April 25 2020
Film Director Yasujiro Ozu
We are grateful to all of our medical and health care workers on the front line as well as those who are working hard to support our lifelines and infrastructure amid the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world.
People all around the globe who are staying indoors to wait for the storm to pass are likely to be experiencing feelings of unease and stress, but at the same time, it is in moments of crisis that we are reminded of the many blessings we had taken for granted.
Here at LOCAL FOCUS, rather than introducing major tourist spots and Instagram-perfect eateries, we create tools for conveying the nature, culture, and charm through the perspective of inspiring locals who are driven by the passion they have for their area.
Unfortunately, however, since the joy of traveling will be limited for the time being, we instead take this opportunity to share information that about interesting historical figures, films, books, etc., to provide deeper context about the areas we have featured.
Our first part of this series features filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu, who is well known abroad, and so you may have heard about him. Since the film production studio “Shochiku” was in Ofuna, the town next to Kamakura, Ozu spent a lot of his later years in Kamakura. Not only did he film scenes for “Late Spring” (1949) and “An Autumn Afternoon” (1962) there, but also the regular actors in his films, such as Setsuko Hara, Chishu Ryu, and Keiji Sada, resided there in Kamakura.
The home of a well-known comic artist, Ryuichi Yokoyama—the uncle of Taisuke Yokoyama, one of the photographers for LOCAL FOCUS—at one time served as a salon where artists and writers and those known as the cultural figures of Kamakura gathered, and Ozu was a close friend. In our Kamakura edition of LOCAL FOCUS, we introduce the restaurant that now stands where Yokoyama’s home once stood (p. 091), and also the eateries Ozu frequented (p. 056, p. 129, p. 169).
Although Ozu’s tour de force "Tokyo Story" is his most popular film, to grasp the essence of Kamakura, we also recommend you watch these two classics, "Late Spring" and "An Autumn Afternoon." In these movies, you can catch glimpses of sites such as Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, the Great Buddha, Engaku-ji Temple, Kita-Kamakura Station, and the shore—the iconic scenes of Kamakura that have remained the same today, but with the sense of beauty and composition peculiar to Ozu.
For those accustomed to Hollywood-style elaborate and bold story lines, Ozu’s films may seem a touch too subtle or dry, but particularly apropos for these “stay-at-home” days, Ozu’s films evoke the beauty and preciousness of everyday life and may bring you a greater appreciation for the simplicity in daily routines or what is generally considered mundane.