NOT because it's of Japanese origin---admittedly, I'm biased---but I can't recommend too highly Departures (Okuribito), the Academy Award-winning foreign language film of a couple of years ago. The star, Masahiro Motoki (ex-teen idol-turned-actor), comes from the world of Japanese boy bands---Johnny's Boys ---and the director, Yojiro Takita, is out of Japanese soft porn "adult" films (think Radley Metzger). Talk about changing horses in mid-stream!
Departure's arc from conception to realization took fifteen years, according to director Takita in an interview that comes with the DVD of the film. And, he informs, it was totally a group effort, i.e., improv, commitment, story contributions (the germ of the idea for film was Mokoki's), etc. I was amused by it, and, alternately, shed a tear or three as well. As the saying goes. . ."I laughed. I cried. I loved every minute of it." Available now on home video. "Departures is surely the gentlest, sweetest movie about death that you will ever see." ---amazon.com.