Entertainment People

Where to Watch Akira Kurosawa Movies for Free, to Rent, Buy, or Stream

If it were not for Yojimbo, you would not have Fistful of Dollars, and without Hidden Fortress, you would not have Star Wars, which is why you should seek out Director Akira Kurosawa’s film legacy.

Whether it is Sergio Leone, George Lucas, or regardless of who you are, I hope watching Akira Kurosawa’s extensive film legacy will inspire you and the story tellers and future filmmakers for decades and centuries to come (I can’t wait for the holodeck version).

Photo Description:
A nipple rub can be soothing.

My First Thought, is Watching These Movies on YouTube for Free, Legal?

The nerd I am, I had to find out if it was legal, and I am not talking about the movies that YouTube has quietly started to provide for free as long as you are willing to watch them with ads. What I am talking about are the movies uploaded by YouTube users.

From what I can tell, the movies that are uploaded are under the pretense of:

“To the best of our knowledge and belief, this work is in the public domain and its use herein is under the guidelines for using public domain works. This channel does not claim any copyrights, nor nonexclusive nor exclusive rights to this work and it’s broadcast or rebroadcast is for entertainment purposes under YouTube Guidelines. This work constitutes the whole and has has been digitally processed to improve the audio and image quality to high definition and digital audio.”

ArtHouse Media
Photo Description: Yojimbo street scene.
You can not look as menacing nowadays since you can only stand in a street like this on a red (from Yojimbo).

The Wild Wild West of the Internet, YouTube

Many of these movies are not available on any service although if you do not want to put up with the patchiness of what is available and what is not, head on over to the Criterion Channel. If not, these are the Akira Kurosawa movies on YouTube.

  • Sanshiro Sugata/姿三四郎, 1943
  • The Most Beautiful/一番美しく, 1944
  • Sanshiro Sugata Part II/續姿三四郎, 1945
  • The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail/虎の尾を踏む男達, 1945
  • No Regrets for Our Youth/わが青春に悔なし, 1946
  • One Wonderful Sunday/素晴らしき日曜日, 1947
  • Drunken Angel/酔いどれ天使, 1948
  • The Quiet Duel/静かなる決闘, 1949 – JAH PiRaT via YouTube (English/Port/Greek/Turkish Sub)
  • Stray Dog/野良犬, 1949 – Kush Dholakia via YouTube (English Sub)
  • Scandal/醜聞, 1950 – Asian Full Movie via YouTube (English Sub)
  • Rashomon/羅生門, 1950 – ArtHouse Media via YouTube (English Sub)
  • The Idiot/白痴, 1951
  • Ikiru (to Live)/生きる, 1952
  • Seven Samurai/七人の侍, 1954
  • I Live in Fear/生きものの記録, 1955
  • Throne of Blood/蜘蛛巣城, 1957
  • The Lower Depths/どん底, 1957
  • The Hidden Fortress/隠し砦の三悪人, 1958
  • The Bad Sleep Well/悪い奴ほどよく眠る
  • Yojimbo (the Bodyguard)/用心棒, 1961
  • Sanjuro/椿三十郎, 1962
  • High and Low (Heaven and Hell)/天国と地獄, 1963
  • Red Beard/赤ひげ, 1965
  • Dodesukaden/どですかでん, 1970
  • Dersu Uzala/デルス・ウザーラ, 1975 – Nérée Constant via YouTube (English Subtitles/CC)
  • Kagemusha/影武者, 1980
  • Ran/乱, 1985
  • Dreams/夢 (PT2), 1990 – Sudhan Mahat via YouTube (English Subtitles)
  • Rhapsody in August/八月の狂詩曲, 1991
  • Madadayo (Not Yet)/まあだだよ, 1993
Photo Description: Akira Kurosawa and his favorite go to actor Toshiro Mifune.
There’s always that friend who doesn’t agree with what you’re up to (come on bro, just stream it on HBO Max or Criterion).

