7 Shows & Movies That Let You Dive into Japanese Culture

If you’ve ever wanted to explore Japanese culture without hopping on a plane, movies and shows are your next best bet. Japan is not just about sushi and sumo ringers. It’s a land where the hustle of neon-lit Tokyo intersects with tranquil tea ceremonies. Japanese cinema lets us experience all these facets without ever leaving our couch. Buckle up, grab your popcorn, and let’s check out seven shows and movies that will give you a wholesome taste of Japan’s vibrant culture.

Tampopo (1985): Itami Juzo’s movies from this era, particularly “Tampopo”, stand out for their humor and portrayal of everyday life. This comedic masterpiece revolves around the quest for the ultimate noodle recipe, where a milk truck driver teams up with a noodle shop owner. Their journey to culinary perfection is a delightful exploration of food and the society surrounding it.

Drive My Car (2021): This touching tale unfolds in Hiroshima, where a widowed actor begins a new chapter in his life. While initially hesitant, he forges a deep bond with his young female chauffeur. Their evolving relationship stands as a testament to human connections that defy age and circumstance.

Adrift in Tokyo (2007): Amidst Tokyo’s bustling streets, a lonely law student, Takemura, finds himself on an unexpected journey. His lack of ambition changes when a thug offers to clear his gambling debts in exchange for his company on a citywide stroll. It’s a wanderlust-filled portrayal of Tokyo and human relationships.

Departures (2008): After a twist of fate, Daigo Kobayashi, an ambitious cellist, finds himself back in his northern Japanese hometown. There, he mistakenly joins a funeral service agency, discovering an unexpected passion for the rituals of life and death, thus illuminating the depth of Japanese traditions.

Midnight Diner (2014): Set in the heart of Tokyo, Master runs a unique diner that sees myriad customers each night. Amidst stories and dishes, a mysterious funerary urn becomes the talk of the diner, presenting a convergence of lives and tales.

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House (2023): Journey to Kyoto, where two childhood friends dream of becoming maiko, traditional Japanese dancers. As they share a home, their paths diverge, unveiling a heartwarming story of dreams, friendship, and traditional Japanese art forms.

Trick (2000): Dive into the quirky world of Naoko Yamada, an aspiring magician always short on luck and rent. Her life takes a turn when she meets Professor Ueda, a staunch skeptic of magic. As they team up, their adventures debunking supernatural mysteries blend comedy with glimpses of Japanese life.

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