The Best Japanese Films Ever Made

by Voglersama

Created 07/30/12

Edit List

I'm sure I may be omitting some truly great films from my list, but these are the greatest Japanese films I've seen.


  • By ethan2
    November 28, 2012
    02:12 AM

    i saw a b&w japanese film recently but neither know the name or the director's. it concerned a woman who was cast out by a lord. finally accepted by a family, then the lord wanted her returned. many of the family wanted her returned for its honour. she decided not to go. warriors were sent to take her. her decision was defended by the head of the family. she thrust a one of the warrior's blades into her as he held it. anyone know the name of the film or director?
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    • By Voglersama
      November 30, 2012
      04:39 AM

      I think it's Samurai Rebellion that your thinking of.
    • By Voglersama
      November 30, 2012
      04:40 AM

      It's directed by Masaki Kobayashi.
  • By high-by-noon
    December 02, 2012
    03:05 AM

    Wow! The 'So far' seems quite far to me. Can't add anything but, as reinforcement for total newbies, 'Rashomon' is iconic. The topic here is timeless, from 12th century Japan to current day. Others at the top of my list (a huge tie) are 'Woman of the Dunes', 'Ran', & 'The Human Condition'. Also please don't overlook 'Grave of the Fireflies'. By the 2nd viewing those characters will no longer be animated. They will be living, breathing, suffering human beings!
  • By Nina
    December 15, 2012
    02:56 AM

    I also loved Rashomon but don't really attribute that to Kurosawa as much considering he just brought the original words to life. So maybe I love the story more I guess haha. Great list though!
  • By Ken
    December 19, 2012
    11:58 PM

    Nice List however Godzilla is way over-rated you are definitely missing Ozu - Floating Weeds (1959) is one of the most visually beautiful films I have seen - also see it with Roger Ebert's commentary - Criterion Collection, Ozu's Tokyo Story and Early Summer (I am in Love with Setsuko Hara). Akira and Miyazaki's work - My neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away Grave of the Fireflies Burmese Harp Chushingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki
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    • By Jan
      October 20, 2013
      01:21 AM

      Agree with all of your points, Ken! I'm also really loving every movie I've seen so far with Setsuko Hara as well.
  • By Richard Trondsen
    December 23, 2012
    05:16 PM

    Excellent list. Some great ones that are missing; Vengeance Is Mine, Onibaba, Gate of Flesh, Youth of the Beast, Branded to Kill, Fires On the Plain, In the Realm of the Senses, and Three Outlaw Samurai. And yes, Harakiri is absolutely amazing.
  • By Ken
    December 28, 2012
    12:53 PM

    Must add Ozu's Late Spring, Early Summer, Tokyo Story, and most of all Floating Weeds. Kurosawa's Stray Dog, Red Beard, Dersu Uzala. Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion. Mizoguchi's Sansho the Bailiff. Inagaki's Chushingura. Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes. Takahata's Graveyard of the Fireflies
  • By Bryan_Y
    January 27, 2013
    12:35 AM

    I must say, you've received some excellent advice here (some of which is mine in an earlier comment), but your wish list isn't reflecting it! Seriously man, you need to add Late Ozu, Floating Weeds, An Autumn Afternoon, Early Summer, Late Spring, Naruse's When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Kinoshita's Twenty-four Eyes, Kobayashi's The Human Condition, Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another, Postwar Kurosawa (No Regrets for our Youth, The Idiot...), and others... Start plumping up that wish list!
  • By fluffhead
    March 02, 2013
    04:07 PM

    You're off to a great start! Seven Samurai was the first Criterion I purchased in Blu-ray. I recently saw the Japanese version of Godzilla (Gojira) for the first time, and must say I have a brand new respect for it, I wouldn't put on my best Japanese film list, but it definitly has some merit. I would pretty much echo what's been recommended by the others, especially the Teshigahara trilogy; Pitfall, Woman in the Dunes & Face of Another! Esp. Woman in the Dunes! They are about as far from "traditional" Japanese films as you can get. Also Kon Ichikawa's The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain. I really liked Nagisa Oshima's Empire of Passion, even more than his Realm of the Senses. Oh, I also loved Ikiru, it is one of my favorite Kurosawa films, although not everyone agree's.
  • By Sam Rasnake
    March 02, 2013
    04:40 PM

    Good list. Rashomon is one of my ten favoirte films. I would suggest any of the films by Ozu and Mizoguchi. You'll enjoy their works.
  • By Eric
    March 16, 2013
    09:32 AM

    Good list (and you freely admitted these were the films you had seen so far). "Throne of Blood" is my favorite Kurosawa film --- I LOVE the atmosphere of it and the blend of Shakespeare and Noh Theater elements. Also, some excellent suggestions from people who obviously have a wide knowledge of Japanese cinema. Did I miss something or did no one mention "Ugetsu"? Generally considered the greatest by Mizoguchi and also one of my favorite Japanese movies. Thanks to all of the above for their recommendations. This website visit WILL boost up my Netflix queue.
  • By Marc
    June 18, 2013
    08:08 AM

    Good list! I prefer more Ozu or Mizoguchi films's style than samurai pictures, anyway
  • By Derek
    August 06, 2013
    11:58 PM

    You need to see some Ozu, you would probably like Twilight Samurai, and you should add some more modern films to the list, such as The Taste of Tea or Nobody Knows, which are two amazing films.
  • By MDHendrickson
    August 21, 2013
    12:54 PM

    You need Ozu. Also if you liked Mifune in High and Low definitely check out Stray Dog and Drunken Angel. But the list is at a great start!
  • By Boudu Saved
    January 03, 2014
    09:09 PM

    Wow, wow, wow!!! You left out a lot. Like... Woman in the Dunes The Face of Another Pitfall Dersu Uzala Dodes'kaden Onibaba Grave of the Fireflies Akira The Ballad of Narayama Sansho the Bailiff The Burmese Harp Floating Weeds In the Realm of the Senses
  • By Jack_D_Ripper
    January 05, 2014
    03:57 PM

    An absolutely fabulous list. Although, I'd add a little Ozu and Mizoguchi. You might also like "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" by Naruse. -- -- If you have the time check out my lists.
  • By Zeke
    February 09, 2014
    11:01 AM

    My 3 favorites are: Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro. There are also others which include 'The Sword of Doom, Throne of Blood, Harp of Burma, or Burmese Harp, Ugetsu, 47 Ronin, Harakiri, Gate of Hell, Shogun Assassin ( Lone Wolf-baby cart series).
  • By pratik mitra
    March 19, 2014
    01:27 AM

    nothing from mizoguchi,ozu,oshima or even kitano!
  • By Milton Crawdge
    March 21, 2014
    10:14 PM

    More recent, but I thoroughly enjoyed "Rampo" (aka the Mystery of Rampo). I compare it somewhat to the German film, "Last Year at Marienbad."Superbly acted, directed and the background music was enchanting. IMHO Michiko Hada is the most beautiful woman on the planet. This movie, Rampo, is not to be confused with Rampo Noir which was a bit gut twisting and not one you'd want to watch right after breakfast.
  • By Jane
    March 30, 2014
    03:37 PM

    There are many great Japanese films that are not on this list. The fact that there is not one Ozu film on here seems ludicrous!
  • By lad
    April 12, 2014
    05:39 AM

    You should also check out Yoji Yamada's Samuria trilogy(Twilight Samuria,The Hidden Blade and Love and Honour,plus of course Ozu's Late Spring,Early Summer and Tokyo Story.

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