Japanese Cinema in a Nutshell

The super-condensed list that covers the history of Japanese cinema. One representative film is given for each notable director. The films are listed chronologically.

If you're getting into Japanese movies and don't know where to start, the films from this list could make a great starting point as they're all so diverse and cover the basics.

If you think there are directors I've missed, leave some feedback.

Similar lists that may interest you:

French Cinema in a Nutshell
Hong Kong Cinema in a Nutshell
Italian Cinema in a Nutshell
Mainland Chinese Cinema in a Nutshell

Read notes
  • A Page of Madness
  • Jirokichi the Rat
  • Our Neighbor, Miss Yae
  • Humanity and Paper Balloons
  • The Masseurs and a Woman
  • The Ball at the Anjo House
  • Rashomon
  • Tokyo Story
  • Ugetsu
  • An Inn at Osaka
  • Godzilla
  • Crazed Fruit
  • A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era
  • The Ballad of Narayama
  • Fires on the Plain
  • Jigoku
  • The Warped Ones
  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
  • 47 Samurai
  • Harakiri
  • Bushido: The Cruel Code of the Samurai
  • Onibaba
  • Woman in the Dunes
  • A Fugitive from the Past
  • Illusion of Blood
  • Patriotism
  • Silence Has No Wings
  • The Sword of Doom
  • Branded to Kill
  • I, the Executioner
  • Nanami: The Inferno of First Love
  • Blind Beast
  • The Deserted Archipelago
  • Double Suicide
  • Eros + Massacre
  • Funeral Parade of Roses
  • Go, Go Second Time Virgin
  • Goyokin
  • Horrors of Malformed Men
  • This Transient Life
  • Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
  • Zatoichi at Large
  • Belladonna of Sadness
  • Lady Snowblood
  • Sex and Fury
  • Pastoral: To Die in the Country
  • The Streetfighter
  • In the Realm of the Senses
  • House
  • The Man Who Stole the Sun
  • Vengeance Is Mine
  • Muddy River
  • Farewell to the Land
  • The Family Game
  • Angel's Egg
  • Tampopo
  • Typhoon Club
  • Death Powder
  • The Sea and Poison
  • The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
  • Akira
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • Noisy Requiem
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man
  • 964 Pinocchio
  • Angel Dust
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • Shall We Dance?
  • Splatter: Naked Blood
  • Cure
  • Fireworks
  • Perfect Blue
  • Postman Blues
  • Ringu
  • Suicide Bus
  • Adrenaline Drive
  • After the Rain
  • Audition
  • Battle Royale
  • Eureka
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou
  • Blue Spring
  • Spirited Away
  • Ju-on: The Grudge
  • The Twilight Samurai
  • 2LDK
  • Moon Child
  • Casshern
  • Survive Style 5+
  • The Taste of Tea
  • Noroi: The Curse
  • 5 Centimeters per Second
  • The Mourning Forest
  • Departures
  • Love Exposure
  • Still Walking
  • Tokyo Gore Police
  • Confessions