With the Korean wave still going strong, fans are expanding their horizons more into Aisa. And the rising popularity of Japanese culture is leading the fans toward the Japanese dramas. Just like K-dramas, there are several Japanese dramas having some of the best romance and slice-of-life stories. Also known as ‘Dorama’, the stories are well-written and often leave you thinking about life. Unlike k-dramas, the Japanese dramas are a bit liberal, and the skinship is not limited to handholding and awkward kisses.
As the Japanese dramas get more popular among the new generation, some classics are getting global recognition that they’ve always deserved but were limited because of the borders. Often based on mangas, those who prefer live-action more than animes can resort to these brilliant Japanese dramas to watch their favorite mangas act in front of their eyes.
Some Japanese Romance Dramas You Need To Watch!
For those who just love to binge-watch, Japanese dramas can actually be finished within a day or two. To start your journey with the ‘Doramas’,
1. Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo
The 2013 Japanese drama ‘Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo’, also known as ‘Mischievous Kiss’ is the adaptation of the manga series “Itazura na Kiss” by Tada Karuo. The drama has Yahagi Honoka, Furukawa Yuki, and Yamada Yuki in the main roles. The story follows high school students Kotoko Aihara and Naoki Irie. As Kotoko spots Naoki at a high school entrance ceremony, she can’t help but fall in love. When she finally gets a chance to confess, he rejects her proposal and calls her dumb. But fate wasn’t ready to let the two separate. As a meteorite damages Kotoko’s house, she has no option but to live wherever her family goes.
Moving into her father’s friend, Kotoko gets to know that the boy who rejected her love is going to be her housemate. Extremely popular among Asian drama fans, the Japanese drama has several film adaptations as well. The story throughout the episodes will take you on a journey. From being slightly annoyed to smiling to yourself as we go through the relationship between the two lovers. With each episode having a runtime of 49 minutes, ‘ Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo’ has a total of 16 episodes.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki, WeTV, Crunchyroll, Prime Video
2. 1 Litre of Tears
The 2005 Fuji TV Japanese drama ‘1 Litre of Tears’ is one of the best romance dramas out there. ‘1 Litre of Tears’ stars Sawajiri Erika, Nishikido Ryo, and Yakushimaru Hiroko in the lead. The story follows Ikeuchi Aya, a 15-year-old girl who is about to start high school. She is the daughter of a family who works at a tofu shop. As Ikeuchi’s mother notices that her daughter has been having trouble walking straight, she takes her to the doctor. Getting the results, she gets to know that Ikeuchi is terminally ill. She has spinocerebellar degeneration, where the cerebellum of the brain keeps deteriorating.
The mother and daughter get to know that as the disease takes over, Ikeuchi won’t be able to walk, speak, write, or eat at all. As many fans claim that Japanese drama is based on a true story. From the story to the cast and acting, ‘1 Litre of Tears’ is worth watching as it takes you through an emotional ride with every episode. With each episode having a runtime of 45 minutes, ‘1 Litre of Tears’ has a total of 11 episodes. Looking at the immense success of the Japanese drama, it also got a special episode called 1 Litre no Namida Special. It was shot in the POV of Asou Haruto to give everyone the closure they needed. It also has a Chinese adaptation named ‘Tears of Happiness’.
Where To Watch: Rent it on amazon
3. Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
The 2007 Japanese drama ‘Hanazakari no Kimitachi e’ is something that all of us might’ve dreamt of being a part of at some point in life. It is the live-action adaptation of the webtoon “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e” starring Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, and Ikuta Toma. Being the ultimate dream cliche, the story follows Ashiya Mizuki, a high schooler who moves to Japan from the States. Upon her arrival in the new country, she falls in love with Sano Izumi, a hopeful high jump hero. But as tragedy hits, Sano Izumi had gone through an accident and had quit the sports along with all hope. Wanting her love to not give up midway through life, Ashiya takes the matter into her own hands.
With short hair, a flattened chest, and lowered voice, she disguises herself as a guy. Admitting herself to the same school all-boys boarding school where Izumi goes, Ashiya goes on to share the room with him as well. Along with having an amazing cast, the Japanese drama is lighthearted and funny. Taking us through the impossible yet cliche pot, the drama makes us wish to go to a school as fun as our characters go to. Being one of the immensely successful dramas, it also has a side story special episode. With each episode having a runtime of 45 minutes, ‘Hanazakari no Kimitachi e’ has a total of 12 episodes.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki
4. Rich Man Poor Woman
Another Asian drama cliche, ‘Rich Man Poor Woman’ is the perfect Japanese romance drama for the hopeless romantics. The 2012 drama stars Oguri Sun, Ishihara Satomi, Iura Arata, and Aibu Saki. The story follows Hyuga Toru, a 29-year-old wealthy man, and Sawaki Chihiro, a job seeker. Hyuga has built a website on his own and is making millions from it. But with all the work, the man has forgotten socializing and doubts that people only come to him for money. On the other side, after attending a job fair, Sawaki starts working for Hyuga. Working together, she eventually falls for him but breaking his walls down is not easy.
