Best Japanese directors

by codswallop-1 | created - 27 Jan 2016 | updated - 31 Jan 2016 | Public

1. Masaki Kobayashi

Director | Ningen no jôken

Masaki Kobayashi was born on February 14, 1916 in Hokkaido, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961), The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) and Harakiri (1962). He died on October 4, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan.

2. Akira Kurosawa

Writer | Ran

After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...

3. Kaneto Shindô

Writer | Ichimai no hagaki

Kaneto Shindô was born on April 22, 1912 in Hiroshima, Japan. He was a writer and director, known for Ichimai no hagaki (2010), Gogo no Yuigon-jo (1995) and The Naked Island (1960). He was married to Nobuko Otowa and Miyo Shindo. He died on May 29, 2012 in Hiroshima.

4. Naomi Kawase

Director | An

Naomi Kawase was born on May 30, 1969 in Nara, Japan. She is a director and writer, known for Sweet Bean (2015), Futatsume no mado (2014) and Moe no suzaku (1997). She was previously married to Takenori Sentô.

5. Hiroshi Teshigahara

Director | Suna no onna

Hiroshi Teshigahara was born the son of Sofu Teshigahara who was the founder of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana (flower arrangement). In 1950, he graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in oil painting. In 1958, he became the director of Sogetsu Art Centre and took a ...

6. Kon Ichikawa

Director | Inugami-ke no ichizoku

Kon Ichikawa has been influenced by artists as diverse as Walt Disney and Jean Renoir, and his films cover a wide spectrum of moods, from the comic to the overwhelmingly ironic and even the perverse. Ichikawa began his career as a cartoonist, and this influence is apparent in his skillful use of ...

7. Nagisa Ôshima

Director | Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

Nagisa Oshima's career extends from the initiation of the "Nuberu bagu" (New Wave) movement in Japanese cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to the contemporary use of cinema and television to express paradoxes in modern society. After an early involvement with the student protest movement in ...

8. Mamoru Hosoda

Director | Toki o kakeru shôjo

Mamoru Hosoda is a Japanese film director and animator. Formerly employed at Toei Animation, he went to work at Madhouse from 2005 to 2011. Hosoda left Madhouse in 2011 to establish his own animation studio, Studio Chizu. He first came to public attention in the early 2000s with the first two films...

9. Satoshi Kon

Writer | Papurika

Satoshi Kon was born in 1963. He studied at the Musashino College of the Arts. He began his career as a Manga artist. He then moved to animation and worked as a background artist on many films (including Roujin Z (1991) by 'Katsuhiro Otomo'). Then, in 1995, he wrote an episode of the anthology film ...

10. Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Director | Tokyo Sonata

Kiyoshi Kurosawa was born on July 19, 1955 in Kobe, Japan. He is a director and writer, known for Tokyo Sonata (2008), Kairo (2001) and Kishibe no tabi (2015).

11. Yasujirô Ozu

Director | Tôkyô monogatari

Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first ...

12. Kenji Mizoguchi

Director | Saikaku ichidai onna

Coming from a lower class family Mizoguchi entered the production company Nikkatsu as an actor specialized in female roles. Later he became an assistant director and made his first film in 1922. Although he filmed almost 90 movies in the silent era, only his last 12 productions are really known ...

13. Takeshi Kitano

Actor | Zatôichi

Takeshi Kitano originally studied to become an engineer, but was thrown out of school for rebellious behavior. He learned comedy, singing and dancing from famed comedian Senzaburô Fukami. Working as a lift boy on a nightclub with such features as comic sketches and striptease dancing, Kitano saw ...

14. Takashi Miike

Director | Koroshiya 1

Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura, ...

15. Hirokazu Koreeda

Director | Dare mo shiranai

Born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at T.V. Man Union. Snuck off set to film Mou hitotsu no kyouiku - Ina shogakkou haru gumi no kiroku (1991). His first feature, Maborosi (1995), ...

