Are you interested in learning Japanese, but find traditional study methods tedious or boring? Why not take a break and watch some engaging Japanese movies on Netflix? While watching movies should not be counted as your actual Japanese learning time, it can be an enjoyable way to improve your Japanese skills, introduce you to the culture, and keep you motivated in learning the language!
In this article, we’ll be recommending the best Japanese movies on Netflix for language learners and providing tips on how to effectively use movies as a tool for language acquisition. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, there’s something on this list for everyone. So grab some popcorn, settle in, and let’s explore the world of Japanese cinema and improve our Japanese skills!
5 Great Japanese Movies on Netflix to Watch
Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル)
- IMDb rating: 7.6
- Released: 2000
- Director: Kinji Fukasaku
- Genre: action, thriller
If you have enjoyed watching the Netflix series Squid Game, then you can’t miss Battle Royale.
Battle Royale is a true classic and one of the most popular modern Japanese movies. It’s a dystopian thriller about a group of high school students who are forced to fight to the death on a remote island. The movie is violent, but at the same time intriguing and thought-provoking.
Battle Royale was so popular that it has inspired a battle royale genre, which includes many other well-known movies like The Hunger Games, Ready or Not, and Squid Game. So if you haven’t watched it yet, give it a try!
- IMDb rating: 8.0
- Released: 1980
- Director: Akira Kurosawa
- Genre: Drama, History, War
Kagemusha is a classic movie directed by Akira Kurosawa, an influential filmmaker in the history of cinema. His works have had a significant impact on both the Japanese and Western film industries.
Kagemusha is highly regarded in the film industry. It is featured in film classes over the world. For Japanese learners, you might notice the movie contains formal language, but the evenly-paced speech helps balance this out. The movie is also famous for having amazing cinematography and action scenes that keep you engaged throughout the entire story.
- IMDb rating: 8.1/10
- Released: 2008
- Director: Yōjirō Takita
- Genre: Drama, Music
Departures (おくりびと) is a Japanese drama film that literally translates to “The one who sends off”. The film is a heartwarming drama about a young cellist who went back to his hometown after a failed career as a cellist. By accidentally taking on the job of encoffiner, he finds purpose and meaning in his work and life.
The film won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009. It’s a great way to practice your Japanese language skills while gaining insight into traditional Japanese funeral customs.
13 Assassins (十三人の刺客)
- IMDb rating: 7.6
- Released: 2010
- Director: Takashi Miike
- Genre: Action, Adventure
This is a movie directed by the famous Japanese director Takashi Miike. If you wish to have a traditional Japanese feel with a modern twist, look no further.
The movie explores the dark side of power struggles between warring territories in Japanese history. The storyline follows a chain of assassinations and suicides in pursuit of justice. It’s got samurai, bushido code and shogunates, if you are interested.
For language learners, note that this movie also features formal spoken Japanese.”Our Little Sister”
Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary)
- IMDb rating: 7.4/10
- Released: 2015
- Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
- Genre: Drama
Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary, literally: Seaside town diary) is a family drama about three sisters who live together in Kamakura, a coastal town near Tokyo. When their estranged half-sister Suzu comes to live with them after their father’s death, the four sisters gradually form a bond and navigate the complexities of their relationships with each other and with their deceased parents.
Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, the film features a talented cast of actresses and showcases beautiful scenery and food from the Kamakura area. This movie is ideal for those who want to learn more about Japanese family dynamics and improve their vocabulary related to everyday life.
Wish to find more Japanese movies on Netflix? Simply head over to their official Japanese movies page where you’ll find a variety of movies and TV shows in different genres. For even more options outside of Netflix, check out Wikipedia’s comprehensive list of Japanese films in 50 different categories, or this list of Japanese movies ranked by language difficulty. Let’s immerse ourselves in these captivating films and enhance our Japanese skills!
If you’re new to the world of Japanese learning, be sure to read our tips below on how to effectively learn Japanese through watching movies on Netflix.
How to Watch Japanese Movies on Netflix and Learn Japanese
If you’re an avid user of LingoDeer, the fantastic language app to learn 12 + languages, then you’re probably aware that learning a new language is more than just immersing in native contents. It requires constant effort and time invested in vocabulary, grammar, speaking, etc.
While movies might not make you fluent in Japanese overnight, they can be a fun and addictive way to immerse yourself in the language and pick up natural expressions. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips on how to learn Japanese while enjoying Japanese movies!
- Increase vocabulary. Look up some words and expressions related to the movie theme before you hit play. It’s a great way to get a head start on understanding the language used in the film. While watching, pay close attention to how certain words are used in context – this will help you remember them with feeling. And if there’s something you don’t quite understand, try to guess based on visual cues like facial expressions.
- Practice listening skills.If you have learned Japanese for some time or wish to level up your listening skills, try turning off English subtitle to enter the “hard mode”. Of course, there’s no need to feel pressure to do this right away – subtitles can still be super helpful in learning new vocabulary and grammar. The most important thing is to keep yourself engaged and interested in what you’re watching, so you’ll want to continue to improve.
- Improve pronunciation and Speaking. Have you tried dubbing? If you have a favorite character or scene from a movie, give it a go and try dubbing it yourself! By repeating the lines and imitating the accent, you’ll quickly find yourself picking up the nuances of the Japanese pronunciation without even realizing it. Just be sure to select a character who speaks in your target accent so that you can get the most out of your practice.
- Understand Japanese culture. If you are new to Japanese language and culture, you might come across some confusing scenes in the movie or don’t quite understand why a character act in a certain way. But don’t worry! Instead of feeling lost, see it as an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating and unique Japanese culture. You can always ask a Japanese friend or do some research online. This way, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture while enjoying the movies
Japanese cinema is truly a treasure trove! And believe me when I say, there’s so much more to see beyond what we’ve covered here. We’ve also written about Japanese movies (not just on Netflix), and Japanese YouTube Channels for learning Japanese.
So why not expand your horizons and explore these Japanese movies now? I’m sure they’ll be taking your Japanese language skills to the next level in no time!