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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
Just after the end of World War II (1946), U.S. Army Captain Fisby (Glenn Ford) from the Department of Psychological Warfare is sent, along with his interpreter Sakini (Marlon Brando), to the village of Tobiki in Okinawa with orders to Americanize the natives and teach them about democracy. Fisby's first duty is to build a pentagon-shaped schoolhouse. He orders all the building materials for the school, but the natives would rather use them to build a chaya (teahouse) and teach the village women to become geishas. And that's just the beginning of their 'Americanization'.
Indirectly. The Teahouse of the August Moon was adapted by American screenwriter and playwright John Patrick from his own 1953 play of the same name. However, Patrick's play was adapted from a 1951 novel (same name) by American novelist Vern J Sneider.
Okinawa is one of the southern prefectures of Japan, made up of hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands extending southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan.
Like it's name, a cricket cage is used for holding crickets. Crickets are much revered in various Oriental cultures, and the keeping of a cricket in the house is a sign of good luck. Children will often keep crickets as pets, placing them in cricket cages that re-create their desired habitat. Cricket cages can be found from the very elaborate cage with numerous rooms to the very simple cage made of cardboard and toothpicks.
Mr Hokaida (Kichizaemon Sarumaru), the old man who gives Capt Fisby a handmade cup, explains that the August moon, coming as it does at the end of summer, is 'a little older, a little wiser.' Later in the movie, as Fisby's time in Tobiki draws to a close, he tells Lotus Blossom that, in the autumn of his life, when the August moon rises in the East, he'll remember 'what was beautiful and what I was wise enough to leave beautiful.'
Lotus Blossom (Machiko Kyô) is singing a traditional Japanese melody about cherry blossoms. It translates something like this: Sakura! Sakura! (Cherry blossoms! Cherry blossoms!) / Yayoino Soraha (what a great March sky) / Miwatasu kagiri (inviting view) / Kasu mika Kumoka (a little fog and cloud make for a great setting) / Nihoizoizuru (surrounded by fragrance) / Iza ya Iza ya Mi ni yukan (Let's go, let's go to the hill covered with cherry trees).
The shamisen, literally "three flavor strings".
After ordering the teahouse to be torn down and the stills to be destroyed, Colonel Purdy (Paul Ford) learns that Washington wants to use the village as an example of 'American get-up-and-go in the recovery program' and that a crew is on the way to photo everything. As Purdy laments his previous order, Sakini admits that the villagers took it upon themselves to dismantle and store the teahouse and all of the stills instead of following the order to destroy them. Within minutes, they are able to re-erect everything. Everyone goes inside the teahouse for a cup of tea. As the last one in, Sakini closes the doors behind him but first turns to the audience and says, 'May August moon bring gentle sleep. Sayonara.'
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