Tokyo no onna
Silent . Black and White . 47 minutes

Shochiku Kamata Studio

Written By

Noda Koga
Ikeda Tadao
Ernest Schwartz ("novel")


Mohara Hideo
Atsuta Yuharu


Okada Yoshiko (Chikako)
Egawa Ureo (Ryoichi)
Tanaka Kinuyo (Haruse)
Nara Shinyo (Kinoshita)
Ryu Chishu (Reporter)

To put her brother Ryo through college, Chikako works as a diligent typist by day, and moonlights as a scholar's translator - or so she has Ryo believe. However, her chaste reputation is put into question when a police investigation suggests that she might lead a double life, both as an office worker, and a cabaret hostess. When Ryo's girlfriend Harue discloses the findings of her policeman brother Kinoshita, a violent confrontation ensues, leading to Ryo's suicide.

Thoughts from Ozu
This film was rushed out in eight days. Shooting began even before the script had been completed. It tells the story of a woman who is an office lady by day and moonlights in a sleazy bar by night. We got the idea for this story after seeing a dance by this kind of girl. The author with a katakana name in the credits is a fictional one. I think this is a rather good film. A certain compositional style of mine began to emerge from this point on.


he 28th film shot from the end of January to the beginning of February 1933. The Working title was Her Case, For Example (Tatoeba kanojo no baai). The credit tile indicates "from the novel Twenty-six Hours, by Ernst Schwartz". This looks real, but it is nonsense. On the day of the scenario reading of the following film, Dragnet Girl, Ozu was requested to make one film as quickly as possible. (Probably one film was missing in the rotation schedule). Before the completion of the screenplay writing, production started, and the shooting was finished within nine days. The screenplay is a collaboration by Ozu, Noda Kogo, and Ikeda Tadao. The name of Ernst Schwartz was compounded from the names of the two directors Ernst Lubitsch and Hans Schwartz. This film is most typical of Ozu's silent technique. Ozu remembered that his camera position was quite decided from that time on. The low camera position, the size of the photographic object, and the use of the close up Ozu's typical shots of personas whose eyes look in the same direction, the pictorial shots at the beginning and the end of sequences (the so called pillow shots), the handling of the properties, the use of moving shots and other peculiarities were applied schematically. Woman of Tokyo is a perfect film for an analytical study of Ozu's technical characteristics. The apartment as surrounding is set up to isolate the main protagonists, the sister and her young brother, from the external world to confine them to a closed, independent space. It seems that the two are cut off from any means to communicate with the outside. The brother is a student, but, in contrast to the former student films, no friend or anyone close shows up. His girlfriend is his sole connection to the external world. However, even on their date, they go o the move theater, a dark, closed space. This construction is certainly convenient considering the short shooting time. However the "apartment" space, which in former films opened beyond the sea (America) even when excluding the Japanese reality, is now blocked in the state of a perfectly secret room. It is reminiscent of the Japan, which at that time was sliding towards a blockade situation. One shot in the screenplay suggest that the sister is a liaison member of the Communist Party. It is not clear if this shot was ever filmed, or if it was removed at the time of editing. The censors did not cut this film. The film-within-a-film is Ernst Lubitsch's part of the Paramount omnibus If I Had a Million (1932) with Charles Laughton in the leading role. The title Girls in Uniform (Madchen in Uniform, 1931) can also be seen in the program.

Personal Thoughts and Comments
Woman of Tokyo is one of Ozu's most emotionally powerful and bleakest films. The story centers around Chikako (played by Yoshiko Okada), a poor woman living with her brother Ryoichi (Ureo Egawa). Chikako supports her brother through his schooling by working as an office typist during the day and secretly as a prostitute at night. When her secret becomes known through gossip, Ryoichi becomes angry and ashamed of Chikako, despite her self sacrifice of supporting him financially. Many have compared this to the films of Kenji Mizoguchi, and while the observation is justified, Woman of Tokyo is essential Ozu in it's style. The beauty of the film is the way Ozu brings it together visually. While there are not as many of his trademark "pillow shots" seen in his later work, here Ozu uses visual patterns to bring the film together on a rhythmic level. Objects (such as socks, teapots, lamp posts, clocks, sinks) become pivotal motifs in the patterns and transitions of scenes, which ultimately create the rhythm of the film. A socially aware examination in Ozu's definitive theme of family separation, as well as an emotionally tragic and compassionate melodrama, Woman of Tokyo leaves it's mark as an incredibly powerful work from a master filmmaker.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
The opening moments from Woman of Tokyo