From the samurai thrillers of Kurosawa and the beautiful melodramas of Naruse to classic sci-fi, 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.
Throne of Blood
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.
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.
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.
Horror195492 minsDirector: Ishiro Honda
The original Godzilla - arguably the definitive monster movie - both a bold metaphor for the atomic age and a thrilling powerhouse of pioneering special effects.
Drama1955123 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse
Mikio Naruse’s masterpiece about a wandering woman trying to find her identity amid the devastation of post-war Japan.
1959119 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu's late-career, elegiac masterpiece about a travelling kabuki troupe that returns to the seaside town they visited years before.
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.
The Hidden Fortress
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.
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.
Horror1964183 minsDirector: Masaki Kobayashi
This stunningly beautiful anthology of Japanese ghost stories is one of the most meticulously crafted supernatural films ever made.
I Live in Fear
Drama1955103 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Toshiro Mifune delivers an outstanding performance as a paranoid man striving to move his family to Brazil to escape the nuclear holocaust which he fears is imminent.
The Lower Depths
Drama1957125 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s novel, in which inhabitants of a slum revel in illusions to avoid bitter reality.
Science Fiction195785 minsDirector: Ishiro Honda
The team behind Godzilla (1954) reunites for Toho’s first colour widescreen sci-fi, an arresting spectacle about the arrival of an alien race and their giant, destructive robot.
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
Martial arts195259 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Adapted from Noh and Kabuki theatre, Kurosawa’s classic tale of deception sees a lord and his bodyguard disguise themselves as monks to bypass an enemy roadblock.
The Most Beautiful
War194485 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s artful propaganda film provides a fascinating portrait of female volunteer workers in an optics factory during wartime.
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.
No Regrets for Our Youth
Drama1946110 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa's first post-war film stars Setsuko Hara as the privileged daughter of a professor who takes up arms against the Japanese military.
100 Years of Japanese Cinema
Documentary199652 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima
Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.
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.
High and Low
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sanshiro Sugata part two
Crime194579 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
This sequel reunites most of the principal cast from the original and follows Sanshiro face a new set of enemies whilst continuing his quest to become a judo master.
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.
The Bad Sleep Well
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.
Woman of the Dunes
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.
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
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.
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.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
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.
Tetsuo II: Body Hammer
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.