11 user 25 critic

Kabei: Our Mother (2008)

Kâbê (original title)
1:54 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Based on childhood days of Teruyo Nogami.



(biography), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
14 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A look at the relationship between a young blind samurai (Kimura) and his wife, who will make a sacrifice in order to defend her husband's honor.

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan, Mitsugorô Bandô
Otôto (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Ginko seems to be living the good life: She's the respectable owner of a neighborhood drug store in Tokyo, and her daughter Koharu is about to get married to a doctor. However, Koharu's ... See full summary »

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Ryô Kase, Yû Aoi, Sayuri Yoshinaga
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In this update of Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story", a retired schoolteacher and his wife visit their three working children in modern-day Tokyo.

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Isao Hashizume, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Masahiko Nishimura
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends Munezo and Samon as he leaves their clan's fiefdom on the northwest coast of Japan ... See full summary »

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Masatoshi Nagase, Takako Matsu, Hidetaka Yoshioka
Chiisai ouchi (2014)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman looks back on her family's life in Tokyo before and during WWII. A maid arrives from the countryside to work for an upper middle class family. She fits in well, but everyone's emotions are stirred up with the arrival of a student.

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Takako Matsu, Haru Kuroki, Isao Hashizume
Maborosi (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A young woman's husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Stars: Makiko Esumi, Takashi Naitô, Tadanobu Asano
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A 19th-century samurai tries to protect a battered wife.

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Miyazawa, Nenji Kobayashi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Set in post-World War II Japan, midwife Nobuko is resolved to move on as she stands at the grave of her son Koji who died, alongside thousands of others, when the Americans dropped an ... See full summary »

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Sayuri Yoshinaga, Kazunari Ninomiya, Haru Kuroki
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A husband (Isao Hashizume) and wife (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) have been married for 50 years. For her birthday, the husband asks the wife what she wants for her birthday present. She replies that ... See full summary »

Director: Yôji Yamada
Stars: Isao Hashizume, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Masahiko Nishimura
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A 21-year-old girl is released from prison, only to deal with the neighborhood gossip about her and family conflicts. She decides to save one million yen, move to where no one knows her and keep repeating the process.

Director: Yuki Tanada
Stars: Yû Aoi, Mirai Moriyama, Pierre Taki
Action | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A talented but troubled Edo Period swordsman, Kanemi Sanzawmon. Three years earlier, Kanemi killed a woman, Renko, the corrupt mistress of the powerful daimyo Tabu Ukyou. Unexpectedly, ... See full summary »

Director: Hideyuki Hirayama
Stars: Etsushi Toyokawa, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kôji Kikkawa
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Directors: Tsutomu Abe, Yôji Yamada
Stars: Hana Ebise, Yoshihiro Usami, Sôtarô Tanaka


Credited cast:
Yamazaki Toru
Mayumi Tanaka
Chieko Baishô ...
Hatsuko Nogami - adult
Hatsuko Nogami
Sayuri Yoshinaga ...
Kayo Nogami
Takumi Tsutsui
Michie Tomizawa
Keiko Toda ...
Teruyo Nogami - adult
Daisuke Gôri ...
Man Talking to Toru
Hideji Ôtaki
Tsurube Shôfukutei ...
Senkichi Fujioka
Mitsuru Fukikoshi
Umenosuke Nakamura
Mizuho Suzuki ...
Hajime Nikaido


Based on childhood days of Teruyo Nogami.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

one word title | See All (1) »





Official Sites:



Release Date:

26 January 2008 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Kabei: Our Mother  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,072 (USA) (8 May 2009)


$13,579 (USA) (10 July 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

yamada yoji's wicked trick!
18 March 2008 | by (Malaysia) – See all my reviews

It's a funny business, reviewing movies. These days when "internalized emotions" and "emotional detachment" are favored over straightforward sentimentality, it must be hard to stay faithful to your true feelings.

Soon after completing jury duties at the 58th Berlinale, I managed to catch Yoji Yamada's Kabei.

After the screening, I watched folks dreamily amble out of the theatre hall, watery-eyed, men, women, and reviewers alike. Even the director of the Berlinale, obviously a hardened viewer of cinema, confessed to having been caught unawares and found himself crying three quarter's way into this unashamedly sentimental experience.

But what really surprised me were the reviews that came after. Despite being ineffably moved by the film, many reviewers chose to be tepid and emotionally non-committal in their writing. Apparently, post weeping, they had put on their "thinking cap", and consequently, missed out on what I felt was the genius about Kabei.

Allow me to explain.

Set in pre-war Japan, the story of Kabei revolves around one writer's family, and their fate therein, after he is held in jail for what was described as "thought crimes" against the Imperial will. Through a series of protracted emotional scenes, Yamada gets us familiar with the man, his loyal wife and two daughters, as well as three side characters—the man's pretty young sister, a bumbling ex-student, and a cad of an uncle – all come to help the family cope with their plight, in the absence of the man of the house.

The story moves along at a slow albeit steady pace, and heartbreaks occur at precisely the moments everyone is able to predict. This of course makes it near impossible for anyone in the audience to get too emotionally distraught by any dramatic event.

In other words, although you learn to love the family and their helpers, and sympathize with their unfortunate situation, you get so lulled by the certainty of the plot that you find yourself expecting a particular kind of ending.

However, two hours into the film (don't worry, Yamada provides the viewer with sufficient moments of gravity and levity to tide you along), he slaps you with what I can only describe as "the sting". All that you have assumed to be what the story was about—an innocent man wrenched from his faithful wife and daughters – now suddenly points to one of the family helpers. Someone you have hitherto taken for granted is now thrown into an unexpected twist of fate.

At this point, something curious happened in the theatre I was in. Everyone started sobbing with little or no inhibition.

"My word!" I muttered under my breath. It struck me then that "Kabei", in the final analysis, was more than a film about a family torn apart by an empire on the verge of war. It was, in fact, a cunning examination of one common human foible: How little we cared about the secret feelings of people who are closest to us.

Now, the most common criticism made about the film was that it was technically solid, but lacked innovation. That's what happens when reviewers put on their proverbial thinking cap, I guess. With Kabei, I believe Yoji Yamada knew exactly what trick he was going to employ to touch on one unique aspect of humanity. A wicked old trick he so seamlessly applied in the Tora-san series, and later, in Tasogare Sebei.

After lulling the audience into a sort of narrative comfort zone, he throws us into a realm of emotions rarely explored in cinema.

This, to me, is the most effective cinematic tool of all. One which avoids detection, but affects you deeply. And proof of its effectiveness was a thousand wet pieces of Kleenex, thrown into a litter bin just outside of that thousand-seater cinema hall.

Now if only some reviewers would resist being so caught up with being smart that they forget what cinema is really about. Human emotions. Pure and simple.

55 of 59 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Evergreen Sayuri doomini
The name of the song in the trailer frankienextdoor
Discuss Kabei: Our Mother (2008) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: