The title "Rashomon" actually refers to the wraparound segments, from a Akutagawa story set at the Rashomon Gate of Kyoto. The actual story related in the film instead comes from another tale by Ryûnosuke Akutagawa, "In a Grove".
During shooting, the cast approached Kurosawa en masse with the script and asked him, "What does it mean?" The answer Akira Kurosawa gave at that time and also in his biography is that Rashômon (1950) is a reflection of life, and life does not always have clear meanings.
This film is often given credit for the first time a camera was pointed directly at the sun. In Akira Kurosawa's biography, he gives credit to his cinematographer for "inventing" it and himself for using it, but years later, during commentary that preceded the TV showing of the film, the head of the studio claimed credit. Kurosawa bitterly denied this claim.
Even during high noon the parts of the forest that the crew needed to shoot in were still too dark. Rather than use a regular foil reflector, which did not bounce enough light, Akira Kurosawa and cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa opted to use a full-length mirror "borrowed" from Daiei's costume department. The crew bounced light from the mirror through leaves and trees to soften it and make it look more like natural sunlight. Miyagawa later called it the most successful lighting effect he had ever done.
When the film was released internationally to rave reviews, many speculated that Akira Kurosawa was influenced by Citizen Kane (1941) in the element of flashbacks that ultimately provide conflicting accounts of events. However, Kurosawa didn't even see Orson Welles's film until several years after the release of 'Rashômon'.
In the downpour scenes showing the Rashomon Gate, Akira Kurosawa found that the rain in the background simply wouldn't show up against the light gray backdrop. To solve this problem, the crew ended up tinting the rain by pouring black ink into the tank of the rain machine. The ink is clearly visible on the Woodcutter's face just before the rain stops.
The title of the film has recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary as describing "...resembling or suggestive of the film Rashômon (1950), esp. in being characterized by multiple conflicting or differing ... interpretations."
In his autobiography, Akira Kurosawa recalled that one of the biggest problems his crew encountered while filming in the forest was that slugs kept dropping out of the trees onto their heads. The cast and crew had to constantly slather themselves with salt to keep the slugs off.
In the wife's vision, the music used was only available during post-production. Akira Kurosawa and his editor were amazed when they found that the music corresponded almost perfectly with the action on the screen and they didn't need to change the scene to match the music.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(Akira Kurosawa): [weather]: This movie is known for its use of symbolic weather. Throughout most of it, there's heavy rain. The rain fades away by the optimistic ending when the weather becomes sunny.