10 Japanese Movies That You Must Watch


Japan has a lot of amazing movies that are not well known internationally. I made a list of the 10 Japanese movies that you must watch at least once.

1. Confessions (告白)

告白 - Confessions

Confessions is about a mother who is also a teacher that seeks revenge after her daughter was killed. The killers are some of her own students. As the law states that minors cannot be held responsible, you come to understand why the mother takes justice in her own hands. The story is original and discusses a current problem within society if children should be charged as adults.

2. A Ghost of a Chance (ステキな金縛り)

A Ghost Of A Chance - ステキな金縛り

The story is about Emi Hosho, an unsuccessful lawyer that is on the verge of losing everything. She gets one last chance to redeem herself. She takes on a case that nobody is willing to take. The case is about a man that is accused of killing his wife and has a unbelievable alibi. He proclaims to be innocence and that a ghost kept him in sleep paralysis.

3. Departures (おくりびと)

Departures - おくりびと

Departures follows the story of a professional cello player who loses his job in the orchestra. He gives up on his dream and goes back to his hometown. In his hometown he finds a advertisement for a job, which he believes is for a travel company. Once he goes to the interview he finds out that is a job as mortician. The movies does a great job portraying the traditional Japanese funeral. It did such a great job that mortician gained more respect. They used be looked down upon, but because of this movie the image of the profession has changed.

4. Dark water (仄暗い水の底から)

Dark Water - 仄暗い水の底から

Dark Water is based on the work of Koji Suzuki, who also wrote other famous books such as the ring. The story is about a divorced mother which moves into a run-down apartment with her daughter after leaving her husband. In order to win the custody of her daughter she takes a job as proof reader to show that she can take care of her daughter by herself. Once they move in their new apartment very strange things start to happen. The tension in this movie is built up very well and the ending will give you the chills.

5. Outrage (アウトレイジ)

Outrage - アウトレイジ

Outrage is a movie about the Yakuza and shows how different gangs deal with each other. In the movie a war for power has started and the Yakuza clans do everything what it takes to get to the top in this battle for power. Awesome movie especially if you are interested in the Japanese underworld.

6. A story of Yonosuke (横道世之介)

A story of Yonosuke - 横道世之介

The story is about eighteen year old Yonosuke from Nagasaki who just started university in Tokyo. While he is a university student he meets a variety of people and it shows how he affects their lives. Yonosuke is quite an odd guy, but his intentions are good it will make you laugh how he interacts with people.

7. Gravity's Clowns (重力ピエロ)

Gravity's Clowns - 重力ピエロ

Gravity`s Clowns is a mystery about a Japanese family with a tragic past. The story shows two brothers, the oldest brother studies at a university and the youngest is a cleaner. One day a serial arsonist is active in the city and leaves messages behind in graffiti. The brothers try to decipher what the meaning is behind all the messages. The movie was shot in Sendai just two years before the tsunami, the locations that you see in the movie do not look the same as they used to.

8. Water boys (ウォーターボーイズ)

Water Boys - ウォーターボーイズ

In the beginning the high school swimming team only consists of one boy named Suzuki. He has a dream to become a great swimmer, but with only him in the team it seems impossible. Soon a new female swimming teacher starts at the high school and all the boys suddenly join the swimming team. Soon when the students realize that she teaches synchronized swimming they suddenly all leave except for five students. Waterboys follows the story of these five students as they practice and train to become synchronized swimmers to perform at the high schools festival. Water Boys is a fun and short movie about boys who are basically training for a sport that is generally known as a female only sport.

9. Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる)

Like Father, Like Son - そして父になる

Two families with totally different backgrounds are asked to come to a hospital where they find out the horrible truth that their children were switched from birth. They stand to make the the most difficult choice of their life, which is will they raise each other’s child or switch the children back as it should have been from when they were born. The contrast and struggle between the two families is what makes it such an interesting movie.

10. Suspect X (容疑者Xの献身)

Suspect X - 容疑者Xの献身

Yasuko is a divorced mother who owns a local obento shop and is living with her daughter. One day her ex-husband finds her and comes to her apartment where a fight breaks out between and the husband gets killed. The next-door neighbor, a reclusive but genius mathematician, could hear everything and decides to help them cover up the murder by creating an alibi and take care of the body. The police can`t solve the murder and decide to consults with physicist professor Manabu Yukawa. At first he refuses until he finds out that the neighbor of the two suspects is an old classmate, this ultimately leads to a battle between them. Suspect X is great if you are into mystery movies.

If you have any suggestions of movies that should be on this list please let me know in the comments.

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