The Last Geisha - Madame Minako (DVD)
NTSC, Region Code All. Japanese with English subtitles. 59 minutes. Documentary about the 'last geisha' of the Yoshiwara district of Tokyo, 'Madame' Minako. From a young age she trained daily in music and dance and continued until she died in 2010. Filmed by Makoto Yasuhara beginning in 2005, the documentary recreates the atmosphere of a Yoshiwara banquet, with the help of two geisha from Asakusa.
Zen (with English subtitles)
NTSC, Region Code 2, with English subtitles. Stars Kabuki actor Kantaro Nakamura. Story of the Zen Buddhist teacher Dogen Zenji (1200-1253) following his life from training in China to returning to Japan and founding the Soto school of Zen. Special features include making of, photo gallery and trailer. 127 minutes. 2009.
Genji Kuro Sassoki Byakko Nitoryu
NTSC, Region Code 2, 87 minutes.1958. Samurai film starring kabuki actor Kinnosuke Nakamura directed by Sadatsugu Matsuda. Genji Kuro, a descendent of the tragic shogun Minamotono Yoshistune, fights his foes with his secret sword.
Naniwa no Koi no Monogatari (Chikamatsu's Love in Osaka)
NTSC, Region Code 2, 105 minutes. 1959. Directed by Tomu Uchida starring kabuki actor Kinnosuke Nakamura with star actress Ineko Arima and based on the kabuki play written by Monzaemon Chikamatsu. The story evolves around a shy young man brought to a brothel who falls for a prostitute and offers to buy her freedom. They end up committing a crime and running away. The films begins at a bunraku show, features a kabuki scene and concludes back at another bunraku puppet theatre show.
Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 2 - Children
Volume 2 of the Hiroshi Shimizu film collection of 3 DVDs of his films, plus one extra feature DVD of the film Kodomo no Shiki, Four Seasons of Children. This selection is of his films that feature children. All DVDs come with Japanese and English subtitles, Region Code 2. The three titles below (Children in the Wind, Nobuko and Introspection Tower) plus Four Seasons of Children, the follow up to Children in the Wind, also based on a Joji Tsubota novel following the adventures of children over Spring and Autumn (Chapter 1) and Autumn and Winter (Chapter 2) (1939) 146 minutes. The final chapter is unfinished as the original film was lost.
Children in the Wind
Hiroshi Shimizu is known for his sensitive depictions of children and childhood. Children in the Wind (1937) is probably his most popular film in Japan, although one of his more lightweight works. Two brothers are ostracized by their friends because their father is unjustly accused of embezzlement. Based on a novel by Joji Tsubota, author of classic coming of age stories. Stars Reikichi Kawamura, Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Takeshi Sakamoto, Fumiko Okamoto, Shu Kasachi, Masao Hayama and Kozo Bakudan. 86 minutes. Region Code 2.
Stars the actress and singer Mieko Takamine as the heroine Nobuko, a teacher working within the constraints of a conservative school. She soon starts to change the ways of the school with her novel teaching methods. Based on a novel by Bunroku Shishi, also stars Mitsuko Miura, Hideko Kasuga, Fumiko Okamura, Masami Morikawa, Eiko Takamtsu, Choko Iida. 90 minutes, 1940, Region Code 2, Japanese and English subtitles.
Introspection Tower (Mikaheri no Tou)
Introspection Tower is set at a boarding school in the countryside, and asks difficult questions about education through the various experiences of the teachers and students. Shu Kasachi, Shinyo Nara, Kuniko Miyake, Masami Morikawa, Jun Yokoyama, Shinichi Himori, Setsuko Shinobu. 1941, 111 minutes with Japanese and English subtitles, Region Code 2.
Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol.1 - Landscape
Released onto DVD for the first time. Three films plus one extra DVD, a silent film by Hiroshi Shimizu in a box with English subtitles, also available individually as below. Mr Thank You (1936) Masseurs and the Woman (1938) Ornamental Hairpin (1941) and the silent film, Japanese Girls at the Harbour (Minato no Nihon Musume) (1933). Region Code 2, NTSC, 219 minutes plus 78 minutes (silent film). Hiroshi Shimizu (1903-1966) worked at Shochiku studios and is highly regarded both in Japan and by some critics overseas, but somehow lived in the shadow of another great director and his friend, Yasujiro Ozu. The characters in his films are usally outcasts of society, from whose perspective Japanese society is viewed with a sceptical point of view, during what was a troubled time in Japan's history. Many films convey the conflict between personal happiness and fitting into the strict sense of order, the hyprocises of the time, and the contrast between life in the countryside of old Japan and the developing urban lifestyle, with its corruptive ways compared to the more simple and traditional ways of life. The silent film, Japanese Girls at the Harbour 'Minato no Nihon Musume' (1933) features a cast including Michiko Oikawa, Yukiko Inoue and Ranko Sawa. The story is mainly set in Yokohama and is a Western/Japanese encounter involving two schoolgirls Sunako and Dora who attend a Christian school and a young man called Henry. After Henry and Sunako become involved, Henry joins an underworld gang and takes up with a Eurasian girl called Yoko Sheridan. Sunako shoots Yoko, ends up in prison and on release becomes a prostitute working in various harbour cities. An artist attaches himself to her while Henry eventually marries Dora. Sunako eventually leaves for a new life abroad with the bohemian artist who throws his paintings overbaord from the departing ship. The film is noted for its Japanese poetic imagery, beautiful location shots and creating fresh techniques in silent cinema.
Mr Thank You
Mr. Thank You (1936) is based on a short story by Yasunari Kawabata and stars Ken Uehara and Michiko Kuwano. 78 minutes with Japanese / English subtitles Region Code 2, NTSC. As with many Shimizu films, the troubles of the time are very much to the fore, as Japanese militarism, unemployment and poverty are all the subjects of conversations between passengers on a bus, the 'Mr Thank You' being the driver of the bus. One passenger is a girl on her way to be sold into prostitution, while a Korean girl labourer approaches Mr Thank You and tells him that she and her colleagues who have been building the roads in the area, are about to be sent north and asks him to take flowers to her father's grave. Mr Thank You is kind to her and indeed everyone he meets and offers to drive her to the station. Nevertheless, the implication of exploitation of immigrant workers is clear. The film is shot on location and takes place almost in real time mostly within the confines of the bus. Although fairly breezy it has serious undercurrents of concern about the direction Japan is heading.
Masseurs and a Woman
Masseurs and a Woman (1938) 66 minutes with English subtitles. Region Code 2 NTSC starring Mieko Takamine and Shin Tokudaiji. The film is set around an inn in an onsen (hot spring) town. The main characters are a group of blind masseurs and the various visitors to the inn, including an enigmatic woman from Tokyo. A young man and his nephew both take an interest in her, with several unexpected twists to the story.
Ornamental Hairpin (1941) based on a story by Masuji Ibuse, starring Kinuyo Tanaka and Shu Kasachi. 70 minutes with Japanese / English subtitles. The film is set in a hot spring resort, the film's characters, who are guests at the inn are a microcosm of Japanese society. None of them want to return their life outside of the inn. The heroine of the film is Emi, although why she doesn't want to return to Tokyo is kept ambiguous. The militarism of the time is acknowledged with a wounded soldier. The guests at the hotel become an extended family, the resort offering an escape from political and social pressures. Most of the characters do eventually return with the exception of Emi, the owner of the hairpin.
Ninagawa x W. Shakespeare DVD Box IV
Yukio Ninagawa is a theatre director particularly known for his Japanese language productions of Shakespeare, as well as noh and Japanese dramatists. His productions have toured around the world including New York and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. This DVD features two of his Shakespeare productions with a cast comprised of entirely Japanese actors. 'As You Like It' - Jun Oguri (Orlando), Hiroki Narimiya (Rosalind) 'Love's Labour's Lost' - Kazuki Kitamura (Ferdinand), Shunsuke Kubozuka (Dumaine) 300 minutes, Region Code 2.
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DVD that shows what life was like in Japan during the 1950s. The advent of TV, street scenes, airplanes, family life, the birth of rock 'n' roll and more.
Virtual Trip - Tokyo Vol. 1 Daytime to Evening
5.1 ch Surround Sound Hi-Vision DVD. Region Code All, NTSC with English subtitles. Breathtaking scenes of Tokyo in high quality, filmed from a helicopter.
