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A Japanese Tragedy (1953)

Nihon no higeki (original title)
Alternating in time, between the end of World War II and 1953, Haruko, a widow, does what she can to keep her daughter Utako and son Seiichi safe, fed, and sheltered. By 1953, it's clear ... See full summary »


Keisuke Kinoshita
3 wins. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Yûko Mochizuki Yûko Mochizuki ... Haruko Inoue
Yôko Katsuragi Yôko Katsuragi ... Haruko's daughter
Masami Taura ... Haruko's son
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Keiko Awaji ... Wakamaru, a geisha
Shin'ichi Himori ... Ichizo
Nadao Kirino Nadao Kirino
Tanie Kitabayashi Tanie Kitabayashi ... Ichizo's wife
Yôshirô Kusakari Yôshirô Kusakari ... Ichizo's son
Keiji Sada ... Tatsuya, street musician
Fujio Suga Fujio Suga ... Fujita
Teiji Takahashi ... Sato
Sanae Takasugi Sanae Takasugi ... Mrs. Akazawa
Jun Tatara Jun Tatara
Ken Uehara Ken Uehara ... Masayuki Akazawa, the English teacher
Eijirô Yanagi ... Iwami


Alternating in time, between the end of World War II and 1953, Haruko, a widow, does what she can to keep her daughter Utako and son Seiichi safe, fed, and sheltered. By 1953, it's clear that the children, as they enter adulthood, want little to do with their mother. They have a different view of their childhood and her sacrifices: in their eyes, she abandoned them to live a life of pleasure. The self-pitying Haruko is sure her life was one of pain and humiliation, for her children. As Seiichi, now a medical student, announces his plans to let a wealthy man adopt him, and as Utako considers the offer to go away with a married man who is her English teacher, what is left for Haruko? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Japanese | English

Release Date:

30 May 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tragedy of Japan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

An Angry Retort To Ozu and Naruse
29 November 2018 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

It begins in a whirlwind of documentary footage about current Japan, about corruption and strife. We see flashbacks to Japan, just coming out of the War, dealing with poverty and hunger and teachers explaining that they were telling their students lies, passing on the lies they had been told and believed. Newspaper stories are shown. Among the headlines is one about a mother of two who committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Yûko Mochizuki is a serving woman at a resort in the Izu Peninsula. Her son and daughter visit her. The son wants her to sign documents so he can be adopted by a wealthy doctor; he is a top student, but he has no money, and so cannot afford to practice medicine. Her daughter, unknown to her, is being courted by her English teacher, a married man whose wife despises him, and whose daughter has been trained to hate him.

Ozu and Naruse wrote and directed serious movies about families struggling to survive and adapt in a changing Japan. Their families care about each other. Kinoshita, in this movie, says those are lies. Miss Mochizuki's family has fallen apart in a Japan where no one cares about anyone else. She is a kind, moral, silly woman, who gives good advice and is lied to at best, or knocked to the ground for it. Her daughter was raped by her cousin; now she hates all men and trusts no one. Her son has become an almost emotionless intellectual drudge, who shrugs his shoulders when told of some one making a stupid choice; they're adults, he says. They have to make their own decisions. He's going to survive in this new world.

Kinoshita's work after his wartime propaganda, is usually ameliorated by his dark sense of humor. There is no humor here. Instead, he has absorbed the techniques of both Italian Neo-Realism for his visual effects, and Film Noir's flashback structure to show character's motivation. It's a fine, angry, hateful story of people adrift in an uncaring world.

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