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Narayama bushikô
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The Ballad of Narayama (1983) More at IMDbPro »Narayama bushikô (original title)


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Shôhei Imamura (screenplay)
Shichirô Fukazawa (novel)
View company contact information for The Ballad of Narayama on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
29 April 1983 (Japan) See more »
Only time could change the cruelty of tradition ... only their Love could survive it ... See more »
In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
9 wins & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A Truly Unforgettable Film See more (25 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Ken Ogata ... Tatsuhei
Sumiko Sakamoto ... Orin
Tonpei Hidari ... Risuke
Aki Takejô ... Tamayan
Shôichi Ozawa ... Katsuzô
Fujio Tokita ... Jinsaku
Sanshô Shinsui ... Zeniya no Tadayan
Seiji Kurasaki ... Kesakichi
Junko Takada ... Matsuyan
Mitsuko Baishô ... Oei
Taiji Tonoyama ... Teruyan
Kêshî Takamine ... Arayashiki (as Kêshi Takamine)
Nenji Kobayashi ... Tsune
Nijiko Kiyokawa ... Okane
Akio Yokoyama ... Amaya
Kaoru Shimamori ... Tomekichi
Yukie Shimura ... Amaya no Nyôbô
Masami Okamoto ... Amaya no Chônan
Hideo Hasegawa
Ben Hiura ... Yakimatsu
Kenji Murase
Kosei Sato
Norihei Miki ... Shioya
Kansai Eto ... Kin'yan (as Kan Etô)
Ryutaro Tatsumi ... Zeniya no Matayan (as Ryûtarô Tatsumi)
Satoko Iwasaki
Sayaka Nakamaru
Azumi Tanba

Directed by
Shôhei Imamura 
Writing credits
Shôhei Imamura (screenplay)

Shichirô Fukazawa (novel)

Produced by
Gorô Kusakabe .... producer
Jirô Tomoda .... producer
Original Music by
Shinichirô Ikebe 
Cinematography by
Hiroshi Kanazawa 
Shigeru Komatsubara 
Masao Tochizawa 
Film Editing by
Toshihiko Kojima 
Fusako Matsumoto 
Hajime Okayasu 
Yoshiko Onodera 
Masahito Watanabe 
Production Design by
Gorô Kusakabe 
Art Direction by
Hisao Inagaki 
Tadataka Yoshino 
Set Decoration by
Senki Nakamura (stage setting manager)
Mitsuto Washizawa (stage setting producer)
Costume Design by
Kyoto Isho 
Makeup Department
Seiko Igawa .... makeup artist
Zenichirô Ishikawa .... wigs
Takeshi Matsuo .... key hair stylist
Yôichi Mitsuoka .... key hair stylist
Tomoe Ookawa .... hair stylist
Production Management
Kimiyoshi Adachi .... production manager
Kanji Aoi .... production manager
Sôji Fukushima .... production manager
Hisashi Iino .... assistant production manager
Shinji Komiya .... unit production manager
Ikuko Murase .... assistant unit manager
Nobutsugu Tsubomi .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Shunsaku Ikehata .... assistant director
Nobuaki Murooka .... assistant director
Kunio Takeshige .... assistant director
Takashi Tsukinoki .... assistant director
Art Department
Noriyuki Sugimori .... modeling
Sound Department
Kenichi Benitani .... sound
Toshio Nakano .... assistant sound
Tatsuo Tsukamoto .... assistant sound
Special Effects by
Yoshio Kojima .... special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Kenji Ishikuro .... still photographer
Yasuo Iwaki .... gaffer
Yasuo Iwaki .... lighting technician
Tadahiro Kimura .... gaffer
Yûjirô Miura .... gaffer
Masayuki Okao .... gaffer
Editorial Department
Kazuko Okayasu .... negative cutter
Other crew
Yasuhiko Chiga .... dentistry
Yoshiyaka Hayakawa .... garden designer
Naomi Honjô .... cooking supervisor
Katsuyuki Katô .... unit publicist
Shinji Komiya .... production controller
Tsuguo Kuroda .... livestock glass
Midori Kuwabara .... script supervisor
Toshiyuki Mogi .... publicist
Yoshiko Morita .... cooking supervisor
Ryôhei Nakagawa .... caterer
Hideo Suzuki .... title designer
Uichiro Takeda .... hawk trainer
Hiroshi Tanaka .... dentistry
Teruyuki Tanaka .... garden designer
Tsuneyoshi Yamada .... publicist
Yasuo Yamamoto .... publicist

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Narayama bushikô" - Japan (original title)
See more »
130 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Great Grateful Jizo (????)See more »
Oya wo nemurasu komori utaSee more »


Is there more than one version?
Is this the only film transcription of the book "The Men of Tohoku"?
See more »
59 out of 64 people found the following review useful.
A Truly Unforgettable Film, 12 August 2002
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.

Death and what it means is the theme of the haunting and sensuous Ballad of Narayama, a Cannes Film Festival Grand prize winner from 1982 by Shohei Imamaura (Black Rain, The Eel, Dr. Akagi). Based on a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa, this spellbinding film takes place in a rural mountainous area in northern Japan about one hundred years ago. Because the villager's rice crop is meager and starvation is a chronic threat, according to village custom, the elderly must go to die on the summit of Mount Narayama when they reach the age of 70. Group survival depends on it and death is accepted as a fact of life in the village.

I must admit I had a hard time during the first hour being engaged with this film and sorting out all the characters. I found the graphic depiction of the cruel realities of village life to be ugly and often vulgar. For example, one character has sex with a village dog, an entire family is buried alive because they have been accused of stealing, and two snakes copulate next to a couple's sexual encounter in the woods. As the film progressed, however, I found it easier to accept how the brutal struggle for survival ensures continuance and self-preservation.

The story concerns Orin (Sumiko Sakamota) who, in her seventieth year, must complete all the loose ends in her life before she goes to die. One widowed son must find a new wife, another has to sleep with a woman for the first time, and the third needs to be taught manners. When Orin realizes it is her time to be taken to Narayama, her son Tatsuhei (Ken Ogata) carries his mother to the mountain on his back in scenes of ethereal beauty reminiscent of Sokurov's Mother and Son. The resistance of Tatsuhei to his mother's death is familiar, yet nonetheless deeply moving. At the end of the journey, Orin clings to her resolve with tenacity and reconciliation to the inevitable. Sitting on the mountain close to her God, she is rewarded by the sudden grace of the silent snow.

Watching Ballad of Narayama I was forced to confront my own feelings about the morality of suicide. Both during and since viewing the film, I have been haunted by the idea of a loved one slowly freezing to death on a mountain--for my benefit. Although I do not approve of taking one's life as a general ethic, I found Imamura's conception to be so deeply human that it became both tragic and immensely moving. The film functions on a level well beyond pat moralizing, showing the extremes that people will go to out of love for each other, and the grace that can be bestowed on such acts of sacrifice. It is truly unforgettable.

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I don't understand the hole dog scene. I-TheMan-I
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