🔖 6 min read

“Aishiteru” – that’s how you say “I love you” in Japanese, a phrase that resonates deeply within the enchanting world of Japanese romantic movies. These films, often a blend of poignant narratives and whimsical love tales, invite viewers into intimate journeys of affection, heartbreak, and the tender nuances of love. Moreover, from the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene landscapes of rural Japan, these stories unfold, capturing the essence of romance through the unique lens of Japanese culture.

Furthermore, whether it’s the delicate portrayal of first loves or the complex web of emotions in mature relationships, Japanese romantic movies navigate the myriad facets of love with grace and sensitivity. Additionally, they are not just films; they are heartfelt experiences that stay with you, making your heart flutter with their authenticity and emotional depth. Consequently, as we delve into this cinematic realm, we find ourselves enchanted by the raw beauty and the poetic storytelling that these movies masterfully present.

Thus, let us embark on a cinematic odyssey that celebrates love in its many forms, as we explore some of the best Japanese romantic movies that promise to stir your soul and whisper to your heart the timeless words – “Aishiteru.”

1. Your Name (2016)

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PG, Romance, Animation, Fantasy

Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi

You might have heard of Your Name. This Japanese romantic movie is a massive hit with both domestic and foreign fans. It’s the third highest-grossing film in Japanese history and a modern classic in terms of story, animation, and more. 

The plot follows two high schoolers who live in different parts of the country. One day, they start switching bodies, and they slowly start to fall in love as they live each other’s lives. But things are never what they seem in such a fantastical setting…

Stream Your Name on Prime Video, Chili, Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube.

2. See Hear Love (2023)

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PG-13, Romance, Drama

Starring: Yamashita Tomohisa, Araki Yuko, Takasugi Mahiro, Yamamoto Maika

She’s deaf. He’s going blind. See Hear Love is a Japanese romantic movie that tells an unconventional love story of a deaf woman and a man going blind. Their meetup takes place on a rooftop where he’s about to commit suicide. At its core, however, the movie tells an achingly romantic tale of two people who find each other exactly when they need it most.

Watch See Hear Love on Prime Video.

3. Rurouni Kenshin Part 1: Origins (2012)

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PG-13, Action, Drama, Historical

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Yuu Aoi, Koji Kikkawa, Munetaka Aoki

What would you do as an assassin who’d had enough of killing?

Kenshin, the wandering swordsman at the center of Rurouni Kenshin, commits to living a peaceful life and never killing again. But the year is 1868, and Japan is still reeling from the Bakumatsu War. Kenshin is also compelled to protect the new friends he’s making, including a female Kendo instructor who offers him a guest room. Peace will be a lot harder to maintain than it seems.

Note for romance lovers: This film, while not a traditional Japanese romantic movie, offers a compelling storyline of a former assassin who commits to living a peaceful life and never killing again. There isn’t a lot of romance in this particular movie, but the love story picks up in the sequels!

Catch Rurouni Kenshin Part 1 on Netflix.

4. We Couldn’t Become Adults (2021)

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Romance, Drama

Starring: Mirai Moriyama, Sairi Ito, Masahiro Higashide

A movie for a slightly older crowd, We Couldn’t Become Adults tells the story of a 42-year-old man who gets a friend request from an old flame on social media. Before he knows it, he’s thrown into a whirlwind of memories from the ’90s and beyond, making him confront the fact that he’s not who he’d planned to be when he was young, free, and in love.

Stream We Couldn’t Become Adults on Netflix.

5. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

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G, Romance, Animation

Starring: Yoko Honna, Issei Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana, Shigeru Muroi

Whisper of the Heart is one of the lesser-known titles from Studio Ghibli, the powerhouse behind other classic Japanese romantic movies such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. However, it’s a hidden gem that deserves just as many accolades as Hayao Miyazaki’s other work. Cute, charming, and thoroughly vintage, it follows the story of a junior high student who loves writing and falls for a boy who works at an antique shop.

Watch Whisper of the Heart on Netflix.

6. The Legend & Butterfly (2023)

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PG-13, Romance, Historical, War

Starring: Takuya Kimura, Haruka Ayase, Hideaki Ito, Miki Nakatani, Takumi Saitoh

In the heart of a Japanese romantic movie, “The Legend & Butterfly” unfolds a tale of an arranged marriage set to unite two realms in harmony. Yet, the protagonists’ journey to love is a slow burn, ignited only when the brink of war looms, threatening to shatter their world. As they join forces in an unexpected alliance, they navigate the profound themes of duty, honor, and sacrifice. This cinematic masterpiece is a timeless epic, steeped in historical grandeur.

Play The Legend & Butterfly on Prime Video.

7. Drive My Car (2021)

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PG-13, Drama, Mystery, Romance

Starring: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Reika Kirishima

Drive My Car is an engrossing and character-driven movie that’s only partly about romance. Further, invites viewers to explore the profound layers of human connection. The main character is a man who lost his wife to mysterious circumstances several years ago. While being driven around for work by a seemingly cold-hearted female chauffeur, he’s forced to confront the memories of his past and the unanswered questions that his wife left behind. You can read more about Drive my Car here

Fun fact: The screenplay is based on a short story written by famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

Stream Drive My Car on Apple TV, Google Play, and MUBI.

8. Weathering With You (2019)

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PG-13, Romance, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Tsubasa Honda

In the realm of Japanese romantic movies, “Weathering With You” stands out as a whimsical animated tale. A high school boy, weary of his secluded island life, escapes to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. Amidst the struggle to survive, he encounters a remarkable girl with the magical ability to manipulate the weather, casting sunlight across his once gloomy existence. This charming film is adorned with the delightful and fantastical elements synonymous with a Japanese romance, captivating audiences with its blend of youthful love and mystical adventure.

Watch Weathering With You on Rakuten TV and Apple TV.

9. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

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PG-13, Romance, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura, Akihiro Miwa

In a landscape scarred by conflict, we first meet Sophie, a young hatmaker transformed into an elderly woman by a spiteful witch’s spell. Furthermore, her path crosses with the mysterious wizard Howl, whose living castle roams the hillsides. Next, their odyssey is marked by magical encounters and a curse that deepens their connection, thus crafting a narrative that intertwines the whimsical with the profound.

Moreover, crafted by the visionary Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli, this film stands as a celebration of enduring affection and tenacity. Equally important, its stunning visuals and heartfelt plot make “Howl’s Moving Castle” a cherished piece in the realm of Japanese Romantic Movies, which, besides echoing with themes of youthful liberation.

Watch Howl’s Moving Castle on Rakuten TV and Apple TV.

10. We Made a Beautiful Bouquet (2021) 

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PG-13, Romance, Drama

Starring: Masaki Suda, Kasumi Arimura, Kaya Kirohara

“We Made a Beautiful Bouquet” is the original title of a Japanese movie released in 2021, also known as “I Fell in Love Like a Flower Bouquet” and “Loved Like a Flower Bouquet” in English. In the heartwarming landscape of Japanese Romantic Movies, “We Made a Beautiful Bouquet” emerges as a poignant narrative of love’s journey. The film, directed by Nobuhiro Doi and penned by the acclaimed screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto, weaves a tale of serendipity and the enduring nature of affection.

The story unfolds with two strangers, played by the talented Kotaro Daigo and Nana Mori, who find themselves connected after missing the last train home. Furthermore, encounter blossoms into a beautiful relationship spanning five years, capturing the essence of romance and drama that fans of the genre cherish. Tsubasa Honda adds depth to the cast, bringing to life the complexities of modern love.

Watch We Made a Beautiful Bouquet on Disney+.


About Jihyun Lee

A dreamer, a wonderer and a rapper at heart. An everyday person who is curious about the world and would love to share Japanese lifestyle stories with you.