Japanese romance movies are an excellent watch for days you want to relive your high school romantic escapades underneath cherry blossoms. Or maybe you just want to have a good cry watching a heart-warming (or heart-wrenching) drama. We’ve compiled the best Japanese romance movies of all time for you to enjoy. This list has something for everyone, so take your time and enjoy reading!
15. The Black Devil and the White Prince [黒崎くんの言いなりになんてならない] (2016)
Having read the original manga adaptation, I had high expectations for The Black Devil and the White Prince, and thankfully I’m not disappointed. Before watching the D/s romance of Haruto Kurosaki and Yū Akabane, you’ll have first to watch the two-episode special drama Defying Kurosaki-kun. The movie continues where the drama left off.
Based on the title The Black Devil and the White Prince alone, you already get an idea of the entire plot; two boys fighting over one girl. The Black Devil, Kurosaki, is rash and violent, while the White Prince, Shirakawa, is gentle and caring. Yū Akabane finds herself stuck between the romantic advances of both boys. Who does she end up with? Will she choose the Black Devil who endlessly bullies her or the White Prince who treats her like a princess?
It’s best to watch the film with a grain of salt. Some viewers might find the misogynist and dominating character of Kuro over the top, while the submissive behavior of Yū unrealistic. But, if this doesn’t bother you, you’ll enjoy the swoon-worthy interactions of Yū with the two princes.
You can find the Japanese edition Blu-ray here on Amazon: The Black Devil and the White Prince (First Press Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] JAPANESE EDITION
14. The 100th Love With You [君と100回目の恋] (2017)
The 100th Love With You is a time-travel romance movie about bandmates Aoi Hinata and Riku Hasegawa, stuck in a time loop.
The movie’s heroine, Aoi Hinata, is a university student who can’t escape her dire fate-accident-induced death. She first realizes her unique ability after getting hit by a truck and waking up in a class she already attended a few days back. Disoriented, she relives the day again. Aoi soon finds out that her bandmate and love interest Riku has also been time traveling, and for a lot longer than she has.
Riku then confesses his love to Aoi and tells her that he’s been time traveling back and forth with one goal – to save Aoi. While the two try to figure out the stakes of their ability, they spend the time they have left living their life to the fullest. Will Riku be able to save Aoi? Or, will she relive her death for the 100th time?
If you can understand Japanese, you can find the Japanese Edition Blu-ray on Amazon here: Movie “You and the 100th Love” (First Press Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] JAPANESE EDITION
13. I Give My First Love To You [僕の初恋をキミに捧ぐ] (2009)
For childhood friends Mayu Taneda and Takuma Kakinouchi, their love story doesn’t revolve around joyous memories but rather on the grim reality of Takuma’s failing heart that won’t live past 20 years.
I Give My First Love To You may sound like your average “protagonist has a few years left to live” type of movie, but it goes beyond that. What I loved about the film was its build-up. It shows the journey and hardships Mayu and Takuma faced when they met at eight years old until they reached their early twenties. Mayu first met Takuma when they were kids at the hospital when her father was treating him. From then onwards, the two’s friendship grew and turned to romance.
Knowing that his days are limited, Takuma tries to thwart Mayu’s feelings. He is tired of hurting her and seeing her cry. But is that enough to keep the steadfast love of Mayu away from the dying Takuma? Heartbreak, betrayal, pure selfless love – I Give My First Love To You is a must-watch for days you want to cry your heart out.
Check out the DVD with English subtitles here on Amazon: I Give My First Love To You (2009) Wonderful Japanese Romance (Eng Subs) DVD
12. Kimi Ni Todoke [君に届け] (2010)
Simple, innocent, sweet love – these are the words I’d use to describe the romance between the heroine Sawako Kuronuma and Shōta Kazehaya. I’m a big fan of the anime and manga of Kimi Ni Todoke and can say that the movie adaptation did a great job of capturing the innocent romance between the main leads.
Shy and introverted, Sawako is shunned by her peers because her outward appearance, demeanor, and name resemble the main character (Sadako) in the horror film “Ring.” Despite all her classmates’ prejudices, Sawako still tries to make friends with her classmates whenever an opportunity arises.
Cue in the popular boy Kazehaya. Friends surround him, always seen smiling, and overall just a perfect guy. What happens when someone like Kazehaya becomes interested in Sawako, his polar opposite? Well, you’ll have to watch Kimi Ni Todoke to find out.
Despite having a popular high school romance trope, the movie is a gem that you’ll keep coming back to for that good ol’ fluffy romance fix. And, if you enjoy the film, make sure to check out the anime as well! It will be worth every minute.
