Japanese romance dramas will take you on a wild ride. They are known for their over-the-top acting, lovable and sometimes bizarre characters, and adorable romance plotlines that will have you rooting for the leads from the beginning until the end.
One of the best things about Japanese dramas is that they don’t gloss over the everyday hardships and character development. You’ll learn deep and surprising human traits about your favorite characters along the journey of the drama, making you more obsessed as it goes on.
Sometimes, the scenes can be cringeworthy, but what is a romance drama without lovey moments that make you want to cover your eyes and scream?
The 10 Best Japanese Romance Dramas
They are a lot of amazing Japanese romance dramas but selected for you the 10 best that you should check out first!
- Hana Yori Dango
- Tatta Hitotsu no Koi
- Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo
- 5-Ji Kara 9-Ji Made
- Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
- Good Morning Call
- Cherry Magic!
- Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge
- An Incurable Case of Love
- Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu
1. Hana Yori Dango
Hara Yori Dango is a classic that cannot be missed, especially if you’re into super cheesy romantic comedies that have typical storylines and characters that you can’t help but root for.
Makino Tsukushi is a middle-class student who gets sent to a prestigious school on a scholarship. This school is exclusively for the richest and most privileged families in the country. It is also home to the F4 (Flower 4) who are a group of four rich boys who believe they’re above the masses and regularly bully other kids at the school.
One day, Makino’s best friend becomes the target of their bullying antics, and Makino rushes in to defend her. From then on, her life becomes intertwined with the F4 boys and plenty of mishaps and romance ensue.
2. Tatta Hitotsu no Koi
This drama has your typical love story about a poor and rich person falling in love with each other and all the heartaches and problems that follow.
Hirota Kanzaki is an underprivileged man who inherited his father’s ship repair factory after his father passed away. He has to take care of his younger sibling and mother, both of who suffer from health problems. As such, his outlook on life is bleak and he rarely smiles.
Nao is a daughter of a wealthy jewelry shop owner. Nao is a cheerful and bright girl, having grown up in a safe and secure household, attended a prestigious school, and been blessed with money.
When they have a fateful encounter, sparks fly, and the rest is history.
3. Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo
Mischievous Kiss: Love In Tokyo is an absolute classic and has served as a gateway to Japanese dramas for many people around the world.
Originally a Japanese manga, the plotline proved so popular that it was remade into dramas across Japan, Taiwan, China, and Korea, but the Japanese version is arguably the best one.
It follows the story of wallflower Aihara Kotoko and the handsome and popular Irie Naoki. Aihara falls in love with Irie instantly. She confesses her love but is outrightly rejected.
A few days later, Aihara and her father are about to move into their new house when a meteorite destroys their home. With nowhere else to go, they take up on the offer of her father’s best friend, a rich businessman, to come and stay at his place temporarily.
As it turns out, his son is none other than Irie Naoki!
4. 5-Ji Kara 9-Ji Made
This romance drama does not have your typical storyline!
Sakuraba Junko is an English teacher with a big dream: she wants to eventually work in New York. Although she’s never been there, she consumes copious amounts of books and articles about the city and feels like it is her true calling.
One day, she attends a funeral where she encounters a handsome monk. After the funeral service, her legs are numb from being in one position for too long. As she heads towards the altar, her legs give way, causing her to fall over and dump the incense ash all over the same monk!
Sometime after the funeral, her family organize to meet up for dinner but when she rocks up, it turns out she was actually sent on a matchmaking date with none other than the monk himself, Hoshikawa Takane!
5. Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
Ashiya Mizuki has just returned from California to Japan after being raised there. She immediately falls in love with Sano Izumi, a high jump prodigy who had quit his dreams after an unfortunate accident.
Ashiya devises a plan to get closer to him…by disguising herself as a boy and attending his all-boys school!
As fate has it, Ashiya becomes Sano’s roommate, and chaos, fun, trouble, and romance ensue.
6. Good Morning Call
Good Morning Call is Netflix’s first-ever Japanese romantic drama.
