Tokyo no yado

Silent . Black and White . 80 minutes

Shochiku Kamata Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Ikeda Tadao
Arata Masao
Uinzato Mone (story)


Mohara Hideo

Music By

Horiuchi Keizo


Sakamoto Takeshi (Kihachi)
Tokkan Kozo (Zenko)
Suematsu Takayuki (Masako)
Okada Yoshiko (Otaka)
Ojima Kazuko (Kimiko)
Idia Choko (Otsune)
Ryu Chishu (Policeman)


Kihachi, a widower with two young sons, looks for a job in vain. They take up lodgings at the Manseikan Inn, where many others are in the same boat. Among them is Otaka, and her daughter Kimiko. The boys try to make money by eating stray dogs to obtain a police reward. Things start to look up when Kihachi meets an old friend Otsune, who finds him a job at the factory. Kihachi dreams of a new life that includes Otaka, but when Kimiko falls ill, he is driven to desperation and steals to help her. After entrusting his sons to Otsune, he turns himself in to the police.

Thoughts from Ozu
Around that time, I was making Kagamijishi, even though it was a documentary rather than a feature film. By that time, there was no place for silents anymore. Although An Inn in Tokyo was a silent film, I had no choice but to adopt the method of sound films. For example, in a conversation scene between two persons, I ventured to superimpose character A's lines on a close-up of character B.

he 34th film, shot from June to September of 1934. In April of that year, Ozu started the Tokyo is a Nice Place (Tokyo yoi toko), but the shooting had to be interrupted. This is a sound film (music and sounds), with the original songs composed by Ito Senji. Uinzato Mone, the name of the author of the script, is the pen name of Ozu. It is a distortion of the English "without money". The protagonist of this film is penniless, but also Ozu's financial situation was not very good at that time, maybe also due to his father's death in the previous year. In his diary he often wrote about this problem. Again, this is a Kihachi-film, and again, the hero is wandering around, sometimes staying at a cheap boardinghouse, sometimes sleeping in the open. However, even without a permanent residence, Kihachi is rooted in Tokyo's old quarters, shitamachi, and the Koto district is his sphere of activity. The living conditions are close to those in Passing Fancy. Kihachi has two children. In An Inn in Tokyo, the Kihachi of Passing Fancy is even more driven into a corner, even more confronted with reality. In the first half of the film, the view of the father and his two children, moving slowly in a bleak, desert-like scenery under the mid-summer sun, almost has the effect of a daydream hallucination in slow-motion. On the other hand, the scene of the three, imagining eating food, brings us back to reality. The documentary Kagamijishi was made during this shooting: Ozu's muster of the first reserve for the army and bad weather again delayed the completion of this film. The actual shooting days were quite few. At this time, the removal of the studio to Ofana was decided. Ozu was requested to make talkies, the insistence of the studio becoming stronger. Ozu himself had the desire to make talkies. Since its first talkie The Neighbor's Wife and Mine (Madamu to nyobo, 1931), Shochiku had a contract for the Dobashi Sound System. However, Ozu had promised his long-time companion, Mohara Hideo, his cameraman since the second film Dreams of Youth (Wekodo no yume, 1928), to wait for the completion of his Mohara sound system. In his diary, he wrote: "I made Mohara this long-held promise. If I want to keep this promise, I may have to quit directing. That would be fine with me too." At the end of An Inn in Tokyo, Kihachi resorts to theft to keep a promise, and is arrested by the police. The origins of Kihachi's feelings and Ozu's friendship for Mohara are the same.

Personal Thoughts and Comments
An Inn in Tokyo is Ozu's last (surviving) and perhaps greatest silent film (his last silent film is the now lost College is a Nice Place / Daigaku yoi toko). The film is very reminiscent of the later Italian Neorealist films of the 1940s (notably Vittorio De Sica's masterpiece The Bicycle Thief) as well Ozu's 1933 film Passing Fancy) in it's simplistic yet powerful examination of the human condition amongst the struggles of the Depression (in this case pre-war Japan). Using a decaying Japanese environment as the visual surrounding, Ozu captures the very essence of human struggle, centering around a poor widowed father with two sons as well as a friend who is a widowed mother with a sick child. Faced with a moral conflict the man must make a decision that could effect his family. Equally beautiful and heartbreaking An Inn in Tokyo is a masterpiece.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
A clip from An Inn in Tokyo
dvd (R3)