It’s no secret that Japan is one of the best food, fashion, and travel hubs with a rich history that’s been well-documented in music, film, and video games.
When it comes to games, in particular, countless iterations of the island nation have appeared based on both historical and contemporary Japan.
In this list, we’ll showcase the best games set in Japan that do a great job of illustrating the country’s beauty and culture through captivating visuals and storytelling.
We hope you enjoy the ride!
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Platforms: Windows, PS5, Xbox Series X/S
If you’re looking to play the best open-world games set in Japan, look no further than Ghostwire: Tokyo.
In it, you take on the role of a young man who finds himself alone after a mysterious supernatural event wipes out all of Tokyo’s population.
Desperate for answers, he sets out to explore the city while learning to harness his new powers against otherworldly creatures.
The game is notable for its detailed recreation of modern-day Tokyo complete with real-world locations.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Switch
Next up, the Yomawari series is a solid suggestion for fans of psychological horror games looking for a good scare with tons of atmosphere.
Consisting of three games: Night Alone, Midnight Shadows, and Lost in the Dark, the series follows a small girl navigating the darkness in a rustic Japanese village.
Throughout her journey, she encounters malevolent ghosts and a host of other supernatural horrors based on Japanese mythology.
Since you don’t have any real means of defense, your only options are to run, hide, and when all else fails, shut your eyes and hope they’ll leave you alone.
Persona 5 Royal
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch
Without a doubt one of the best video games set in Japan, Persona 5 Royal is an enhanced port of the beloved JRPG by Atlus with additional content.
The story centers on a new student who gets transferred to a high school in modern-day Tokyo and begins settling into his new life by making friends, getting a job, and looking for love.
Along the way, he meets many unique characters with complex and emotionally-compelling stories that evolve based on the player’s choices.
This is further complemented by mechanically robust turn-based battles in which you and your party take on the moniker of the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts.”
Ghost of Tsushima
Platforms: PS5, PS4
Our next suggestion for the best games set in Japan is none other than the PlayStation-exclusive action-adventure title Ghost of Tsushima.
Set in Feudal Japan during the first Mongolian invasion of Tsushima Island, the game casts you as a samurai battling to defend his home.
However, since this is an open-world game, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go out and explore Tsushima Island’s beautiful environments.
Doing so reveals a ton of small details that pay homage to Japan’s history while immersing the player in one of the most captivating video game settings.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Another fictional take on a real part of Japanese history, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice casts you as a shinobi living during the Sengoku period.
After losing his arm and master, your character sets out to exact revenge against the samurai clan who wronged him while fighting anyone who tries to get in his way.
As is the case with most FromSoftware games, the journey is littered with tough bossfights that demand quick reflexes and precision.
Beyond that, the world is free to explore and offers a wide range of carefully crafted, stunning locations.
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS4
Keeping with the Sengoku theme, the Nioh series is another Soulslike title that puts its own dark fantasy spin on Japan’s historic legacy.
The story serves as a fictionalized retelling of William Adams, the only Western samurai known to have existed in the country’s past.
While the Sengoku period is already known for its political turmoil and clan warfare, Nioh introduces another layer by having powerful Yokai emerge from the shadows.
The mix of Japanese-inspired myth and folklore combined with lovingly reimagined Sengoku period landscapes make for a captivating journey worth experiencing.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS3, Xbox One
Arguably the best video game series set in Japan, Yakuza chronicles the turbulent lifestyle of Japanese mobsters across multiple decades and families.
Yakuza 0 is one of the most well-received entries in the franchise and follows street thug Kazuma Kiryu’s rise to power after being framed for murder and having to rebuild his empire.
This entails navigating the streets of Kamurocho’s red-light district to earn money, make connections, and beat down rival gangs.
When you’re not busy committing crimes, you’re free to explore a wealth of funny mini-games and side missions that shine a light on the more lighthearted side of Japanese culture.
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S
Serving as a spin-off to the Yakuza series, Judgment follows former lawyer-turned-detective Takayuki Yagami as he scours the streets of Kamurocho to investigate a string of murders.
Much like the mainline games, Judgment spends a lot of time exploring its unique cast of characters as well as the city itself.
As such, there are plenty of activities and Easter Eggs to discover while exploring the world, including an arcade filled with classic Sega games and a side quest about finding stray cats.
The sequel, Lost Judgment, maintains this spirit with even wackier mini-games and side quests that warrant yet another trip to Tokyo’s red-light district.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux
Going back further to the Japanese Edo period, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a hardcore tactical stealth strategy game by Mimimi Games.