Despite having a very cliche story and title, ‘Rich Man Poor Woman’ is actually a very interesting story. While many think that the Japanese drama might be a cinderella story, it’s something completely unexpected. There are also special episodes available for the ones who want closure, but the original story is amazing as it is. Throughout the episodes, there are several plot twists that keep the fans on their toes. With each episode having a runtime of 46 minutes, ‘Rich Man Poor Woman’ has a total of 11 episodes.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki, Rent//buy on Amazon
5. Nodame Cantabile
The 2006 slice-of-life Japanese drama ‘Nodame Cantabile’ is the live-action adaptation of the manga “Nodame Cantabile”. The Japanese drama stars Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi as the main leads. Along with an amazing story, the Japanese drama is also known for having one of the best classical music scores. The story follows Megumi Noda, a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music, and Shinichi Chiak, a top student at Momogaoka as well. The two are polar opposites as Megumi is messy and wants to have carefree life while Shinichi is arrogant and ambitious.
Meeting by accident, the Megumi falls for Shinichi, but he takes his time to reciprocate the feelings. As their relationship grows, the two starts growing in their careers as well. ‘Nodame Cantabile’ takes one through the ups and downs of a mature relationship in the competitive world of performing arts. The drama feels extremely relatable to those in love who help each other grow and take risks in life. And if you’ve already read the manga, watching the drama will take you a whole other side. With each episode having a runtime of 46 minutes, ‘Nodame Cantabile’ has a total of 11 episodes.
Where To Watch: Asian Crush
Also Read: Come Back Alive KDrama Ending Explained
6. Koi wa Tsuzuku yo Doko Made mo
Also known as ‘An Incurable Case of Love’, the Japanese drama is another romantic cliche for the hopeless romantic. The drama stars Kamishiraishi Mone, Satoh Takeru, and Karina. The story follows Sakura Nanase, a 22-year-old rookie nurse, and how love affected her life. Meeting Doctor Tendo Kairi years ago, Sakura decides to enter the medical field so she could meet him once again. Five years later, she meets him again, but now the 33-year-old doctor is not the angel she always thought he was. Known as the ‘devil’, Tenodo is a headed perfectionist and doesn’t shy away from tearing his colleague apart if they make a mistake.
No option of going back, she works hard to receive recognition and confesses her feelings. And with her determination, Sakura is named “Warrior. Chick”. As time passes, Tenodo starts having feelings for Sakura too. But with the hectic schedule, workplace romance isn’t easy to achieve. The story is something we’ve always dreamt of doing, or maybe some of us might’ve done. The two characters being polar opposite leads to a lot of twists and turns, this takes the viewers on a lowkey childish journey of what-ifs. ‘Koi wa Tsuzuku yo Doko Made mo’ is one of those medical dramas that are not serious at all. With each episode having a runtime of 51 minutes, ‘Koi wa Tsuzuku yo Doko Made mo’ has a total of 10 episodes.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki
7. Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto
Also known as ‘A Girl & Three Sweethearts’, the Japanese drama is something we’ve always wished to happen in our life as well. Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto stars Kiritani Mirei, Yamazaki Kento, Miura Shohei, and Nomura Shohei. The story follows Sakurai Misaki, a pastry chef. Aspiring to be the best in her work and working for a renowned Patisserie abroad, Sakurai has indulged herself in a no-days off routine. But her dreams are shattered as she’s fired from her job. However, she stumbles upon Shibasaki Chiaki, her first and unrequited love from her school days. As he gets to know about her situation, he offers her a job.
Asking her to work at the seaside restaurant his family runs in Shonan, Shibasaki also Sakurai offers to stay at the family home. Accepting the offer, she moves to Shibasaki’s house, where she meets two more Chiaki siblings. The second brother, Kanata, who is a talented chef, while the third brother Toma, who is a student at the culinary school. As the four live and work together throughout summer, things are bound to happen. Along with having an amazing cast, the drama is filled with cute and fluffy scenes to give you a dopamine boost. With each episode having a runtime of 45 minutes, ‘Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto’ has a total of 10 episodes.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki, Asian Crush, Prime Video
Bonus: Hana Yori Dongi
Also known as ‘Boys Over Flowers’, Hana Yori Dongi is one of the classic Japanese/Asian dramas. The drama stars Inoue Mao, Matsumoto Jun, Oguri Shun, Abe Tsuyoshi, and Matsuda Shota. The story follows Makino Tsukushi, a poor girl who gets a chance to study at one of the elite schools in the city. While she thought that her life would change with the opportunity, it ends up becoming hell as she becomes the target of the ‘F4’.
The F4 includes Domyoji Tsukasa, the leader and heir of the Domyoji World Finance Group; Hanazawa Rui, the introverted son of a large company; Nishikado Sojiro, a player who is the heir of a tea ceremony school; and Mimasaka Akira, a madam killer with ties to the underground. When one day she decides to stand up against the elite bully group, things begin to change as Makino ends up becoming a live interest of the enemies. With each episode having a runtime of 45 minutes, ‘Hana Yori Dongi’ has a total of 9 episodes.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki