Art/Photography, Best Movies, Classics, Drama, Foreign-Language

The Best Japanese New Wave Movies

“What are the best Japanese New Wave Movies?” We looked at 119 of the top Japanese New Wave films and ranked them so we could answer that very question!

The top 27 films, all appearing on 3 or more “Best Japanese New Wave” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 75+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 27 Best Japanese New Wave Movies Of All-Time



27 .) A Wife Confesses (1961) directed by Yasuzô Masumura

 A Wife Confesses (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

Tied to a mountain between her brutalizing spouse and her secret lover, disaster strikes; the authorities accuse her of murder and prompt a confession.




26 .) Bad Boys (1961) directed by Susumu Hani

 Bad Boys (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

A young delinquent takes part in a robbery and is sentenced to a juvenile detention center, where he clashes with other youths and reflects on his life experiences.




25 .) Mandara (1971) directed by Akio Jissôji

 Mandara (1971)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

The young houseboy in Uta wakes up every night to patrol the house of a teacher with a flashlight. He leads an austere life of meditation and he focuses his devotional attention on writing inscriptions for tombstones.




24 .) Night and Fog in Japan (1960) directed by Nagisa Oshima

 Night and Fog in Japan (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

Nagisa Oshima’s most personal film is a reflection by the director on his own disillusionment with the revolutionary student movement of the 1950’s and the failure of political radicalism. Taking it’s title (as a reference or homage) from Alain Resnais’ pivotal 1956 documentary Nuit et Brouillard, the film has a group of former student revolutionaries who meet again years later at the wedding of one of their classmates. Old feelings, rivalaries and grudges gradually erupt to the surface as the one-time friends recall the various treacheries by which their cause was defeated. Cutting between times past and the present, and unfolding the action from each of his characters viewpoints, Oshima creates an abstract and yet engrossing study of passions past and principles eroded. —Yume Pictures




23 .) Pigs and Battleships (1961) directed by Shôhei Imamura

 Pigs and Battleships (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

In the city of Yokosuka, Kinta and his lover Haruko, both involved with yakuza, brave the post-occupation period with a goal to be together.




22 .) Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) directed by Shôhei Imamura

 Profound Desires of the Gods (1968)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Feast
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

Tokyo engineer Kariya arrives on a primitive tropical island, where he interacts with the Futori clan, to drill a well to power a sugar mill.




21 .) She and He (1963) directed by Susumu Hani

 She and He (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

As her husband Eiichi becomes more entangled in his life as businessman, Naoko looks for ways to expand her own life even as her husband’s life shrinks in scope and intimacy. She finds new interests, new love, and a greater sense of her place in the world.




20 .) The Face of Another (1966) directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

 The Face of Another (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

A businessman with a disfigured face obtains a lifelike mask from his doctor, but the mask starts altering his personality.




19 .) The Insect Woman (1963) directed by Shôhei Imamura

 The Insect Woman (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

A woman, Tome, is born to a lower class family in Japan in 1918. The title refers to an insect, repeating its mistakes, as in an infinite circle. Imamura, with this metaphor, introduces the life of Tome, who keeps trying to change her poor life.




18 .) The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970) directed by Nagisa Oshima

 The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Art Publikamag
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

A metaphysical mystery involving a university student’s camera getting stolen, and the thief then committing suicide. Looking back upon the event, the situation comes to be questioned if it happened at all.




17 .) The Pornographers (1966) directed by Shôhei Imamura

 The Pornographers (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

Subu makes pornographic films. He sees nothing wrong with it. They are an aid to a repressed society, and he uses the money to support his landlady, Haru, and her family. From time to time, Haru shares her bed with Subu, though she believes her dead husband, reincarnated as a carp, disapproves. Director Shohei Imamura has always delighted in the kinky exploits of lowlifes, and in this 1966 classic, he finds subversive humor in the bizarre dynamics of Haru, her Oedipal son, and her daughter, the true object of her pornographer-boyfriend’s obsession. Imamura’s comic treatment of such taboos as voyeurism and incest sparked controversy when the film was released, but The Pornographers has outlasted its critics, and now seems frankly ahead of its time.




16 .) Thirst for Love (1966) directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara

 Thirst for Love (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

Koreyoshi Kurahara adapted a novel by Yukio Mishima for Thirst for Love (Ai no kawaki), a tense psychological drama about a young woman who is widowed after marrying into a wealthy family, and becomes sexually involved with her father-in-law, while harboring a destructive obsession with the family gardener. Kurahara’s atmospheric style is a perfect match for Mishima’s brooding sensuality.




15 .) Tokyo Drifter (1966) directed by Seijun Suzuki

 Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

After yakuza boss Kurata dissolves his own criminal empire, a rival kingpin offers a position to Kurata’s top operative, Tetsuya “Phoenix Tetsu” Hondo. When the fiercely loyal Tetsu declines, Otsuka taps unstoppable Tatsuzo the “Viper”, a ruthless gun-for-hire, to assassinate him. As the Viper trails his target through the countryside, the agile Phoenix Tetsu grows concerned that one of his former associates has betrayed him.




14 .) A Fugitive from the Past (1965) directed by Tomu Uchida

 A Fugitive from the Past (1965)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

Three robbers escape with loot from a heist before one of them shoots them; their corpses wash up near the aftermath of a maritime calamity, provoking a policeman’s interest.




13 .) Intentions of Murder (1964) directed by Shôhei Imamura

 Intentions of Murder (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Sadako, cursed by generations before her and neglected by her common-law husband, falls prey to a brutal home intruder. But rather than become a victim, she forges a path to her own awakening.




12 .) Pale Flower (1964) directed by Masahiro Shinoda

 Pale Flower (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Muraki, a hardboiled Yakuza gangster, has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for murder. Revisiting his old gambling haunts, he meets Saeko, a striking young upper-class woman who is out seeking thrills, and whose presence adds spice to the staid masculine underworld rituals. Muraki becomes her mentor while simultaneously coping with the shifts of power that have affected the gangs while he was interred. When he notices a rogue, drug-addicted young punk hanging around the gambling dens, he realizes that Saeko’s insatiable lust for intense pleasures may be leading her to self-destruction.




11 .) Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (1971) directed by Shûji Terayama

 Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (1971)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Conditions have been better for the nameless protagonist: his grandmother is a shoplifter and his war criminal father and sister have an unhealthy, intimate relationship with the family rabbit.




10 .) Branded to Kill (1967) directed by Seijun Suzuki

 Branded to Kill (1967)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

After botching his latest assignment, a third-ranked Japanese hit man becomes the target of another assassin.




9 .) Death by Hanging (1968) directed by Nagisa Ôshima

 Death by Hanging (1968)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

A Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next.




8 .) Double Suicide (1969) directed by Masahiro Shinoda

 Double Suicide (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

Successful and married with children, paper-mill owner Jihei knows better than to contradict the strict social and moral codes of 18th-century Japan. But when he meets the lovely courtesan Koharu, he becomes a man obsessed. Koharu returns his love, even foregoing other customers while Jihei schemes to somehow buy her freedom. His efforts yield ruinous consequences for his business and his family life, and Koharu is meanwhile purchased by another client.




7 .) Go, Go, Second Time Virgin (1969) directed by Kôji Wakamatsu

 Go, Go, Second Time Virgin (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

After being raped in an unknown rooftop, nineteen year-old girl Poppo meets a mysterious boy, and both share their sexual traumas and fears, with fatal consequences.




6 .) Punishment Room (1956) directed by Kon Ichikawa

 Punishment Room (1956)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Shimada is a student of U College. When the college’s baseball team wins the day, he and his friend Ito drug two girls they met at the game.




5 .) The Naked Island (1960) directed by Kaneto Shindô

 The Naked Island (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Deals with the intolerably hard life of a family of four, the only inhabitants of a very small Japanese island in the Setonaikai archipelago. Several times a day they row over to the neighboring island to fetch water for their miserable fields.




4 .) Crazed Fruit (1956) directed by Kô Nakahira

 Crazed Fruit (1956)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Two brothers compete for the amorous favors of a young woman during a seaside summer of gambling, boating, and drinking, in this seminal Sun Tribe film from director Kô Nakahira. Adapted from the controversial novel by Shintarô Ishihara, and critically savaged for its lurid portrayal of the postwar sexual revolution among Japan’s young and privileged, Crazed Fruit is an anarchic outcry against tradition and the older generation.




3 .) Eros + Massacre (1969) directed by Yoshishige Yoshida

 Eros + Massacre (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Art Publikamag
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s students researching Osugi’s theories.




2 .) Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) directed by Toshio Matsumoto

 Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • BFI
  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

A feverish collision of avant-garde aesthetics and grind-house shocks, Funeral Parade of Roses takes us on an electrifying journey into the nether-regions of the late-’60s Tokyo underworld. In Toshio Matsumoto’s controversial debut feature, seemingly nothing is taboo: neither the incorporation of visual flourishes straight from the worlds of contemporary graphic-design, painting, comic-books, and animation; nor the unflinching depiction of nudity, sex, drug-use, and public-toilets. But of all the “transgressions” here on display, perhaps one in particular stands out the most: the film’s groundbreaking and unapologetic portrayal of Japanese gay subculture.




1 .) Woman in the Dunes (1964) directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

 Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Art Publikamag
  • BFI
  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

An entomologist suffers extreme psychological and sexual torture after being taken captive by the residents of a poor seaside village.




 


The 75+ Additional Best Japanese New Wave Movies



 

#MovieDirectorLists
28A Man Vanishes (1967) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
29A Story Written With Water (1965) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
30A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era (1957)Yûzô KawashimaIMDB
Movements In Film
31A Town of Love and Hope (1959) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
32Akitsu Springs (1962)Yoshishige YoshidaIMDB
Movements In Film
33Assassination (1964) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
34Band of Ninja (1967) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
35Boy (1969) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
36Cruel Story of Youth BFI
MUBI
37Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
38Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
39Fighting Elegy (1966) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
40Gate of Flesh (1964)Seijun SuzukiIMDB
Movements In Film
41Giants and Toys (1958) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
42God Speed You! Black Emperor (1976)Mitsuo Yanagimachi
Movements In Film
Taste Of Cinema
43Hiroshi Teshigahara BFI
IMDB 2
44
History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (1970)
 
Movements In Film
MUBI
45In the Realm of the Senses (1976)Nagisa ÔshimaIMDB
Movements In Film
46Kisses (1957) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
47Nagisa Oshima BFI
IMDB 2
48
Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (1968)
 MUBI
White City Cinema
49Onibaba (1964) 
Movements In Film
White City Cinema
50Pitfall (1962) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
51Shohei Imamura BFI
IMDB 2
52Sing a Song of Sex (1967) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
53Summer in Narita (1968)Shinsuke Ogawa
Movements In Film
Taste Of Cinema
54Summer Soldiers (1972) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
55Susumu Hani BFI
IMDB 2
56Tattooed Life (1964) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
57The Ceremony (1971) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
58The Sun’s Burial (1960) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
59The Warped Ones (1960)Koreyoshi KuraharaIMDB
Movements In Film
60Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
61Violence at Noon (1966) 
Movements In Film
MUBI
62A Colt Is My Passport (1967)Takashi NomuraIMDB
63Abashiri Bangaichi (1965)Teruo IshiiIMDB
64Aido: Slave of Love (1969) 
Movements In Film
65Bitter End of a Sweet Night (1961)Yoshishige YoshidaIMDB
66Black SunKoreyoshi KuraharaFlick Feast
67Blind Beast (1969)Yasuzô MasumuraIMDB
68Boy (Oshima, 1969) 
White City Cinema
69Bride of the Andes (1966) 
Movements In Film
70Children Who Draw (1956) 
Movements In Film
71Coup d’État (1973) 
Movements In Film
72Dear Summer Sister (1972) 
Movements In Film
73Ecstasy of the Angels (1972)Kôji WakamatsuIMDB
74Furyo shonen (1961)Susumu HaniIMDB
75Goddo supiido yuu! Burakku emparaa (1976)Mitsuo YanagimachiIMDB
76Himiko (1974) 
Movements In Film
77I Am Waiting (1957)Koreyoshi KuraharaIMDB
78I Will Buy YouMasaki KobayashiFlick Feast
79Inferno of First Love (1968) 
Movements In Film
80Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (1967)Nagisa ÔshimaIMDB
81Kaneto Shindo BFI
82
Karayuki-san, the Making of a Prostitute (1973)
 
Movements In Film
83Kiku to Isamu (1959)Tadashi ImaiIMDB
84Kon Ichikawa BFI
85Kurenai no nagareboshi (1967)Toshio MasudaIMDB
86Kuroneko (1968)Kaneto ShindôIMDB
87
Matsu the Untamed Comes Home (1974)
 
Movements In Film
88Naked Youth (1960) 
Movements In Film
89Nihon Kaiho sensen: Sanrizuka no natsu (1968)Shinsuke OgawaIMDB
90Ôkami to buta to ningen (1964)Kinji FukasakuIMDB
91Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974) 
Movements In Film
92PatriotismYukio MishimaFlick Feast
93Pleasures of the Flesh (1965)Nagisa ÔshimaIMDB
94Red Angel (Masumura, 1966) 
White City Cinema
95Ryakushô Renzoku Shasatsuma (1969) 
Movements In Film
96Seijun Suzuki IMDB 2
97
Shiro Amakusa, the Christian Rebel (1962)
 
Movements In Film
98Street Mobster (1972)Kinji FukasakuIMDB
99Street of Shame (1956)Kenji MizoguchiIMDB
100Suzaki Paradise Red Light (1956) 
Movements In Film
101Swastika (1964)Yasuzô MasumuraIMDB
102The Assignation (1959) 
Movements In Film
103The Blind BeastYasuzô MasamuraFlick Feast
104The Catch (1961) 
Movements In Film
105The Embryo Hunts In SecretKôji WakamatsuFlick Feast
106The Man Without a Map (1968) 
Movements In Film
107The Profound Desire of the Gods (1968) 
Movements In Film
108The Rebel MUBI
109The Red Angel (1966)Yasuzô MasumuraIMDB
110The Ruined Map MUBI
111
The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan (1970)
 
Movements In Film
112The Song of Bwana Toshi (1965) 
Movements In Film
113The Sun Legend Of The End Of The Tokugawa EraYûzô Kawashima
Taste Of Cinema
114This Transient Life (1970)Akio JissôjiIMDB
115Violated Angels (1967)Kôji WakamatsuIMDB
116Warm Current (1957) 
Movements In Film
117With Beauty and Sadness MUBI
118With Beauty and Sorrow (1965) 
Movements In Film
119Youth of the Beast (1963)Seijun SuzukiIMDB

 


10 Best Japanese New Wave Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
Amino Apps #MovementsOfFilm – Japanese New Wave
Art Publikamag A Brief Overview of the Japanese New Wave Movement
BFI Where to begin with the Japanese New Wave
Flick Feast Top Ten Japanese New Wave Films
IMDB Japanese New Wave
IMDB 2 JAPANESE NEW WAVE (Nūberu bāgu)
Movements In Film Japanese New Wave Films (1956 – 1976) — Movements In Film
MUBI JAPANESE NEW WAVE – Movies List on MUBI
Taste Of Cinema 20 Essential Films From The Japanese New Wave « Taste of Cinema
White City Cinema A Japanese New Wave Primer

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