My Kurosawa proyect

It’s been somewhat over two years since I started learning japanese and I’ve reached probably my biggest milestone so far, the main reason for my interest in the language has become now something I can enjoy in japanese. :star_struck::star_struck:

I’m talking about Akira Kurosawa’s films.

It all started with this box set given as a present, like when DVD collections were a thing :sweat_smile:

I was heavy into film and film history some years ago and Kurosawa’s films were this big reference for so many great current movies. Watched then Seven Samurais, Youjinbo and then some couple more and I was hooked…

Years have gone by after I even considered the idea of learning japanese, progressively went from textbooks and learner’s material to basic content aimed at japanese kids, then some more mature stuff (like middle school I’m talking :rofl: ) were a possibility for my reading skills and then I met this great piece of software: Voracious.

This way I can basically watch my shows with the possibility of repeating scenes line by line to inspect those dialogues by means of the japanese subtitles. You must have a video file and then the matching subtitles with selectable text in order to work its magic :slightly_smiling_face: .
It has an integrated dictionary in english and then you can add monolingual dictionaries too. There’s also Anki connect integration for making cards on the spot with any new words you encounter (which is basically what my SRS is nowadays).

The platform looks something like this (when picking up words for exporting):

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In any case since japanese subs aren’t so easy to obtain outside of Netflix (which is the main source for my media in this set up) I never thought too much about enjoying the same experience with my old movies.

Long story short(er), I found this small collection of japanese subtitles made of some shows and specially movies, where the entire Kurosawa collection was available :star_struck:.

Subs are though in what is a common format for japanese subs that come in DVDs, image based lines, meaning non selectable text, which for language apps in not extremely useful.

Fortunately enough this guy created a nice app for applying OCR to this kind of subs and deliver text selectable subs in the format of a .srt file.

After transfering the DVD content into my computer (in the format of a disk image) I located a nice tool to smoothly convert that to a regular mkv file, which works properly in Voracious (sadly this program won’t work on any video file, so it’s better to check the website to make sure you have a suitable formated and encoded video).


That’s all for the technical details!! :crazy_face:

Now all 25 films in the collection have matched subs. It took quite some time to do all the proper file conversions, but luckely, that didn’t included aligning time stamps in the subs, which was my biggest fear when I started planning this.

Last days I’ve gone over Seven Samurais once more and it was incredible. :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

This 3 hour film took me about double that over 3 days. :sweat_smile:
Some 100 new vocab in Anki came from this too, considering I didn’t add super obscure vocab (including some really archaic kanji) or words that were easy enough to assimilate once seen the kanjis that made them.

I don’t know when, listening wise or even vocab wise, my japanese could have been on point for me to get all those nuances in the dialogues and go pass the noticeable lower quality on sound that old movies have, so I feel I took a HUGE shortcut in what I thought was needed to even aproach this kind of material.
Have been using this setup regularly with jdramas last months, so I’m getting more and more used to mumbled voices and fast speech… but this movie was something else altogether.

So, yeah. That’s 1 of 25 movies to go… I think I have enough to keep me busy for some time.


I guess I’ve decided to make this wall of text style of post 'cause (I never got to make one of those level 60 post and) I’m kinda proud of this sort of goal achievement moment. :upside_down_face:

Besides that, I know there’re some people (scarce few probably) whom main interest in japanese ain’t anime (in which case all this comes so much easy :tipping_hand_man: ) and are film buffs as well. I wouldn’t count on finding too many movies in the website I used. Actually there’s the chance that Netflix Japan could have a given movie too, in which case it’s way simpler to just access that than going through all this :sweat_smile: (you can just make a quick search here and find out). Also a lot of Japanese movies sold in Japan will have japanese subs… the rest of the setup could work exactly the same, so there’s that in case anyone else feels like exploring some uncharted waters :sweat_smile:

I might be adding some updates in this thread as I move forward with the collection. I have the slight impression that this will be a long journey…

EDIT:
Here’s the link for all 25 movies subtitles. I’ve also removed those in parenthesis words made for hear impairment porpuses.

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I didn’t respond to this yesterday because I don’t really understand all of the app talk in the post. They sound like really good programs but I don’t understand them! I am a person with a flip phone, after all.
But I watched many Japanese films this year. Japanese subtitles weren’t available though. Also I skipped most of the Kurosawa films to focus on directors that I don’t know anything about. I did watch どん底, though. But the representation of women in Japanese cinema was making me feel depressed (this isn’t exclusive to just Japanese cinema tho…) so I stopped.

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Yeah, I totally get that it turned to be a cumbersome process in spite of been a simple idea to enjoy my favorite movies . :grin:

I wish there were more services like Netflix with simple addons that allow you to use the provided subs as learning material on the spot. Sadly while all the elements are already there I think the mix between entertaining streaming platforms and language learning is still something to be developed :sleepy: .


