The 7 best Japanese movies for beginners!


In this article, I’m going to share with you my 7 recommendations for Japanese movies. In fact I loved movies so much that I almost failed to finish my sophomore year of college after watching 500 movies a year.

If you’re one of those people who wants to see a Japanese film but doesn’t know where to start, here’s my list of 7 Japanese movies.

As a “beginner’s guide”, I will introduce films that are new to you as much as possible.

First of all, I have picked out seven films that I thought were the most popular.

I’ve only introduced one such film in this book that is difficult or selective to watch.

Directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Sono Sion, and Takashi Miike will be introduced.

Let’s get to the main topic.

Spirited Away(千と千尋の神隠し)

Spirited Away

Spirited Away is an animated feature film produced by Studio Ghibli.

It is directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Here is a rough synopsis of the film.

Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl, heads anxiously to her new home due to a sudden decision to move.

She and her parents get lost in a mysterious world, and when they break the rules, they are turned into pigs.

Alone and at a loss, Chihiro meets Yubaba with the help of a mysterious boy, Haku, and ends up working at a bathhouse.

The unfamiliar job throws her for a loop, but she gradually finds her place in the world, and when she realizes that Haku is being manipulated by Yubaba, she begins to want to help him.

Through various encounters and experiences, Chihiro matures in order to help her parents and Haku, and to return to her own world.

And so the story begins.

It earned 30.8 billion yen at the box office, making it Japan’s top grossing film of all time.

It has a very high global reputation.

It was entered in the competition section of the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival and won the Golden Bear for best film.

It won the 75th Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

It has also won four Annie Awards, three 25th Japan Academy Awards, and a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 57th British Academy Awards, among countless other awards.

I recommend this one.

It’s worth watching.



This is a film about the Japanese Mafia Yakuza, directed by Takeshi Kitano.

The main themes are “We are all bad.” and “rebellion against authority”.

The characters are all bad guys with strong personalities who are willing to do anything to get money and power.

Kitano’s signature humor is sprinkled throughout the horrific violence.

This gives the film a somewhat refreshing atmosphere, despite the fact that it’s a film about the internal battles of the yakuza.

Here’s a rough synopsis of the film.

The Sanno-kai, a huge violent organization that controls the whole of the Kanto region, complains to Ikemoto’s direct subordinates, the Ikemoto clan, that they should shut down the Murase clan, which Ikemoto has a relationship with.Ikemoto passes the task on to his subordinate, the leader of the Otomo clan (Takeshi Kitano).

This is how the Otomo clan begins its uphill battle against a huge violent organization. Watch the film to see how it ends!

It competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. It is followed by Beyond Outrage (2012) and Outrage Coda (2017).

In addition to Outrage, Takeshi Kitano’s films were first appreciated throughout France and by the upper classes in England, before spreading to the rest of the world.

The film has received an R15+ designation because it contains numerous scenes of extreme violence and torture.

For this reason, people who don’t like violence should not watch it.

Like Father, Like Son(そして父になる)

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son is a 2013 Japanese film.

It was produced by Hirokazu Kore-eda.

Here is a rough synopsis of the film.

The architect Ryota Nonomiya (Fukuyama Masaharu) is leading a peaceful life with his wife, Midori, and their six-year-old son, Keita.

One day, Ryota and Midori go to the hospital where Keita was born after receiving a call from the hospital.

On their way to the hospital, they are told that Keita is someone else’s child and that the nurse had mistaken her for someone else.

The child is Ryuharu, the child of Mr. and Mrs. Saiki. Ryota and Midori are shocked to find out this news.

What will happen to the family?

The film won the Jury Prize at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

Steven Spielberg, who saw the film at Cannes International Film Festival fell in love with it and had a conversation with Kore-eda.

As a result, it was decided to remake the film at DreamWorks, an American film company.

However, it seems that there is no prospect of a film being made yet.

The Ring(リング)

The Ring

The Ring is a Japanese horror film released in 1998.

It is based on Suzuki Koji’s novel of the same name, The Ring, which pursues the mystery of a “cursed video tape” that brings death to its viewers a week later.

It is directed by Hideo Nakata.

Here’s a rough synopsis of the film.

There is a cursed video that is rumored to be on the street, and those who watch it will die within a week.

How do you break the video’s curse?

Journalist Reiko Asakawa and her ex-husband, Ryuji Takayama, search for a way to break the curse of the video in order to save their son who has seen it.

Will they survive?

Watch and find out.

This movie sparked the Japanese horror craze that would follow.Some of you may know it as it has been remade in Hollywood.

However, the Japanese version is rated much higher than the Hollywood remake version.

So if you get a chance, you may want to watch the original Japanese film.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale(Hachi 約束の犬)

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

This is an American film produced by the famous Swedish director Lasse Hallström.

It stars Richard Gere. It’s a remake of the 1987 Japanese film “Hachiko Monogatari”, which was released in 1987.

Here’s a rough synopsis of the film.

In Bedridge Station, Parker, a university professor, rescues a lost Akita puppy from the station and brings it home.

Despite the objections of his wife, who is still mourning the loss of their previous dog, Parker decides to adopt the puppy.

The puppy is named “Hachitaro” because the Chinese character for “eight” was engraved on the collar he was wearing.

Hachi grows up quickly withParker’s affection, and it becomes habit to see him off at the station every morning then pick him up at 5:00 p.m. People around him watch with a smile.

But those happy days are brought to an end by a sudden tragedy.

What will happen next?

Tales of the Rainy Moon(雨月物語)

Tales of the Rainy Moon

Ugetsu Monogatari is a film released in 1953 and produced by a director named Kenji Mizoguchi.

It was made by the director Kenji Mizoguchi.

The film “depicts two couples at the mercy of warfare and an ethereal world that lives side by side with reality.This is just the beginning.

It’s a very old movie but I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Japanese history and culture.

It is based on a book that was published in 1776. The film depicts people at the mercy of war and desire in an ethereal visual style.

It is highly regarded abroad as one of the best films ever made.

It is a p winner of the Leone d’Argento at the 13th Venice International Film Festival.

Like all of Mizoguchi’s films, it has also had a major influence on Nouvelle Vague filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette, as well as Martin Scorsese.

Grave of the Fireflies(火垂るの墓)

Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies is a Japanese animated film produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata, released in 1988.

The following is a brief synopsis of the film.

Set in Kobe and the suburbs of Nishinomiya City in Hyogo Prefecture, the film depicts a 14-year-old brother and his 4-year-old sister, who lost their parents during the Great War, as they desperately try to survive in the chaos around the end of the war, but their wishes are not fulfilled and they tragically die of malnutrition.

This is the story.

It’s a very sad movie, but it gives us a chance to think and reflect.I think this sentence sums it all up: “The best movie you’ll never want to see again.”

I completely agree with this statement.

Grave of the Fireflies is an animated film, but I think it’s a classic on par with Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Roman Polanski’s The Pianist.

An animated film like this would never be made by Disney.


This time, I’ve introduced the following seven “recommended Japanese films”.

  1. Spirited Away(千と千尋の神隠し)
  2. Outrage(アウトレイジ)
  3. Like Father, Like Son(そして父になる)
  4. The Ring(リング)
  5. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale(Hachi 約束の犬)
  6. Ugetsu Monogatari(雨月物語)
  7. Grave of the Fireflies(火垂るの墓)

These are just a handful of my many recommended Japanese films.

Some of you may have been lucky enough to have already seen all of these films.