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When I first started watching Japanese films at cinemas in Tokyo nearly three decades ago, screenings with English subtitles were nonexistent. I spent a month with my Japanese teacher at the time studying the script of Akira Kurosawa’s “Kagemusha”(“The Shadow Warrior”) so I could puzzle out its feudal-era dialogue in the theater.

Today, thankfully, most of the 600-plus Japanese films released every year are subtitled for foreign DVD releases, festival screenings and, in the case of a small but growing number, domestic theatrical release.

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