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Beautiful Japanese movies

This is probably the most personal article I've ever written. My visceral passion for Japanese filmography is known to you who have been following me for a long time now. Over the years I have seen dozens and dozens of films, in high school I got to see eight of them a day!

In this article I wanted to collect quite a few, which are added en masse to those already listed in Japanese controversial movies and enjō kosai and Movies and series about Japanese food (among which the beautiful Tampopo stands out). Good vision!


アンチポルノ, Sion Sono (2016)

Revival of the Japanese erotic sub-genre Roman Porno ("romantic pornography"). Sion Sono never disappoints.

It is a theatrical film where nothing is as it seems: abandoned the premises of the first scenes, the film develops through twists, continuous changes of position by the roles of the protagonists and reversals of attitudes, characters and situations.

Antiporno cookingwiththehamster
Antiporno | ©

Sion Sono is a genius. His vision of him marked my adolescence and still today he is one of my favorite directors of all time.

Among his immense works by him (two of which, Suicide Club and Noriko's Dinner Table - simply fundamental - I have already mentioned them here):

  • Strange Circus: 奇妙 な サ ー カ ス (2005) More than a movie, it is a journey into the labyrinth of Mitsuku's mind, harassed and raped by her father. A continuous reversal between dream and reality.

  • Love Exposure: 愛のむきだし (2008) Kitsch, noisy and extremely surrealist, this movies mixes the decline of contemporary Japanese society, the delirium of Catholic mysticism and religious sects, transsexuality and homosexuality. Four hours of perfectly elaborated and unforgettable madness.

  • Guilty of Romance: 恋の罪 (2011) Freely inspired by the book The Castle by Franz Kafka, the movie tells the story of two apparently very different from each other but who actually slip into a crescendo of sexual degeneration.

  • Tag: Riaru onigokko (2015) A thin, cruel and splatter movie about sadism and machismo in Japanese society.


オーディション, Takashi Miike (1999)

The title of the movie refers to the audition that the protagonist Asami performs to be hired as an actress. In reality it is a fake casting because the director wants to give his friend Aoyama, a widower for years, the chance to meet new girls. The two seem to embark on a relationship that will actually turn into a real nightmare full of violence and ruthlessness.

Audition cookingwiththehamster
Audition | ©

Miike is, in my opinion, a sacred monster of Japanese and world cinema. Among his masterpieces I loved:

  • Visitor Q: ビジターQ (2001) It deals with the events of the Yamazaki family, whose routine is upset by the arrival of a "visitor" who will change their lives forever. Furthermore, for the theme dealt with, this movie shows numerous similarities with the film Teorema (1968) by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

  • Ichi the killer: 殺し屋1(2001) A movie about extreme violence, death, sadomasochism and torture starring a psychopathic serial killer.

  • Izo: IZO (2004) Inspired by the figure of Izō Okada, a samurai who really existed in the 19th century, tortured and crucified. A philosophical horror, it shows numerous flashbacks that refer to the Second World War and its protagonists (Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini).

Belladonna of sadness

哀しみのベラドンナ, Eiichi Yamamoto (1973)

Erotic, psychedelic and violent animated movie for adults. A real cult set in France where the peasant Jeanne makes a Faustian pact with the devil after being raped by the local nobility on the night of her wedding.

The images are reminiscent of many Art Nouveau and modernist artists such as Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha and Egon Schiele.

Belladonna of sadness cookingwiththehamster
Belladonna of sadness | ©

Black Lizard

Kinji Fukasaku (1968)

Based on a writing by Yukio Mishima (present in the first person within the film), in turn inspired by a novel by Rampo Edogawa, this film tells the story of Black Lizard, a lover of very expensive jewels and collector of perfectly preserved human bodies. as if they were statues.

Black Lizard is played by Akihiro Maruyama (better known by his stage name Akihiro Miwa), Japanese singer, actor, drag queen, director and composer.

