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Dodes'ka-den (1970)

Dodesukaden (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 17 October 1974 (USA)
Various tales in the lives of Tokyo slum dwellers, including a mentally deficient young man obsessed with driving his own commuter trolley.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yoshitaka Zushi ...
Kin Sugai ...
Toshiyuki Tonomura ...
Shinsuke Minami ...
Yûko Kusunoki ...
Misao Sawagami
Junzaburô Ban ...
Kiyoko Tange ...
Mrs. Shima
Michio Hino ...
Mr. Ikawa
Keiji Furuyama ...
Mr. Matsui
Tappei Shimokawa ...
Mr. Nomoto
Hatsutaro Kawaguchi
Yoshie Kawaguchi
Masuo Masuda
Hideko Okiyama ...
Tatsu Masuda


An anthology of overlapping vignettes exploring the lives of a variety of characters who happen to live in a suburbial shantytown atop a rubbish dump: The boy Roku-chan lives in a fantasy world in which he is a tram conductor. In his fantasy world, he is both the tram and the tram driver and follows a set route and schedule through the dump, reciting the refrain "Dodeska-den", "clickety-clack", mimicking the sound of his vehicle. Ryotaro, a hairbrush maker by trade, is saddled with supporting many children whom his unfaithful wife Misao[c] has conceived in different adulterous affairs, but is wholeheartedly devoted to them. A pair of drunken day laborers (Masuda and Kawaguchi) who engage in wife-swapping, only to return to their own wives the next day as though nothing has happened. A stoic, bleak man named Hei is frequented by Ocho who appears to be his ex-wife, and he watches emotionless as she takes care of his domestic chores. Shima, the man with the tic, is always defending his ... Written by lament

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dodes'ka-den  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Shooting began on April, 23rd, 1970, and was shot in about a month, which is an incredibly short period of time for a Kurosawa picture, given the facts that a) Kurosawa was a perfectionist, and b) his prior film, Red Beard (1965), took two years to go through all the phases involved in finishing a motion picture. See more »


Beggar: Our house ought to be built on a hill. We Japanese used to build houses in valleys and mountain coves. We've always preferred the lowlands.
Beggar's Son: That's true. I saw pictures of foreign countries. They have their houses in high places, but ours are in low places.
Beggar: There's a reason for that. There are many earthquakes and typhoons in Japan. Wooden houses in high places are easily shaken by earthquakes and typhoons. So they chose the lowlands to avoid the danger. But that's not the only reason.
Beggar: [...]
See more »


Referenced in American Beauty (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Sad Stories in the Slums of Tokyo
2 October 2005 | by See all my reviews

"Dô desu ka den" is the first colored movie of Master Akira Kurosawa, and surprisingly is not about samurais, ronins, warlords or battlefields. It is inside a very poor community in a slum in Tokyo, where the dwellers are homeless drunkards, beggars, tramps, abused women, losers. I do not know the reason why Kurosawa selected this tragic theme and environment to put colors, but indeed they are very sad stories, some of them heart-breaking. I personally like the touching story of the boy and his father that dream with a house of their own and built by them; the story of the retarded boy that believes he pilots a train; the story of the man that raises five children as if they were their own sons and daughters; and the story of the young woman abused by her stepfather. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Dodeskaden – O Caminho da Vida" ("Dodeskaden – The Way of the Life")

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