About the representation of women in japanese cinema I can’t think in any director that has made that his/her flag. I actually tend to think as japanese society as quite unbalanced in terms of genre, which only reflects in their movies as a natural extension.
I would look more into european cinema for those strong female figures (Agnes Varda’s films and characters in Fassbinder movies too come to my mind).
In any case I’m still too far behind in my film habbits or knowledge on japanese society to give what could be considered a well informed opinion :sweat_smile: .


I changed the thread to the “resources” category as I’ll be uploading the subs soon if anyone has any of the films and wants to give it a go.

Besides that I think I’ll make the rest of the entries a comment on the films as I watch them, not so much as a film review (you can always read Roger Ebert for that) but more on the language aspect. Seven Samurais was really enlightning. @E-B was asking some time ago about the language usage on such films, as people who was more or less fluent was having issues watching them. I can totally get how that happened. The vocab, the sound quality, the shouting, the “ben”(?) used… anyway I will comment on that as soon as I put my thoughts in order. :smile:

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I had a subscription to the Criterion Channel and I tried to go through all of the Japanese films. I skipped the Kurosawa films though. I meant to come back to them but I unsubscribed. I watched part of Red Beard, too.
I think even at my low level I did notice some things about the language. Maybe I’m making that up now…but I think I did!

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:flushed: … I didn’t knew such thing existed.

There’s a neat article about it here. After reading it I was super pumped.

… until I found out it was a service limited to the US and Canada apparently… :weary:

I might try it with the VPN in a while and see how much of a hassle can be to access… :disappointed:

EDIT: a VPN won’t do. :cry:

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This Is really cool. I personally haven’t seen any of Kurosawa’s films, but it has always been on my list to do so.

So if I get native japaneese media dvds, I should be able to just use Voracious with the included subtitles? or would I still need a separate subtitle file?

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This is amazing, such a cool thing you have done here. As a Kurosawa fan, I recommend reading the weighty tome “The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune” if you haven’t already.

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Kurosawa was one of a kind.

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@lucon1
You’ll need the movie in mp4 or mkv format. If you have the DVD, using the open-source program I mentioned (Handbrake) will be enough. I’ll upload tomorrow those Kurosawa subs, so that will do. :+1:

@kotobaman thanks, I love that recommendation. I was really wanting to pick something of that sorts. :+1:

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if you are after japanese subtitles for anime, kitsunekko.net has a lot, though I’ve always had to retime the subtitles as they always seem a little off.

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Ok, subs are up. Will do for the Criterion collection, but I guess other versions should be ok too. Some minimum time adjustment could be required.
In any case, there you have it.

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I’m not sure if this is something like it (sorry if it isn’t, then I understood it wrong), but this browser extension really helped me with practicing Japanese while watching Netflix. (Any other Terrace House fans here? :blush:)

You can inspect the subs line by line, and also view translations (entirely or per word). Furigana can be added to the subs as well.

(Btw, I am not in any way affiliated with the makers of this extension, I just really like it and think it’s worth mentioning.)

The idea is pretty much that. That addon does a very similar job to what Subadub does (which I basically use to download the subs from Netflix). The same developer of the later did the separate app that I mentioned: Voracious.

So you can do pretty much the same (and a bit more) than what’s possible with those addons but with any material that you have both video and matching subtitles (coming from Netflix, Youtube, or as I’m experimenting now also from DVDs :wink:).

I love to work with material coming from Netflix, since I can have video and matching subtitles right away for downloading. Thing is more about content. Netflix gallery is growing, but still, even in the Japanese Netflix I’ve runned with the issue of the variety been somewhat lacking on JDramas and then movies specially.

Thanks for the Kurosawa subtitles!

What monolingual dictionary are you using in Voracious? I’m trying to get it to use Shinmeikai but it doesn’t take it.

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I’m using 大辞林 there. It has both monolingual and english built in, which I like when watching shows. That way I can quickly continue with watching without caring much for the monolingual def, but will be readily available if I don’t get a word or there’s more to it, which most of the time will be clearer after reading the monolingual def.

Even if you don’t have the EPWING dictionaries, 大辞林 is the built in japanese dictionary on the Mac, which in my case its automatically brought upon pressing all the way on the trackpad with a word selected.

I was having a tough day today but you just got me so friggin excited to check this out. Kurosawa is one of those directors I love but have yet to take the deep dive into.
I’ve seen Drunken Angel, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, and Ran not that long ago. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface, but each one of those movies have left huge impressions on me.

Thank you so very much for sharing this. As a film buff and former film worker, these kind of tools are exactly what is missing in my study routine.

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This is really nice. Thanks for your effort and an amazing job! Any ideas from where one can buy the box set? It can be a valuable collection :smile:

Thanks, will try to set it up today.

BTW, which Kurosawa film would you recommend for a movie buff but new to Kurosawa?

Ikiru and Rashomon are among my favorite ones. I would go with either to start with.
I’ve introduced people to Kurosawa with Seven Samurai (also a favorite) in the past, but since it last over 3 hours, I’m recomending first the other ones these days.

I have seem it on Amazon, but since it went out of print some time ago the prices are kinda ridiculous now :man_shrugging:.