Tokyo Story

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Tokyo, Osaka, and Onomichi

The locations of TOKYO MONOGATARI (Tokyo Story)

 directed by Ozu Yasjiro, 1953.                                      

                                   an essay on this film (Korean) 

Osaka Castle


This is the poignant story of an elderly Japanese couple, Shyukichi and Tomi, who travel from their small  hometown to Tokyo to visit their grown children, only to meet with indifference and rudeness from them who mask their feelings beneath the pretense of their busy modern urban lives. In contrast, the old couple are treated warmly by their second daughter-in-law, Noriko, who lost her husband during the war. The deep emotional connection between the two generations is implied by an article of Tomi which is handed to Noriko by Shyukichi after Tomi's death. The film offers a meditation on solitude, alienation and mortality, especially focused on the modern urban condition of everyday life, from the noted director Ozu Yasujiro.   

Ozu Yasujiro (1903~1963), one of the representative Japanese directors, is said to have pioneered the so-called Dadami shot, in which scenes are shot from the eye level of a person seated on a dadami, the floor mat of Japanese house. Tokyo Story is the first film that brought him worldwide acclaim and the recognition of critics outside Japan.

Tokyo Story is not a narrative film. The axes of actions, which have been kept in classical films so well, are not fixed there. In this aspect, it is far from being classical. The shots themselves reveal the spaces rather than narrate the sequential events. Also, the scenes of urban landscapes are adopted as the isolated transitional shots, which are not directly related to the following scenes. They only imply the spatial and temporal contexts of the story.

In this film,  Ozu does not follow one of the most important principles of film editing: continuity, which is often considered essential to narrative storytelling. In Tokyo Story, space and time become aesthetic factors because they are separated from the principle of continuity that controls time and space in film. The space and time of Tokyo Story do not merely serve the clear narration, but become the aesthetic core of the film.