16. Teinosuke Kinugasa

Director | Jigokumon

Former female impersonator who entered films in 1917 as an actor, turned to directing in 1922 and made some of the most formally brilliant Japanese films of the following decades. The few of Kinugasa's early works to have reached the West betray a highly mature, sophisticated talent. His best-known...

17. Hiroshi Inagaki

Director | Wasurerareta kora

Inagaki's career in film began as an actor--a child actor, in fact, appearing in numerous silent films beginning at the very dawn of Japanese cinema. This is probably why he was promoted to director at the unusually (for Japan) young age of 22. Along with producer Mansaku Itami (later the father of...

18. Yôji Yamada

Writer | Tasogare Seibei

Yamada Yoji graduated Tokyo University in 1954, the year he joined Shochiku as an assistant director. In 1969, he launched the popular "Tora-san" series, the world's longest theatrical film series. "The Twilight Samurai" (Tasogare Seibei (2002)) marks his 77th film as well as his 41th year as a ...

19. Yôjirô Takita

Director | Okuribito

Born in Takaoka, Toyama, Yojiro Takita came to international audiences' attention with the release of Okuribito ('Departures'), which won the Best foreign Language film awards at the Oscars in 2009. He had begun his directorial career in the 1980s with the 'chikan' ('molester') series depicting ...

20. Tetsuya Nakashima

Director | Kokuhaku

Tetsuya Nakashima was born on September 2, 1959 in Fukuoka, Japan. He is a director and writer, known for Kokuhaku (2010), Kiraware Matsuko no isshô (2006) and Shimotsuma monogatari (2004).

21. Koreyoshi Kurahara

Director | Nankyoku monogatari

Koreyoshi Kurahara was born on May 31, 1927 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. He was a director and writer, known for Nankyoku monogatari (1983), Eight Below (2006) and Kaitei kara kita onna (1959). He died on December 28, 2002 in Yokohama, Japan.

22. Hideo Gosha

Director | Goyôkin

Hideo Gosha was born on February 26, 1929 in Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Goyôkin (1969), Yôkirô (1983) and Onimasa (1982). He died on August 30, 1992.

23. Keisuke Kinoshita

Writer | Nijûshi no hitomi

Keisuke Kinoshita was born on December 5, 1912 in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan. He was a writer and director, known for Twenty-Four Eyes (1954), The Ballad of Narayama (1958) and The Garden of Women (1954). He died on December 30, 1998 in Tokyo, Japan.

24. Hayao Miyazaki

Director | Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. The entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking animation in his films have earned him international renown from critics as well as public recognition within Japan. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to introduce the ...

25. Isao Takahata

Director | Hotaru no haka

Isao Takahata was born on October 29, 1935 in Ise, Mie, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Grave of the Fireflies (1988), The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) and Only Yesterday (1991). He died on April 5, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.

26. Hiroshi Shimizu

Director | Kanzashi

The director was the subject of a retrospective when ten of his films were screened at the 2003 Tokyo Filmex. The event coincided with what would have been Shimizu's hundredth birthday.

27. Kihachi Okamoto

Director | Dai yûkai

Okamoto belonged to what one colleague called "the generation where most of them got killed": the leagues of university graduates who were drafted into and sacrificed to the last years of Japan's war in the South Pacific. Okamoto was drafted during the very worst of it, in 1943, but almost alone ...

28. Shôhei Imamura

Director | Kuroi ame

Shohei Imamura's films dig beneath the surface of Japanese society to reveal a wellspring of sensual, often irrational, energy that lies beneath. Along with his colleagues Nagisa Ôshima and Masahiro Shinoda, Imamura began his serious directorial career as a member of the New Wave movement in Japan....

29. Mikio Naruse

Director | Ukigumo

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 819-826. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

30. Jûzô Itami

Writer | Osôshiki

A tragic end belies a life led with purpose. The son of a successful filmmaker, Juzo Itami made his name acting in television and films before making a late career shift into screenwriting and directing at age 50. Known to choose the subjects of his films through everyday observations, he often ...



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