entertainment

7 Netflix shows that will help you understand Japan

16 Comments
By Christy Anne Jones

It’s that time of year again in Tokyo: the parasols are out, the air is sticky, the crowded trains are sweatier and more humid than usual, and that spot on the couch beneath the air-conditioner next to a box of popsicles is looking more and more appealing. Why not stay inside this weekend and deepen your understanding of Japan, its culture and its people? Here is a list of seven historic, informative and interesting shows that will help you do just that! We’ve included a wide range of Netflix favorites (with English subtitles) focusing on Japan and the Japanese people, all for your viewing pleasure. 

The Birth of Sake

This award-winning documentary explores the lives of sake artisans working in Yoshida Brewery. Here, a small group of employees aged between 20 and 70 brave unusual working conditions and the intense winters of northern Japan to preserve the 2000-year-old tradition of sake. However, in this industry of intense competition, where sake drinkers are overwhelmed by choice, Yoshida is under immense pressure to keep-up their world class quality and reputation. The documentary focuses on the lives of Yoshida’s workers—particularly Yamamoto (65), a veteran sake maker, and Yasuyuki Yoshida (27), the sixth-generation heir to the brewery—and gives a unique insight into the sacrifices of the workers who dedicate their lives to this time-old tradition.  

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© Savvy Tokyo

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16 Comments
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My wife has been huge into Terrace House since it was on TV years ago. It is similar to other reality shows with men and women living together but much more innocent and toned down.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don’t watch TV. It’s just a waste of time. It’s no different to play ‘smack the hamster’ on your phone. Read a book, play an instrument, learn a new skill, talk to your family. Anything is better than wasting your life in front of the idiot box.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

I don’t watch TV. It’s just a waste of time. It’s no different to play ‘smack the hamster’ on your phone.

Im not sure this article is for you then.

I like Japanese Style Originator. Very informative.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Anything is better than wasting your life in front of the idiot box.

Oh C'mon! How else are ya gonna learn about Ancient Astronaut theory's?

sarc off

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lol. There was an article recently about Terrance house saying that a lot of people outside Japan like it because its so slow and boring therefore they found it relaxing. The reality show has people that just go about their daily lives living together. They spend their days apologizing and asking how their day was. One couple finally started dating and had their first kiss on the 15th date.

I want to watch the TV show that explains Japanese work culture. Working 80 weeks for no real reason at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I like the rest, except Terrace House. I just cringe on how scripted it was.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Does the Japanese content on Netflix have English subtitles?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Please don't call this a "Documentary" because it is obviously scripted and fiction. Shots and camera angles are properly set. And nothing in this show portrays the typical Japanese culture but more of a BIG BROTHER copycat. Everyone is good looking and well dressed , this isn't the reality.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ok I’ll admit it Terrace House has become an extremely guilty pleasure. My girl friend watches and I have tried to watch with her on 3 different occasions. It just didn’t click.

Last week I actually tried to watch, and while I’m bored most of the time, it has grown on me. I actually found myself chuckling at the differences in how the room mates interact compared to the shows back home, like real world.

i know it’s scripted. The hosts are banal and cringeworthy. Yet the show is.. soothing? I guess I have finally went crazy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Much as I hate reality shows, Terrace House (the one season I've watched) was strangely addictive. And the panel, like some modern day Greek chorus, really cracked me up.

The Birth of Sake is a beautiful documentary, whilst Know Your Enemy: Japan is an appalling but grimly fascinating propaganda piece.

I'd add Aggretsuko, a madly pace anime about office life in Japan, as an essential must watch!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Terrace house is a good glimpse into the Japanese psyche. Despite all the rubbish about mild mannered Japanese we hear, this show proves Japanese are just as promiscuous as other nations.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Seriously? Netflix also has In the Realm of the Senses and Amazon Prime a handful of classics by some of Japan's greatest directors - why not learn from the best, instead?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The originators of Big Brother should sue the makers of Terrace House for theft.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

this show proves Japanese are just as promiscuous as other nations.

Such an old-fashioned term! People sleep with people, I think the show is more about interpersonal relationships rather than sensational stuff that clogs up so many other efforts.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I don’t watch TV. It’s just a waste of time. It’s no different to play ‘smack the hamster’ on your phone. Read a book, play an instrument, learn a new skill, talk to your family. Anything is better than wasting your life in front of the idiot box.

I do not share your broad and categorical statement. This might be the case for gormless light entertainment shows that make up the bulk of Japanese TV, but I do not see how this would apply to sophisticated dramas and some comedies, particularly those made in the west and often by Netflix.

Why would reading a book necessarily be deeper than watching a TV drama? There is plenty of rubbish pulp fiction and low grade romance literature out there and would much rather watch an intelligent drama than that.

Or it might not be a drama, but could be a documentary, such as some of the BBC's superb nature documentaries. Does watching them make you an idiot? No, of course not.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It’s no different to play ‘smack the hamster’

Perhaps not, but television at least does not make you go blind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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