this post is sponsored by Japan Society

From July 26-Aug 6, Japan Society is presenting the 16th annual JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film. This year’s festival, which marks the first fully in-person JAPAN CUTS since 2019, features over 25 films from major blockbusters to indie darlings, spanning narratives, documentaries, experimental and short films, and anime, as well as a special tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Kicking off this year’s festival is THE FIRST SLAM DUNK, the number one movie at the Japanese box office this year. It’s the first new feature-length film from the SLAM DUNK franchise in over 33 years, as well as manga creator Takehiko Inoue’s directorial debut.

An additional highlight is the first in-person iteration of the festival’s Next Generation competition, which offers a hand-picked selection of six independent narrative features directed by emerging directors.

JAPAN CUTS will also present the 1985 documentary Tokyo Melody: A Film about Ryuichi Sakamoto in tribute to the legendary musician, composer and groundbreaking creative whose innovations in music, film and art remain unparalleled. Widely unavailable and rarely shown, the cult film—which offers an intimate snapshot of Sakamoto’s genius—will screen on an imported 16mm print with renowned musician Akiko Yano and director Elizabeth Lennard present.

All films will be screened at Japan Society (333 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017) and presented in Japanese with English subtitles unless otherwise noted.

Tokyo Melody: A Film about Ryuichi Sakamoto

Filmmaker and photographer Elizabeth Lennard secures unprecedented access to Ryuichi Sakamoto during the recording of his 1984 album Ongaku Zukan in this brief-yet-insightful Franco-Japanese television co-production.

Detouring Blue

In the dark of the Tokyo night, two women talk about their past, their youth and their dreams. Beautifully shot and told with vivid colors, Detouring Blue looks at the wistfulness of the past, the weight of the present—and if who we were can ever be who we are today.

When Morning Comes, I Feel Empty

A delicate and gentle drama, Yuho Ishibashi’s sophomore effort softly envelops the viewer into the day-to-day life of part-time konbini worker Nozomi, charmingly played by Asako I & II’s Erika Karata.

The Fish Tale

Director Shuichi Okita paints a whimsical portrait of very real celebrity fish expert Masayuki Miyazawa (called Meebo in the film). The Fish Tale follows Meebo’s ichthyological obsession from the rough waters of their initial years as an outcast to a rising tide of friends, family and celebrity.

Sanka: Nomads of the Mountain

A stirring 1960s-set coming-of-age drama that confronts societal progress and development in Japan’s mountainous regions, Sanka: Nomads of the Mountain focuses on the life of young Norio, a Tokyo transplant who has come to live in his grandmother’s village.


After seeing Star Wars for the first time in the summer of 1978, high schooler Hiroshi (Yu Uemura) can’t stop thinking about the film’s famous opening shot of a Star Destroyer entering the frame. This obsession eventually leads him to propose making a film with his classmates for their summer festival group project, a sci-fi love story called “Time Reverse.”

The Three Sisters of Tenmasou Inn

In this supernatural tearjerker adapted from the manga by Tsutomu Takahashi, the waystation between life and rebirth is a traditional Japanese ryokan by the sea called Tenmasou Inn.