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Tokyo Story (Tôkyô monogatari)

(Japanese 1953 b 130')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Elderly parents visit their adult children in Tokyo and are disappointed by how they have turned out. The mother becomes very ill, and the family gathers.

         Shukishi Hirayama (Chishu Ryu) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama) are preparing for their trip to Tokyo to visit all their children. Their daughter Kyoko Hirayama (Kyoko Kagawa) wishes them well.

         First they visit their son Koichi Hirayama (So Yamamura). Noriko Hirayama (Setsuko Hara) comes in and says she missed them at the train station. She is still working for the same company. She tells her mother that she has not changed; she is still big. The parents say they are tired and go to bed, but they are not tired and talk to each other.

         In the morning Koichi says he has to visit a sick patient. He does not want his wife Fumiko (Kuniko Miyake) to leave the apartment empty, and so they are not able to go sightseeing.

         Their daughter Shige Kaneko (Haruko Sugimura) and her husband Kuraza Kaneko (Nobuo Nakamura) discuss whether to take them to a film. From her job Shige calls Noriko and asks her to take their parents sight-seeing. Noriko asks her boss for time off.

         They take a tour of the city on a bus. From a tall building Noriko shows them where Koichi lives and where Shige lives. The parents visit Noriko’s apartment, and she borrows things from neighbors. Noriko says she can take time off work but does not say she will have to make it up. Shukishi says he likes to drink, and Tomi asks Noriko if Shoji drank. He has been missing since the war, and Shukishi says he must be dead.

         Koichi and his wife are waiting for them to come back, and they discuss spending money to send them on a trip. Koichi says it will cost less than showing them around.

         Tomi tells Shukishi she has never been to a spa before. While they rest in their hotel room they can hear music late at night. The next day they sit by the shore and talk about how they did not sleep well. They wonder about Kyoko and discuss whether to go home. Tomi says she feels dizzy.

         Shige works in a hair salon. Shukishi and Tomi come in and go upstairs. He says it was crowded and that they want to go home. Shige says she will take them to the theater, but Shukishi says it is expensive. Shige admits she is busy and wanted them to stay at the spa. Shukishi and Tomi discuss leaving and staying at different places. He says they are homeless at last and laughs.

         Shukishi and Tomi wait for Noriko to come home and decide to leave. Tomi says they may get lost and never meet again. Shukishi talks with Koichi and his wife. They say they rent a room upstairs to a man. Koichi says the old police chief lives nearby, and Shukishi suggests they visit him. They have tea with him.

         Shukishi drinks at a bar with the police chief, who says he lies about his son. Shukishi is not satisfied either. Shukishi says his son has changed. A woman tells them it is midnight, closing time.

         Noriko rubs Tomi’s back. Tomi says it is nice to lie on her dead son’s bed. Tomi encourages Noriko to get married again. A policeman brings drunk Shukishi and the police chief to Shige’s apartment. Shige tells her husband that her father used to drink but stopped. They decide to sleep upstairs and give up their own beds.

         In the morning Tomi thanks Noriko for putting her up and asks if she needs to go to work. Noriko gives Tomi some money and insists she take it. Tomi asks her to visit them, but Noriko says it is far. They both go out.

         Shukishi and Tomi wait for a train with Noriko, Shige, and Koichi, and they thank them for the visit. Keiso (Shiro Osaka) says his parents got off the train at Osaka because Tomi felt sick. They discuss how their children did not meet their expectations.

         Koichi reads a letter and tells his wife about his parents getting off at Osaka. Then they get a telegram from Onomichi that Tomi is very sick. Koichi talks with Shige on the phone. Fumiko calls Noriko at work. Shige and her husband Kurazo plan to visit Tomi and take black clothes.

         Shukishi and Kyoko sit by Tomi, and Kyoko goes to the station. Shukishi tells Tomi that the children are coming. The family gathers around ill Tomi. A doctor lets Koichi attend to her. Shige asks why Keiso has not come. Koichi tells Shukishi that Tomi has lapsed into a coma and may die that night. Shige is glad that she visited Tokyo before she died and asks if the others have mourning clothes. Keiso comes in and says he was out of town. Shukishi is outside and says it was a beautiful sunrise.

         Priests chant prayers in a temple, and Koichi goes outside. He regrets he did nothing for his mother. At home the family remembers fireworks and when Shukishi was on the school board. Shige says she wanted father to die first. Koichi and Shige plan to leave that night. Shige asks her father not to drink too much.

         Noriko asks Kyoko to come to Tokyo for a visit. Kyoko says the others were selfish. Then she says goodbye to Noriko and leaves for school. Noriko tells her father that she is leaving. He tells her that Tomi had her happiest night in Tokyo with her. He urges her to marry again. Noriko says she is not as nice as Tomi thought. Noriko says she worries about going on as she is. Shukishi gives her Tomi’s watch and wishes her a happy future. Noriko cries, and he thanks her for doing more than their children.

         Noriko takes the train and looks at the watch. Shukishi tells a neighbor lady that he is lonely.

         This drama is a sad story but very realistic. Japanese politeness results in many ironic statements as the people are often saying the opposite of what they really feel. The parents discover that their children have their own lives and come to realize they are not as nice as they hoped they would be. The death of the mother helps the others to see a new perspective on their lives.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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