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Japanese movies & J-drama

Unique part of Japan’s soft power

Movies and J-drama are a notorious part of Japan’s soft power.

Japanese cinema

Japan is the third film producer in the world, with an industry that have been blooming since the early days of cinema.

All genres are represented in Japanese cinema, but the most popular in Western countries are:

  • Yakuza movies (Sonatine),
  • Period movies (Mizoguchi’s The 47 Ronin),
  • Monsters movies (Godzilla),
  • Horror and gore movies (Ring, Battle Royale)

Among the most famous directors are: Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Nagisa Oshima, Kinji Fukasaku, Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Miike and Takeshi Kitano.

Over the recent years, Japanese cinema exported overseas tends to show more social aspects and less graphic violence, as in Hirokazu Kore-eda or Naomi Kawase’s movies.


The series broadcasted on television in Japan are called J-drama (or J-dorama). Plenty of new shows are created each year, generally of a dozen episodes, each lasting about 45 minutes to one hour. They are broadcasted weekly, on a fixed time slot, thus building a loyalty relationship with spectators.

Like cinema, J-drama encompass all genres, but Japanese people’s favorites are :

  • School life (Hana yori dango "Boys over flowers")
  • Workplace related stories (Watashi, teiji de kaerimasu "I will not work overtime"),
  • Detective and mystery (Galileo, Miss Sherlock),
  • Romance (Nodame Cantabile),
  • Historical (Ryomaden "The legend of Ryoma")

It used to be difficult to access to J-drama, but thanks to the development of legal streaming platforms over the recent years they are now easily available throughout the world, with subtitles.

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