The 25 Best Japanese Romantic Movies to Make Your Heart Flutter

Romantic Japanese movies have captivated the hearts of audiences all around the world. 

Known for their emotional depth, stunning visuals and masterful storytelling, these romantic tales of wholesome love and heartbreaking heartache will win you over, too. 

These 25 Japanese romantic films are a must-watch for any fan of cinema!

Are you ready to fall in love?

Contents

“Love Life” (2022)

Japanese title: LOVE LIFE
Director: Koji Fukada
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 70%

This Japanese-French drama film is inspired by a song of the same name by musician Akiko Yano, originally released in 1991.

Taeko, a married woman with a young son, is forced to confront her own feelings of love, loss, and forgiveness when her son’s long-lost father, Park, returns into their lives.

As Taeko and Park get to know each other, they develop a deep bond but their relationship comes at a cost. Jiro, Taeko’s husband, becomes jealous of the close bond that Taeko has formed with Park, and he feels threatened by Park’s presence in his family’s life.

“Ride or Die” (2021)

Japanese title: 彼女 (Kanojo)
Director: Ryuichi Hiroki
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 69%

Rei’s world turns upside down when she learns that her former classmate and teenage crush, Nanae, is suffering brutal domestic violence from her husband.

When Rei takes matters into her own hands, she and Nanae are forced to go on the run. As the two travel across Japan, their relationship develops and they begin to confront the dark realities of their past and the choices that they’ve made.

“Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop” (2021)

Japanese title: サイダーのように言葉が湧き上がる (Saidaa no Yō ni Kotoba ga Wakiagaru)
Director: Kyōhei Ishiguro
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%

Shy high school boy Cherry and popular social media influencer Smile meet by chance and begin to spend time together. Drawn to each other’s creativity and shared sense of loneliness, the two begin to come to terms with their insecurities and express themselves more openly.

As their relationship grows deeper, they develop feelings for each other, but are hesitant to confess, afraid of being rejected. “Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop” is a sweet and heartwarming film about first love, self-expression and the power of connection.

“Dance with Me” (2019)

Japanese title: ダンスウィズミー (Dansu Wizu Mī)
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10

Middle-aged office worker Shizuka Suzuki is hypnotized by a street performer into singing and dancing uncontrollably whenever she hears music. Initially embarrassed and frustrated, Shizuka eventually realizes that she can use her dancing to bring joy to others. She begins to perform in public, and her dancing becomes a viral sensation.

This charming Japanese musical primarily focuses on Shizuka’s journey to break the curse, there there’s also a romantic subplot between her and the man who helps her. The two characters develop a strong connection and bond over their shared love of dance.

“Love and Other Cults” (2017)

Japanese title: 獣道 (Kemonomichi)
Director: Eiji Uchida
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10

Ai, a young woman raised in a cult, is forced to live in a variety of difficult environments, including a delinquent gang house, a middle-class family and a brothel. The only person who seems to understand Ai is Ryota, a troubled young man who’s also been cast off by society.

The relationship between the two is complicated by their individual trauma and struggles. Despite the challenges they face, their love for each other is genuine. They support each other through thick and thin, and they help each other to heal.

The film has been praised for its unflinching look at the lasting effects of trauma and complex characters. “Love and Other Cults” is a raw and unflinching look at the lasting effects of trauma. However, it’s also been criticized for its graphic content and its lack of closure.

“The Limit of the Sleeping Beauty” (2017)

Japanese title: リミット・オブ・スリーピング・ビューティー (Rimitto Obu Suripingu Byuti)
Director: Ken Ninomiya
IMDB Rating: 5.7/10

Aki Oria, a young magician’s assistant obsessed with the idea of sleeping forever, becomes increasingly detached from her real life and more drawn to the world of her dreams. The film is known for its nonlinear narrative and its use of symbolism and dream logic. It’s a challenging film to watch, but it’s definitely rewarding!

“A Silent Voice” (2016)

Japanese title: 聲の形 (Koe no Katachi)
Director: Naoko Yamada
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%

Shōya Ishida is a young man who bullied his deaf elementary school classmate, Shōko Nishimiya. As he grows older, he becomes depressed after being ostracized by his classmates.

Years later, Shōya sets out to find Shōko and apologize for his past behavior as his final act of redemption before he ends it all. “A Silent Voice” is a poignant animated film about bullying, disability, forgiveness and redemption.

