If you’re travelling to Japan, when all this pandemic is over, then you should watch at least one of these movies. These are all some of the best ones you could ever watch and you’ll definitely love all of them. Entertainment is something Japanese people take very seriously and that’s why they put all their efforts into these movies.
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Watching movies is, for many people, just something to do at a Sunday evening but there are people who absolutely love to watch movies because of the story they tell, of the culture, of everything in them. It’s important to absorb everything regarding these movies and, most of all, to actually watch them. Japan is one of the greatest countries in the world and their movies are just incredible.
If you visit Japan one day then it’s recommended you watch a movie, even without subtitles, there. You’ll definitely learn something about their culture and be more knowledgeable, which is highly important. You shouldn’t leave Japan before visiting some museums where there are some renown prizes that were given to some studios or even directors. Only true fans of movies will do that, of course. Not everyone has the patience to visit this type of museums, which is understandable. With this list you can start planning what to watch and this is definitely a good list.
Here are the greatest Japanese movies you should watch.
1. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Directed by David Gelb
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a short film that follows the story of an 85 old man called Jiro Ono, that’s considered to be one of the world’s greatest sushi chefs. It was in 1965 that he opened a very small restaurant with only 10 seats in Tokyo called Sukiayabashi Jiro in a subway station. Although of being incredibly very humble, it earned 3 Michelin stars.
2. Godzilla (1954)
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Godzilla is definitely the most iconic film in this country. Since the original, there are have been many remakes and good ones, but there hasn’t been one better. It was in 2014 that Gareth Edwards that directed the best one. Everyone knows what it is about: Godzilla’s home, which is underwater, is impacted by weapons and, therefore, he gets angry and walks through the city, destroying it.
3. The birth of sake (2015)
Directed by Erik Shirai
This movie explores another quintessential Japanese tradition – the art of making sake. It is basically a documentary that dives deep into 2000-year-old techniques that required to brew this beverage. The story is unveiled at the Yoshida Brewery and follows an eclectic cast of experts’ brewers.
4. Seven Samurai (1954)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa is definitely the nation’s most iconic filmmaker. Throughout 57 years of career he has directed over 30 movies, he’s becoming one of the most influential directors worldwide.
Seven Samurai tells the story of a very small village that hires 7 masterless samurai to protect them from bandits who’ve threatened to steal their crops. It’s set in 1586, the film offers a fascinating glimpse of the Sengoku Period of Japanese history.
5. Departures (2008)
Directered by Yokiro Yakita
This movie is based on a cellist called Daigo who loses his job because his orchestra just disbands. Then he and his wife have to move back to their hometown in the north of Japan. He replies to an ad for a job in “departures”, applying to it, assuming it’s a position regarding traveling. Soon, he discovers the ad was actually mistyped and it was for “the departed” and he takes the job as a nokanshi (someone who prepares the body for the coffin or cremation).
6. Akira (1988)
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo
This movie was released in 1988. This one has a story similar to Godzilla, where everything is destroyed by the war. It’s set in Neo Tokyo (in fact, the Tokyo of 2019). The movie’s protagonist are two teens and also a group of psychics who join forces in order to save the city from a dangerous biker gang.
7. Tampopo (1985)
Directed by Juzo Itami
This story is based on Goro, who’s a truck driver who stops at a ramen shop to discover that the ramen there isn’t that great. Due to that, he decides to help the proprietor, Tampopo, and her business by actually discovering which is the secret to make the most incredible ramen.
8. Tokyo Story (1953)
Directed by Yasujiru Ozu
This movie shows how the traditional Japanese family evolved after World War II. It tells the story of Shukichi and Tomi, who are retired, and who travel to the big city in order to visit their children and are faced with changing times and, obviously, with the unavoidable future of their children moving out.
9. Lost in Translation (2003)
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Japan can be a cultural shock for many people. In this movie this concept is very well illustrated since there are 2 Americans who visit Tokyo (Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray). These two, who never met before, share several experiences as they set off together. This is a beautiful movie about the cultural differences when visiting a place you know nothing about.
10. Spirited Away (2001)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
This movie revolves around Chihiro, a little girl who wanders into a magic world ruled by spirits and witches. Humans who are obsessed with greed are turned into beasts. The movie shows a lot of lessons that are steeped in Japanese folklore. What’s important is that Studio Ghibli movies are really known for showing the daily life of Japanese people with amazing detail – especially the quiet moment such as one pours tea, offers something or even just lights incense.