You can find the DVD with English subtitles on Amazon: Kimi Ni Todoke, The Movie, in Japanese with English Subtitles
11. Hana and Alice [花とアリス] (2004)
Shunji Iwai, director of the hit film Love Letter, impresses viewers with a plot that turns the central theme of romance into a beautiful storytelling tool. This coming of age film is about inseparable friends Hana and Alice.
On the outside, Hana and Alice look like two ordinary high school girls who like ballet. However, as the film progresses, we see more layers of the girls’ characters unravel. Hana and Alice focus on the love triangle between Hana, Alice, and Masashi Miyamoto, a shy classmate from their school’s acting club.
After seeing Masashi on a train reading a book, Hana becomes infatuated with him. Hana stalks Masashi on his way home and sees him bump his head and fall to the ground. Seizing the opportunity, Hana rushes to Masashi’s side and waits for him to regain consciousness. Masashi sees Hana and asks her who she is. Do you know what she said? Hana lies and tells Masashi that she is his girlfriend and suffers amnesia.
Alice joins the make-up life of Hana and Masashi as Masashi’s supposed to be ex-girlfriend. Again, Masashi is fooled into believing the ludicrous stories. Things get complicated when Alice and Masashi develop genuine feelings for one another.
Will liking the same boy get in the way of the girls’ friendship? Hana and Alice is a great movie to watch for days you’re craving for dreamy cinematography mixed with an unusual plot.
Check out the DVD on Amazon here: Hana & Alice (Widescreen)
10. Koizora [恋空] (2007)
The 2007 Koizora film was based on a cellphone novel that took the Internet by storm in Japan. Readers were hooked to the tragic love story of Mika Tahara and Hiroki Sakurai, two high school kids who experienced the tragedies of life in unimaginable ways.
Mika first meets Hiro virtually after Hiro finds Mika’s lost phone. The two communicate throughout the summer, with Hiro only being the one aware of Mika’s identity; Mika had no idea who this mysterious boy she shared her secrets with was.
The two agree to meet, and Mika is shocked to see that the identity of her secret friend is the delinquent Hiro. At first, Mika is scared and wants to cut contact with Hiro, but she can’t. Mika and Hiro deepened their bond emotionally and physically, becoming one in all aspects.
It’s easy to see why some critics might argue that Koizora’s overdramatic plot filled with serious topics like assault and rape make it unplausible and not worth watching. Koizora is not your average cute, innocent high school romance; it’s the total opposite. The movie depicts teenage pregnancies, abortion, gang rape in a light that was not favorable to some viewers. I think what the film lacked was a punishment for these severe actions.
Past this, though, the fact that it was based on a true story made Koizora’s story more gripping. You’ll end up sympathizing with the characters and sharing the pain they felt along their journey of tragic love. If you’re looking for a fluffy romance movie, this is not the one. However, if you’re looking for a tearjerker, more mature film, then Koizora is for you.
You can the DVD on Amazon here: Koizora / Sky of Love Japanese Movie DVD – NTSC all region with English subtitle (Adapted from Best selling mobile novel)
9. His (2020)
To this day, the topic of same-sex relationships is still not widely accepted in Japan. That’s why when the BL film His premiered in 2020, it immediately caught the attention of many viewers. The story follows the life of Shun Igawa and Nagisa Hibino, college sweethearts who part ways and reunite many years later.
After the impulsive Nagisa breaks the heart of the wallflower Shun, Shun leaves the city to live as a farmer in a small remote town in the middle of nowhere. Many years later, Nagisa shows up at Shun’s doorstep and asks to live with him. Not only that, Nagisa has a 6-year-old daughter who he’s currently fighting a custody court case against his soon-to-be ex-wife.
Despite the many years apart, it’s evident that Shun still hasn’t moved on from his first love, Nagisa. Meanwhile, Nagisa lived his life repressing his sexual preference clouded by the perception that a normal life means ending up with a woman.
His is a masterpiece that depicts the hardships gay couples face in the eyes of society. It shows that forgiveness and acceptance will get you a long way in life. If you’re tired of all the high school romances, give this movie a try.
You can watch this movie on Amazon with Dekkoo here: His – Movie
8. Let Me Eat Your Pancreas [君の膵臓をたべたい] (2017)
I’ll tell you now. This movie has no cannibalistic scenes of teenagers eating their classmates’ organs. Let Me Eat Your Pancreas is a coming-of-age film based on Yoru Sumino’s 2015 novel I Want To Eat Your Pancreas.
Like A Silent Voice’s protagonist Shoya Ishida, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas’s Haruki Shiga is an awkward loner with no friends. The movie begins with an adult Haruki reminiscing about his high school days with his classmate Sakura Yamauchi, a bubbly teenager diagnosed with a terminal pancreatic disease. By chance, Haruki stumbles upon Sakura’s journal and finds out about her situation. Sakura then asks Haruki to keep her illness a secret.
