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The Best Documentaries About Japan

Updated October 23, 2019 539 votes 220 voters 72.5k views32 items

List RulesDocumentaries about Japan and all things Japanese.

This list of the best documentaries about Japan has been ranked by the community and includes popular and recognizable titles, along with independent films. What is the best documentary about Japan? Vote up your favorites below.

As you vote, the order of the list will be changed to see which documentary about Japan comes out on top. If you do not see your favorite on the list, add it to the titles below so that others can vote on it, as well. This list currently includes documentary movies about Japanese history, culture, art, and food. So if you're curious about Japan, these docs are a great place to start, some of these documentaries are even available on Netflix.

Documentaries are nonfiction and made with the intention of displaying reality for historical purposes and to educate viewers. Most documentaries are driven by independent filmmakers and those passionate about the topics they are portraying.

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  • 1
    Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
    90
    21

    Released2011

    Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is a a 2011 documentary film directed by David Gelb. "An appetizing... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 2
    The Great Happiness Space
    49
    7

    The Great Happiness Space

    Jake Clennell

    Released2006

    The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief is a 2006 documentary film by Jake... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 3
    The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

    Released2011

    The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom is a 2011 documentary film directed by Lucy Walker. The... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 4
    The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

    ActorsKenzo Okuzaki

    Released1987

    The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On is a 1987 Japanese war documentary film by director Kazuo... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 5
    Suicide Forest in Japan
    26
    8

    Suicide Forest in Japan

    Amazon buy button
  • 6
    God Speed You! Black Emperor
    18
    3

    Released1976

    God Speed You! Black Emperor is a 1976 Japanese black-and-white 16 mm documentary film, 90... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 7
    The Sword Maker
    20
    7

    The Sword Maker

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  • 8
    Fast Future Generation
    14
    1

    Fast Future Generation

    Marvin Scott Jarrett

    Released2006

    Fast Future Generation is a rockumentary DVD featuring Good Charlotte on tour in Japan. It was... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 9
    Dear Pyongyang
    13
    3

    Dear Pyongyang

    Yang Yonghi

    Released2006

    Dear Pyongyang is a documentary film by Zainichi Korean director Yang Yong-hi about her own... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 10
    A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler
    11
    4

    A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler

    Amazon buy button
  • 11
    A Man Vanishes
    11
    3

    A Man Vanishes

    Shohei Imamura

    Released1967

    A Man Vanishes is a 1967 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura.Amazon buy button
  • 12
    The Japanese Version
    12
    4

    The Japanese Version

    Amazon buy button
  • 13
    Tokyo Olympiad
    10
    4

    Tokyo Olympiad

    Kon Ichikawa

    Released1965

    Tokyo Olympiad is a 1965 documentary film directed by Kon Ichikawa which documents the 1964... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 14
    Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story
    7
    0

    Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story

    Chris Sheridan, Patty Kim

    ActorsTeruaki Masumoto

    Released2006

    Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story is an American documentary about Megumi Yokota, a Japanese... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 15
    7
    2

    Torn Memories of Nanjing

    Tamaki Matsuoka

    Released2010

    Torn Memories of Nanjing is a 2009 Japanese documentary film directed by Japanese activist... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    Pray for Japan
    6
    0

    Pray for Japan

    Stuart J. Levy

    Released2012

    Pray for Japan is a 2012 Japanese documentary film about the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    ANPO: Art X War
    10
    5

    ANPO: Art X War

    Linda Hoaglund

    ActorsSetsu Asakura, Hiroshi Nakamura, Miyako Ishiuchi, Tadanori Yokoo, Makoto Aida

    Released2010

    ANPO: Art X War is a 2010 documentary film directed by Linda Hoaglund. The film traces the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 18
    Minamata: The Victims and Their World
    6
    2

    Minamata: The Victims and Their World

    Noriaki Tsuchimoto

    Released1971

    Minamata: The Victims and Their World is a Japanese documentary made in 1971 by Noriaki... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 19
    Minka
    6
    2

    Minka

    Davina Pardo

    Released2010

    Minka is a 2010 documentary film directed by Davina Pardo.Amazon buy button
  • 20
    Interview with a Cannibal
    9
    4

    Interview with a Cannibal

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  • 21
    Wine Road of the Samurai
    4
    0

    Wine Road of the Samurai

    Eiji Sone

    ActorsShin Koyamada

    Released2006

    Wine Road of The Samurai is a feature film based on a true story about a delegation of 34... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    Rokkasho Rhapsody
    8
    3

    Rokkasho Rhapsody

    Hitomi Kamanaka

    Released2006

    Rokkasho Rhapsody is a Japanese documentary directed by Hitomi Kamanaka and released in 2006.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 23
    A Trace of the Sun
    4
    0

    A Trace of the Sun

    Amazon buy button
  • 24
    Same Old Story: A Trip Back 20 Years

    Released2008

    Same Old Story: A Trip Back 20 Years is a 2008 Japanese documentary film about a Japanese... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 25
    At the Edge of the World

    ActorsPaul Watson

    Released2008

    At the Edge of the World is a 2008 documentary film directed by Dan Stone.Amazon buy button