Must-Watch Non-anime Japanese TV Shows That Will Make You Wish You Were in Japan Right Now

While anime undoubtedly takes center stage in the Japanese entertainment industry, there are certainly more TV shows from the Land of the Rising Sun waiting to be explored! In this list of must-watch non-anime Japanese TV shows, you’ll discover additional masterpieces that showcase Japan’s captivating beauty, culture, and creativity. Whether it’s romance, drama, or action, these shows provide a unique glimpse into Japan’s TV scene, stirring a range of emotions and making you wish you were in Japan right now!

Must-Watch Non-anime Japanese TV Shows That Will Make You Wish You Were in Japan Right Now

Photos: Netflix

An Incurable Case of Love

  • Year of release: 2020
  • No. of seasons: One.
  • No. of episodes: 10
  • IMDB rating: 7.5/10
Must-Watch Non-anime Japanese TV Shows That Will Make You Wish You Were in Japan Right Now

Photo: Netflix

In a totally adorable meet-cute, young Nanase Sakura (Mone Kamishiraishi) crosses paths with Doctor Kairi Tendo (Takeru Satoh) and immediately catches An Incurable Case of Love after seeing him save a random woman’s life! Right there and then, she decides to become a nurse, hoping to see him again in action in Tokyo and become his girlfriend. To her surprise though, she discovers that the doctor is not as charming as she expected him to be, as well as working in a hospital in the capital of Japan. This love story is based on the manga series of the same name.

Alice in Borderland

  • Year of release: 2020
  • No. of seasons: Two; Season 3 coming soon.
  • No. of episodes: 16
  • IMDB rating: 7.7/10

Alice in Borderland follows the story of Ryohei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) – a full-time gamer who suddenly finds himself in an emptied-out version of Tokyo! Along with his long-time and newfound friends, the players must fight their way through a series of games that test their strategic and physical skills, character, and will to survive. This thrilling sci-fi drama will really make you think and hurt you in ways you didn’t know possible!


  • Year of release: 2017
  • No. of seasons: One.
  • No. of episodes: 12
  • IMDB rating: 7.8/10

Aspiring manga writer Satoru Fujinuma (Yuki Furukawa/Reo Uchikawa) discovers his own hero-worthy ability–time traveling–in Erased. His current timeline, however, resets way back 18 years ago after his mom gets killed! With this chance to stop the tragedy, he learns about the string of murder cases that led to his mother’s death. Set in Tomakomai, Hokkaido Prefecture, this tear-jerking live-action drama is one of the adaptations of the manga series Boku dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I Am Missing).

House of Ninjas

  • Year of release: 2024
  • No. of seasons: One.
  • No. of episodes: 8
  • IMDB rating: 7.3/10

The “Tawara” family was living their “normal” lives… until looming threats arose. One by one, the members get dragged back into their formidable ninja… I mean, shinobi lives! Meet the residents of the House of Ninjas: Haru (Kento Kaku), Gaku (Kengo Kora), and Nagi (Aju Makita); their parents Soichi (Yosuke Eguchi) and Yoko (Tae Kimura); as well as their grandmother Taki (Nobuko Miyamoto); and their newest trainee Riku (Tenta Banka). This action-packed series, which I hope has a season two, was filmed in Fujinomiya, Odawara, and Tokyo, Japan!

First Love

  • Year of release: 2022
  • No. of seasons: One.
  • No. of episodes: 9
  • IMDB rating: 8.4/10

Yae Noguchi (Hikari Mitsushima) and Harumichi Namiki (Takeru Satoh) are each other’s…you’ve guessed it, First Love. Their love story begins in the late 90s in Sapporo, Hokkaido, but would only blossom decades later. As they become increasingly entwined, they also unravel the circumstances that initially kept them apart, compelling their present selves to contemplate love’s true worth. Cliché as it seems, what truly makes this romantic series a must-watch is its exceptional storytelling, cinematography, and musical scoring. It also gains additional significance as it draws inspiration from two popular Hikaru Utada songs, First Love and Hatsukoi.

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