“Your Name” (2016)

Japanese title: 君の名は (Kimi no Na wa)
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%

In this beautiful animated movie, high school students Taki and Mitsuha suddenly begin to swap bodies even though they’ve never met. As they try to unravel the mystery behind what’s happening to them, the two learn more about each other and their intertwined destinies.

The movie has received widespread acclaim for its stunning visuals, compelling characters and emotional depth.

“My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday” (2016)

Japanese title: 明日、私は昨日あなたとデートした (Ashita, watashi wa kinou anata to dēto shita)
Director: Takahiro Miki
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 83%

Takatoshi Shinohara and Emi Fukuju love each other deeply, but they are cursed by a strange phenomenon that causes them to switch bodies on opposite days of the week: Takatoshi is in Emi’s body on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while Emi is in Takatoshi’s body on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Despite the challenges of their situation, Takatoshi and Emi are determined to make their relationship work.

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is a unique and heartwarming love story that explores the themes of communication, compromise, and unconditional love. It is a reminder that true love can overcome any obstacle.

“Initiation Love” (2015)

Japanese title: イニシエーション・ラブ (Inishēshon Rabu)
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

When a young man named Suzuki falls in love, things seem so simple for the sweet couple. That is, until Suzuki is relocated to Tokyo for his job. Their love is tested by the long distance between them and by the appearance of another woman in Suzuki’s life.

This film will lull you into a false sense of security before dropping a bombshell of a twist!

“Little Forest” (2014)

Japanese title: リトル・フォレスト (Ritoru Foresuto)
Director: Junichi Mori
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%

Ichiko is a young woman who failed to find success in the city. She returns to her rural hometown and moves into her abandoned childhood home in an attempt to find herself. She learns to farm, cook and preserve food and reconnects with her childhood friends and neighbors.

As the seasons change, Ichiko experiences the beauty and bounty of nature, and learns to appreciate the simple things in life. Find finds peace and happiness through Ichiko as she enjoys her new life in the countryside.

“Blue Spring Ride” (2014)

Japanese title: アオハライド (Ao haru raido)
Director: Miki Takahiro
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%

Futaba has a happy middle school life, full of friends and admirers. But when she enters high school she becomes a target of bullying because of her popularity and eventually withdraws from social life. Things are made even worse when her first love, Kou, moves away without warning.

Three years later, Futaba is a different person. She’s now plain and unassuming, and quite content to avoid attention. Then she meets a new guy named Kou, who looks similar to her old love but has a different last name. Futaba becomes determined to find out if this is her old friend Kou, and if he is, why he moved away so suddenly.

“The Little House” (2014)

Japanese title: 小さいおうち (Chiisai Ouchi)
Director: Yoji Yamada
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%

Based on a novel by Kyoko Nakajima, this film follows an old woman looking back on her life. She recalls her time as a maid for a wealthy family in Tokyo, where she lived in a small house on the family’s property and grew close to the children.

As the woman reminisces, we get a glimpse into the many changes that the family goes through over the years, including the effects of World War II. This film is beautifully nostalgic and a heartwarming story of family and the passage of time.

“The Liar and His Lover” (2013)

Japanese title: カノジョは嘘を愛しすぎてる (Kanojo wa Uso o Aishisugiteru)
Director: Norihiro Koizumi
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10

The film tells the story of Aki Ogasawara, a 25-year old songwriter who falls in love with Riko Koeda, a high school student with a gifted voice. Aki keeps his identity hidden, complicating his relationship with Riko. 

Not intrigued yet? This romance has a twist: It’s a musical!

“From Me to You” (2010)

Japanese title: 君に届け (Kimi ni todoke)
Director: Naoto Kumazawa
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%

Sawako Kuronuma is a high school freshman who’s feared and misunderstood by her classmates because of her resemblance to the infamous horror movie character, Sadako. But when a popular boy begins talking to her, everything changes. The boy’s kindness and acceptance help Sawako to come out of her shell and start to make friends. As she learns to trust others and open her heart, Sawako begins to find her own place in the world.

“I Give My First Love to You” (2009)

Japanese title: 初恋、君に捧ぐ (Hatsukoi, kimi ni sasagu)
Director: Naoto Kumazawa
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

This bittersweet movie is about the ill-fated Takuma, who’s told that he won’t live beyond his 20th year because of a medical condition. He chooses to stay away from the girl he loves so she can move on with her life when he’s gone—but her love is stronger than he realizes. The film is a reminder that true love can last a lifetime, even if that lifetime is shorter than we’d like.

