Gamasutra contributor Kurt Kalata has the unenviable honour of determining what is surely to be a hotly contested list, a run-down of the best, most essential Japanese role-playing games, most of which have made it stateside. Kalata limits his list to the accepted RPG norm, leaving online and strategy RPGs for a possible future list. Sure, most of the genre's best make appearances—Xenogears, Earthbound, Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millenium—but I'm sure vocal enthusiasts will have their own picks.
For those who are relatively green to the world of JRPGs, it's at the very least an informative read. One that makes me think I should get around to that cheap copy of Chrono Cross that never saw the inside of a PlayStation.
A Japanese RPG Primer: The Essential 20 [Gamasutra]