No travel plans for Christmas? No worries! Here’s your unmissable list of Japanese films and dramas to keep you going over the festive and New Year period! This list has something for everyone from binge-worthy uplifting dramas to emotionally-charged films.
1. Tokyo Girl
When we arrive at year’s end, social media sites like Facebook urge us to look back on the year we’ve just lived, and the creeping-in of New Year’s Eve gets us pondering on the next stage in our lives. This transition from year to year, life to life, is presented perfectly here in Tokyo Girl.
On the surface, Tokyo Girl looks like another typical Japanese drama. The story trails a young girl – played by Asami Mizukawa – from a small town who feels there are no opportunities for her in her local area, and that she’d have been much better placed in Paris, NYC or Tokyo. Somewhere far from her provincial life.
When she heads to her first stop, Harajuku, however, she finds out that her good looks, praised in her hometown, aren’t so special in Tokyo. The series follows her life from age 23-40 as she maneuvers her career and love life, and moves from district to district in Tokyo, each move providing a clever commentary on Tokyo’s social ladder and the changes we face as we journey through life.
Watch on: Amazon Prime
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
2. It All Began When I Met You
If you’re looking for a film to fill that Love Actually hole in your life, this is it. Full of warm Christmas feels – although decidedly tragic at times – It All Began When I Met You focuses on six separate stories centering around Tokyo Station just before Christmas. Many of the ten characters are dealing with the typical relationship issues you might expect from a rom-com, from long-distance relationship drama, to crushes, and unrequited love. But there are some that really tug on the heartstrings, like Tokito who can’t bring himself to tell his son that he doesn’t have long to live, and Ichikawa who works in an orphanage. There’s the added advantage of seeing a Christmassy Tokyo looking beautiful as ever and you don’t even have to head out into the cold to enjoy it.
Watch on: Netflix
Japanese title: すべては君に逢えたから (Subete wa Kimi ni Aeta kara)
New Year is the time of fresh starts and Aggretsuko urges the audience to ask the question: Am I happy with my job and with my career? If the answer is no, then it’s never too late to make a positive change. This is what makes