I have to second the suggestions both for Spirited Away and Dolls. These 2 movies are nothing short of masterpieces to me, as they’ve moved me in ways very few movies have.
And while we’re on Japanese ground, I’d like to recommend the following ones:
* Cat Soup . As cheesy as the tagline ( “It’s Hello Kitty on acid!” ) on the back of the DVD is, and as I rarely like to use the line “the creators really have been high on something” when describing movies or series out of the ordinary, these 2 lines fit very well with this short movie.
* Spring and Chaos . “The life story of Kenji Miyazawa”, one of the Japan’s most beloved poets of the 20th century…or rather, a stunningly beautiful look on how he perceived the world around him and how it was reflected in his poetry and novels.
* Arjuna . You can’t mention Shoji Kawamori (who directed Spring and Chaos) without mentioning Arjuna, a 13 episode TV series, and in my opinion the best of his works. Not really psychedelic or surreal per se (although it does include a few rather trippy sequences with nature bursting full into life), but rather a series which isn’t afraid of pointing out what’s wrong with our current lifestyle and how this planet of ours is suffering. Some people might say that it’s overly preachy, but I like the way it drives (or rather, forces) its points across. As if that wouldn’t be enough, it also features one of the best soundtracks, ever.
* Night on the Galactic Railroad . Another absolutely mindblowing voyage through space and existence. Based on one of Kenji Miyazawa’s most famous books. The DVD has been sold out for quite some time now, so you can consider yourself lucky if you can find a copy if it anywhere.