The Top Japanese Movies- Greatest Japanese Movies of All Time

Japanese cinema has a rich history spanning more than ten decades, during which time thousands of movies have been made, and quite a significant number of these movies have found international and critical acclaim. The Japanese film industry is one of the oldest and perhaps the largest film industry in the world. Ever since 1897, Japan has been producing a string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies. The impact of Japanese movies on world cinema has been considerable and worthy of mention. Japanese film directors like Akira Kurosawa, Ozu Yasujiro, Oshima Nagisa, Mizoguchi Kenji, Miyazaki Hayao, Kitano Takeshi, Yamada Yoji, Imamura Shohei, Ishiro Honda, and Tezuka Osamu among many others are the glittering stars of world cinema whose masterpieces rank some of the greatest movies over made. Japanese movies always rank highly among a list of the best movies of all time.

Top Japanese Movies

Some of the best Japanese movies that rank high on the list of a connoisseur of world cinema include the following:

  • Tokyo Story (1953 film directed by Yasujiro Ozu)
  • Seven Samurai (1954 film directed by Akira Kurosawa)
  • Ikiru (1952 film directed by Akira Kurosawa)
  • Ugetsu (1953 film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi)
  • Godzilla (1954 film directed by Ishiro Honda)

The different genres of Japanese cinema:

Japanese cinema has been divided into a number of identifiable genres, based on a number of parameters. Arguably the most famous genres include Samurai cinema, anime (animation) movies, literary adaptations, experimental cinema, Yakuza (mobster) movies, J-horror movies, and New Cinema.

Broadly, Japanese movies have been divided into the following genres: anime films (animated movies, a Japanese stronghold), Jidaigeki films (period pieces that roughly correspond to the Edo period), Samurai cinema (also referred as chambara, and is a subgenre of Jidaigeki), Ninja movies, Cult horror, J-horror, Kaiju movies (based on monsters), Pink films (soft porn movies with an artistic influence), Yakuza (about Yakuza mobsters) movies, Seishun eiga (films that mainly portray teenagers), Gendaigeki (films about the modern age, also referred to as  New Cinema) and last but by no means the least, Shomingeki (films about plebeians, in other words, films about common working class people).

The 1950s and the 2000s have been the most productive phase for Japanese cinema, producing some of the best and most critically appreciated top Japanese movies. The Academy Awards or the Oscars are perhaps the highest distinction that is given to movies in the United States of America. Brilliant works of world cinema are also acknowledged in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. This is one of the highest distinctions that a movie can receive. Japan has the highest distinction of receiving this prestigious award for a record 4 times in the history of Academy Awards, and Japanese films have also been nominated in this category 12 times. Apart from the Academy Awards, Japanese films have been showered with honors in a number of foreign film festivals. Good Japanese cinema that is screened in the top film festivals like the Berlin International Film Festival, Moondance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and others still continue to draw in the crowds. Japanese cinema has won many accolades, and has found acclaim among the toughest critics of world cinema. Akira Kurosawa is considered to be one of the greatest film makers of all time. A number of talented film makers in the present cite Akira Kurosawa and films made by Akira Kurosawa as their influence and inspiration to go into film making. The Japanese film industry also provides a good launch pad for young talents to make their foray in the film industry. A number of highly respected veterans of Japanese cinema are patronized by many film appreciation societies in the world.

The Japanese films that have received rave reviews, awards and critical acclaim in film festivals around the world include the following:

  • Rashomon (1950 film directed by Akira Kurosawa, Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards, Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival)

Photo by Wikimedia Commons
  • Gate of Hell (1953 film directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa, Palme d’Or at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, 1955 Academy Honorary Award for Best Foreign Language Film)

Photo by Wikimedia Commons
  • Samurai, the legend of Musashi Miyamoto (1954 film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, 1955 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film)

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  • The Burmese Harp (1956 film directed by Kon Ichikawa, nominated for 1957 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film)

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  • Kwaidan (1964 film directed by Masaki Kobayashi, Special Jury prize at 1965 Cannes Film Festival)

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  • Departures (2008 film directed by Yojiro Takita, Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars in 2009)

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The latest Japanese films that have been critically acclaimed include the following:

Caterpillar (2010 film by Koji Wakamatsu, acclaimed at the 60th Berlin International film festival) and Outrage (2010 film by Takeshi Kitano, critically acclaimed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival).

Top Japanese Movies- Top Ten Japanese Movies:

According to popular opinion, ratings and critical acclaim, the top Japanese movies include the following:

    • Seven Samurai (1954 masterpiece, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

    Photo by Wikimedia Commons
    • Tokyo Story (1953 film directed by Yasujiro Ozu)

    Photo by Wikimedia Commons
    • Ikiru (1952 film directed by Akira Kurosawa)

    Photo by Wikimedia Commons
    • Floating Clouds (1955 film directed by Mikio Naruse)

    Photo by Wikimedia Commons
    • A fugitive from the Past (1965 film directed by Tomu Uchida)
    • Rashomon (1950 film directed by Akira Kurosawa)

    Photo by Wikimedia Commons
    • Intentions of Murder (1964 film directed by Shohei Imamura)

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    • Twenty Four Eyes (1954 film directed by Keisuke Kinoshita)

    Photoby Wikimedia Commons
    • Tales of Ugetsu (1953 film directed by K. Mizoguchi)

    Photo by Wikimedia Commons
    • Red Beard (1965 film directed by Akira Kurosawa)

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      A mere glance at this list would reveal why Akira Kurosawa is considered by many to be one of the greatest film directors of all time. In any comprehensive list of world cinema or a list of top Japanese movies of all time, many masterpieces by Kurosawa would feature. Akira Kurosawa is also famous for directing an epic movie, Ran. It was released in the year and was made at a budget of 12 million dollars, and became the most expensive Japanese movies. Top Japanese movies are a hit among people all over the world. Japanese Samurai, fighting and animation movies are loved by millions of people, and these are probably the most commercially successful genre of movies.

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      Written by

      Jyotsna Ramani is a passionate writer and an avid globetrotter. She had a knack for writing since her early years, though that was mostly letters to her penpals and jotting her thoughts down in her "Dear Diary". Over the years, she realized how her hobby could turn into a full time career and she started writing web content, books and pieces for local magazines. There has been no looking back ever since. Follow Jyotsna Ramani at Google+

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