The title of the film also inspired the name of the famous French publishing house Lézard Noir.

Black Lizard cookingwiththehamster
Black Lizard | ©

In the Realm of the Senses

愛のコリーダ, Nagisa Ōshima (1976)

Inspired by a news story that really happened in Japan in the 1930s, the movie stars Sada Abe and Kichizo Ishida, united by a sensual bond until reaching a dramatic erotic cheating in the finale.

In the Realm of the Senses cookingwiththehamster
In the Realm of the Senses | ©

Funeral parade of roses

薔薇の葬列, Toshio Matsumoto (1969)

Drama art film set in the Japanese underground gay culture of the 1960s, starring a transgender.

Funeral parade of roses cookingwiththehamster
Funeral parade of roses | ©

Emperor Tomato Ketchup

トマトケチャップ皇帝, Shuji Terayama (1971)

Surrealist and widely contested short film (it is still banned in many countries today) due to the erotic and sexual fetish scenes.

In an undefined future, children have established their own empire, declaring a constitution that establishes their supremacy over adults.

I also loved by Terayama:

  • Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets: 書を捨てよ町へ出よう (1971) Experimental movie as a metaphor for Japan's descent into materialism.

  • Fruits of Passion: 上海異人娼館/チャイナ・ドール (1981) The main characters of the de Histoire d'O novels are found in southern China, where one of the protagonists opens a brothel. The subplot depicts the rebellion of the locals against the Europeans.

  • Pastoral: To Die in the Country: 田園に死す (1974) Apex of the author's visionary and surrealist path, this film is strongly autobiographical, dreamlike, hyperbolic and very difficult to interpret.

  • Grass Labyrinth: 草迷宮 (1973) Surreal journey into the subconscious of a young man in search of the words of a song his mother sang to him when he was a child.

Emperor Tomato Ketchup cookingwiththehamster
Emperor Tomato Ketchup | ©

Hachikō monogatari

ハチ公物語, Seijirô Kôyama (1987)

Leave the memories of the horrible US remake forever and focus on this film. It is the one and only movie on the story of the dog Hachiko, an exemplary symbol of fidelity; from his birth, to his master's death in 1925, to his death at the Shibuya subway station in 1935.

It is heartbreaking, moving but also infinitely sweet. A masterpiece.

Hachikō monogatari cookingwiththehamster
Hachikō monogatari | ©


はなび, Takeshi Kitano (1997)

Nishi, a former policeman, is tied to yakuza loan sharks because of a debt. The wife has leukemia. He will find different ways of reacting to these adversities, until he escapes.

Hana-bi cookingwiththehamster
Hana-bi | ©

Helter skelter

ヘルタースケルター, Mika Ninagawa (2012)

Ririko is a supermodel whose beauty makes everyone fall in love. Her fame is immense and she is an idol for thousands of teenagers. However, no one knows that she actually underwent heavy cosmetic surgeries from a very young age which, over time, ruin her body and face with a series of devastating side effects.

A story about her beauty and her end, a thriller and a journey into delirium.

Helter skelter cookingwiththehamster
Helter skelter | ©

Seven samurai

七人の侍, Akira Kurosawa (1954)

Set in Japan at the end of the 16th century, it tells the story of a group of peasants seeking to defend their village against marauders: here are the seven masterless samurai (rōnin).

Seven samurai cokingwiththehamster
Seven samurai | ©

Lady Snowblood

修羅雪姫, Toshiya Fujita (1973)

You know Kill Bill? The beautiful shots, the music and the effect motifs, the movements in the air almost in slow motion, the figure in white kimono of O-Ren Ishii, the division into chapters and, above all, the great theme of revenge and motherhood? Lady Snowblood is certainly the movie that had the greatest impact in Tarantino's imagination and that allowed him to create one of his greatest masterpieces. And this b-movie, based on the manga of the same name by Kazuo Koike, and set in the Meiji era is not far behind.

