Japan is indeed one of the world's leading exporters of creative content, particularly in the fields of anime, manga, video games, and music. These industries are collectively known as the "Cool Japan" initiative, which was launched by the Japanese government to promote the country's cultural exports and boost its soft power. Thanks to advancements in technology, fans from across the globe can connect and engage with each other through various means, such as online forums, social media, and even cam chat sessions, where they can interact face-to-face and discuss their favorite anime and manga series.
1. Ran (1985) – IMDb
Released towards the end of his career, Akira Kurosawa's Ran holds a place as one of his finest films, as well as standing amongst the greatest movies ever made. Influenced by Shakespeare's King Lear, the story follows an aging warlord who attempts to pass his kingdom to his three sons. The final epic of his career, Ran is a culmination of all the themes and techniques Kurosawa expressed throughout his filmography. The film earned him his only nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director.
2. Seven Samurai
Kurosawa's masterpiece, testifying to his admiration for John Ford and translated effortlessly back into the form of a Western as The Magnificent Seven, has six masterless samurai - plus Mifune, the crazy farmer's boy not qualified to join the elect group, who nevertheless follows like a dog and fights like a lion - agreeing for no pay, just food and the joy of fulfilling their duty as fighters, to protect a helpless village against a ferocious gang of bandits.
3. Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)
Mizuguchi's best-known work, based on two stories by the 18th century writer Akinari Ueda (often described as the Japanese Maupassant), was one of a handful of Japanese films to sweep up numerous awards at European festivals in the early '50s. Its reputation as one of Mizuguchi's finest works and a landmark of the Japanese 'art' cinema has remained undented ever since. The director's unique establishment of atmosphere by means of long shot, long takes, sublimely graceful and unobtrusive camera movement
4. Tokyo Story (1953)
The director’s own favourite of his 54 movies, Yasujiro Ozu’s 1953 film ‘Tokyo Story’ surveys the Japanese family in the American-influenced post-war reconstruction period. The story – never the Japanese master’s greatest interest – is a simple one. It concerns the visits paid to their children in Osaka and Tokyo by an elderly couple (Tomi, 68, and Shukishi, 70) from the southern seaside town of Onomichi, a quiet fishing port and traditional centre of Buddhist devotion, which was then a day and a night’s train journey from the high-rises, smoking factories and modernity of Japan’s frenetic capital.
5. Rashomon (1949)
It’s hard to argue with the fact that the central conceit of Kurosawa’s global breakthrough presenting divergent perspectives on a single contentious incident provides such a strikingly insightful way of looking at the world that the term ‘Rashomon’ has entered the language. Thankfully, visionary 1920s short-story specialist Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s multi-layered tale of rape and murder in feudal Japan doesn’t disappoint, and the switchback narrative, as befuddled parties shelter under the old Kyoto city gate to try and make sense of bandit Tajomaru’s attack on a travelling samurai and his wife, remains engrossing and provocative as conflicting testimonies emerge.
6. Woman in the Dunes (1964)
One of the 1960s’ great international art-house sensations, Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna) was for many the grand unveiling of the surreal, idiosyncratic world of Hiroshi Teshigahara. Eiji Okada plays an amateur entomologist who has left Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle found in a vast desert. What results is one of cinema’s most unnerving and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of everyday life as a Sisyphean struggle an achievement that garnered Teshigahara an Academy Award nomination for best director.
Japan has established itself as a global leader in the export of creative content, including anime, manga, video games, and music. Many iconic anime series, such as "Dragon Ball" and "Naruto," have been adapted into multiple languages and distributed internationally. In addition to these exports, Japan has also produced some of the greatest films ever made, with Akira Kurosawa's "Ran" and "Seven Samurai," Mizuguchi's "Ugetsu Monogatari," Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story," and Kurosawa's "Rashomon" and Hiroshi Teshigahara "Woman in the Dunes" standing out as exceptional examples of Japanese cinema.