Article: Top 10 Japanese Movies Which Are Based On Real Life

Real-life stories inspire people every time they see them. Movies based on such stories often do better at the box office too! Audiences appreciate films that are true to a narrative they've seen before, and the fact that a movie is based on or inspired by a true story gives dramatic weight to something that would otherwise be fictitious.  In this article, we are going to talk about ten such Japanese movies which are based on real-life events!

1. Hachi-Ko

Release Date: August 1, 1987

Professor Ueno of Tokyo University received a dog as a gift from Akita Prefecture. The professor's wife, however, does not want to retain the puppy. Professor Ueno is so fond of the dog that he calls it Hachi. Every day, Professor takes the train to work. Every morning, Hachi goes to Shibuya Station with Professor and welcomes him in the evening, regardless of the weather. Professor Ueno suffered a stroke and died one day. His family moved out of the city, but Hachi continues to visit the home and wait at Shibuya station, trusting in his master.

Based on Hidesaburo Ueno's true story about his dog.


2. Hayabusa

Release Date: October 1, 2011

May 9, 2003 - Hayabusa, a Japanese unmanned spacecraft, is launched into orbit by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Its objective is to gather samples from asteroid 25143 Itokawa, which is close to Earth. In November 2005, Hayabusa will make contact with the asteroid. As the spacecraft approaches its asteroid rendezvous, issues develop for the JAXA team on the ground.


3. Kiseki: Sobito Of That Day

Release Date: January 28, 2017

Based on the actual story of "GreeeeN," a four-member Japanese pop group. "GreeeeN" is produced by Jin (Tori Matsuzaka), and his younger brother Hide is the group's primary member. Their seventh single, "Kiseki," becomes a tremendous smash. Hide and the other three members work as dentists among other things.


4. Nobody Knows

Release Date:  August 7, 2004

Keiko Fukushima (You), a single mother, and her 12-year-old son Akira move into a new apartment (Yuya Yagira). They also greet their landlord, who is introduced to Akira as her only son by Keiko. She also says that his father is on business in another country. Two more of Keiko's children emerge from their luggage after they have settled into their new flat. Akira then heads to the railway station by himself to see his other sister Kyoko (Ayu Kitaura).

They enjoy their first meal in their new flat once everyone has arrived. Keiko outlines the ground rules: no loud noises and only Akira goes outdoors. Otherwise, they will be evicted, just as they were from their last flat. Keiko then goes to work at a department shop, leaving Akira to look after the kids.

Soon after, the mother finds a new lover, and her absence from the apartment gets longer and longer until it appears that the mother has abandoned the children permanently. With little money left, Akira must look after his siblings, knowing that if he does not, they will be separated and placed in foster homes.


5. The 8-Year Engagement

Release Date: December 16, 2017

Hisashi (Takeru Satoh) and Mai (Tao Tsuchiya) are planning to marry in three months, but Mai becomes ill and goes into a coma. Hisashi does not abandon his fiancee and continues to pray for her recovery. Mai finally wakes up, but she has no recollection of Hisashi.

Based on Hisashi and Mai Nakahara's autobiographical novel "8 Nen Goshi no Hanayome Kimi no Me ga Sametanara" (first published July 1, 2015, by SHUFUNOTOMO Co., Ltd.)


6. Tengaramon

Release Date: December 11, 2020

Tomoatsu Godai possesses both a warrior's spirit and merchant's abilities. In the Satsuma realm, he was born. He served as a Meiji government official before going into business for himself. He lay the groundwork for Osaka's development as a commercial metropolis.

The film is based on Tomoatsu Godai's life (February 12, 1836 - September 25, 1885).


7. Sunshine Ahead

Release Date: April 24, 2010

Sunshine Ahead," based on a real event, follows environmentalist Koji Kinjo and his wife as they embark on an ambitious scheme to construct coral reefs in the sea. Despite the fact that it takes the couple ten years to accomplish, they continue and become the first people to ever produce coral reefs.


8. 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate 

Release Date: June 2, 2012

"11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate," tells the story of acclaimed novelist Yukio Mishima's final four years. From the day novelist, Yukio Mishima founded a right-wing militia to combat leftists until his death. Yukio Mishima and four members of his private army attempted a coup in the Tokyo headquarters of the Ground Self-Defense Forces on November 25, 1970. Their purpose was to make the Emperor a deity again. Yukio Mishima committed hara-kiri to terminate the conflict.


9. Hokusai

Release Date: May 28, 2021

Hokusai Katsushika (Yuya Yagira) is an unpopular painter as a young man. He is torn between his profession and his desire to continue painting.

Hokusai Katsushika (Min Tanaka) is still passionate about painting and works to enhance his art as an elderly man.

The film is based on the life of Hokusai Katsushika (October 31, 1760 – May 10, 1849), a Japanese artist. His most renowned work is a series of landscape prints called "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji."


10. I Am Ichihashi - Journal Of A Murderer

Release Date: November 9, 2013

After murdering British-born English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker in 2007, Tatsuya Ichihashi became one of the most wanted fugitives. Lindsay Ann Hawker was an English teacher in Chiba, Japan, prior to her death. Tatsuya Ichihashi then eluded authorities for more than two years while getting substantial cosmetic surgery.

Tatsuya Ichihashi (January 2011), who was convicted for the 2007 murder of Lindsay Ann Hawker, wrote the autobiographical book "Taihou Sareru Made."