Most of this list have subtitles for you to enjoy and follow along with the story. There is a list of the Best Japanese Films as well as scrolling further will give you a more in-depth look at each.
There are a lot of different shows from Netflix Japan that deserve your attention. We recommend you check them out. We decided to compile a list for you to use during the year and we will do our best to update the list as the year progresses. So if we missed something or something new has come about, be sure to let us know and we will update our list accordingly.
- Little Miss Sumo
- Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!
- The Birth of Saké
- Million Yen Women
- Samurai Gourmet
- Ossan’s Love
- Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
- The Naked Director
The Naked Director
Genre: Comedy-drama, period drama
Synopsis: An unsuccessful salesman, Toru Muranishi tries his luck in the porn industry after getting fired from his job and discovering his wife is having an affair. Despite his lack of experience, Muranishi quickly learns the rising potential of the VHS and goes on to build an empire for himself while revolutionising the porn industry in Japan.
Overview: This is a show everyone is raving about. This is a biopic that is some what based on a true story about the famed film director Toru Muranishi. Its eccentric, provocative, bizarre and downright erotic. His career flourished in the 1980’s. This was perfect timing as the was an economic boom in Japan. The series itself was just released in August of 2019 and because of its popularity, Netflix has promised a second season, so you better catch up.confirmed the show is being renewed for a second season.
Synopsis: Soichi Haruta is a single 33-year old employee at a real estate company. He feels ready to get married but his awkward character and lack of independence (he lives with his mother) leaves him struggling to attract the attention of single women. He feels he faces enough challenges in life as it is, and his problems are further complicated when both his colleague, Ryota Maki, and boss, Musashi Kurosawa, confess having feelings for him.
Overview: The colloquial word for old or middle-aged man is Ossan. We usually picture salary men in suits heading home on the train after drinks with co-workers. The creators of ‘Ossan’s Love’ have destroyed that cliché by defying the trope of schoolboy crushes so often seen in BL (Boy’s Love) dramas and placing the setting involving a love story of Japanese salarymen and workplace romance. It is a seven-episode season that is funny, a bit awkward and leaves you wanting more. Here is to hoping Netflix comes with another season soon.Love’ is a warm, funny and at times absurd series that adapted nicely to a seven-episode series on Netflix, leaving fans hungry for more.
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Genre: Slice of life, food
Synopsis: A man who is only known to those around him as ‘Master’ runs a small restaurant from midnight to 7am daily. The restaurant welcomes a mixed group of clientele every night who dish up their fascinating personal stories as the chef serves them dinner. During these hours, the Master becomes a trusted confidant as well as a cook while his diners contemplate their personal dilemmas over a soulful dish.
Overview: If the allure of mouthwatering home-style Japanese dishes is hard for you to handle, then this is not for you. This show will make you hungry, but your heart will be full at the same time. You will get a unique look into lone diners’ stories as they connect with one another for an intimate food dining experience in the late hours of the night.
Genre: Slice of life
Synopsis: Recently retired Takeshi Kasumi struggles to find a new routine for himself after years of being a salaryman. While his wife carries on with her usual day-to-day activities, Kasumi goes out looking for a bite to eat, whereupon he discovers his inner samurai who encourages him to live each day (or each meal) to the fullest without any inhibitions.
Overview: Recent retiree Takeshi rediscovers his passion for food and life by getting in touch with his inner warrior and eating what he truly desires. Starring Naoto Takenaka as Takeshi Kasumi and ‘Naked Director’s Tetsuji Tamayama as the samurai.
Synopsis: Wide-eyed newcomer Mayuko Tokita joins a lingerie design house in the posh fashion district of Ginza. Though inexperienced, Mayuko is determined to find her feet under the scrutiny of company owner and founder Mayumi Nanjo, whose formidability makes her somewhat akin to Anna Wintour.
Overview: Lingerie is a lot more intense than we could have ever imagined. While ‘Atelier’ (also titled ‘Underwear’) is just one-season long, we are taken for a wild ride as Mayuko, played by Mirei Kiritani, paves her way in the fast-moving design house. A young “fabric geek” lands a job at an upscale Japanese lingerie company — and quickly discovers she’ll need help to survive.
