Mainland stocks finished the week at fresh multi-year highs, while their Japanese peers settled just a whisker away from a psychological 20,000-point mark. Apart from hopes of stronger corporate earnings, tepid consumer inflation in the world's second-largest economy lifted trading sentiment.
The mainland's consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.4 percent on year, above expectations of a 1.3 percent rise predicted in a Reuters poll and following a 1.4 percent rise in February. Wholesale prices, or the producer price index (PPI), fell 4.6 percent in March, better than the average forecast of a 4.6 percent, and after dropping 4.8 percent in February.
Overnight, U.S. stocks closed higher after trading in a narrow range, with energy shares up on the back of a rebound in the price of crude oil. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4 and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Nikkei slips 0.2%
Japan's Nikkei 225 index crossed the 20,000 milestone for the first time since April 2000 at Friday's open, but quickly pulled back seemingly on the back of profit-taking and as the dollar-yen ticked down slightly to 120.5.
The bourse settled at 19,937 on Thursday - a 15-year peak for the second straight session - as foreign investors jumped in amid expectations that Japan Inc will start coughing up more cash to shareholders.
According to Ben Collett, head, Japan & Asian Equities at Sunrise Brokers, the Nikkei's rally still has legs: "The long-term outlook for the market, given the Bank of Japan's policy and what they will do for the yen, looks pretty good."
Index heavyweight Fast Retailing is in the spotlight after upgrading its forecast for annual profit and sales projection as sales for its casual wear brand Uniqlo grew quicker-than-expected. The stock was up 2.5 percent, hitting fresh record highs.
Lawson dived 4.3 percent, chalking up its biggest one-day drop in two years, after the convenience store operator's earnings guidance came in below market expectations.
Mainland indices choppy
China's Shanghai Composite index bounced up nearly 2 percent to a seven-year high as latest inflation data signaled a favorable environment for further government stimulus.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rebounded back into positive territory, rising 1.3 percent to its highest level since January 2008. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Hong Kong-listed mainland companies notched up 1.7 percent.
The surge in buying over the past three sessions was sparked by Beijing's decision to let mainland money managers buy H-shares last week, as well as a recent move by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission to allow mainland insurance firms to invest in Hong Kong's Growth Enterprise Market for the first time.
"What they are trying to do is to take the steam out of China's local market and redirect some of the liquidity into Hong Kong [so that] eventually Hong Kong will be at a very high level," Viktor Shvets, Asia head of Strategy Research at Macquarie, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box."
GF Securities - the mainland's fourth-largest securities firm by assets - soared over 30 percent to HK$25.40 in its market debut on Friday. The Shenzhen-listed company had priced its shares at HK$18.85 - the top of the indicative range - raising $3.6 billion, according to an April 2 statement.
ASX adds 0.6%
Australian shares climbed up steadily through Friday, thanks to a direction reversal in the banking space, recouping all of the resources-led losses in the previous session.
Laggards on the S&P ASX 200 index include global miner BHP Billiton, which extended losses to decline 0.2 percent, following another slide in its U.S. ADRs overnight. Fortescue Metals also dropped 4 percent.
Kospi rises 1.4%
South Korea's Kospi index scaled an 8-month high, with automakers, retailers and brokerage houses leading advances.
Among gainers, Hyundai Securities and Samsung Securities made gains of 11.3 and 7.3 percent each on the back of expectations for improved first-quarter earnings. SK Hynix and Hyundai Motor rose 4.1 and 3.7 percent, respectively.
Shares of Samsung Electronics elevated 0.5 percent, with the global launch of its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones.
The South Korean won briefly cut losses against the greenback after Moody's Investors Service changed the country's ratings outlook to positive from stable, citing factors like improved management of public corporation debt. The local currency shed 0.2 percent to last trade at 1,093 per dollar.
Noble Group fights back
Shares of Noble Group rebounded 3.5 percent by mid-day trade, a day after investment research firm Muddy Waters questioned the commodity trader's financial strength and governance.
On early Friday, the Hong Kong-based company rejected Muddy Water's report as "inaccurate, unreliable and misleading." Noble's shares have been hammered ever since Iceberg Research unleashed a slew of critical reports two months ago.
— CNBC's John Phillips contributed to this report