The unlikely friendship between the two grows as Haruki accompanies Sakura on her bucket list. Despite the ending, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas beautifully shows the power of friendship and the fragility of one’s life.
The phrase “Let Me Eat Your Pancreas” or “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas” has multiple meanings. It is believed that consuming a part of another person allows their spirit to live with you for all eternity. The other belief is that if you consume a healthy organ of another person, your failing organ will heal.
You can find this movie on Amazon here: Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (Japanese movie, NTSC All Region, English subtitles, From the Bestselling novel by Yoru Sumino)
7. Heavenly Forest [ただ、君を愛してる] (2006)
Have you ever liked someone so much to the point that you want to do the same hobbies they love? Shizuru Satonaka, the heroine of Heavenly Forest, falls in love at first sight with the protagonist Makoto Segawa, a socially awkward and shy university student with a passion for photography. Equally socially inept in the art of socializing, Shizuru tries to get to know Makoto better. The two then bond over photography, mainly by taking pictures at a nearby secret forest Makoto found.
Just as their friendship blossoms, Makoto becomes romantically interested in one of his peers, Miyuki Toyama, a refined young woman, a total opposite of Miyuki. Miyuki vows that she will change and become a woman fit for Makoto and suddenly disappears and travels abroad.
A few years pass, and Makoto receives a letter from Shizuru asking him to visit her debut photography exhibit in New York. By this time, Makoto realizes that he did love Shizuru more than Miyuki and breaks up with her. But is Makoto too late to rekindle their love? Although cliche, Heavenly Forest is a beautiful film that will grip your heartstrings.
You can find the Japanese Edition of this movie here on Amazon: ただ、君を愛してる スタンダード・エディション (Heavenly Forest) [DVD]
6. We Made a Beautiful Bouquet [花束みたいな恋をした] (2021)
With high school romances as the center of most Japanese romance movies, We Made a Beautiful Bouquet is a breath of fresh air in the romance genre. This movie focuses on the five-year relationship of Mugi Yamane and Kinu Hachiya.
After missing their last train home, the pair decides to spend the night at a bar. As they get to know each other more, they find out they like the same movies, manga, music, and even the same style of shoes. What first started as a chance meeting blossomed into a five-year relationship. But, just like in any relationship, you won’t always see eye-to-eye. As the two grow older and realize that having the same interests is not enough to sustain a relationship, personal goals and ambitions begin to clash.
We Made a Beautiful Bouquet is a realistic bittersweet romance that might hit too close to home for viewers who have had long-term relationships not ending well. When the excitement of the early stages wane, and you’re faced with serious decisions for your future and career, love turns into a daily choice that many people are not ready to face, like Mugi and Kinu.
If you’re looking for a movie to relate to and maybe shed a few tears of heartbreak with, you’ll find your fix with this one. It’s bittersweet and will leave you either reevaluating your life decisions or being thankful for sticking it through.
This movie can be difficult to find, but if you can understand Japanese you an find a copy with Chinese subtitles on Amazon: Japanese drama I Fell in Love Like A Flower Bouquet DVD Blu-ray Chinese Sub
5. Daytime Shooting Star [ひるなかの流星] (2017)
Daytime Shooting Star tells the story of fifteen-year-old Yosano Suzume, who moves from the countryside to the bustling city of Tokyo. As soon as Suzume arrives in the city, she collapses from hunger after spending hours looking for her Uncle’s place. Luckily, a handsome young man, Shishio Satsuki, comes to her rescue. It turns out that Shishio is Suzume’s homeroom teacher, much to Suzume’s surprise, but not the viewers, of course.
Suzume can’t help but fall for her kind-natured homeroom teacher. What she doesn’t know, though, is that her seatmate, Daiki Mamura, is secretly crushing on her. While the story sounds quite predictable, it’s surprisingly not.
What made Daytime Shooting Star a formidable contender on this list is its superb storytelling of the heartbreak, acceptance, and growth that comes with first love.
Unfortunately, this movie can be hard to find. You can see it on Netflix Japan, or if you prefer, you can read the English manga or find the Japanese book version here: ひるなかの流星 映画ノベライズ みらい文庫版 (集英社みらい文庫)
4. Your Eyes Tell [きみの瞳（め）が問いかけている] (2020)
Your Eyes Tell, a remake of the hit 2011 Korean film Always, tells the story of Rui Shinozaki, a kickboxer with a dark past, and Akari Kashiwagi, a partially blind woman.
At the beginning of the movie, 24-year-old Rui is shown as a young man juggling multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. He’s fresh out of prison after getting involved with underground organizations. After being mistaken for someone else, Rui befriends Akari, and the two start an unlikely connection.
While watching the movie, I couldn’t help but compare the character of the main leads. You have one overflowing with brute force and the other as fragile as a flower. The contrast between the two leads helps build their character development. When Rui finds out that Akari’s blindness was connected to his past crimes, things start to take a turn for the worse. While Rui struggles with his dark past, Akari’s eye condition worsens.