Million Yen Women
Genre: Romance, suspense
Synopsis: Five women appear at the house of a struggling novelist, Shin Michima. They proceed to pay him a monthly sum of a million yen, in exchange for rent and living expenses, but Michima doesn’t know why these women are here — and the women won’t let him ask them any questions about it either.
Overview: A struggling novelist (Yojiro Noda) has no recollection of registering his house with Airbnb or any rental service. But five women turn up one day, as if in a reality television show, making him an offer he can’t resist. All of them mention mysterious invitations they received to move in with him and each of them puts down the rent for the first month, one million yen (S$12,450), on the spot.
Synopsis: After his mother is murdered in their own home, Satoru Fujinuma is thrown back in time by 18 years, before a number of life-threatening incidents have taken place. Satoru, suddenly transformed into his elementary school-self, must find a way to prevent these incidents involving his classmates and save his mother from being killed in the future.
Overview: Netflix’s ‘Erased’ is a thrilling Japanese drama that doesn’t waste a second. Based on Japanese author Kei Sanbe’s mystery manga series Boku dake ga Inai Machi (“The Town Without Me”), Erased follows 29-year-old aspiring manga artist Satoru Fujinuma (Yuki Furukawa) who unexplainably possesses the ability to travel back in time moments before a life-threatening incident occurs, allowing him to prevent it from happening. But this hefty story from director Ten Shimoyama isn’t just for sci-fi fans.
The Birth of Saké
Synopsis: It’s a particularly grueling winter and the saké makers at Yoshida Brewery begin the laborious six-month process of producing saké the traditional way. The workers, aged between 20 and 70, face an endless number of challenges ahead of them as they fight to preserve the 2,000-year-old craft and uphold the integrity of their world-class brand that has been passed along generations.
Overview: The Yoshida Brewery, in Ishikawa Prefecture, has been making sake for more than 140 years, using artisanal means — that is, touch, taste, sight and smell, instead of just machines — to steam. About a dozen employees leave their families from October to April for the plant, where they live together while following the directions of Teruyuki Yamamoto, the 68-year-old toji, or head brewmaster. They eat, sleep, sometimes even bathe together, rising at 4:30 a.m. for a workday that often runs past 8 p.m.
Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!
Genre: Reality television
Synopsis: Five experts take on Japan for the first time and help a few local heroes rediscover themselves by sharing their individual flair and skill sets. They are joined by two of Japan’s most prominent TV personalities, Naomi Watanabe and Kiko Mizuhara, as they set out to transform lives together.
Overview: The season touches upon a lot of sticky topics straight out of reports in American media about life in Japan, from emotional repression to declining sex/birth rates to the importance of slender femininity for women. It’s clear these clients were selected because they represent an American vision of Japanese social issues, but that doesn’t make their struggles and transformations any less moving. That said, I could probably do without food expert Antoni Porowski explaining yakitori to one of his Japanese clients, or the Fab Five peppering the season with “oishi”s and “kawaii”s in a way that comes across as cultural dress-up. They also presumptively stress the idea of American individualism to these hurting folks: “You have to live for yourself,” one host implores his charge. (THR)
Little Miss Sumo
Synopsis: Japan’s oldest sport, sumo, is one where women are still barred from entering the dohyo wrestling ring. Although sumo is not officially recognised as a women’s sport in Japan, aspiring sumo wrestler, Hiyori Kon, pursues it anyway, with the goal of becoming the world’s best female sumo wrestler.
Overview: On a sandy hill overlooking a turbulent ocean, Hiyori, barefoot and solemn in expression, stomps her feet, focuses on her hands, then stares directly at the camera. “Sumo is the sport of the gods,” she says in voiceover, striking a calm pose of intense concentration. One might call this the “sumo zone.” It’s intimidating. ittle Miss Sumo comes from a long line of underdog-sports documentaries.