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James Hadfield
The dying words of a wounded man (Yang Ik-june, back) come back to haunt him when he fails to meet his maker on schedule in Nobuhiro Yamashita’s “Confession.”
CULTURE / Film
May 23, 2024
‘Confession’ takes a stab at the dark side of getting it off your chest
The film’s South Korean actor Yang Ik-june brings the intensity needed to deliver a macabre B-movie that's a bloody good time for gore fans.
Andre Hayato Saito’s latest short, “Amarela,” centers on a 14-year-old Japanese Brazilian girl (Melissa Uehara).
CULTURE / Film
May 21, 2024
Cannes nominee on being 'too Brazilian to be Japanese, too Japanese to be Brazilian’
Andre Hayato Saito's Palme d’Or-nominated short film, “Amarela,” is rooted in the director's own experiences with searching for a sense of belonging.
A trio of childhood friends (from left: Ryota Bando, Naoya Shimizu and Rion Takahashi) wonder about their future in Ryutaro Ninomiya’s “Wakamusha.”
CULTURE / Film
May 16, 2024
‘Wakamusha’: An austere portrait of toxic masculinity
Ryutaro Ninomiya shows a deft touch in his uncomfortable drama about childhood friends struggling to find their place in the adult world.
Private detective Ryo Saeba (Ryohei Suzuki) goes beyond the call of duty to protect a client at a cosplay convention in “City Hunter.”
CULTURE / Film
Apr 25, 2024
A star turn isn’t quite enough to make ‘City Hunter’ soar
Ryohei Suzuki is in peak form as a lecherous private detective in an otherwise middling Netflix live-action manga adaptation.
“Beyond the Fog” depicts the struggles of a family-run inn through the eyes of the proprietor’s 12-year-old daughter (Shuri Miyake, right, with Asami Mizukawa).
CULTURE / Film
Apr 18, 2024
‘Beyond the Fog’: Evocative mood piece leaves a dreamy impression
Daichi Murase’s understated drama about a dying community in rural Nara Prefecture benefits from Takeshi Dodo’s beautiful cinematography.
Kenkichi Senda, the 11th-generation studio master of the Kyoto "karakami" (decorative paper) manufacturer Karacho, reveals some of the patterns of the universe in “Ripples of Physis.”
CULTURE / Film
Apr 11, 2024
‘Ripples of Physis’ marvels at patterns in nature
Ayako Mogi’s winding yet engrossing visual essay probes humanity’s urge to perceive order in the natural world.
Renegade director Koji Wakamatsu (Arata Iura, right) heads to Nagoya in the early 1980s to open his own cinema in “Hijacked Youth Dare to Stop Us 2.”
CULTURE / Film
Apr 4, 2024
‘Hijacked Youth Dare to Stop Us 2’ captures origins of indie theater boom
Junji Inoue’s semi-autobiographical film is a love letter to independent cinemas — and their fans.
Described as “the world’s first cosmic opera,” Jeff Mills’ “The Trip: Enter the Black Hole” is a multimedia spectacle tied together by a concept that teeters on the brink between quantum physics and science fiction.
CULTURE / Music
Mar 29, 2024
Jeff Mills’ trippy techno odyssey comes to Tokyo
The influential techno artist's multimedia 'cosmic opera' features vocals by '80s avant-pop diva Jun Togawa.
Takeru Satoh (right) and Masami Nagasawa play an engaged couple whose relationship is put to the test by memories of an earlier romance in Tomokazu Yamada’s “April, Come She Will.”
CULTURE / Film
Mar 28, 2024
‘April, Come She Will’ promises more than it delivers
Tomokazu Yamada’s ruminative romantic drama sets out to interrogate love story cliches, but ends up succumbing to them.
A co-production between Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project and the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, “N/Kosmos” features performers from Poland and Japan, each of whom mostly uses their native tongue.
CULTURE / Stage
Mar 21, 2024
‘N/Kosmos’ puts on a dazzling display of controlled chaos
Stage director Hiroshi Koike welcomes pandemonium in his latest genre-fluid production in collaboration with Polish electronic musician Waclaw Zimpel.
