17 Best Horror Movies from Japan

Horror films have been a part of our lives since its existence. Some remarkable horror films have shocked, thrilled and scared the hell out of us in the best ways imaginable. From ghosts, spirits to supernatural and gory scenes, these horror movies from Japan will surely make you cover your faces with one eye!


1.)  Audition (1999)

Audition is one of the best horror movies from Japan that was directed by one of Japan’s legendary directors, Takashi Miike. Audition is about a widowed television producer looking for a new girlfriend. He sets off a fake movie audition to look for the woman he was looking for.

Eventually, he meets Asami, a beautiful, innocent looking woman who captured his heart. But there’s more than meets the eye. Little did he know that Asami is not what he thinks she is.


2.) Kwaidan (1964)

“Kwaidan” is a Japanese word which literally translates as “ghost story”. Kwaidan is a film directed by Masaki Kobayashi. This movie is composed of four different short films inspired from classic Japanese stories written by Lafcadio Hearn.

After its release in 1964, the film was well received by the audience. The film was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and received a nomination for an Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language.


3.) Onibaba (1964)

This classic tale was set during the feudal Japan. The title of the film was named after a monster of the same name from a Japanese folklore. The word “Onibaba” means “Devil Woman”.

It tells the story of two women suffering from war-torn Japan, who killed Samurai and stole their belongings in order to live. Suddenly a demon-masked stranger appears that turned their lives around.

Another classic written and directed by Kaneto Shindo, this movie tells a classic eerie tale that will fit your taste for a horror movie.


4.) Ringu (1998)

This is one of the few horror movies from Japan that inspired a 2002 American remake. The film was well-acclaimed and accepted by various audiences. Ringu follows the mystery of a haunted videotape that kills anyone who watches it in seven days.

The film is also inspired from a Japanese folklore portraying ghosts dressed in white and with long, creepy black hair. Although its remake The Ring was well-acclaimed on its own, still, nothing beats the original!


5.) Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club or more known as Suicide Circle in Japan, is one of the most controversial films ever released in the history. The film revolves on a series of mass suicides in Japan. Because of its controversial theme, this movie caused a stir in various movie festivals. From start to finish, this movie will give the chills you are looking for in a movie.


6.) Dark Water (2002)

This horror-drama film was inspired by a short story written by Koji Suzuki. It was directed by Hideo Nakata and was released in 2002. This was one of the horror movies from Japan that inspired a remake.

When the wife is confronted with a divorce, she and her daughter moves into a creepy, run-down apartment. A seemingly normal water leak started to spread in the ceiling. Strange things also started to occur at the apartment.

Aside from its horror taste, this also tells the story of a mother’s undying love for her child.


7.) Infection (2004)

Infection (“Kansen” in Japanese) is a classic horror film in 2004 by Masayuki Ochiai. This film is one of the horror movies from Japan that will give you the shock you are looking for from a movie. Infection is also considered as a somewhat zombie-themed movie.

The movie follows the story of a patient who suddenly went into the hospital with a severe infection but died untreated. Then one by one the hospital staff gets infected with this disease.


8.) Sadako Vs. Kayako (2016)

If you are looking for a great horror movie crossover, this movie is one of the horror movies from Japan you should see. Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge are featured to team-up in this movie.

This film was released in 2016 directed by Koji Shiraishi. This film was also notable for its excellent special effects. Not only that, it is a movie worth watching where the two characters, Sadako and Kayako, stood out on their own.


9.) Hausu (1977)

Hausu (House) is a 1977 film by Nobuhiko Obayashi. The idea for this film rose when the director was asked to create a film similar to the famous “Jaws” movie. Instead of a flesh-eating killer creature, the director made it a film about a house eating humans.

This movie does not give you what you might expect, but Hausu is definitely one of the movies you should watch.


10.) Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

This film is one among the Japanese horror movies directed by the famous cult classic director Shinya Tsukamoto. It is a cyberpunk film that was followed by two films: Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992) and Tetsuo III: The Bullet Man (2009).

An ordinary man accidentally killed a guy after hitting him with a car. Afraid of being caught, the man dumped the guy’s corpse in the woods. After the incident, metal parts started to grow in the man’s body that changed his normal life.

During its first release, it was hardly accepted by the audience. Not so until this movie was recognized at a famous horror film festival in Rome. Since then it gained more audiences and praises from the viewers.


11.) Uzumaki (2000)

“Uzumaki” is a Japanese word which literally translates to “Spiral” in english. This film was directed by Akihiro Higuchi. The movie was inspired from a manga classic written by Junji Ito.

A normal school girl named Kirie suddenly finds herself in a town where all the people are becoming obsessed in spiral shapes. These spirals seem to have taken over the whole town and its people. Kirie must find a way to save the town from this mad obsession.


12.) One Missed Call (2003)

One Missed Call is a 2003 supernatural horror film directed by Takashi Miike. It is inspired from a novel entitled, “Chakushin Ari” written by Yakushi Akimoto.

It almost follows the same plot as in Ringu and Ju-on: The Grudge, except that a person will die after receiving a phone call from the future. A person will receive a mysterious phone call informing them on how they will die.


13.) Exte: Hair Extensions (2007)

If you are the hair conscious type of person, this movie would certainly catch your attention. From the title itself, killer hair extensions will surely give you the creeps.

A hair stylist named Kuriyama becomes the love interest of a man named Yamazaki who sells hair extensions to various salons in the town. The hair used for the extensions comes from a dead girl’s corpse whose hair still grows into a beautiful rich black hair. Whoever used these hair extensions will either go insane or die.

This movie was one of the Japanese horror movies directed by Sion Sono. This movie was also released in the United States with the same title.


14.) Kuroneko: The Black Cat (1968)

Another horror movie blast from the past, this film depicts a classic tale of horror and heart-breaking love story that will make you watch until the end. This classic theatrical piece was inspired from a Japanese folklore dating back to medieval Japan.

The story starts with two women being attacked and gang-raped by a dozen Samurai. After which, their hut was burned down, but their bodies remained intact. They came back as vengeful spirits luring Samurai and killing them.

If you are searching for a classic horror movie, this one might be a good pick for you. Why don’t you try and see for yourself?


15.) Battle Royale (2000)

A decade before The Hunger Games invaded the movie theaters, a Japanese action-horror movie film of the same was released in 2000 but with more blood-shedding and action scenes.

Story revolves around a multitude of ninth-grade students who were forced by the Japanese government to slaughter one another until only one survives. The scenes will surely keep you at your seats as the scenes get intense one after the other.


16.) Godzilla (1954)

This second to the last movie in our list might be somewhat familiar to all of us. The Godzilla films we’ve known were made by American producers, but the inspiration from these films actually originated from Japan!

Godzilla is considered as the classic Japanese monster that first appeared in the 1954 film entitled, “Gujira” by Ishiro Honda.


17.) Ju-On: The Grudge

Now down to our last film on the list, this film is surely one of the best horror movies from Japan. The Grudge was well known for its gore and tension-building suspense scenes that will definitely give you nightmares.



Now there you go! If you are looking for movies that will make you scream and give you the utmost chills, watching these horror movies from Japan will definitely do!