The Best From Japan

My Favorite Japanese Movies.
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1.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime. (134 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
“ With a great story, beautiful art, a great director, and a great composer, Mononoke-hime (もののけ姫) has it all. In my opinion, this is Miyazaki at his best! ” - mrellis64
 
2.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet. (117 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
3.
Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Depicts the early life of the legendary warrior Musashi Miyamoto; his years as an aspiring warrior, an outlaw and finally a true samurai. (93 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
4.
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Musashi Miyamoto returns to Kyoto after years of absence. After a series of fights against the Yoshioka School, he challenges its master to a duel. (104 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
5.
Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Musashi Miyamoto is challenged to a duel by a confident swordsman Sasaki Kojiro. He agrees to fight him in a year's time. (105 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
6.
47 Samurai (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
After their lord is tricked into committing ritual suicide, forty-seven samurai warriors await the chance to avenge their master and reclaim their honor. (207 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
7.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby. (86 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
8.
Kwaidan (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes. (183 mins.)
 
9.
Yojimbo (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town. (110 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
10.
The Hidden Blade (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends... (132 mins.)
Director: Yôji Yamada
 
11.
Love and Honor (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A look at the relationship between a young blind samurai (Kimura) and his wife, who will make a sacrifice in order to defend her husband's honor. (121 mins.)
Director: Yôji Yamada
 
12.
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves. (207 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
13.
Castle in the Sky (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle. (125 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
14.
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and the boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses. (111 mins.)
 
15.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his renowned Tokyo restaurant, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu. (81 mins.)
Director: David Gelb
“ This is a great documentary, even if you don't like sushi, full of life lessons. It is interesting, inspirational, informative and enlightening. I give it two thumbs up, five stars and highly recommend it to one and all. We could all learn a lot about life and professional passion from this sushi master. Jiro Ono is my new hero. ” - mrellis64
 
16.
Porco Rosso (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In 1930s Italy, a veteran World War I pilot is cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig. (94 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
17.
Spirited Away (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts. (125 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
18.
Harakiri (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn. (133 mins.)
 
19.
Ugetsu (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A fantastic tale of war, love, family and ambition set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century. (96 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
20.
Ran (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Set in Japan in the 16th century (or so), an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them, or cause them to turn on each other...and him... (162 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
21.
Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
In mediaeval Japan a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him... (124 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
22.
Departures (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A newly unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for funerals. (130 mins.)
Director: Yôjirô Takita
“ A truly touching film that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. ” - mrellis64
 
23.
Zatoichi (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The blind masseur/swordsman comes to a town in control of warring gangs, and while bunking with a farming family, he meets two women with their own agenda. (116 mins.)
Director: Takeshi Kitano
“ This movie has something for everyone: action, adventure, comedy, a dance number, and more than a few surprises. ” - mrellis64
 
24.
The Twilight Samurai (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A 19th-century samurai tries to protect a battered wife. (129 mins.)
Director: Yôji Yamada
“ A realistic period film with a believable samurai I can relate to. ” - mrellis64
 
25.
Shall We Dance? (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A successful but unhappy Japanese accountant finds the missing passion in his life when he begins to secretly take ballroom dance lessons. (136 mins.)
Director: Masayuki Suo
 
26.
Legend of Eight Samurai (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Princess Shizu's family is wiped out by an family of undead seeking revenge. The eight samurai can save her, but who and where are they? (133 mins.)
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
“ While "Legend of Eight Samurai" will never be considered a classic by Hollywood standards, it is a highly entertaining film. ” - mrellis64
 
27.
The Ninja Wars (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A fortuneteller prophesizes that whoever marries the beautiful Ukio will become the ruler of the world... (100 mins.)
Director: Kôsei Saitô
“ "The Ninja Wars" will never be considered a classic by Hollywood standards either but it is an interesting story and entertaining. ” - mrellis64
 
28.
Fires on the Plain (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In the closing days of WWII remnants of the Japanese army in Leyte are abandoned by their command and face certain starvation. (108 mins.)
Director: Kon Ichikawa
 
29.
Throne of Blood (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider's Web Castle. (110 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
30.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. (89 mins.)
Director: Isao Takahata
 
31.
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle. (119 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
32.
Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A radio play is going to go on air at a Tokyo radio station. It is a weepy melodrama written by housewife Miyako... (103 mins.)
Director: Kôki Mitani
 
33.
Godzilla (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast. (96 mins.)
Director: Ishirô Honda
“ Gojira makes my list for two reasons: 1. I believe Gojira has an important, powerful message with a strong plot. 2. I have fond memories of staying up late, watching this movie and eating pizza when I was a kid. ” - mrellis64
 
34.
Onibaba (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask. (103 mins.)
Director: Kaneto Shindô
 
35.
Zen (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
'Zen' Buddhist teacher Dogen Zenji is a very important religious person during the Kamakura period, 750 years ago... (127 mins.)
“ I like this movie for three reasons:

1. What I like to call the Zen cinematography. In other words, Noriyuki Mizuguchi is able to present some of the everyday things we encounter, and unfortunately take for granted, as they truly are in their beautiful, awe-inspiring form.

2. Takashi Sasano has a very small, yet important, role in the movie. He has also appeared in Departures, Kabei: Our Mother, and Love and Honor. I happen to think he is a fine actor.

3. In only 127 minutes, Banmei Takahashi is able to highlight some of the most important events and teachings of Zen Master Dogen. ” - mrellis64
 
36.
Swing Girls (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A tale of delinquent and lazy school girls. In their efforts to cut remedial summer math class, they end up poisoning and replacing the schools brass band. (105 mins.)
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
 
37.
Tampopo (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A truck driver stops at a small family-run noodle shop and decides to help its fledgling business. The story is intertwined with various vignettes about the relationship of love and food. (114 mins.)
Director: Jûzô Itami
 
38.
Ringu (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Ruthlessly murdered by her father, the ghost of a seer's daughter kills all those who watch a weird video after 7 days; unless the viewer finds the escape clause. (96 mins.)
Director: Hideo Nakata
 
39.
Rashomon (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view. (88 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
40.
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines. However, they do not realize that their companions are actually a princess and her general. (139 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
41.
Kabei: Our Mother (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Based on childhood days of Teruyo Nogami. (133 mins.)
Director: Yôji Yamada
“ A heart-wrenching story with a strong performance by Sayuri Yoshinaga. ” - mrellis64
 
42.
Ikiru (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer. (143 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa