Nagaya shinshiroku

Black and White . 72 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Ikeda Tadao


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Saito Ichiro


Iida Choko (Otane)
Aoki Hohi (Kohe)
Ozawa Eitaro (Father)
Yoshikawa Mitsuko (Kikuko)
Kawamura Sokichi (Tamekichi)
Mimura Hideko (Ukiko)
Ryu Chishu (Tashiro)
Sakamoto Takeshi (Kihachi)
Takamatsu Eiko (Tome)


Tashiro the fortune-teller packs up a stray boy and foists him on his widowed neighbor Otane. She treats the sulky bed-wetter as a nuisance. She takes him back to his original place of residence, but is told his father has packer up and gone. Over a few incidents, the boy gradually cracks open her hard shell and even restores community spirit to the neighborhood. Just when Otane is ready to adopt him, his father, who has lost him in a crowd, turns up for him. Otane decides to adopt one of the many homeless boys who hang out near Saigo's statue in Ueno park.

Thoughts from Ozu
I was zapped out after returning from the war, but the company kept pestering me to get down to work. I had no choice but to churn out a script in 12 days. To my surprise, the company's response was: "Who would have thought you can write scripts so quickly?" I quickly replied, "Just this once. I wouldn't be able to write at this speed next time." To tell you the truth, I saw more foreign films that any other time in my life while I was stationed in Singapore. It seems that some people think that I have been transformed by the experience. The same people however said that Record of a Tenement Gentleman is no different from my previous works. They even went as far as to say "this fellow never changes."


he 40th film, shot from March to May 1947. In 1942, the Army Information Office of the Imperial Headquarters commissioned the three feature film production companies that existed at that time (Shochiku, Toho, and Daiei), to make one war documentary each. Ozu, who had just finished There Was a Father became in charge of the Shochiku part. Together with Akiyama Kosaku and Saito Ryosuke, he wrote the screenplay for Far-Away Country of My Parents (Haruka nari fubo no kuni). However, its story being far from uplifting the fighting spirit, the production did not start. While the fate of this documentary was still undecided, another film for the Indian National Army was planned, and to this purpose. Ozu went to Singapore (under Japanese occupation) in June 1943, living there quite leisurely. After the defeat, he returned to Japan. His mother had evacuated to Noda in China prefecture, where his sister lived. Ozu too settled down there. From then on, Ozu never live din Tokyo again. After one year of recreation (his actions during this time are unclear), Ozu teamed up again with Ikeda Tadao for his first film after the war. The screenplay of Record of a Tenement Gentleman was finished within two weeks. (Ozu wanted to use this title previously for Passing Fancy). Ozu returned to the familiar shitamachi community of Tokyo in this film. However, he ought to know since the pre-war time that this land is not a blessed one. The actual choice shows his deep feelings of having lost something. This part of town was burnt to the ground during the big Tokyo air raids at the end of the war. Almost the whole film was shot in the studio. Probably, this made-up world was the reason for Ozu's growing dissatisfaction during the one month between the completion of the screenplay and the beginning of the shooting. From the group of eminent supporting actors, essential to the Kamata and Ofana style, Ida Choko and Yoshikawa Mitsuko had already left the Ofana studio. This double disappearance of the shitamachi character and of a certain Kamata-Ofuna style may have deepened Ozu's feeling of loss. However, to transmit this personal feeling, the invented world must seem authentic. This was achieved by an extremely real story. On the other hand, there seems to be an influence of the director Shimizu Hiroshi who was just about to start the shooting of the film Children of the Beehive (Hachi no su no kodomotachi, 1948), depicting war orphans.

Articles / Essays
Record of a Tenement Gentleman
by Michael Price (Senses of Cinema)


Personal Thoughts and Comments
Record of a Tenement Gentleman is Ozu's first postwar film (made five years after his previous film There Was a Father). Overall it is a simple, lighthearted comedy yet is also a touching, personal, bittersweet and even distanced film. Distanced in the sense that Ozu pushes away the any forced manipulation of emotions through his simplistic style. The story of an abandoned boy in postwar Japan who grows a relationship with a cynical middle-aged woman could have easily been one of forced emotional impact. Yet through Ozu, it is restrained and ultimately more poetic and effective. Ultimately the film becomes a moving and hopeful film of the human condition against the tragic backdrop of war. Despite the ruins of a postwar Japan, the film leaves a sense of hope for humanity and for recovery (both in relationship of the family and of Japan). Not a masterpiece, but an excellent film in the very capable hands of Ozu.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
A clip from Record of a Tenement Gentleman
dvd (R2)    (R3)