Japanese romance is a must-see if you’re a fan of watching romantic films. Japanese culture’s unique sense of passion, beauty, and heartache make it stand out in a world full of romantic movies.
So grab your favorite beverage, curl up on the couch under a cozy blanket, and check out the ten best Japanese romance movies:
1. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (2016)
This touching romantic drama provide sits own unique twist on a sci-fi concept that has seen use in many ways.
Takatoshi and Emi are a pair of young people who fall deeply in love, though there are many unusual parts of the relationship.
Emi tells Takatoshi that they can never spend time together past midnight and he is confused by the way she cries when he does something nice for her. The reality is even stranger and more heartrending than he imagined.
Original title: Boku wa Asu, Kinō no Kimi to Dēto Suru
Director: Takahiro Miki
2. Love Letter (1995)
This beautiful film centers on the heartache of four young people years after one of them died in a tragic climbing accident.
Heralded for its incredible winter cinematography, this movie spends a lot of time dealing with grief. The characters undergo immense challenges as they struggle to overcome heartache and the misunderstandings it creates.
This was the first Japanese movie shown in South Korean cinemas after World War II and was incredibly popular there. It’s twists and turns will delight any fan of the romance movie genre. Watch this movie here.
Original title: Love Letter
Director: Shunji Iwai
3. Dolls (2002)
This highly stylized art film makes heavy use of symbolism. The movie is made of three largely separate stories.
The director has stated that Dolls is meant to be the Japanese art of bunraku – a form of highly artistic Japanese puppet theater- in movie form.
As with the movie, symbolism is a key part of bunraku. The movie’s title also owes itself to the art form.
This movie is an incredible exploration of some of the major themes of Japanese romance and key elements of bunraku.
Original title: Doruzu
Director: Takeshi Kitano
4. From Me to You (2010)
This teen romantic drama hits all the right notes. Sawako is kind but awkward girl who resembles the eerie main character of the famous horror film Ring, which does not make her classmates kind to her.
She befriends a popular new boy and a few other awkward friends, but runs afoul of several others.
As events and relationships tangle, and then untangle, viewers get to experience the ups and downs of these fun and charming characters.
Original title: Kimi ni Todoke
Director: Naoto Kumazawa
5. Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (2017)
This film is based off a web novel and manga. It tells the story of a young man who stumbles onto the quiet tragic illness of one of the most popular girls in his school.
Lovely and sad, this film and its story are such a hit across several nations that it has also been adapted in a gorgeous anime that won multiple awards.
Original title: Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai
Director: Shô Tsukikawa
6. Crying Out Love in the Center of the World (2004)
Told in a series of flashbacks and scenes set in the present, this movie tells the story of a man who returns to his hometown and listens to the audio diaries recorded by his high school sweetheart before she died.
The pain, wonder, and drama of teenage romance is combined here with the difficulties of adulthood and loss.
Viewers will share in the delight and agony of the characters as they navigate their way through the hurdles they face.
Original title: Sekai no Chūshin de, Ai o Sakebu
Director: Isao Yukisada
7. My Rainy Days (2009)
Also based on a popular web novel, My Rainy Days tells the story of a girl who is one of the most popular in her school thanks to her beauty, but secretly, she manages her personal pain by exchanging sexual favors for money.
When she meets a college professor by accident, she falls head over heels for him, abandoning her previously cynical ways, though not all is carefree.
The movie is wonderfully shot and, for all its dramatic subject matter, never comes across as fake or condescending.
Original title: Tenshi no Koi
Director: Yuri Kanchiku
8. Heavenly Forest (2006)
This story of a young photographer caught in a love triangle is beautiful tale of young love.
The young man is torn between two desires, as well as seeking to pursue his own dreams as a world-class photographer.
The beautiful forest of the title is the backdrop of many wonderful scenes in the movie. The story comes from a novel and a mange was released at the same time as the movie.
Original title: Tada, Kimi o Aishiteru
Director: Takehiko Shinjō
9. I Give My First Love to You (2009)
A tale of lifelong love, the boy and girl in this story have known each other since they were very small.
As they grew, their love remained strong, but they live their lives knowing that the boy has a heart condition that means his life is likely to be very short.
This old-fashioned tearjerker of a romance movie is sure to leave you at the least blinking back tears. Check out the movie trailer here.
Original title: Boku no Hatsukoi o Kimi ni Sasagu
Director: Takehiko Shinjo
10. Your Lie in April (2016)
A story of pain and music, this movie tells the story go a young male pianist with a tragic past and a young woman who plays violin beautifully with her own flow.
Their budding relationship is complicated not only by their own pasts, but also entangled relationships with their friends.
Tragic and touching by turns, this wonderful romance movie is a great watch for anyone looking for a romantic night in.
You can buy this movie here.
Original title: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Director: Takehiko Shinjo