It introduces us to Yoshikawa Nao and Uehara Hisashi, two school students who attend the same school but rarely cross paths.
Hisashi is considered one of the most handsome boys in the entire school, but, you guessed it, has a cold and unapproachable personality.
In her last year of high school, Nao’s parents decide to move back to their countryside farm. Nao decides to stay in the city to continue her studies, and so rents an apartment. On the day of moving in, Nao is shocked to discover that Hisashi has also signed a contract for the exact same apartment!
Realizing that they’ve both been scammed, but also realizing that neither can afford to go off on their own to rent by themselves, they decide to become roommates.
This drama follows their adventure as they navigate high school, living with a roommate, try to hide their co-habitation from their friends, and eventual feelings for each other.
7. Cherry Magic!
Cherry Magic is a BL (boy-love) drama.
Adachi Kiyoshi is a 29-year-old virgin. After he turns 30, he magically develops the ability to learn the thoughts of people simply by touching them. Fun and excitement ensue as he tests his powers.
One day, he accidentally discovers that his popular co-worker, Yuichi Kurosawa, likes him. Adachi becomes confused and feels awkward as he learns more and more about Yuichi’s attraction to him through his thoughts rather than hearing him say it directly.
Soon enough, Adachi starts to develop feelings of his own.
8. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge
Takano Kyohei is a conventionally attractive man who always gets harassed by his customers and his store manager. One day, he can’t take it anymore and loses his temper, causing him to lose his job and source of income.
He meets Ms. Nakahara, who gives him a proposal: ‘“Turn my niece into a lady, and you can get FREE lodging at my place!”.
Given Takano’s desperate situation, this sounded like the perfect solution, and so he agrees.
He, along with three other males in the same boarding house, are excited to tackle it together, but then they meet Sunako, the niece, and their problems begin.
Sunako, with her super long bangs, cloak, coffin bed, and mannequin best friend, proves harder to crack than Takano originally believed.
9. An Incurable Case of Love
This drama is one of the newer ones on this list, but we think it definitely has the potential to become a classic!
Namase Sakura is a young 23-year-old girl who has just been admitted as a rookie nurse at a hospital.
It isn’t just any hospital though. It’s the same hospital as Kairi Tendo, a man she met years ago and became infatuated with. Since their first fateful encounter, Namase knew she wanted to work hard to become a nurse to become closer to him.
However, when Namase meets Kairi again for the first time in years, she is shocked! Kairi, nicknamed the “Devil” at work, has a completely different personality from what she imagined. He’s callous and brutal in his honest interactions with everyone around him, and he’s a perfectionist, almost painfully so.
This doesn’t deter Namaese though. She continues to work hard to become recognized by Kairi, and it slowly begins to pay off as their relationship develops.
10. Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu
Mikuri Moriyama is your average 25-year-old woman who is living day by day without excitement. She has no boyfriend and feels like her life is useless and futile. Even though she’s graduated, she can’t seem to find a job with her degree.
Eventually, her father steps in and finds her a job as a housekeeper for Hiramasa Tsuzaki, a single man who works at a successful company.
A romantic comedy wouldn’t be complete without some typical tropes, and in this drama, unique circumstances lead to the two characters getting married!
BONUS Japanese Romance Drama: Last Cinderella
Sakura is a 39-year-old woman who works at a beauty salon. She’s a hopeless romantic at heart, but at the same time is afraid to fall in love.
One day, she meets Hiroto, a much younger man who is openly attracted to Sakura. When he pursues her, she gives in and starts dating him. What she doesn’t know is that he was actually paid by someone to date her.
However, Hiroto surprises himself when he starts to truly fall for Sakura. What will happen when Sakura finds out the truth?
We hope you enjoyed reading this list of the best Japanese Romance dramas! We’ve tried to keep the synopsis light but engaging enough for you to want to watch them all – and trust us, they’re worth it!
Which Japanese romance drama will you start next?
For more recommendations, you can also read our blog post about the best Japanese dramas that covers different topics.