Although the story started off as a bit of a slow burn, it picks up more as the movie progresses. Rui and Akari’s pure love for one another is the kind that you’d want to wrap up and store. How will it end? There’s only one way to find out.
You can get the DVD on Amazon here: Your Eyes Tell – DVD
3. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday [ぼくは明日、昨日のきみとデートする] (2016)
When you’re faced with the irreversible truth that the time you spend with your loved one is numbered, what do you do? Unlike many tragic romance plots with the same premise, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday does not rely on a terminal sickness to tear the protagonists apart but rather on supernatural concepts like time travel.
My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday shares some similarities with the anime fantasy blockbuster, Your Name, based on a hit novel under the same name. However, the endings could not be any more different.
The time travel element of the film focuses on the idea of parallel universes. Emi comes from a world where time runs backward. Everything Taki considers the future is Emi’s past and vice versa. The star-crossed lovers can only meet for 30 days every five years. To add to that, the pair can only have a relationship when they are 20, the only age they share in the entire cycle. In all other instances where their worlds collide, one is either too young or the other too old. Their romance can only last 30 days…that’s it.
You can already imagine how painful each day they spend together in that window will be. While each memory they create is a first for Taki, it’s a last for Emi. The storytelling of My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is beautifully written. You’ll be left with a fresh perspective on love and what quality time really is. When the memories fade, the truth still remains. Give this film a try; you won’t regret it.
You can check out the Blu-ray of this Japanese movie here: My Tomorrow Your Yesterday [Blu-ray]
2. Love Letter (1995)
Don’t let Love Letter’s 1995 premiere stop you from picking up this hidden gem. The box-office hit movie was directed by highly acclaimed director Shunji Iwai and starred Japanese singer Miho Nakayama. Through the well-thought cinematography and superb camera angles used in the film, viewers get a taste of life in the snow-covered city of Otaru in Hokkaido, Japan.
Love Letter’s plot is unlike a lot of modern-day Japanese romance films. The love story between Itsuki Fujii and Hiroko Watanabe is brought to life through flashbacks and memories that Hiroko shares with a woman in Otaru. This woman shares the same name as her deceased fiance (Itsuki Fujii).
After Hiroko loses her fiance (Itsuki Fujii) in a climbing accident, she cannot move forward and forget her love. One day, Hiroko finds Itsuki’s yearbook and decides to write a letter to the address written under his name. To her horror and surprise, she receives a response.
Hiroko then becomes pen-pals with the female Itsuki, who shares the same name as her late lover. The female Itsuki went to the same high school as Hiroko’s fiance Itsuki and thus began the correspondence between the two.
The beauty of Love Letter lies in its impeccable storytelling and acting. Hiroko Watanabe and the female Itsuki Fujii were both played by Miho Nakayama. The sentimental film portrays the hardships of lost love and the pain and freedom of nostalgia.
You can check out the Japanese edition Blu-ray on Amazon here: Love Letter BD
1. The 8 Year Engagement [8年越しの花嫁] (2017)
Based on a true-to-life story, The 8 Year Engagement is about a man’s dedication to fulfilling the lifelong promise of marriage to his fiance in a coma. If you were in the shoes of Hisashi, a shy, kindhearted young man, would you wait for your fiance to wake up from a coma that doctors have diagnosed as futile?
The film’s plot is based on the real-life story of a young couple from Okayama. Highly acclaimed actors Takeru Satoh and Tao Tsuchiya brought to life the heartwrenching love story of Takeshi and Mai. There’s a reason why we chose this film as number one on our list; here’s why.
Takeshi and Mai meet in their early 20’s and enter a whirlwind romance. Takeshi knew that Mai was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and asked Mai to marry him. A few months before their wedding day, Mai suffers brain damage and falls into a deep sleep that she’ll be in for years. Takeshi doesn’t stop visiting her at the hospital despite never knowing when her eyes would open again. After some time, Mai miraculously gains consciousness but does not recall who Takeshi is.
Takeshi is not fazed by this fact and continues to shower Mai with affection. I won’t divulge all of the plot. What’s beautiful about The 8 Year Engagement is its portrayal of love. Can you claim that you love someone if you’re unwilling to go the extra mile for them? We can’t quantify love with words, but we can with our actions.
Find the Blu-ray with English and traditional Chinese subtitles on Amazon here: The 8 Year Engagement (Region A Blu-ray) (English & Chinese Subtitled) 8年越しの花嫁
I hope this Japanese romance movie list was helpful in your search for a film to watch. Did we mention your favorite romance film? Comment down below your all-time favorite movie that got you squealing like a young girl or crying like it’s the end of the world.