15 Best Japanese Mystery Movies

Life, as they say, is a mystery, waiting to unfold. All it takes is a curious mind to solve these lying puzzles abound. If you’re eager enough to find out, be prepared as your mind gets boggled as we uncover the different mysteries behind the stories of these best Japanese mystery movies.


1.) The Snow White Murder Case (2014)

The Snow White Murder Case is film directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura.

The story begins where Yuji Akahoshi, received a phone call from an old friend telling him that her colleague at work was murdered. Yuji interviewed the company employees, to feature the story for his television show.

Soon after, he discovers that one employee named Miki Shirono went missing on the same day the girl was murdered. Yuji sets out to solve the case.

Not bad for starters isn’t it? Now let’s hop on to the next one on the list!


2.) Perfect Blue (1997)

This second film on the list of best Japanese mystery movies would surely make your mind go crazy.

It tells the story of an actress who transitioned from singing to acting. Her fans were disappointed but she continued nonetheless. She became more famous and successful and was able to get a lead role in a movie. However, unwanted things started to happen to her life that caused her to be delusional.

Perfect Blue was widely accepted in Japan and in the international scene. It even received awards at the Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal and Fantasia Festival in Montreal


3.) The Third Murder (2017)

Misumi, a convicted criminal, is under a death penalty trial. Tomoaki Shigemori, was asked to stand as his defense lawyer. Even though Misumi already confessed to admitting the crime, his lawyer on the other hand, is skeptical as to what really happened.

This 2017 film was written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It was well-acclaimed by critics and gained several nominations and awards. Rotten Tomatoes gave an approval rating of 84% with a 7.2/10 audience score.


4.) The Devotion Suspect X (2008)

Next up is another mystery-thriller film in 2008 by Hiroshi Nishitani. Let’s delve through this film from our best Japanese mystery movies lineup.

One fateful night, Yasuko, a single mother, gets extorted by his husband to get money. However, things went downhill from there. Yasuko accidentally killed his husband. Ishigami, their next-door neighbor, finds out what happened and connived with Yasuko to cover-up for the murder.

Yukawa, Ishigami’s fellow, was convinced to investigate the case. When Yasuko finds out the truth, he must choose between doing the right or wrong.

Though this movie was not well-known outside Japan, it was well received by Japanese audiences and even ranked as the 8th highest-grossing film in 2008.


5.) The World of Kanako (2014)

The World of Kanako is a film based on the novel titled, Hateshinaki Kawaki written by Akio Fukamachi. The film was directed by Tetsuya Nakashima and was released in 2014.

It follows the story of a former detective who investigates the case of his missing daughter. As he gets closer to finding out the truth, he discovers something big behind his daughter’s death.

Now time for some gun fused action scenes as we jump to the next in our best Japanese mystery movies!


6.) Stray Dog (1949)

A classic 1949 film directed by Akira Kurosawa, Stray Dog is a film set in the late 1940’s Tokyo.

The film goes around a young detective, who, in search of his stolen pistol, finds out about an illegal gun market. Now, the detective is in the conquest of catching the mastermind of a gun trafficking syndicate.

Now it’s up for you to find out what probably happened next by watching this movie!


7.) Cold Fish (2010)

Next up on the best Japanese mystery movies lineup, director Sion Sono once again takes us into a sick joyride of gore scenes.

Cold Fish primarily shows the gruesome acts of a couple who killed their business partner and his family. This couple, as it turns out, are actually serial killers who already had many victims.

The movie was featured at the 67th Venice international Festival in September 2010. It also won the best screenplay award in Fantastic Fest 2010 under the Fantastic Features section.


8.)  Erased (2016)

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, or mainly known as Erased, is a manga-based movie of the same title in 2016.

The film leads us to the world of Satoru, an aspiring manga artist who works as a part time delivery guy. He has the ability to “rewind”, to go back a few moments in the past, to be able to stop the death of the people around him. Saturo uses his ability to find a serial killer who killed his mother and his friends from the past.


9.) Lakeside Murder Case (2004)

Four couples decided to stay on a lakeside cottage with their children. This is to help the kids to prepare for an entrance exam of a reputable high school. Things turn around after one of the wives confesses to her husband of killing his mistress.

This is one of Shinji Aoyama’s films that will boggle your minds out until the end. If you’re curious enough to find out, there’s no harm in picking this film among these best Japanese mystery movies!


10.) Labyrinth of Dreams (1997)

A serial bus driver is on the move with our next movie on the list. Labyrinth of Dreams is a 1997 film that leads us to a story of choosing between love and revenge.

A young girl Tomiko finds about the death of her friend who apparently, was murdered by his ex-fiancee Niitaka. Tomiko, however, finds herself in love with Niitaka. Now she is conflicted with her feelings as her suspicion with Niitka grows.


11.) Retribution (2006)

Retribution is a Japanese mystery movie by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Story revolves around the investigation of a chain of serial murders by a detective. As the detective went on with the investigation, he encountered a ghost in a red dress, gradually leading him to insanity.

12.) Honnōji Hotel (2017)

Now on to our next film on the list, don’t go yet as we leap onto this comedy fantasy film by Masayuki Suzuki.

A woman, who went to Kyoto for a visit, was denied a reservation from the hotel where she planned to stay. She ends up staying at a historic hotel where she is mysteriously taken back to 16th century Japan.

Beyond just being a fantasy film itself, this movie takes into account one of the most important events that took place in Japan’s history. Honnōji Hotel is certainly one of the best Japanese mystery movies that is fun to watch!


13.) Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2009)

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is an animated film by Masakazu Hashimoto. It is based on a video game series produced by Level-5 Inc. The story told in the movie took place in various events that happened in two video games included in the series.

The film was reproduced to an English version to cater the western audiences. It got positive reviews from the critics after its release in the United States.


14.) Joshiko (2016)

A sought after fun high school reunion of six girls turns into a crime solving mystery when one person dies. As a clue, the girls received a text message, sent seven years ago, containing a question of who might be the criminal. To find out the person behind the killing, the girls take a throwback into the past seven years.


15.)  The Brain Man (2013)

Finally, we’re down to the last one in our best Japanese mystery movies roster. If you have nothing to pick yet, this last one could be the movie of your choice!

The Brain Man is a two-hour stretch film, directed by Tomoyuki Takimoto. It’s about catching the person behind the series of bombings that took place in the city. The police caught a psychopath, who they think is the killer.

The police also sought the help of a doctor to help them uncover the identity of the person they held captive.



Can’t wait enough to discover more of life’s mysteries? These best Japanese mystery movies will surely give you the answers you might be looking for!  Watching these films will not just entertain you, but will leave your minds in the state of wonder.