Yeah there is a lot of overhype with Japanese denim as well. I am strictly speaking of quality brands like Samurai, Pure Blue, Oni, Momo, etc. The stuff All Saints use, Naked and Famous, Unbranded, Gap denim, PRPS Goods and Co, it's cheap Japanese denim that can be had as little as $80, but quality is in line with the price you pay.
Quality is all over the place for both “Japanese” and Cone.
My ROYS from last year really impressed me with their Cone denim. Ditto for my Tellason 16.75 oz.
Had a few pair of N&F in the past and the denim was not impressive at all. My RRL low straight raws from 2012 have been my favorite pair of raws to break in.