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.

Originally posted on January 27, ’21. Small updates on June 2, ’23

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).

I have everything categorized into 3 sections to match your movie watching self:

1). Do I have to pay? Can’t I get it for free because free is good, 2). I’m good, I’m willing to pay for it (rent or buy). 3). I am a poor student/Murican, and I pay tuition/taxes. Well, has you covered.

I have been down all three paths, and here I am, telling all of you fine people my tale.

Attempting to Find Akira Kurosawa Movies for FREE

Nothing FREE is truly free although here is what I found out when attempting to find free content on YouTube and other platforms.

If you had your Facebook or other passwords compromised, and your computer is filled with every possible virus and malware, nuke your computer from orbit and skip to 2 and 3.
Photo Description:
A nipple rub can be soothing.

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 that are on/off YouTube (it varies wildly).

If you like FREE, just go to Kanopy, the site provides content if you have public library card, attend a college or a university. So don’t bother with YouTube or other sketchy platforms that could potentially load malware on to your computer.

I get nothing for promoting the platform, and my objective is to provide you with useful content.
  • 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
  • Stray Dog/野良犬, 1949
  • Scandal/醜聞, 1950
  • Rashomon/羅生門, 1950
  • 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
  • Kagemusha/影武者, 1980
  • Ran/乱, 1985
  • Dreams/夢, 1990
  • 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 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 (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: 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

Paid Streaming Services, Rent, and Buying

“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 ’90s self
Photo Description: 7 Samurai by Akira Kurosawa.
Seven Samurai (1954)…. 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.
  • Kanopy, FREE with a library card (I did not have one, but I got one online in minutes). The only restriction is that you are only allowed to watch 8 movies a month.


  • 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 –

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.

FREE Streaming Service

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

I think every state has public libraries.
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.

The best places to stream Akira Kurosawa is on $10.99 a month and HBO Max at $9.99. Although, the best FREE streaming service only requires a library card on (I got one online in 15-20m).

This is the TLDR (“too long did not read” aka summary).
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).

Why Kanopy

I enjoy this platform because they have movies and content that others would deem boring, old, or foreign, but an example of one such movie that has recently garnered a lot of hype is Everything Everywhere All at Once. The movie is currently streaming for FREE (every topping on a bagel has it’s cost).

Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently streaming on

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

One is paid for by your local government, the other is paid for by you, in a more direct way. So one is free, but the other helps to restore, license, and distribute classic and contemporary movies, a noble cause/business.

The only downside to Criterion is that their entire collection is not available for streaming.

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


  1. 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.

      1. 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.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: