This study reviewed research on modeling in science teaching in Japan. Using the “CiNii” search engine, we identified and analyzed 35 articles related to research on modeling in science teaching. These articles were divided into three types: theoretical studies, survey studies, and practical studies. We examined recent trends and the future direction of research on modeling in Japan based on the results of the analysis and comparison with other international research articles. These analyses and comparisons revealed three main findings: a) there were few theoretical studies in Japanese journals; b) the survey studies focused on students’ images (models) of natural phenomena, thinking processes with models, or understanding of the role of scientific models; c) most of the practical studies focused on conceptual formulation. These findings highlight the need for discussion of theoretical frameworks of modeling and students’ characteristics in the context of the science curriculum in Japan, and indicate that we should focus on students’ modeling competence.