Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Masseurs And a Woman (1938)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Masseurs and a Woman (1938, Jp.) (aka Anma to onna)

In writer/director Hiroshi Shimizu's light, slow-paced, hour-long drama about 'blind' human interactions among guests and workers at a resort spa:

  • the opening sequence of the main characters: two eccentric, blind masseurs - Toku (Shin Tokudaiji) and Fuku (Shinichi Himori), hiking up a mountain road toward a resort spa, where they worked during the high season (spring and summer); they made an enjoyable game of keeping track of the number of people that passed
  • the sequence of their first brush with a mysterious and enigmatic Tokyo guest - an unnamed female client credited as Michiho Misawa (Mieko Takamine), who was driven by in a carriage on the road; Toku noted: "A nice woman aboard...A Tokyo woman....She smelled of Tokyo"
  • in the town: the two groups of hiking students (one entirely male, one female)
  • and the street scene when Toku (again with his extra-sensory skills) stopped, turned, and wordlessly identified the Tokyo female as a city inhabitant by her perfume smell as she walked by him
Toku's Identification of Michiho by Smell
  • Toku's fascination with the "strange woman" Michiho, but also his suspicions that she was responsible for a rash of thefts at the resort after her arrival; to protect her from police checking all of the inn guests, Toku warned her ("Run! They're looking everywhere for you...It's a dragnet...You can't stay here. Hurry!"), grabbed her and ran away with her (the camera angle was on their shuffling, running feet at an increasingly faster tempo)
  • the revelation scene when he accused her of being the thief: ("I knew from the start. Tokyo lady, you may fool those who can see. But you can't fool me. Though blind, I've been watching you. It's been hard. Run, quick! Go somewhere I don't know. When the thefts occurred at Whale Inn and Goddess Inn, I tried hard to trust you. The more I tried to trust you, the more certain I became of it. So please run to somewhere I don't know"); she revealed that she wasn't the thief, but was a fugitive from her lecherous city patron: "You're making a terrible mistake...The whole thing is ridiculous. But I appreciate your kindness. So I'll talk. I ran away from Tokyo to these mountains. But not because of what you said...I got disgusted with my patron. No, I should say, I felt sorry for his wife and daughter. I'm sure he's looking for me. He'll look everywhere for me. That's how he is. That's why footsteps frighten me. Your eyes that could not see were too keen. You see too well....You tried to help me run away, I appreciate it...I'll run somewhere. My lecherous patron won't find me. I'll keep running"; he sank to his knees and bowed his head to apologize for the false accusation
  • in the conclusion, Michiho boarded a carriage to depart from the resort - there were two quick cuts: her look back over her left shoulder, and a view of Toku's sad face under his umbrella; he ran down to the end of the street where the carriage had turned right, and then he stopped; there was a paradoxical, shaky, hand-held POV, unusual traveling shot from his perspective as he followed (with his blind eyesight) the carriage as it turned left around a bend in the road - for one last goodbye glimpse (the film's final image)

Blind Masseurs: Toku and Fuku Hiking Up Mountain Road

Michiho in Carriage

Two Groups of Hikers

Toku and Michiho Running Away (Low Camera Angle)

Accusatory and Revelation Scene

Michiho's Departure


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