The Most Popular Drama in Japan, Ranked

Choose the drama you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 16, 2024 06:50
Fans of Japanese drama often find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of series available, each promising a unique blend of storytelling, emotion, and cultural richness. To navigate this landscape, having a clear indication of what is resonating with audiences can provide a practical admission point. A ranked list, shaped by viewer votes, serves as a guide to the must-watch shows as per popular consensus. This mechanism of ranking not only helps newcomers identify where to start but also creates a dynamic community of viewers who participate in shaping the trends. By voting for their favorite dramas, fans contribute to a live dataset that reflects current preferences and shifts in popularity. This ongoing interaction ensures that the list remains fresh and relevant, encouraging a continual engagement with Japanese television artistry.

What Is the Most Popular Drama in Japan?

  1. 1

    Nodame Cantabile

    A quirky romance between a strict conductor and a free-spirited pianist, both music students aiming for their dreams.
    • Year: 2006
    • Genre: Music, Romance, Comedy
  2. 2

    Hana Yori Dango

    Based on the popular manga, it tells the story of a working-class girl at an elite school dealing with a group of wealthy students.
    • Year: 2005
    • Genre: Romance, Drama
  3. 3


    A comedy-drama about a young teacher from a yakuza family who works at a troubled all-boys high school.
    • Year: 2002
    • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  4. 4

    1 Litre of Tears

    A heart-wrenching story based on the real-life struggles of Aya Kito, who was diagnosed with an incurable disease at 15.
    • Year: 2005
    • Genre: Family, Drama
  5. 5

    Shitsuren Chocolatier

    A young chocolatier tries to win over the heart of the woman he loves by creating the perfect chocolate.
    • Year: 2014
    • Genre: Romance, Drama
  6. 6

    Rurouni Kenshin

    A historical drama based on the popular manga, following a wandering samurai who vows never to kill again.
    • Year: 1996-1998
    • Genre: Action, Historical
  7. 7


    A suspenseful story of a man who possesses an ability to travel back in time to prevent tragic events, including a series of kidnappings in his childhood.
    • Year: 2016
    • Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Drama
  8. 8


    A heart-touching story of a woman who decides to save an abused child by becoming her mother.
    • Year: 2010
    • Genre: Family, Drama
  9. 9

    Soredemo, Ikite Yuku

    A profound story of forgiveness and redemption, focusing on two families affected by a tragic incident.
    • Year: 2011
    • Genre: Drama
  10. 10

    Tokyo Love Story

    A classic love drama that explores the complex relationships among a group of friends in Tokyo.
    • Year: 1991
    • Genre: Romance, Drama

Missing your favorite drama?

Error: Failed to render graph
No discussion started, be the first!

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular drama in Japan. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or drama is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 26 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each drama once every 24 hours. The rank of each drama is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

Additional Information

More about the Most Popular Drama in Japan

Nodame Cantabile
Rank #1 for the most popular drama in Japan: Nodame Cantabile (Source)
In Japan, drama series hold a special place in popular culture. The genre has a rich history and continues to evolve. Japanese dramas, often called "dorama," span various themes and styles. They capture the hearts of viewers with their unique storytelling and strong emotional impact.

The roots of Japanese dramas trace back to the early days of television. In the 1950s, Japan saw a surge in TV ownership. This led to the rise of domestic programming. Early dramas were simple, often focusing on family life and daily struggles. They reflected the post-war society and its values.

As time passed, dramas began to diversify. The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of genres like romance and suspense. These stories often featured complex characters and intricate plots. They explored themes of love, betrayal, and moral dilemmas. This era also introduced the concept of the "trendy drama." These shows targeted younger audiences and often featured contemporary settings and issues.

The 1990s marked a golden age for Japanese dramas. This period saw the production of many iconic series. These dramas often had high production values and star-studded casts. They drew large audiences and became cultural phenomena. The themes varied widely, from heartwarming family tales to intense psychological thrillers.

In recent years, Japanese dramas have continued to evolve. They now cover a broad spectrum of genres and topics. There are dramas about historical events, medical issues, and even supernatural occurrences. The rise of streaming services has also changed the landscape. Viewers can now watch their favorite shows anytime, anywhere.

One key element of Japanese dramas is their focus on character development. The stories often delve deep into the personal lives and emotions of the characters. This allows viewers to connect with them on a deeper level. The characters are often relatable, facing issues that many people experience in their own lives.

Another notable aspect is the length and structure of the series. Most Japanese dramas are relatively short, typically running for about 10 to 12 episodes. This concise format allows for tight, focused storytelling. Each episode is crafted to advance the plot and develop the characters.

Music also plays a significant role in Japanese dramas. Theme songs and background scores are carefully chosen to enhance the mood and emotion of the scenes. Many theme songs become hits in their own right, adding to the drama's popularity.

Japanese dramas often feature a mix of established actors and fresh faces. This blend helps to keep the genre dynamic and exciting. Many actors gain fame through their roles in popular dramas, and some even achieve international recognition.

In conclusion, Japanese dramas have a rich and diverse history. They continue to captivate audiences with their compelling stories and well-developed characters. The genre has adapted to changing times and technologies, ensuring its lasting appeal. Whether exploring deep emotional themes or offering light-hearted entertainment, Japanese dramas remain a beloved part of the cultural landscape.

Share this article