Good films for learning Japanese?

Japanese cinema is what got me into Japanese culture, so I want to try to utilize it as a learning tool. Any good films to use for studying the language?


what do you mean?
like for watching raw. japanese subs, english subs?

english subs will do close to 0 as learning material, so if that’s the case choose something you actually like, like most of the times you choose a movie tbh.
I like Tampopo :man_shrugging: … is a good movie and has ramen as the protagonist. I don’t know if there is something like a movie that defines japanese culture… that’s kind of broad.

If you are going for listening practice, Totoro is a nice movie (Kikis, Ponyo also are similar in that regard), clear dialogues and basic plot, without taking much of the magic even if you miss some dialogues here and there.

Using something like Voracius can be a great way to squeeze those japanese subtitles if you’re aiming at having a more intensive watch at any movie focusing on the actual words using japanese subtitles. Some movies can be found in Animelon with a similar setup too.

So without much information a general recomendation would be just choose something you like and have a geniune interest. You can come back to a movie later and understand more and more as you watch it again after progressing with the language (it’s rewarding to come back to this kind of material and realize that the struggles of yesterday become the joys of tomorrow in some way). If you pretend to use it a language learning tool (subs or raw), be aware that is totally different than watching it in your language or with eng subs. So compare that time to other learning reasources NOT to watching a movie in your L1, as It will always be a worst experience in comparision (at least for a very long time).


Personally I think any films can be utilized for learning as long as you are interested in the topic!

However I would caution against action flicks or fantasy films, because of obscure or technical language that might be used often in-universe of the film itself, but is not commonly used elsewhere! So any drama, slice of life, etc. would probably have more common words for you to learn, and are generally slower paced so it’s easy for you to follow along.

If you don’t mind sappy romance or family films, I would recommend:
A somewhat slow-paced but heartwarming film that revolves around family and loss. (I reaaally don’t want to spoil this one, it’s a personal favorite!)

This recently had a western adaptation to it. It’s about a girl with a rare disease who can’t go out into the sun, and falls in love with a boy whom she watches from her windows every morning before she goes to sleep.

Tampopo is hilarious xD


Try drama if you’re tired of anime and high school theme like I do. I found that manga type life action drama or manga adaptation is simpler in vocabulary and grammar than serious ones. Last drama I watched was ダメな私に恋してください, it was pretty good.

The hard part is listening to grammar and vocabulary. Once you get movie/drama you like, use subs2srs to convert the clips to anki deck.

On a side note, avoid country side drama such as まれ and あまちゃん which have dialect :sweat_smile:

Good question! I unfortunately do not have a good answer but what movies of Japanese cinema got you into Japanese culture? My all time favorites are Ikiru (1952), Tampopo (1985) and Departures (2008). L’hitraot!


Funky Forest was my first, which sparked my love for “weird” Japan (Survive Style 5+/Party 7/etc.). Then I moved onto more “serious” stuff, such as Battle Royale and Ichi the Killer. THEN I got into Serious True Artist-Man Cinema, and got into Kurosawa/Ozu for a bit, before realizing that my favorites were still on the weirder side. Now my love lies with Sion Sono and Satoshi Kon.

I don’t know if you’re looking for japanese or english subs, but in case of japanese subs, I watched a bit of japanese-subbed movies on japanese Netflix last year.

Here are some of the ones I found that weren’t diffiult enough for me to turn them off :slight_smile:

(Mostly romance-type stuff because of easier language :slight_smile: )


I also watched and would recommend the さちいろのワンルーム drama

I disagree. When I learned English, I started watching (German) subbed movies, and it helped me to learn to segment the stream of sound into words and I also recognized single words and learned how to use them in context. It also helped to connect both languages in my mind so I didn’t have to translate in my head anymore before speaking. It also helped me to start thinking in English.

Children learn by just listening to a language, so why shouldn’t adults? I think it’s a great and fun way to learn, and it’s a great addition to studying vocabulary and grammar.

Of course, if you understand enough to follow the plot with Japanese subtitles only that’s great and speeds up your learning even more, but starting with English subs is valuable too.

On you can watch TV-Dramas with both English and Japanese subs at the same time.

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It was the same for me learning english, but unforunately I think this works nowhere near as well for japanase because of how different the sentence structure is. (Word order is often pretty close to being reversed)

If a sentence is long enough to be broken up into multiple subtitles, then quite often what you’re reading will not be a translation of what you’re hearing, but rather of what you’re going to hear soon or what you just heard.

Personally, when watching english-subbed japanese, my brain frantically tries to simultaneously parse the spoken japanese and the written english, failing at both!


Interesting. I never thought about that. I’d say that it still helps me a lot to watch subbed Japanese, but I’ll pay more attention to that next time :slight_smile:

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I think wakako zake drama version might be good for beginner. Simple restaurant vocabulary and she speaks mostly slowly. Kind of like Lady version of kodoku no gurume, but she likes to drink alcohol too.

Definitely this. Once I started learning enough Japanese to recognize words, the disconnect was pretty harsh between what the subtitle showed and what was actually being said. I wish there were literal subtitles as I think that would be much better.

My Mandarin is still pretty poor, but I find English subtitled Mandarin movies to be easier to follow along since it’s the same SVO as English for the most part. As it is, I would heartily agree that Japanese SOV sentence structure is what really makes subtitles useless.


おくりびと or Departures was the first Japanese film that I saw in a Japanese theater, so sans subtitles and it was not difficult at all for me to understand. That is with living here and being immersed in the culture for quite some time…but it was quite entertaining as well…might as well enjoy yourself, 良いんじゃですか?


Was this an attempt at 良いんじゃないか? and 良いんですか? at the same time? :stuck_out_tongue:

oops…入力ミス。。。Thanks Kazzeon!

…My point is that OP is a 邦画愛好家, watching おくりびと can be both educational and entertaining…not a bad thing, The former “良いんじゃないですか”
is what I meant to type.

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