7 Japanese Films that Have Won Academy Awards

List of Japanese Movies that Awarded the Oscars of All Time

Japanese Movies That Have Won Academy Awards

The annual film ceremony Academy Awards, also known as Oscars, is one of the most carefully watched event around the globe. The Academy Awards has mainly focused on American movies since the first 1st Academy Awards was held in 1929.

More various films created in numerous countries have been picked up in the recent Academy Awards. Japanese movies have been submitted and nominated for the past Oscars a long time, and some renowned works by great directors have won the awards. Japan is also known to lead the world in the field of animated films that is called anime.

For those who are interested in Japanese films and their history, here is the list of 7 best Japanese movies that have won the Academy Awards ever. This lineup includes both the latest prizewinner and the classic masterpieces.

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1. Drive My Car (Best International Feature Film)

Drive My Car
Drive My Car

At the 94 Academy Awards in 2022, Drive My Car (ドライブ・マイ・カー) achieved the Best International Feature Film while it was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. It became the first Japanese film in 13 years to win an Oscar. Drive My Car is based on the same-titled short story written by Haruki Murakami with his other stories “Scheherazade” and “Kino”. Before the Oscars 2022, it also won three awards at the 74th Cannes Film Festival and Best Foreign Language Film at the 79th Golden Globe Awards. It tells the story of a famous actor Yusuke Kafuku, who lost his baby and wife, and his new driver Misaki Watari.

Release: 2021

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

▶︎Check Drive My Car on Amazon now!

▽Check out other films adapted from Haruki Murakami’s books!▽

2. Departures (Best International Feature Film)


Departures (おくりびと) is one of the globally well-known Japanese movies that received the Best International Feature Film (also known as Best Foreign Language Film before) at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009. It is inspired by Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician (納棺夫日記), written by a Japanese writer Shinmon Aoki in 1993. Departures introduces a nokanshi, who prepares a traditional Japanese funeral maintaining the body until a cremation ceremony.

Release: 2008

Director: Yojiro Takita

▶︎Check Departures on Amazon now!

3. La Maison En Petits Cubes (Best Animated Short Film)

La Maison En Petits Cubes (Japanese)
La Maison En Petits Cubes (Japanese)

La Maison En Petits Cubes (つみきのいえ), an original short movie directed by Kunio Kato in 2008, earned the Best Animated Short Film at the 81st Academy Awards as well as other awards at the 32nd Annecy International Animated Film Festival and the 12th Hiroshima International Animation Festival. It is known as the first Japanese winner for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The silent 12-min story was produced by a Japanese animation studio Oh! Production. La Maison En Petits Cubes represents life following an old man who lives in loneliness in the house almost flooded by rising sea levels.

Release: 2008

Director: Kunio Kato

▶︎Check La Maison En Petits Cubes on Amazon now!

4. Spirited Away (Best Animated Feature)

Spirited Away
Spirited Away

There are a large number of quality animations ever made in Japan, and its reputation has been enhanced substantially by the world’s famous Studio Ghibli for a long time. Hayao Miyazaki, the leader of the finest studio, completed his masterpiece Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) in 2001. The fantasy drama anime film achieved the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards while it was awarded dozens of domestic and international prizes. Spirited Away focuses on a 10-year-old girl Chihiro. The story begins when she wanders off into an abandoned site with her parents, which makes her end up surviving alone in the weird world. She becomes mentally tough through the severe work at a bathhouse, supported by unique colleagues.

Release: 2001

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

▶︎Check Spirited Away on Amazon now!

5. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (Best International Feature Film)

Samurai I Musashi Miyamoto
Samurai I Musashi Miyamoto

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (宮本武蔵), a historical Japanese movie premiering in 1954, was awarded Best Foreign Language Film, now known as Best International Feature Film, at the 28th Academy Awards. It was adapted from the novel written by Eiji Yoshikawa between 1935 and 1939, which was followed by the sequels titled Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956). It tells the early story of the most famous Japanese swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, who joins the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.

Release: 1954

Director: Hiroshi Inagaki

▶︎Check Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto on Amazon now!

6. Gate of Hell (Best International Feature Film)

Gate of Hell
Gate of Hell

As the first Japanese movie using Eastmancolor, Gate of Hell (地獄門) was made by Daiei Film, which was a major Japanese film studio in 1953. Gate of Hell won Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design at the 27th Academy Awards. Based on a play written by Kan Kikuchi, the historical film was directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa. Set around the Heiji rebellion in 1160, Gate of Hell follows a samurai named Endo Morito, who falls in love with a court lady Kesa.

Release: 1953

Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa

▶︎Check Gate of Hell on Amazon now!

7. Rashomon (Best International Feature Film)


Akira Kurosawa, who is one of the most famous Japanese directors around the world of all time, made lots of outstanding films from the 1940s to the 1990s. His early successful work titled Rashomon (羅生門) is famous as the Japanese film that won an Oscar for the first time in Japanese history, awarded a Honorary Award, which is known as Best International Feature Film, at the 24th Academy Awards. It is based on the short story titled In a Grove written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa in 1922 and its title is named after his different short story Rashomon. The plot is composed of some people’s testimonies of the same murder incident.

Release: 1950

Director: Akira Kurosawa

▶︎Check Rashomon on Amazon now!

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