Forget My Post, Use Reelgood.com If You Want an Organized Way to Scour the Internet For All of Akira Kurosawas’s Movies on Streaming Platforms, to Buying and Renting

If you agree, you will want to utilize the website Reelgood.com (I am not getting paid to say this), which is a more in-depth step up from Google’s “All Watch Options.” Also, if you love movies, I highly recommend that you use this site:

Photo Description: Reelgood.com screenshot of where to find and watch Akira Kurosawa movies.
This is how you design an interface (I want to know who their UI and UX people were).


What a cool site because it has a user interface (UI) that is easy to pick up on, and it is not a challenge to navigate or use their platform which allows you to find out which services you can watch any particular movie on.

One example is Seven Samurai which they not only have a short synopsis on, but they also include the IMDB rating, along with every conceivable watching option:

  • HBO Max – subscription ($14.99/month).
  • Kanopy – subscription (FREE with a public library card or university ID).
  • Buy – starting at $9.99
  • The Criterion Channel – subscription ($10.99/month)
  • Rent – starting at $2.99

“I don’t remember the first Kurosawa movie I watched, but I do know that I watched Ran countless times on BetaMax (VHS, lol).”

My 90’s self
Photo Description: 7 Samurai by Akira Kurosawa.
Seven Samurai…. yea, I know you only count 6 samurai. © Toho Co., Ltd

Like Many Things in This World, Some Things Are Worth Paying For (Deservedly So):

I had an HBO Max account for WestWorld and Raised by Wolves, but after those two series season endings, I canceled my subscription. So where I go from here on out to watch Akira Kurosawa movies will most likely be on either:


  • Criterion Collection, Annual $99.99, Monthly $10.99.


  • Google Play, Rent $2.99/Buy $12.99
  • iTunes, Rent $3.99/Buy $14.99
  • Prime Video, Rent $2.99/Buy $9.99
  • Vudu, Rent $2.99/Buy $14.99
  • YouTube, Rent $2.99/Buy $12.99

I have the bulk of my movies on Google Play with a few on Amazon Prime, but looking over the pricing for Seven Samurai, you can’t beat $9.99 (as long as the subtitles and resolution is acceptable/comparable).

Making classic movies the highest in technical quality.

Although if you want to binge watch, and you want the best possible quality, I would say you have to go with the Criterion Channel since they also offer a 14-day trial for free (keep in mind, I get absolutely nothing for referring you). Oh, and if you do not know who the Criterion is or does:

Since 1984, the Criterion Collection has been dedicated to publishing important classic and contemporary films from around the world in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. No matter the medium—from laserdisc to DVD and Blu-ray to streaming—Criterion has maintained its pioneering commitment to presenting each film as its maker would want it seen, in state-of-the-art restorations with special features designed to encourage repeated watching and deepen the viewer’s appreciation of the art of film.

Criterion – www.criterion.com

A Library Card to a University ID Has Some Pull

Kanopy “thoughtful entertainment” allows for up to 8 movies a month for free if you have a Public Library card or University ID.

Kanopy is the best FREE place to watch Akira Kurosawa movies, and I signed up for a FREE library card in a matter of minutes.

Photo Description: the Kanopy logo (a serif style logo) with a red, orange, and yellow lines running beneath the text.
Making library cards cool again.
Photo Description: Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars with 3 cowboys sitting on a fence, while 3 others are standing directly behind him.
Mmmmhhhh…. spaghetti (Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars).

Who Would Have Ever Thought a Japanese and an Italian Would Be So Influential in Film and American Westerns

If you do not know what I mean by that, these YouTubers have done some content that have helped me understand and respect the contributions of not only Akira Kurosawa but I also threw in a little Sergio Leone.

In Conclusion, Time to Bust Out the Credit Card or Library Card

The Criterion Channel and surprisingly a library card or University ID on Kanopy.com are the best ways to watch Akira Kurosawa movies.

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Ikiru is such a wonderful film. I actually own this one on VHS
I also love High and Low–maybe it is the detective in me. I also own this one (as well as the Bad Sleep well and another film with the same blue and black box design…..If you haven’t guessed, I haven’t looked at my VHS tapes in a while.


Recently someone asked for a VCR on freecycle. I have one to give away, but I want to check out a few video tapes that I might want to convert to DVD first.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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