After a two year hiatus due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the 2022 Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival was the biggest one yet — hosting more than 2,000 moviegoers over the course of the two week festival from March 18-31, 2022.

Events included tea tastings, whiskey tasting, guest speakers, a cat themed opening night, a brew & view and of course an amazing lineup of Japanese Films.


Pittsburgh Premieres

The Island Of Cats

A Film By Mitsuaki Iwago
Cuddly Warm Drama, 2019

The Island of Cats follows the life of a country tabby cat, Tama, and his human servant, Daikichi, living on an island of cats. Daikichi is a seventy-year-old widower enjoying a quiet, routine life until an island newcomer opens a modern cafe encouraging Daikichi and Tama to indulge in new culinary adventures.

Don’t miss the opening night celebrations with snacks and live cats!

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko

A Film By Ayumu Watanabe
Anime, 2021

From acclaimed director Ayumu Watanabe comes a heartwarming comedy-drama based on the popular novel by Kanako Nishi. Nikuko is a big and jolly personality in an otherwise sleepy seaside town in northern Japan. Her daughter Kikuko is the opposite. Everything changes for the mother-daughter duo when a shocking revelation from the past threatens to uproot their tender relationship.

It's A Summer Film!

A Film By Sôshi Masumoto
Coming Of Age Comedy, 2020

Sôshi Masumoto’s new teen romcom is a refreshing, sincere ode to creative youth and a love letter to filmmaking in all forms.It follows Barefoot and her teen friends who set out to make an awesome samurai film for their school film fest that’s better than their rivals romcom. With humor, heart, and an unexpected sci-fi twist, Masumoto’s film is the kind of movie you’ll catch yourself smiling at in a dark theater.

Hold Me Back

A Film By Akiko Ohku
Romantic Comedy, 2020

Quirky and charming, Hold Me Back feels kind of like Japan’s equivalent of Amelie — perfectly blending the loneliness and hilarity of the human experience into an unforgettable, energetic romantic comedy.

Mitsuko (played by Non) is 31, single, and leads a happy life with her own imaginary counselor. When a handsome salesman enters her world… love throws a wrench in the peaceful and solitary life she’s crafted.

One Night Screenings

Japanese Gameshows

Game Show Comedy, 2022

March 19 only

Japanese TV gameshows are insane. Rarely seen in the US, these clips and highlights of different shows will make you laugh, cringe, and question who would go on these and why??


A Film By Ishirô Honda
Cult, 1963

March 19 only

Matango uses spectacular practical effects and great performances to tell a story of vacationers shipwrecked on an island with a population hideously transformed by the island’s sinister flora.


Tokyo Drifter

A Film By Seijun Suzuki
Yakuza, 1966

March 23 only

A staple in the yakuza genre, Tokyo Drifter adds a 1960s pop art aesthetic to a classic tale of a badass gang enforcer trying to go straight. It’s got the look of a classic Bond movie, but a darker and seedier ambiance.


A Film By Kenji Iwaisawa
Animation, 2019

March 31 only

Enjoy on-theme beer delivered to your seat and On-Gaku—the lo-fi rocker buddy comedy we didn’t know we needed. This unconventional animated film follows a group of bored delinquent teens who come together to play music and discover the joy of creating. 

Yakuza Films

Dragnet Girl

A Film By Yasujiro Ozu
Yakuza, 1933

A stylish and profound silent film from Yasujiro Ozu, Dragnet Girl is intimately focused on family and relationships between career-hardened criminal Joji, his jealous girlfriend, and an innocent shop girl who gets pulled into his world.

Stray Dog

A Film By Akira Kurosawa
Yakuza, 1949

In this early Kurosawa film, Japanese cinema legend Toshiro Mifune gives a raw and magnetic performance as a young detective who loses his gun and tries to save face by tracking it down before reporting it stolen.

Pale Flower

A Film By Masahiro Shinoda
Yakuza, 1964

A pioneer in Japanese new wave, Masahiro applies his mastery of mood to the yazuka genre… A gangster, fresh out of prison, and a beautiful thrill seeker enter a self-destructive spiral that neither can escape.


A Film By Takeshi Kitano
Yakuza, 1993

Sleek and smart, director Takeshi Kitano’s film examines the extreme violence of Japanese mobs when it places a group of gangsters on a remote beach to wait out trouble… but it’s only so long before trouble finds them.

Everything Else


A Film By Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Thriller, 1997

One of Bong Joon-ho’s favorite movies, Cure breaks the mold of serial killer films. A series of murders, committed by different people using the same strange method, sends one troubled detective on a descent into the killers’ madness.

Samurai Rebellion

A Film By Masaki Kobayashi
Samurai, 1967

Set in the Ebo period of Japan, one family, led by famed actor Toshiro Mifune, chooses loyalty and love for each other over the whims of a cruel lord. Rebellion is sparked and the film slowly builds to a crescendo of samurai combat.

Poupelle of Chimney Town

A Film By Yusuke Hirota
Anime, 2020

An instant classic with a very cool steampunk aesthetic, Poupelle of Chimney Town is the story of young Lubicchi who lives among the thick smoke from the chimneys of his isolated town and yearns to see the “stars” and know the truth his father always told him.