Well at the time I was a kid (I'm 25) JRPG's were first becoming somewhat mainstream on consoles in the US, and most of them were pretty high in quality.
Square had things on lock and so did many other developers.
I'm guessing this is when most gamer's were introduced to JRPG's in the 90's. If you knew about them before then then you were in a very small community of people who knew about them and what they were.
My favorite is FF7 because it just blew me away at the time even though FF9 is the best.
Nah. People knew about RPGs during the 90s and 80s and these games were the option for those who weren't as big on Action games as your typical Arcade goer were.
The issue was that many companies/localizers at the time thought that the market was predominately oriented towards Action and Sports games over talky RPGs and figured that numbers were way too hard for kids to understand (because only kids played video games, hence why they were called 'games').
Though admittedly, a lot of JRPGs back then were low effort pieces of crap since they just took a Dragon Quest game, redo the sprites to resemble whatever popular Anime/inspiration you took from the Anime of the time and made a game around that (or better yet a first person dungeon crawler, much along the lines of the very first computer Role Playing Games).
Back then, the Big 3 (in reference to console JRPGs) were Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy from Enix, Sega and Square respectfully, with Falcom's stuff on PCs and while developers like Atlus, Camelot, Quintet, Capcom and Nintendo (plus subsidiaries) among many many others, were largely the outliers that put out RPGs of lesser quality or treated them as secondary at best (such as in the cases of Capcom and Nintendo).
To make matters even more confusing, some of what the West considers popular or classics like Terranigma or Lunar: The Silver Star were merely blips on the radar in Japan while classics in Japan like Seiken Densetsu 3 and Romancing SaGa 2 are stranded in Japan with emulation (and the rare importer) being the only exposure of these games in the West.