Netflix Japan vs Hulu Japan: Which one is the best?

It’s Netflix Japan vs Hulu Japan!

netflix japan vs hulu japanI’ve been using online video services in Japan since 2014. With the recent launch of Netflix Japan, I wanted to compare the two services and note the differences as well as the pros/cons. Which one should you consider using? (If you want to pay for a streaming service in Japan, that is)

2019 Update: Hulu Japan and Netflix Japan have changed drastically over the years. Long story short, Netflix is the better option with more content than Hulu Japan. Amazon Prime now has HBO content which is another blow to Hulu.

Hulu Japan logoHulu Japan

Hulu has been doing A LOT of promoting in Japan to get people aware of its brand. It’s apparently worked because a lot of net-savvy users have subscribed and Japanese companies are taking notice.


-No ads

Hulu in the US features advertisements, but I have not seen a single one on Hulu Japan. This is a great perk!

-Hulu has the larger library

The story may be different in the US, but Hulu Japan reigns king in terms of amount of content available. Hulu has a variety of content. There’s something for everyone here: Japanese TV, Japanese movies, Foreign movies (Mostly US/UK/AU) and foreign TV programs.

hulu japan content
-Hulu Japan is now Japanese
Hulu Japan was bought by Nippon TV in 2013.
The reason this can be considered a pro is it will most likely be able to tailer itself better to the Japanese market as well as partner with other companies to promote itself.

-Content can be separated into Japanese and non-Japanese content.
This is really useful when you want to watch something with English audio and Japanese subtitles. Netflix Japan doesn’t make this distinction very well (using Apple TV), so it can be annoying to scroll through content that you’re not interested in.


-Hulu Japan’s content listing system needs work.
Imagine searching through a list of available movies/shows and seeing duplicate of everything. That’s right, there is an entry for Japanese-dub or English-audio. That means you’re wasting time going through lists because there is too much duplicate content. Netflix wins this one because there is an option to toggle the audio/subtitle settings for the video.

-Even/Odd Seasons of TV Shows
This may not be unique to Hulu, but it is really annoying to see seasons of TV shows swap from even to odd from month to month. I’m sure this is because of contacts with media companies, though. I can’t confirm if Netflix is the same way, but I have a feeling it is not.

netflix japan logoNetflix Japan


-Netflix Exclusive Content
Quite a few programs are Netflix originals, meaning you won’t find it on other services.

-Easy toggle audio/subtitle options
Unlike Hulu’s duplicate entry method, Netflix keeps the interface clean by letting you choose your options per video.


-Content Variety
Compared to Hulu Japan, Netflix Japan doesn’t have a large library. I found myself wishing I had access to Hulu’s movie library while I was browsing Netflix.

netflix japan content

Netflix Japan offers three price points, but you’ll be seriously gimped if you choose the cheapest price at 700 yen. It’s standard definition and you can only stream from one device. The one device limitation isn’t a big deal for me, but to only be able to stream in standard definition is a deal breaker for me.

If you want to watch in high definition, you’ll need to pay 1050 yen a month not including tax. This is a bit higher than Hulu’s 900 yen a month plan.

Final thoughts

So which video service in Japan do I recommend? I loved Netflix when I was in the US, but the current best value for your money in Japan is definitely Hulu Japan. I think most native speakers of English won’t need to use these services, but if you have friends or family that are not native speakers, these services can be great.

However, starting in 2016, a number of Japanese companies are planning to launch competitors. What will be the best service in the future? Only time will tell, but it will be my mission to try all the services worth trying and write about it.

How about you?

Are you using a video streaming service in Japan? Let me know which one you use!

6 thoughts on “Netflix Japan vs Hulu Japan: Which one is the best?”

  1. Not a bad summary. I subscribe to both because its still cheaper than cable like Hikari TV.

    Netflix’s system is faster and overall better designed than Hulu. More language options and as you mentioned the exclusive shows are wonderful.

    But Hulu has some good stuff too, the of HBO in Japan you can watch Gamr of Thrones, The wire, Sopranos its wonderful. They need more shows though. They should do more to bring shows over or reserect older shows.

    Both are great, for the price get both!

    • Hey Jason! Thanks for commenting.

      I agree that Netflix has better apps and systems. Now that Hulu Japan is owned by a Japanese company, I doubt they have the skills required to keep up.

      However, Hulu’s recent deal with HBO has kept me from leaving and going with Netflix only. Both services are really great and I’m almost at the point where I want to be subscribed to both.

    • Hulu Japan also recently made a deal with HBO to distribute its shows, which means stuff like Game of Thrones is available. I wish Westworld would hurry up and get added, though.

  2. The only problem I still have with Hulu is they still are showing U.S. programs and such that can only be watched in Japanese. All programs available on Hulu should have the option of watching in its native language not just Japanese.

    • When I wrote this article, Hulu had a lot of great content in Japan. However, these days I find that Netflix and Amazon have more interesting catalogs.

      Yes, Hulu Japan is really bad about offering audio/subtitle options for their shows.


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