IMDb > Ballad of Narayama (1958)

Ballad of Narayama (1958) More at IMDbPro »Narayama bushikô (original title)

Ballad of Narayama -- When townsfolk reach the age of 70 in Tatsuhei's village, it is customary to bring them to the top of the nearby mountain to die. When it is his own mother's turn, Tatsuhei begins to question the tradition.


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Release Date:
19 June 1961 (USA) See more »
In Kabuki style, the film tells the story of a remote mountain village where the scarcity of food leads... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
6 wins & 1 nomination See more »
(31 articles)
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User Reviews:
Deliciously Stunning Exploration of the Possibilities of Colour See more (9 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Kinuyo Tanaka ... Orin
Teiji Takahashi ... Tatsuhei
Yûko Mochizuki ... Tamayan
Danko Ichikawa ... Kesakichi
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Mata-yan
Keiko Ogasawara ... Matsu-yan
Yûnosuke Itô ... Matayan's son
Eijirô Tôno ... Messenger
Ken Mitsuda ... Teruyan

Directed by
Keisuke Kinoshita 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Shichirô Fukazawa  stories
Keisuke Kinoshita  writer

Produced by
Masaharu Kokaji .... producer
Ryuzo Otani .... producer
Original Music by
Chûji Kinoshita 
Matsunosuke Nozawa 
Cinematography by
Hiroshi Kusuda 
Film Editing by
Yoshi Sugihara 
Production Design by
Kisaku Ito 
Art Direction by
Chiyoo Umeda 
Set Decoration by
Mototsugu Komaki 
Costume Design by
Toshikazu Sugiyama 
Production Management
Kei Hamano .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Yoshikazu Ôtsuki .... assistant director
Art Department
Genzô Furumiya .... set designer
Sound Department
Shûzô Horikawa .... sound mixer
Hideo Nishizaki .... sound recordist
Hisao Ôno .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Takashi Akamatsu .... camera operator
Hiroshi Iijima .... lighting technician
Tôichirô Narushima .... camera operator
Ryôzô Toyoshima .... gaffer

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Narayama bushikô" - Japan (original title)
See more »
98 min
Color (Fujicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

The final film to be added under Roger Ebert's list of "Great Movies" before his death in 2013.See more »
Movie Connections:
Remade as The Ballad of Narayama (1983)See more »


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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Deliciously Stunning Exploration of the Possibilities of Colour, 23 February 2013
Author: akeisala

Made available on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection, Kinoshita's highly stylized exploration of the Narayama story is a deliciously stunning exploration of the possibilities of colour, and has some of the most inventive use of transition in film.

You might be familiar with the far more explicit and naturalistic film version of the same story from 1983, made by Shôhei Imamura, and knowledge of that film greatly enhanced my viewing of this. These two films are worlds apart, in fact so much that it feels that Imamura's film openly converses with this, since its theatricality seems to almost provoke the kind of hyper-naturalism inherent in the Imamura. Another film that enriches this is Kinugasa's "Jigokumon" ("Gates of Hell", 1953), available on Region B Blu-ray courtesy of the Masters of Cinema, and soon to be released by Criterion, as well.

I didn't know much of Kinoshita before this, only the biographical information concerning his relationship with Masaki Kobayashi, who served as his apprentice and whose film "Harakiri" (1962) Kinoshita openly disliked (he reversed his opinion later). I think it's somewhat ironic since Kobayashi's use of lighting certainly finds a compeer here, and I think this definitely encouraged "Kwaidan" (1964) to go to the lengths it did.

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