Must See Movies!

Practice your Japanese with these classics of Japanese cinema! Order any one to receive the audio files to go with the free flashcards on this site.

Seven Samurai [1954]

Hailed as the greatest film in the history of Japanese cinema, Seven Samurai is director Akira Kurosawa's undisputed masterpiece.

Tampopo [1986]

Billed as "The first Japanese noodle western!" this highly regarded film is a quirky comedy about the search for the perfect noodle recipe.

Woman in the Dunes [1964]

Director Hiroshi Teshigahara was a 37-year-old novice when he made this film, which received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film. With images and sequences that are hauntingly and unforgettably evocative, Woman in the Dunes remains a truly extraordinary work of cinematic art.

Kagemusha [1980]

Another great Kurosawa epic. Through stunning visuals and meticulous attention to every physical and stylistic detail, Kurosawa made a film that restored his status as Japan's greatest filmmaker.

Rashomon [1950]

This 1950 film by Akira Kurosawa is more than a classic: it's a cinematic archetype that has served as a template for many a film since. The cast, headed by Kurosawa's favorite actor, Toshiro Mifune, is superb.

A Taxing Woman [1987]

A Taxing Woman is the subtly hilarious tale of Ryoko, Tokyo's hardest working female tax inspector. The internationally acclaimed team of Nobuko Miyamoto and Tsutomu Yamazaki (stars of Tampopo and The Funeral) give performances in the best tradition of romantic farce, reminiscent of vintage Tracy and Hepburn.

Ran [1985]

Akira Kurosawa transposes Shakespeare's KING LEAR to feudal Japan. With its magnificent costumes, breathtaking settings, and amazingly photographed battle sequences, the film is truly stunning. An epic on the grandest of scales, RAN is not only one of Kurosawa's finest films, it is a glorious masterpiece of Japanese cinema.

Spirited Away [2003]

The highest grossing film in Japanese box-office history, Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away is a dazzling film that reasserts the power of drawn animation to create fantasy worlds. The result is a moving and magical journey, told with consummate skill by one of the masters of contemporary animation.

Howl's Moving Castle [2005]

Like a dream, Howl's Moving Castle carries audiences to vistas beyond their imaginations where they experience excitement, adventure, terror, humor, and romance. The film overflows with eclipsing visuals that range from frightening aerial battles to serene landscapes, and few recent features--animated or live action--offer as much magic as Howl's Moving Castle.