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Japan 2020

On BFI Player from 11 May – view the Kurosawa Collection digital guide.

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.

Watch the BFI Japan 2020 trailer.

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

Pre-order The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice (Dual Format Edition)

Pre-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

With special thanks to

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

Image credits

Godzilla 1954 © Toho Co., Ltd.
Harakiri ©1962 Shochiku Co., Ltd.

In focus

Primers on Japanese cinema

Lists

  • The best Japanese film of every year – from 1925 to now

    The best Japanese film of every year – from 1925 to now

    From Kurosawa to Koreeda, we make some tough choices about the finest film of every year of Japanese film history going back to 1925.
    Thursday 14 May 2020

  • Machiko Kyo: five essential films

    Machiko Kyo: five essential films

    We remember the Japanese star, who has died at the age of 95, with a look at five of her greatest performances.
    Wednesday 15 May 2019

  • Yasujiro Ozu: 10 essential films

    Yasujiro Ozu: 10 essential films

    Your 10-film introduction to the Ozu Cinematic Universe… from Tokyo Story to An Autumn Afternoon.
    Thursday 12 December 2019

  • 10 great Japanese films of the 1990s

    10 great Japanese films of the 1990s

    The 1990s were a transitional decade for Japanese cinema, in which new auteurs, including Hirokazu Kore-eda and Takeshi Kitano, first came to prominence.
    Thursday 25 April 2019

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

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

    How Japanese mastery of the widescreen image was rooted in the country’s artistic and theatrical heritage.
    Thursday 22 March 2018

  • 10 great anime films of the 21st century

    10 great anime films of the 21st century

    From Spirited Away to Your Name… here are some of the greatest Japanimation films of the century so far. 
    Thursday 10 May 2018

  • Five iconic Japanese actresses of the golden age

    Five iconic Japanese actresses of the golden age

    Much of the power and potency of the great films of Japan’s postwar golden age comes from their luminous stars. With our celebration of Japanese melodrama playing at BFI Southbank, here’s your introduction to five of the finest actresses of the period.
    Tuesday 24 October 2017

  • 100 years of Japanese animation: One great film per decade

    100 years of Japanese animation: One great film per decade

    Enter a world beyond anime as we celebrate the centenary of animation in Japan by exploring some less familiar corners of this rich history.
    Friday 23 June 2017

  • 10 great Japanese films of the 21st century

    10 great Japanese films of the 21st century

    To celebrate a bumper year for Japanese cinema at the BFI London Film Festival, we look out some of the best movies to come out of Japan since the turn of this century.
    Thursday 10 September 2015

  • Akira Kurosawa: 10 essential films

    Akira Kurosawa: 10 essential films

    Akira Kurosawa redefined the action film with his samurai epics set in Japan’s medieval past. Here are 10 of his best movies.
    Monday 23 March 2015

  • Kenji Mizoguchi: 10 essential films

    Kenji Mizoguchi: 10 essential films

    Some must-see titles from the long career of one of the great masters of Japanese cinema, famed for his exquisite travelling shots and fierce critiques of his country’s patriarchal inequality.
    Friday 15 May 2015

  • Mikio Naruse: 10 essential films

    Mikio Naruse: 10 essential films

    As highly regarded as Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu by many, director Mikio Naruse is far less well known in the west. These 10 films offer the perfect introduction.
    Thursday 20 August 2015

  • Studio Ghibli: five essential films

    Studio Ghibli: five essential films

    We pick out five must-see titles from Japanese animation giants Studio Ghibli.
    Wednesday 26 March 2014

  • 10 great anime films

    10 great anime films

    Studio Ghibli and beyond: 10 classics from the fantastic and wildly popular world of anime.
    Thursday 1 May 2014

  • 10 great gay films from east and south-east Asia

    10 great gay films from east and south-east Asia

    Take a look at the best gay films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
    Friday 29 August 2014

  • 10 great films set in Tokyo

    10 great films set in Tokyo

    Gleaming, neon-lit and futuristic, Tokyo is not just one of the world’s great capitals, but also one of the great cinematic cities. Here are 10 tantalising Tokyo stories.
    Thursday 13 June 2013

  • 10 great samurai films

    10 great samurai films

    With Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai fighting its way onto Blu-ray, we delve into Japan’s heroic past with 10 classic tales of swords and chivalry.
    Thursday 17 October 2013

  • 10 great Japanese gangster movies

    10 great Japanese gangster movies

    Journey deep into Tokyo’s cinematic underworld with 9 of the best Japanese mobster and yakuza movies – and a killer trilogy.
    Wednesday 20 March 2013

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