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Films for Elementary

Big Bird in Japan. Distributed by Sony Wonder, 2004.
The excitement begins when Big Bird and Barkley the Dog are separated from their tour group while on a trip to Japan. They meet a mysterious Japanese woman who shows them the beauty of Japan and the Japanese people.

Countries Around the World: Japan. Schlessinger Media, 2005.
Students will learn about Japan's unique contribution to our global village called Earth! The program includes information on the geography, history, political system, currency, language, religion and climate. A young tour guide will also show a few of the most famous sites and sample the delicious food.

Families of Japan. Master Communications, 2005.
Follows a day in the lives of two young children and their families in Japan.

Japanese-American Heritage. Schlessinger Media, 1997.
Exciting adventures appear at every turn as children are introduced to the interesting geography, history and culture of Japan. Children also learn about the lives of Japanese Americans who first came to the United States over 100 years ago, and how their descendants live today.

My Family from Japan. Schlessinger Media, 2003.
Find out what it's like to live in Tokyo. Keisi, an 11 year-old boy living in Tokyo with his parents and two older sisters has private school lessons after his regular school day and returns home by 9:30 p.m. for dinner and homework before bedtime.


Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire

This three-part series from PBS includes Episode One: The Way of the Samurai; Episode Two: The Will of the Shogun; Episode Three: The Return of the Barbarians. View all of part one below. For parts two and three see For more program information, including resources and a classroom guide, visit the PBS website.


Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball

Follows two out of 4,000 Japanese high schools attempting to make it to Koshien Stadium for the annual national baseball championship. Lesson plan and discussion guide available on the PBS website.

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Feature Films

Kwaidan. Criterion Collection, 2000.
Four stories of the supernatural based on Japanese folk material.

Ran. Criterion Collection, 2005.
An aging warlord decides to split his kingdom between his three sons, who will live in three separate castles. The two eldest sons are quite happy, but the youngest thinks his father has gone mad, and predicts that it won't be long until the two older brothers are fighting with each other.

Seven Samurai. Criterion Collection, 1998.
This epic masterpiece is about a group of 16th century samurai who are hired to defend a small Japanese village that finds itself annually raided by an army of bandits who steal the meager crops harvested by the peasants.

The Twilight Samurai. Empire Pictures, 2004.
Set during the Bakumatsu period (mid 19th century) a low-ranking samurai is forced to choose service over love.

Tokyo Story. Criterion Collection, 2003.
Tokyo Story follows an aging couple, Tomi and Sukichi, on their journey from their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling, post-war Tokyo. Their reception is disappointing: too busy to entertain them, their children send them off to a health spa. After Tomi falls ill she and Sukichi return home, while the children, grief-stricken, hasten to be with her.


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