Veteran peace activist Setsuko Yamazato warns of the gathering “clouds of war” in Chie Mikami’s eight-year chronicle of the militarization of Okinawa.
CULTURE / Film
Mar 14, 2024
‘Clouds of War’: The real story of Okinawa is its people
“Clouds of War” is an unwieldy but heartfelt portrait of citizens fighting back against militarization in Okinawa.
A man (Pierre Taki) who gives sea burials to cremated remains finds himself in hot water after a customer asks him to scatter the ashes of a murderer in “Horizon.”
CULTURE / Film
Mar 7, 2024
‘Horizon’: Ethical dilemma makes for muted drama
Katsuya Kobayashi gives his cast space to wade through murky moral decisions in his directorial debut, “Horizon.”
A group of departed souls trapped in limbo tries to find closure — and finish an uncompleted movie — in Michihito Fujii’s “The Parades.”
CULTURE / Film
Feb 29, 2024
‘The Parades’: Glossy afterlife drama is no ‘After Life’
Michihito Fujii’s wistful film is less than the sum of its influences.
A bloody demonic outbreak strikes Japan in “Visitors: Complete Edition.”
CULTURE / Film
Feb 22, 2024
‘Visitors’ revels in all its gory glory with deadpan humor
Kenichi Ugana’s extended version of his brilliant splatter short is endearingly shaggy — and messy.
Building off her own experiences, “Voice” director Yukiko Mishima considers the effects of sexual assault and how the survivors and those around them continue with their lives.
CULTURE / Film
Feb 2, 2024
‘Voice’ examines the reverberations of trauma
Yukiko Mishima’s film draws from the director's own experience to shed light on life after experiencing assault.
Takuro Adachi’s documentary “Sono Kodo ni Mimi wo Ateyo” follows doctors working in Aichi Prefecture’s busiest ER over nine months.
CULTURE / Film
Feb 1, 2024
‘Sono Kodo ni Mimi o Ateyo’: An absorbing dive into pressures of the ER
Filmed at the height of the pandemic, Takuro Adachi’s documentary spotlights emergency room doctors who attend to patients from every strata of society.
Two lovers on the run (Misa Wada, left, and Takahiro Fukuya) wrestle with poverty and a monstrous mutant appendage in Taichiro Natsume’s “The Beast Hand.”
CULTURE / Film
Jan 25, 2024
‘The Beast Hand’: Splatter movie has more soul than guts
Misa Wada proves a standout in Taichiro Natsume’s surprisingly soulful low-budget horror flick.
A scarred war veteran (Kento Yamazaki, center) in early-20th century Hokkaido embarks on a quest to find buried Ainu treasure in “Golden Kamuy.”
CULTURE / Film
Jan 18, 2024
‘Golden Kamuy’: Big-budget adaptation glitters rather than dazzles
Shigeaki Kubo’s live-action version of Satoru Noda’s manga series has terrific visuals but doesn't quite stick the landing.
Haru (An Ogawa, center) searches for the origin of a recording left by her late mother, while keeping a watchful eye over two older acquaintances, in “Following the Sound.”
CULTURE / Film
Jan 4, 2024
‘Following the Sound’: A tantalizing and enigmatic study on grief
While Kyoshi Sugita’s fourth feature is a quietly absorbing drama, it leaves a great deal open to interpretation.
A sullen high schooler (Haruka Fukuhara, left) travels back in time and falls in love with a kamikaze pilot (Koshi Mizukami) in “Till We Meet Again on the Lily Hill.”
CULTURE / Film
Dec 14, 2023
‘Till We Meet Again on the Lily Hill’ has its head in the clouds
Yoichi Narita’s romance about a time-traveling teenager who falls for a kamikaze pilot in wartime Japan has the wholesome feel of a propaganda film.

Longform

The Japanese government updated its English education guidelines in 2017 to emphasize communication over grammar and memorization. Public school teachers are incredibly busy, however, which means schools haven’t been able to implement changes uniformly. Private and alternative schools are attempting to remedy this.
The language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan