Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Tokyo Story (1953)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Tokyo Story (1953, Jp.) (aka Tokyo Monogatari)

In Yasujiro Ozu's acclaimed, deliberately-paced melodramatic masterpiece (the best film of his entire career) - a classic family drama that illustrated how changing industrialized times in post-war Japan of the 1950s had severed the virtue of children and society honoring one's parents ("Children don't live up to their parent's expectations. Let's just be happy that they're better than most"), and created tensions between generations ("Times have changed. We have to face it") [Note: Inspired by the Leo McCarey film Make Way for Tomorrow (1937).]:

  • the sad yet realistic story told mostly with knee-high camera placement ("tatami-mat" shot) -- a family visit by an elderly, unassuming middle-class couple from the provincial seaport coastal town of Onomichi: Shukishi (Chishu Ryu) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama), who traveled to Tokyo by train to visit two of their grown children, both very career-minded: Koichi (Sô Yamamura), their eldest son - a pediatrician, and Shige Kaneko (Haruko Sugimura), their selfish daughter - the owner of the Ooh La La Beauty Shop
  • the scenes of the reaction of the children to their undemanding parents - feeling interrupted and irritated by the visit, acting rude and distracted, too busy to entertain, and feeling imposed upon in space, resources, and time, etc.
  • the kind-hearted, sincere and humble character of their widowed daughter-in-law Noriko (Setsuko Hara), an office worker, who volunteered to take a day off and join her in-laws to see the city's sights - the only caring individual (and not even a blood relative!) - Shukishi noted: "We have children of our own, yet you've done the most for us, and you're not even a blood relative. Thank you"
  • upon the grandparents' return home, the grandmother Tomi became deathly ill, entered a coma and soon died; the funeral was attended by all of the children and Noriko, but most of the next generation's members (except Noriko) were selfish, not sincere, guilt-ridden, and quickly left town after the funeral
  • in a tender concluding scene, the lonely grandfather and Noriko spoke about the sunrise, and he presented her with a memento - his dead wife's "old-fashioned" wristwatch, bringing tears to her eyes


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