The present study examined whether the three major functions of autobiographical memory observed in Western societies (i.e., directing-behaviour, social-bonding and self-continuity) also exist in an East Asian society. Two self-report measures were used to assess the autobiographical memory functions of Japanese men and women. Japanese young adults (N = 451, ages 17–28 years) first completed the original Thinking About Life Experiences (TALE) Questionnaire. They subsequently received three TALE items that represented memory functions and attempted to recall a specific instance of memory recall for each item. Confirmatory factor analyses on the TALE showed that the three functions were replicated in the current sample. However, Japanese participants reported lower levels of all three functions than American participants in a previous study. We also explored whether there was an effect of gender in this Japanese sample. Women reported higher levels of the self-continuity and social-bonding functions than men. Finally, participants recalled more specific instances of memory recall for the TALE items that had received higher ratings on the TALE, suggesting that the findings on the first measure were supported by the second measure. Results are discussed in relation to the functional approach to autobiographical memory in a cross-cultural context.