Unveiling Japanese Film Industry: Prominent Films and Television Shows

Unveiling Japanese Film Industry: Prominent Films and Television Shows

The Japanese film industry is one of the most prolific and influential in the world, having produced countless classic films and TV shows that have left an indelible mark on moviegoers everywhere. From finely crafted dramas to cutting-edge science fiction, Japanese cinema offers diversity and uniqueness, and there is always something new to discover for avid film lovers. This long-form article provides an overview of the Japanese film industry, highlighting some of the most prominent films and TV shows that have gained international recognition.

History of Japanese Film Industry

The first Japanese film was made in 1899, titled “Nihonbashi Bridge,” directed by Tsunekichi Shibata. It was a short documentary-like film that shows a busy street scene in Tokyo. Since then, the industry has rapidly grown, and during the silent era (1910s–1920s), Japanese cinema established its identity based on a melodramatic, sentimental style often found in kabuki theater. The year 1937, which saw the release of Kenji Mizoguchi’s Oscar-nominated “The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums,” marked a turning point for Japanese cinema and filmmakers’ artistic development. By the 1950s and 1960s, the industry had reached its zenith, producing some of the greatest works of filmmakers like Yasujirō Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, and Kenji Mizoguchi, among others.

The Golden Age of Japanese Cinema (1950s-1960s)

The 1950s and 1960s are regarded as the golden age of Japanese cinema with globally lauded classic films. Yasujirō Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” (1953), a gentle but piercing drama on generational conflict and the decline of familial values, is often cited as one of the best films ever made. Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” (1954), a sweeping epic of seven samurai charged with protecting a village from marauding bandits, is a seminal work that has influenced numerous filmmakers worldwide. Kenji Mizoguchi’s “Ugetsu” (1953), a haunting ghost story set in 16th century Japan, is an intricate work of art that remains a must-watch for cinephiles. Additionally. Jun Fukuda’s “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965), known in the U.S. as “Godzilla vs Monster Zero,” is a quintessential monster movie from Toho Studios that has gained cult status.

Contemporary Japanese Cinema

Japanese film industry continues to produce quality works with an increasing number of female directors and new voices. Hirokazu Kore-eda is among the contemporary filmmakers to watch out for whose works have gained international recognition. “Shoplifters” (2018) won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and depicts a family’s struggle to make ends meet through petty theft. Naomi Kawase’s “Still the Water” (2014), an enchanting drama on a mystical island, is a great work of art. Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai” (2018), an anime film about a young boy who meets his future sister, is a heartwarming tale. Similarly, Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” (2016) is a magical tale of two teenagers who switch bodies.

Television Shows

Japanese television shows are also gaining popularity globally with their unique storytelling and cultural references. “Terrace House,” a reality show about six people living together in a house, has amassed a cult following abroad. “Atelier,” a drama about a young fashion designer working in a high-end lingerie shop, offers a glimpse into the world of Japanese fashion.


1. What is the Japanese film industry known for?

The Japanese film industry is known for producing quality dramas, sci-fi and horror films, anime, and action movies.

2. Who are some of the most influential Japanese filmmakers?

Yasujirō Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Takeshi Kitano, and Hayao Miyazaki are among some of the most influential Japanese filmmakers.

3. What is considered the golden age of Japanese cinema?

The 1950s and 1960s are considered the golden age of Japanese cinema when renowned filmmakers like Yasujirō Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, and Kenji Mizoguchi created their best works.

4. What are some popular Japanese TV shows?

“Terrace House,” “Atelier,” and “Midnight Diner” are popular Japanese TV shows.

5. What has been the impact of Japanese cinema on the global film industry?

Japanese cinema has left an indelible mark on the global film industry, with iconic works like “Seven Samurai” and “Godzilla” influencing countless filmmakers worldwide.


Japanese cinema and television industry offer a wide range of works that cater to varied tastes, from intense drama to whimsical anime, from intricate period pieces to avant-garde science fiction. The industry has a rich legacy that continues to inspire contemporary filmmakers worldwide. The above list offers just a small sample of the portentous works that have made Japanese cinema a force to be reckoned with.