In it, you’re tasked with commanding a team of samurais and ninjas as they infiltrate enemy camps to assassinate warlords, gather intel, and carry out other spy objectives.
Each mission requires you to make full use of your team’s unique abilities, weapons, and tools to sneak by guards or eliminate them without raising suspicion.
A big part of this entails leveraging the game’s historically accurate environments to crouch across rooftops and dispose of bodies.
Samurai Warriors 5
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Our next suggestion for Japan-based games is Samurai Warriors 5, a hack-and-slash action game that comes from a long line of similar Musou titles.
Set during Japan’s Sengoku period, the game reimagines the series with updated painterly visuals that breathe new life into environments and characters.
To this point, Samurai Warriors 5 features a revamped roster of heroes with weapons and abilities that strike the perfect balance between tactical and action-driven combat.
This makes it one of the best options for fans of the genre looking to play the best games set in Japan.
NEO: The World Ends With You
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Switch
Featuring a colorful rendition of Japan’s Shibuya district, NEO: The World Ends with You is a critically-acclaimed action RPG by Square Enix.
In it, you take on the role of a Rindo, a teenage boy with psychic powers who’s forced to risk his existence by competing in the “Reapers’ Game.”
This plays out across a series of RPG battle-inspired challenges spread out across the stylishly animated streets of Shibuya.
The game’s stylized 2.5D graphics coupled with a hard-hitting soundtrack and clever use of its Japanese setting result in a memorable JRPG that will certainly appeal to genre fans.
Katamari Damacy REROLL
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch
Bridging the gap between wholesome visuals and challenging gameplay, Katamari Damacy is one of the more unique entries on this list of games set in Japan.
Best described as an action-puzzle game, it sees you controlling a tiny prince as he rolls up objects into giant balls at the behest of his father, the King of Cosmos.
The purpose for doing so is to replace all the stars in space after the King accidentally destroys them, leaving Japan and likely the whole world, thoroughly confused.
While difficult in the early goings, this game becomes a lot more fun once your Katamari grows large enough to consume bigger objects like Japanese citizens, buildings, and entire villages.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, iOS, Android
When it comes to Japanese game development, the country is known to produce some of the best visual novel games of all time.
Among these is Steins;Gate, a story-rich sci-fi adventure game that’s gone on to receive its own manga and anime adaptations.
Set in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, it centers on Okabe Rintarou, a mad scientist who stumbles upon a method for time travel using a microwave.
While things start innocent enough, it’s not long before Rintarou is forced to confront the consequences of his actions when the world collapses into chaos.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Platforms: Switch, Wii U
Initially conceived as a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem that eventually came into its own, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is an interesting addition to this list.
In it, you guide a group of rising pop star teens as they battle an army of interdimensional demons that have infiltrated modern-day Tokyo.
How exactly do they do this? By singing, dancing, and acting their way through turn-based RPG battles with help from notable Fire Emblem heroes.
The best way to experience this bizarrely satisfying rhythm RPG mashup these days is via the enhanced Switch port with additional songs, playable characters, and story content.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS2, Xbox One, Switch
Another classic video game set in Japan, Onimusha: Warlords drops players into a supernatural reimagining of Sengoku-era Japan.
Faced with the return of the Nobunaga after having risen from the dead with his demon army, the hero Samanosuke is forced to bear arms and defend his home.
Further complicating things is the high level of tension and political upheaval taking place among various clans during this period.
However, the main focus is Onimusha’s hack-and-slash combat, which still holds up in 2023 thanks to a faithful remaster that preserves Warlords’ stylish gameplay and dramatic storytelling.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS3, PS2, Xbox One, Switch, Wii
Regarded as one of the best action-adventure games of the mid-2000s, Okami implements a very distinct art style based on traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e paintings.
This affinity for Japanese culture carries over to the game’s story and setting, with you taking on the role of the Shinto Sun Goddess Amaterasu.
Appearing in the form of a white wolf, Amaterasu is burdened with sealing away the demon Orochi using a Celestial Brush.
Doing so allows her to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and traverse an open world based on Japan but referred to in-game by its formal name “Nippon.”
Platforms: PS3, PS Vita
To conclude our list of the best games set in Japan, we’re highlighting a sleeper hit that first appeared on the PSN store, Tokyo Jungle.
Combining open-world exploration with arcade-inspired combat, this rather unique title sees you navigating a post-apocalyptic Tokyo where humans have completely disappeared.
In mankind’s absence, animals have risen up to form packs and stake their claim over different territories throughout the city.
Picking from a wide selection of animal classes ranging from common pets to exotic wildlife, you’ll fight for survival while piecing together the mystery behind Tokyo’s collapse.