When famed director Akira Kurosawa took to the stage in 1989 to accept an Honorary Academy Award, in many ways he did so to correct some of the past wrongs of the academy itself. Being one of the most influential directors of all time, Kurosawa was amazingly only nominated by the academy once over his very long career. So, in 1989, directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were selected to call out his contributions through the honorary category.

This wouldn’t be the last time that a famous director from Japan would achieve this award, as in 2014 Hayao Miyazaki picked up an Honorary Academy Award of his own. Likewise to Kurosawa, Miyazaki never received an Academy Award before… but his films did.

This article is coming right after the 91st Academy Award winners have been announced: an event that did include the Japanese movies Mirai (2018) and Shoplifters, although this was not released by Toho. To that point, we are going to take a trip down memory lane, examining all of the past Toho films that were nominated by the academy. These will be in chronological order of the Academy Awards themselves. If the film or person won the award, it will be noted, although more often they were just nominated.

1955

Best Foreign Language Film: Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) – WON

1956

Best Production Design: So Matsuyama for Seven Samurai (1954)
Best Costume Design: Kohei Ezaki for Seven Samurai (1954)

1961

Best Costume Design: Yoshiro Muraki for Yojimbo (1961)

1965

Best Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara for The Woman in the Dunes (1964)
Best Foreign Language Film: The Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Kwaidan (1965)

Kwaidan (1965)

1966

Best Foreign Language Film: Kwaidan (1965)

1971

Best Foreign Language Film: Dodes’kaden (1970)

1975

Best Foreign Language Film: Sandakan No. 8 (1974)

1980

Best Production Design: Yoshiro Muraki for Kagemusha (1980)
Best Foreign Language Film: Kagemusha (1980)

Ran (1985)

Ran (1985)

1985

Best Director: Akira Kurosawa for Ran (1985)
Best Production Design: Yoshiro Muraki and Shinobu Muraki for Ran (1985)
Best Costume Design: Emi Wada for Ran (1985) – WON

2002

Best Animated Feature: Spirited Away (2001) – WON

2005

Best Animated Feature: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

2013

Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises (2013)

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

2014

Best Animated Feature: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

2015

Best Animated Feature: When Marnie Was There (2014)

2016

Best Animated Feature: The Red Turtle (2016)

2019

Best Animated Feature: Mirai (2018)

 

For a bit of trivia, Yoshiro Muraki has secured the largest number of nominations of anyone from Japan by the academy with four nominations, as beyond the listed Toho titles he was also nominated for his work on the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! in 1970. Also, the first Japanese movie to not just be nominated but actually receive an Oscar was Daiei studios’ Rashomon in 1951.

As another side note, this list is not to be confused with the Japanese Academy Awards. This is a separate event, done by a different academy found inside Japan. That said, perhaps an article for a different day will cover which Toho films and staff have been honored through those awards.

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