Lady Snowblood cookingwiththehamster
Lady Snowblood | ©

Love & Pop

ラブ&ポップ, Hideaki Anno (1998)

Set in Tokyo, it is in my opinion the film that best represents the reality of the enjo kōsai. Through often alienating and confusing footage, the viewer is led into a spiral of situations related to child prostitution in Shibuya on July 19, 1997.

This is the continuation of Tokyo Decadence (this and many other favorite movies of mine, here).

Anno is another one of my favorite directors of all time. Among his most iconic and important works I remember:

  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water: ふしぎの海のナディア (1990-1991) It tells the story of the circus acrobat Nadia and Jean, a boy with a passion for engineering, aboard the Nautilus submarine.

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン (1995-1996) In my opinion, the greatest anime masterpiece ever conceived and made.

Love & Pop cookingwiththehamster
Love & Pop | ©


リング, Hideo Nakata (1998)

Cult horror based on the novel of the same name by Kōji Suzuki and inspired by the popular story Banchō Sarayashiki.

Probably many know the US remake The Ring (2002), albeit with variations on the story, this is the original.

Ring cookingwiththehamster
Ring | ©


さくらん, Mika Ninagawa (2007)

Movie based on the manga of the same name by Moyocco Anno, tells the life of Kamuro, a maid of a brothel who is sold in the Yoshiwara district, under the care of the oran Shouhi.

The girl begins her journey as an apprentice (hikkomi) to one day become a great oiran, trying to tame her rebellious temperament and facing the ruthless female rivalry.

Sakuran cookingwiththehamster
Sakuran | ©

Snakes and piercings

蛇にピアス by Yukio Ninagawa (2008)

Based on the novel of the same name by Hitomi Kanehara (2003), the movie tells the story of 19-year-old Rui. In Tokyo she meets and falls in love with Ama, a punk boy who initiates her on a journey of increasingly extreme tattoos and piercings until he gets her tongue pierced like a snake. In the background, a "mysterious" murder and obviously sadomasochistic relationships.

Snakes and piercings cookingwiththehamster
Snakes and piercings | ©

Tokyo Decadence

トパーズ , Ryū Murakami (1992)

Ai is a very young prostitute who works for a call agency in Tokyo. Through her encounters with her clients, the true aspect of sadomasochism in the days of the bubble economy is shown.

Tokyo Decadence cookingwiththehamster
Tokyo Decadence | ©

Tokyo Story

東京物語, Yasujirō Ozu (1953)

Absolute masterpiece of the master Ozu and one of the best films ever made. The story tells of two elderly gentlemen who leave their home located in Onomichi (near Hiroshima) to join their children in Tokyo.

This wonderful movie depicts the unraveling of the family and traditions of Japan, whose place is taken by capitalism and modernity - where Tokyo, yesterday as today, is the emblem.

Yasujirō Ozu is one of my all time favorite directors. During his life he made many films that show a country and a society that no longer exist, and therefore always with great melancholy, tenderness and yearning.

Among the most significant works of him I indicate:

  • I Was Born, But...: 大人の見る絵本 生れてはみたけれど (1932) A family moves to the Tokyo suburbs and the children experience bullying.

  • Woman of Tokyo: 東京の女 (1933) Chikako lives in a working-class district of Tokyo with his younger brother. Since her paperwork isn't enough to survive, she decides to work in a shady room.

  • Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family: Todake no kyodai (1941) Set in Tokyo, this film stages the events and problems of the Toda family.

  • Late Spring: 晩春 (1949) A widower lives with his daughter. For fear that she remains of her spinster he tries to persuade her to marry, although the girl is happy to live with her father. To spur her further, her father pretends to get married again.

  • The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice: お茶漬けの味 (1952) Tokyo, a couple who have been married for many years, is in deep crisis. Her husband's departure for work in Uruguay will make both of them realize how much they really love each other.

Tokyo Story cookingwiththehamster
Tokyo Story | ©

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