We have long carried a torch for Japanese film here at the BFI. Since the first BFI London Film Festival opened with Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood in 1957, we’ve played a vital role in bringing the cinema of this culturally rich nation to UK audiences through our festivals, seasons, theatrical distribution, books and video publishing.

In this major season, we spotlight filmmakers who have inspired admiration and fascination around the world. We begin our story with Akira Kurosawa, and over the coming months we’ll present films from the Golden Age, a focus on Yasujiro Ozu, new wave rebels, the visionary creations of anime, the netherworlds of J-horror, and so much more from archive rarities to contemporary works and cult classics.

This landmark season will take place on BFI Player from 11 May, with new online collections released each month, and we expect to present it at BFI Southbank and cinemas nationwide later this year.

Blu-rays and books

Order The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice (Dual Format Edition)

Order Funeral Parade of Roses (2-Disc Blu-ray)

The Japanese Cinema Book is out now, published by BFI and Bloomsbury to coincide with the season.

In partnership with

Japan Foundation

With special thanks to

TOHO
National Film Archive of Japan
Shochiku Cinema

With the kind support of

Janus Films/The Criterion Collection, Kadokawa Corporation, Kawakita Memorial Film Institute, Kokusai Hoei Co., Ltd, Nikkatsu Corporation, Toei Co., Ltd

 

Images: TOKYO STORY ©1953/2011 Shochiku Co., Ltd., OUTRAGE 2010 Courtesy of STUDIOCANAL, AUDITION 1999 © Arrow Films, TOKYO STORY ©1953/2011 Shochiku Co., Ltd.

In Focus

Where to begin with Nobuhiko Obayashi

Movies inspire a lot of passion, but the back catalogue of film history can be daunting. For every fan who’s obsessed with an actor, director or subgenre, there’s another struggling to know where to start. Sometimes all it takes is the right recommendation to set you on your path from newbie to know-it-all... Your next obsession: the delirious coming-of-age fantasias of Hausu director Nobuhiko Obayashi

By Serena Scateni

Where to begin with Nobuhiko Obayashi

Primers on Japanese cinema

Where to begin with Akira Kurosawa

By Alex Barrett

Where to begin with Akira Kurosawa

Where to begin with Studio Ghibli

By Kambole Campbell

Where to begin with Studio Ghibli

Where to begin with Kaneto Shindo

By Jasper Sharp

Where to begin with Kaneto Shindo

Where to begin with Japan’s kaiju monster movies

By Matthew Thrift

Where to begin with Japan’s kaiju monster movies

Where to begin with Japanese musicals

By Jasper Sharp

Where to begin with Japanese musicals

Where to begin with Japanese cyberpunk

By Jasper Sharp

Where to begin with Japanese cyberpunk

Where to begin with Kon Ichikawa

By Jasper Sharp

Where to begin with Kon Ichikawa

Where to begin with Takeshi Kitano

By Jasper Sharp

Where to begin with Takeshi Kitano

Where to begin with Yoko Ono

By David Parkinson

Where to begin with Yoko Ono

Lists

10 great Japanese film noirs

By Matthew Thrift

10 great Japanese film noirs

Machiko Kyo: five essential films

By David Parkinson

Machiko Kyo: five essential films

Yasujiro Ozu: 10 essential films

By Jasper Sharp

Yasujiro Ozu: 10 essential films

10 great Japanese films of the 1990s

By Jasper Sharp

10 great Japanese films of the 1990s

Five masterpieces of Japanese widescreen... and how they use the frame

By Jasper Sharp

Five masterpieces of Japanese widescreen... and how they use the frame

10 great anime films of the 21st century

By Paul O’Callaghan

10 great anime films of the 21st century

Five iconic Japanese actresses of the golden age

By Jasper Sharp

Five iconic Japanese actresses of the golden age

100 years of Japanese animation: One great film per decade

By Jasper Sharp

100 years of Japanese animation: One great film per decade

10 great Japanese films of the 21st century

By Jasper Sharp

10 great Japanese films of the 21st century

Akira Kurosawa: 10 essential films

By Jasper Sharp

Akira Kurosawa: 10 essential films

Kenji Mizoguchi: 10 essential films

By Jasper Sharp

Kenji Mizoguchi: 10 essential films

Mikio Naruse: 10 essential films

By Matthew Thrift

Mikio Naruse: 10 essential films

Studio Ghibli: five essential films

By Jasper Sharp

Studio Ghibli: five essential films

10 great anime films

By Jasper Sharp

10 great anime films

10 great gay films from east and south-east Asia

By Alex Davidson

10 great gay films from east and south-east Asia

10 great films set in Tokyo

By Jasper Sharp

10 great films set in Tokyo

10 great samurai films

By Jasper Sharp

10 great samurai films

10 great Japanese gangster movies

By Jasper Sharp

10 great Japanese gangster movies

Features

In praise of Hausu, the world’s most demented haunted house film

By Tamsin Cleary

In praise of Hausu, the world’s most demented haunted house film

The man is violent: Takeshi Kitano’s reinvention on screen

By Kaori Shoji

The man is violent: Takeshi Kitano’s reinvention on screen

Tokyo Story: anatomy of a classic

By Jasper Sharp

Tokyo Story: anatomy of a classic

Why Funeral Parade of Roses is a landmark of Japanese queer cinema

By Tamsin Cleary

Why Funeral Parade of Roses is a landmark of Japanese queer cinema

International Tea Day: Ozu and the everyday magic of The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice

By Hayley Scanlon

International Tea Day: Ozu and the everyday magic of The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice

The enigmatic ‘pillow shots’ of Yasujiro Ozu

By Leigh Singer

The enigmatic ‘pillow shots’ of Yasujiro Ozu

Family foods: How Hirokazu Koreeda serves drama at the dinner table

By Anjana Janardhan

Family foods: How Hirokazu Koreeda serves drama at the dinner table

30 years of Akira – teenage kicks, anime-style

By Joseph Walsh

30 years of Akira – teenage kicks, anime-style

How Akira Kurosawa films command the weather

By Jasper Sharp

How Akira Kurosawa films command the weather

Seven Samurai: The rocky road to classic status of Akira Kurosawa’s action masterpiece

By Jasper Sharp

Seven Samurai: The rocky road to classic status of Akira Kurosawa’s action masterpiece

Ozu vs Godzilla

By Jasper Sharp

Ozu vs Godzilla

Isao Takahata on the film that inspired Studio Ghibli

Isao Takahata on the film that inspired Studio Ghibli

Kenji Mizoguchi’s masterpiece Sansho Dayu turns 60 years old

By Samuel Wigley

Kenji Mizoguchi’s masterpiece Sansho Dayu turns 60 years old

Top trumps: the giants of Japan’s monster movies

By Matthew Thrift

Top trumps: the giants of Japan’s monster movies

In focus: Mika Ninagawa on Helter Skelter

In focus: Mika Ninagawa on Helter Skelter

Video

Video: Hirokazu Kore-eda on Still Walking

Video: Hirokazu Kore-eda on Still Walking

Video: Ryuichi Sakamoto on his soundtrack work

Video: Ryuichi Sakamoto on his soundtrack work

Video: How to be an anime voice actor, with Your Name stars Stephanie Sheh and Michael Sinterniklaas

Video: How to be an anime voice actor, with Your Name stars Stephanie Sheh and Michael Sinterniklaas