Japanese disaster movies seem to be a timeless phenomenon. Japan is not new to disasters. Every decade through the bulk of movie history has provided us with disaster movies from Japan. Below are some of the best of all time. 

"King Kong Versus Godzilla" 

No list of Japanese disaster movies would be complete without Godzilla. Two monster superstars whoop each others' butts in this 1962 classic. A pharmaceutical company sends giant ape King Kong on a vacation to Japan. Whether the vacation is part of his employee benefit package is unclear. What is clear is that it doesn't benefit this giant ape very much because he gets his butt kicked in by Godzilla. Kong does ultimately win the fight, however, so his vacation could have been worse. 

"Sinking of Japan" 

This 2006 film title is also commonly translated as "Japan Sinks." A variety of experts explore recent natural disasters in Japan and decide that tectonic plate activity will obliterate Japan within a couple decades. Then, the experts keep changing their timeline until it becomes right about now. Japan freaks out and decides on a mass exodus plan as the nation quickly crumbles into the sea. 


A popular 1988 Japanese anime classic, "Akira" is set in the year 2019 in Neo-Tokyo. Tokyo was already destroyed in a 1988 war. Join two rival gangs, the Capsules and the Clowns, and a biker gangster who develops nuclear fueled telekinetic powers in a battle to save a destroyed city. Akira is based on the manga comic book series by Katsuhiro Otomo

"Barefoot Gen" 

This 1983 animated Japanese disaster film is also known as "Hidashi no Gen." It follows the story of a boy who lives through World War 2 Hiroshima. Like many Japanese disaster movies, this movie is decidedly anti-war. Gen, the boy, witnesses his father being scorned by neighbors and authorities for deciding that the war is unwinnable. The local merchants then decide to hate his family so much that they refuse to provide them with food. When the US military attacks the city with atomic bombs, these concerns become the least of their worries. 


Godzilla started out as a young reptilian-like creature under a different name in 1954. Gojira was a direct result of nuclear experimentation. Creator Ishiro Honda actually intended the monster to be an allegory for nuclear wars and disasters. In the movie, Gojira almost destroys Tokyo before he is destroyed by a powerful bomb. This Japanese disaster movie had fierce anti-war sentiments and even anti-American sentiments until Terry Morse, director of the American release, filtered out these elements.