1. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (2016)
My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is a romantic film directed by Takahiro Miki. Takatoshi Minamiyama, played by Sota Fukushi, is an art major who sees Emi Fukuju while going to school by train and immediately falls in love with her. They start dating, but Emi is hiding a secret that can jeopardize their relationship, and she chooses to reveal it to Takatoshi.
2. Norwegian Wood (2010)
Norwegian Wood, directed by Tran Anh Hung, is an adaption of the bestselling novel with the same name by Haruki Murakami. It follows the story of Watanabe, who is torn between his past and his present. He gets vivid flashbacks of his school days where he met Naoko, and they instantly formed a bond. The movie can be described as poetry in motion. It revolves around themes like death, love, sensuality, insecurities, and a sense of belonging.
3. Dolls (2002)
Dolls, directed by Takeshi Kitano, is a collection of three tragic stories about love and beyond. This film is inspired by Bunraku puppetry and has a feeling of perpetual sadness embedded in it. It is an art Japanese film at its core and the audience needs to be patient for the story to unfold slowly through music, costumes, beautiful landscapes, and vivid colours. In short, the movie consists of bittersweet love stories laced with deadpan humour.
4. Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (2017)
Let Me Eat Your Pancreas, directed by Shō Tsukikawa, follows the story of a girl suffering from a terminal illness but she decides to make the best out of her situation by living the last days of her life with utmost joy. Despite the cannibalistic title, this is a touching and sweet film that deals with love, life, and mortality. The story justifies the title of the movie, and you have to watch it to know it.
5. Kimi Ni Todoke (2010)
Kimi ni Todoke, directed by Naoto Kumazawa, follows the story of Sawako Kuronuma, a schoolgirl who is feared by her classmates because they think that she looks like Sadako from ‘The Ring’. When Shota Kazehaya one day bumps into her, despite hearing all the rumours about her, falls for her instantly and decides to help her get out of her shell. It is a sweet and straightforward story without many complications.
6. A Song To The Sun (2006)
A Song to the Sun, directed by Norihiro Koizumi, is a romantic drama that follows the story of a sixteen-year-old Kaoru, who cannot expose herself to sunlight due to her sickness. During the nights, she goes out and sings with her guitar in hand. One night, playing outside, she meets Koji Fujishiro, who was unemployed at that moment and had given up on life. She nurtures him and becomes someone who reminds him of his long-forgotten music passion.
7. Love Letter (1995)
Love Letter, directed by Shunji Iwai, is an unusual love story that elevates the concept of love. Hiroko Watanabe is shocked when she gets a reply to the letter that she wrote addressed to her late fiancé. Years have passed after his death, but Hiroko couldn’t get over her grief, and out of despair, she wrote the letter. Later, it is revealed that the author of the replying letter was a woman who had the same name as Hiroko’s dead fiancé. The two women started exchanging letters and sharing stories about each other’s lives.
8. Laundry (2002)
Laundry, directed by Jun’ichi Mori, is a movie about a young boy who got mentally altered after a childhood trauma. He runs a laundry and one day his eyes fall on Mizue, a lonely woman who suffers from kleptomania. One day, Teru finds Mizue’s bloodied clothes from her failed suicide attempt in one of the machines in his laundry. Teru sets out on a quest to find Mizue and express his love to her. When he finally finds her, she is a completely broken person and Teru tries to make her realize the beauty of life.
9. Heavenly Forest (2006)
Heavenly Forest, directed by Takehiko Shinjo, is a romantic drama movie that revolves around the relationship that evolves between a photographer named Makoto and two of his female university classmates. The film is beautifully photographed, featuring artistic photography by Aoi Miyazaki, who used to click photographs of random people by dragging them away from their busy lives in New York. This movie conveys a beautiful message about not taking the little things for granted and being grateful for what we have.
10. My Teacher (2017)
My Teacher, directed by Takahiro Miki, revolves around Kosaku Ito, played by Toma Ikuta, who teaches world history at a high school. Hibiki Shimada is a student of Kosaku, and she has a major crush on him. Due to being young and naive, she reveals her feelings to Kosaku. Kosaku is unable to express his feelings freely due to his position as a teacher. The strong performances by both of the lead actors elevate the story and make it worth a watch.