“Parade” (2009)

Japanese title: パレード (Parêdo)
Director: Yukisada Isao
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 79%

 

Four young people sharing a two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo struggle to find their way in life, drawn to each other in different ways. When a mysterious stranger named Satoru moves in, they’re initially hesitant to accept him, but he eventually becomes a part of their group.

As they get to know each other better, they let down their walls and open up to each other, helping each other through difficult times and learning to accept each other for who they are.

“Departures” (2008)

Japanese title: おくりびと (Okuribito)
Director: Yojiro Takita
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%

The movie tells the story of Daigo, a cellist who unexpectedly finds himself without a job when his orchestra dissolves. He returns to his hometown and stumbles across work as a nōkanshi—a traditional Japanese ritual mortician.

Despite the social taboos against people who deal with death, Daigo finds beauty and dignity in his work, and eventually repairs his relationships with those around him. Departures is a deeply moving and insightful look at the Japanese tradition of death and dying, as well as a story about finding one’s place in the world and overcoming prejudice.

“The Glorious Team Batista” (2008)

Japanese title: チーム・バチスタの栄光 (Chīmu Bachisuta no Eikō)
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
IMDB Rating: 6/10

Three consecutive deaths at the Tojo University Hospital prompt an investigation to determine whether the deaths were accidental or deliberate. Hospital therapist Kohei Taguchi and government investigator Keisuke Shiratori uncover a web of secrets and lies, leading them to suspect that someone within the hospital is trying to sabotage the institution.

“Love Exposure” (2008)

Japanese title: 愛のむきだし (Ai no Mukidashi)
Director: Sion Sono
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%

This movie follows the life of Yu, a young man who becomes involved with a cult and embarks on a God-given mission to photograph women’s skirts. Along the way, he meets Yoko, a misandrist girl who becomes his love interest, and Koike, a member of a cult who is trying to convert him. 

If that sounds like a fever-dream, it definitely is—director Sion Sono is known for his dark visuals and movies that push boundaries. “Love Exposure” is a complex and ambitious film that explores themes of religion, sexuality, love and violence, with some of the most iconic scenes in Japanese cinema.

“Sky of Love” (2007)

Japanese title: 恋空 (Koizora)
Director: Natsuki Imai
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 76%

This movie is based on the novel “Koizora” by Mika, which was initially created exclusively for mobile reading. It tells the emotional love story of Mika and Hiro, two high school students who fall deeply in love with each other despite their differences. Their relationship is tested by a series of challenges, including dealing with illness and personal hardships.

The film is celebrated for its depiction of the intensity of teenage romance and the resilience of love in the face of adversity.

“Midnight Sun” (2006)

Japanese title: タイヨウのうた (Taiyō no uta)
Director: Norihiro Koizumi
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

Also known as “A Song to the Sun,” this film is about a young woman with a rare disorder that prevents her from going out in daylight. As a result, she’s been kept indoors for most of her life, and let out at night to allow her to do what she loves most—busking at a secluded corner in her neighborhood. As she navigates the difficulties of living with a severe sun allergy, her life is further complicated when she falls in love with a young surfer.

“Sunflower” (2000)

Japanese title: ひまわり (Himawari)
Director: Isao Yukisada
IMDB Rating: 5.9/10

Childhood friends reunite for the funeral of a former classmate, prompting a coming-of-age story that explores friendship, love, loss and the passage of time. As they reminisce about their shared past and come to terms with the changes in their lives, they must also deal with unresolved feelings for each other.

“Himawari” is a bittersweet film that captures the nostalgia and melancholy of coming home again and a moving story about the power of friendship and the importance of cherishing the people we love.

“Kids Return” (1996)

Japanese title: キッズ・リターン (Kizzu Ritān)
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%

Two high school dropouts, Masaru and Shinji, try to find a direction and meaning in their lives by choosing different paths: Masaru becomes a yakuza lieutenant, while Shinji decides to become a boxer. The film follows their struggles and the consequences of their choices, offering a powerful and moving meditation on friendship, loyalty and the search for purpose.

“The Sting of Death” (1990)

Japanese title: 死の棘 (Shi no Toge)
Director: Kohei Oguri
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10

In the 1950s, a couple retreats to a remote island to salvage their marriage after the husband’s infidelity. However, their relationship is fraught with tension and mistrust and their efforts to reconnect are ultimately unsuccessful.

 

Is your heart a-flutter yet? You’re sure to find your favorite new Japanese romantic movie among these excellent flick picks! 

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