From the samurai thrillers of Kurosawa to the beautiful melodramas of Naruse, this collection celebrates the extraordinary diversity of Japanese cinema.
While little known in the west until Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon won the Golden Lion at Venice in 1951, Japanese cinema is now regarded as one of the great canons of world film.
Period drama1954125 minsDirector: Kenji Mizoguchi
Mizoguchi’s historical epic is among the greatest of all Japanese films, and a masterpiece of humanist cinema.
Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
Documentary201680 minsDirector: Steven Okazaki
The on and off-screen character of Toshiro Mifune, Japan’s first international movie star, is explored in this illuminating documentary exploring the life and legacy of this mercurial icon.
Documentary199652 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima
Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.
Documentary198592 minsDirector: Wim Wenders
Profiling one of the great directors of World Cinema, Wim Wenders delivers this moving portrait of Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu.
Drama1954207 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.
Martial arts1958139 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s thrilling mix of fairy story and samurai movie - a story of rival clans, hidden gold and a princess in distress - was famously a key inspiration for George Lucas’ Star Wars.
Drama1957110 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
A master of period-drama, Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai) recasts Macbeth as a Japanese warlord in one of the greatest Shakespearean adaptations.
Romance195397 minsDirector: Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi's haunting evocation of a feudal world where brutal realism intermingles with the supernatural.
Period drama1963114 minsDirector: Kon Ichikawa
Kon Ichikawa's wildly melodramatic tale of a kabuki female impersonator who exacts a long-delayed revenge.
Crime199394 minsDirector: Takeshi Kitano
Takeshi Kitano's masterful and meditative gangster film, about a yakuza sent to the beautiful beaches of Okinawa where he has time to ruminate on his fate.
Gangster1995102 minsDirector: Takashi Miike
Amid a war between Taiwanese Triads and Japanese Yakuza, a mixed-race cop hunts a psychotic criminal who traffics in children's organs.
Crime196392 minsDirector: Seijun Suzuki
A mysterious loner plays off rival gangs against one another in Seijun Suzuki's outrageous, kaliedoscopic crime picture.
Crime1963143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s procedural crime masterpiece, from Ed McBain’s gritty novel, follows an industrialist who faces an agonising choice as a result of a botched kidnapping by ruthless criminals.
Crime1960151 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
The first film made by Akira Kurosawa's own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.
Horror1999115 minsDirector: Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike burst to international prominence with this deeply disturbing tale of a deadly young woman who turns the tables on her middle-aged suitor.
Fantasy198867 minsDirector: Shinya Tsukamoto
Shinya Tsukamoto's wild cyberpunk tale of a businessman's agonising transformation into a walking scrap heap is a jaggedly dehumanised vision of the future.
Horror199181 minsDirector: Shinya Tsukamoto
Shinya Tsukamoto's sequel has the Iron Man transforming into a cyberkinetic gun when a gang of vicious skinheads kidnap his son.
1960111 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse
Mikio Naruse’s best-known film is a masterful study of Ginza hostess struggling under constant pressures to compromise her honour.
Drama1955123 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse
Mikio Naruse’s masterpiece about a wandering woman trying to find her identity amid the devastation of post-war Japan.
Drama1954101 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse
The story of four ageing geishas as they struggle to make ends meet in post-war Japan, from acclaimed filmmaker Mikio Naruse.
Drama1960128 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Comedy turns to pathos in Yasujiro Ozu's tale of a group of businessmen who conspire to match-make for a widow and her daughter.
Drama1957141 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Abandoned by their mother, sisters Akiko (Ineko Arima) and Takako (Setsuko Hara) live with their father Shukichi (Chishu Ryu). When Akiko falls into desperate trouble, she turns away from her family.
Drama1952116 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu’s beautiful domestic drama is piercing portrait of a marriage coming quietly undone in post-war Tokyo.
Horror1964183 minsDirector: Masaki Kobayashi
This stunningly beautiful anthology of Japanese ghost stories is one of the most meticulously crafted supernatural films ever made.
Animation & Artists Moving Image1964147 minsDirector: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Hiroshi Teshigahara's mystifying, serene and provocative fable about an entomologist who becomes trapped in a young widow’s desert shack.
Period drama1964102 minsDirector: Kaneto Shindo
Stylish, symbolic and erotically charged Japanese horror in which the fortunes of a murderous mother-and-daughter team are upended by a strangely masked samurai.
Crime195088 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.
Drama1952143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Takashi Shimura is superb as a bureaucrat diagnosed with cancer in Akira Kurosawa’s lyrical and moving film about how we find meaning in our lives.
Drama1970140 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s first colour film is an eccentric and joyous account of a group of disparate people living in a city dump.
Drama1951125 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Ozu's wonderfully poised ensemble work presents the intricacies and contradictions of three generations who have lived through the end of an era and are looking towards the new.
Drama1962113 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu's elegiac final film charts the inevitable eclipse of older generations by irreverent youth.
Crime1961111 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa’s classic about a drifting samurai who plays two gangs off against each other, famously remade as A Fistful of Dollars.
Crime196296 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
In Akira Kurosawa's comedy of manners, a ronin runs rings around nine young, clean-cut samurai while cleaning up a spot of corruption in local government.
Drama1965180 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa’s episodic, poignant story of a 19th-century doctor (Toshiro Mifune) working in a clinic for the poor and his tumultuous friendship with young intern.
Drama195389 minsDirector: Teinosuke Kinugasa
Teinosuke Kinugasa’s sumptuous period drama astonished audiences with its dramatic force and spectacular colour cinematography.
War195391 minsDirector: Josef von Sternberg
Legendary director Josef von Sternberg brings to life this vulnerable tale of human trauma, survival and redemption, telling the story of twelve Japanese WWII seamen stranded on a forgotten island for seven years.
Drama196097 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima
Nagisa Ôshima’s breakthrough portrait of alienated youth is a stinging castigation of an indolent, self-indulgent youth culture.