve never taken it myself, but have considered doing it.

      Hopefully you continue to find helpful information on my blog! Thanks! 

  2. Haha, I bet Netflix never thought people would use their services to learn Japanese! You can do a lot with a little imagination, though.

    I’ve actually seen that anime 賭けグルイ and thought it was pretty good. How is it for learning Japanese? Is the vocabulary very difficult?

    • Yeah, since the story focus on high school kids gambling all the time, there is a lot of vocabulary that is related. Words like Debt 借金, Match/Game 勝負, Poker ポーカー and so on.

      I would say that if you are a beginner at Japanese, then it might not be the best one to use since there are a fair amount of words that are uncommon. But if you’re at the intermediate level, and you enjoy the anime, then it’s great!


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