Japanese language learning, a task that each foreigner living in Japan must go through. Language learning, with all the nuances and shortened words it contains, can be learned profoundly through immersion and experience. Yet for some reason, even though I live in Japan – for a year and a half – my Japanese learning experiences were confined between my classrooms and the cashier from the ‘kombini’ (コンビニ) who would give me my warm, freshly heated out of the microwave, dumpling soup. Even though I hardly speak Japanese, I’ve learned my Japanese not from the structured textbooks we use (I do however, admit that learning from a book gave me the backup I needed to remember, such as vocabulary) but from the dramas I’ve actually watched.

A scene from TV drama, Erased

‘Erased’ – “boku dake ga inai machi” (僕だけがいない街)

This is one of the dramas I’ve watched that I didn’t notice was my way to further improve my Japanese abilities. Erased follows the story of Satoru Fujinuwa, a 29-year-old manga artist, who travels back in time regularly to stop life-threatening accidents before they occur, to save people. When his mother dies of murder and he is accused, Satoru is sent inadvertently back to his old hometown 18 years ago, where three children were kidnapped and murdered. Satoru then must save these children to be able to return and to be able to save his mother in the present.

Thriller Fantasy Mystery Drama with 3 points to Better your Japanese


Erased can be found on Netflix, a streaming site that offers different kinds of dramas and movies and is accessible by anyone, especially foreigners who are used to watching American TV shows. Erased also offers subtitles in Japanese and English (bonus for the Chinese and Korean subtitles). To learn more Japanese words, Japanese subtitles can be added to know what the characters are saying, if there is a Kanji that is understandable or the meaning of the sentence is hard to understand, the subtitles can be easily changed to English to interpret the meaning of the sentence.

A scene from TV drama, Erased

Additional Japanese Learning

When watching Erased, the plot mainly focused on children from Hokkaido, where there is a dialect, using hougen (方言), teaches viewers different words that people from the town would normally use. An example would be “shitake” (したっけ) – a word people from Hokkaido say instead of “soshitara” (そしたら). The drama also uses a narrative approach to the story which can help Japanese language learners since the main character speaks in a slow but understandable voice.

Erased is a thriller drama that isn’t like any other Japanese dramas. With cinematography that is up to par, to the storyline which can make anyone guess the consequent scene, the drama has different climax points that the viewers would not expect. People who have no knowledge and are still not open to watch Japanese dramas – Erased might be the perfect drama – a way to open your gates to a new Japanese way of learning through TV shows.