11 Japanese Movies That Deserved More Love Than They Received 

 Movies like Star Wars and Drive My Car show Japanese cinema’s influence on international films. However, there are Anime and movies from Studio Ghibli that created their own audience worldwide. There is no doubt that Japanese movies and series have huge popularity, but some movies deserve more love than they do. 

It might be due to lack of exposure or some other reason, but these movies acted in their stories that needed to be seen by more people. If you are exploring Japanese movies or are a big fan, here are some of the best films you should watch, even though they are less popular.


 Directed by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, this movie is known among those who actually follow cinema. The movie won Palme d’Or and was almost the winner of the Oscar. 

The simple yet life-changing story focuses on Osama Shibata and his family, who live in Tokyo. The family lives in poverty, where Osama gets an occasional job, and his wife Noboyo does low-paying work. This made them rely heavily on the pension that their grandmother received. 

The family is also a shoplifter for groceries, including their son Shota. However, one cold night, they find a homeless girl named Yuri, a victim of abuse. Even though Osama and his family have strained finances, they decided to adopt the kid. 

Shoplifter is one of the iconic movies that Kore-eda created. He built his career with narratives that are natural and humanist. Most of his stories include family, regardless of what kind. Also, the filmmaker takes inspiration from British Cinema. 


Kiyoshi Kurosawa directed Cure, and the movie was released in 1997. Even though there are no jumpscares, this movie will leave you with an uneasy feeling at the end. 

Focusing on gruesome murders that are happening in Tokyo, the only connection is an X carved on the neck of the victims. However, the murderers get caught but have no memory of the crime. Detective Takabe, with the help of psychologist Sakuma, gets into this case to solve it. But they find nothing. In the end, they get a young man who was found near the scene of the last victim but has a very odd effect on the people he contacts. 

The story takes you in, so be ready for the ride. There is much more than you anticipated in this movie. 


The movie was directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and released in 2001. Pulse is exciting to watch if you like the combination of supernatural, horror, and mystery with Sci-Fi. 

After Taguchi, a college student, commits suicide, several adults living in Tokyo witness terrifying visions through the internet. 

As time goes by, more people start to disappear. It turns the internet into a breeding ground for evil and malevolent spirits. On the other hand, the movie follows the seemingly disconnected stories of Harue, Ryosuke, and Michi. These three decide to solve the mysteries behind their ghostly vision and the connection far beyond computer monitors. 

This movie is considered one of the best cyber horrors, and it won’t let you feel relaxed even for a minute. Even though the movie is a remake of the American film Pulse,’ this one is far better than that. 

The Hidden Fortress 

The Hidden Fortress was released in 1958, and Akira Kurosawa directed the movie. Well, the story is about two peasants who are lured by gold. They escort a man and woman to cross the enemy lines. However, they don’t know that they are, in reality, a princess and her general. 

American filmmaker George Lucas said the story inspired him so much that he made Star Wars. 

So if you are interested or a huge fan of Star Wars, this movie is a must-watch. 

After Life 

Another movie by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, the movie released in 1998. Well, the story focuses on dead people who find that they can talk to the social services department when they go to the afterlife. Here they have to make a decision and pick one memory. The chosen memory will be relieved by them in their personal heaven for eternity. Based on that memory, the department then has to conceptualize and recreate a short film within a few days. Once it’s finished, the deceased can carry it to their afterlife. 

The intriguing premise, but the director’s direction makes this heavy drama much lighter. The movie follows a documentary style and inspires people. 

 Love Letter  

Directed by Shunji Iwai, Love Letter was released in 1995. Even though this film is a bit old, it’s beautiful on its own. 

The movie will give you a good vibe, and its wintery cinematography makes it amazing to watch. Love Letter is one of the most famous movies in South Korea. And the actress Miho Nakayama did a fantastic job in performing her role. 

The movie focuses on Hikairo, whose finance went mountain climbing but died in an accident. While she was looking for her finance’s old photos, Hikaoro found love letters with the address of his last place and school. What shocks her is that the woman who knew her finances, strangely, also has the same name as him. 

Millennium Actress 

Satoshi Kon, director of this movie, shows how a complex and utterly confusing story can be told. With powerful storytelling, the movie focuses on the former actress Chiyoko Fujiwara. She lived most of her life in front of the camera and the public eye. One day, she accepts the offer to give an interview for a Tv show. With the setup and cameramen, they create the whole thing where they take the viewers through the film to film, showing about movies the actress did and the life she lived outside that. 

Animated Japanese movies are exciting and have complex ideas that are made easy by focusing on their characters. Also, this movie is smooth to watch, thanks to Satoshi Kan’s skills. 

Our Little Sister 

Another film that is a masterpiece and directed by none other than Hirokazu Kore-Eda himself. The movie is something that everyone should watch and deserve more love. 

It tells the story of three Koda sisters, including Sachi ( 29 years old), Yoshino ( 22 years old), and Chika ( 19 years old). These three sisters live at their grandmother’s house in Kamakura. 

When they were kids, their parents separated and abandoned them. They haven’t seen their father for the last 15 years. However, one day, they received the news of his death. The Koda sisters decide to visit for his funeral, where they meet Asano Suzu, who is their half-sister and 13 years old. Yoshino finds out that Suzu has no guardian, so they take her with them. 

Kore-eda has a unique style that focuses on familial bonds. It can be blood-related or chosen. Along with that, the movie shows how people manage after their family’s death. 

Dark Water 

Directed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the Ringu, the original Japanese version of RingDark Water is another project from the same director. However, this movie is not outright scary but gives you a frightening atmosphere. 

The story focuses on a divorced woman Yoshimi, who hopes to get custody of her six years old daughter Ikuku. She manages to find a run-down apartment building and get a flat. However, her daughters find a little red handbag containing children’s toys. Yoshimi thinks that the caretaker left the bag and leaves the bag to her. But the next day, the bag popped up again at the same place. 

Both mother and daughter are also facing a leak in the ceiling. With that, they keep hearing footsteps and children running on their flat above. But they find no one there. 

The whole movie shows a sheer amount of rain with damp buildings. The story will stick with you for days instead of having jumpscares. 

As the story progresses, more horrifying things unfold, keeping the audience stuck with their story and fantastic acting from the cast. 


Directed by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, This movie was released in 1995. The story follows Yumiko, who gets informed by police that her husband committed suicide without any reason or warning. But he left his infant and wife alone in the world. Yumiko moves from Osaka to a small village and remarries. However, she still searches to find true meaning in her lonely world.

The narration of this movie is stunning and focuses on the loss. Also, the movie deals with what happens after something so sudden. 


This movie is not for someone with a faint heart. It’s one of the best horror films that is perfect in every aspect. Directed by Takashi Miike, this movie starts with a rom-com-style build-up. However, the direction in which the movie ends will leave you shaking. 

Focusing on Aoyama Shigeharu, who is a widower and middle-class man with a teenage son, Shigehiko. He works as a TV producer. With Yoshikawa, a movie producer, they find a way to solve the loneliness of Aoyama. They conducted a pony audition for a movie, but they were looking for a perfect wife. They see Asami, who seems to be perfect for the role, but she is hiding something that will turn everyone’s life upside down. 

The movie has gore in it, which not everyone can handle. So watch it at your own risk. 

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