All the recent controversy over “whitewashing,” Hollywood’s habit of casting white people in Asian roles, got me thinking about how Japan has been portrayed in films over the years.
Because I was born in Japan, my earliest movie memories are chambara, or samurai (and especially ninja), movies that I watched in black and white on television. We didn't get to see many movies in theaters, but my mom used to take my brother and me to Disney features when they opened, riding the trains with us to the cinema. After we moved to the States, I treasured American films that were set in Japan. There haven’t been a whole lot but it’s interesting to see how Hollywood depictions have showed Americans’ stereotypes of Japan, and how that’s changed over the years.
Here are a few (Click the images to purchase the films):