Virtual Trip - Tokyo Vol. 2 Illumination Night
5.1 ch Surround Sound Hi-Vision DVD. Region Code All, NTSC with English subtitles. Night scenes of Tokyo filmed from a helicopter.
TATSUYA NAKADAI, SHIMA IWASHITA, TETSURO TANBA
Director Masahiro Shinoda is one of Japan's leading 'new wave' directors, alongside Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura. He studied the traditional arts of kabuki, noh and bunraku, and his films are known for exploring the soul of Japanese character.Directed by Shinoda with screenplay by Shuji Terayama, Buraikan (1970) is centred around six characters in the Edo period, trying to make a living during Japan's chaotic Tempou revolution (1830-1843) when many restrictions were in force. Based on a stage play, Buraikan brings the art of traditional Kabuki to the small screen. With English subtitles,130 minutes plus special features on DVD. Region code 2. .
SHIMA IWASHITA, DAVID LAMPSON, MAKONIWAMATSU, YOSHIKO MITA, DON KENNY
Powerful film directed by Masahiro Shinoda, music by Toru Takemitsu, based on the novel by Shusaku Endo, winner of the Junichiro Tanizaki award, published in 1966. The story is set in mid 17th century Nagasaki. Two Portuguese missionaries secretly arrive in Nagasaki in order to propagate the spread of Christianity and to search for the missing former teacher of Rodrigo, one of the missionary priests and the main character of the film. A fugitive, Rodrigo struggles under the suppression of Christianity and Christians by the Japanese. When he is captured, he is tortured and renounces his faith. With English subtitles, 130min. Region Code 2.
KENICHI HAGIWARA, SAYOKO NINOMIYA, SHIMA IWASHITA
Kaseki No Mori (The Petrified Forest)
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda, music by Toru Takemitsu, based on the novel by Shintaro Ishihara. The story is about a mother and a son, of love and hate, of good and evil. Haruo is a 25 year old intern at a university hospital who hates his professor and his own mother. One day he meets Eiko, his old classmate and spends the night with her. Eiko tells Haruo how she is disgusted by her boss with whom she is having a relationship. Haruo tells Eiko to kill him... 1973, with English subtitles, 117 minutes plus special features. Region Code 2
TOMISABURO WAKAYAMA, SHIMA IWASHITA, AKIRA NISHIMURA
Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Shita (Under The Blossoming Cherry Trees)
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda, music by Toru Takemitsu, based on the novel by Ango Sakaguchi. A tale of acute human loneliness filled with mystery and fantasy through the relationship of Japanese with the cherry tree. Set in the 12th century, a bandit attacks travelers when they come near the mountain where he lives. He usually kills the men but keeps the women alive, forcing them to become his mistress. One day he comes across a shockingly beautiful woman under a cherry tree in full bloom, in which he believes a demon more evil than himself resides. He carries her on his back and takes her to his house. Granting her wish, they move to the city where he kills people and brings back their heads to please her...1975, with English subtitles, 95 minutes plus special features. Region Code 2.
SHIMA IWASHITA, KIRIN KIKI, YOSHIO HARADA
Hanare Goze Orin (The Ballad of Orin)
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda and music by Toru Takemitsu. A sad love story. Orin is a 'goze' or a blind female travelling musician. As part of the goze code, she is expected to remain celibate. However, she is raped and expelled by the group. She meets a young man, opposed to Japanese militarism. They travel together, but suprisingly he doesn't try to take advantage of her. 1977, with English subtitles, 117 minutes plus special features. Region Code 2.
SHIMA IWASHITA, TETSUYA FUJIOKA, YUJI HORIOKA
Shonen Jidai (Childhood Days)
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda. During World War II many people were forced to flee from the cities to the countryside. This moving film centres around Shinji, a 10 year old boy evacuated from Tokyo, and his new schoolmates in rural Toyama. Shinji is dressed in a relatively smart uniform, compared to the local children. The playground bully is the son of a fisherman,Takeshi, who Shinji soon becomes enemies with. Shinji lets his new mates down to meet a girl from Osaka, and is forced by Takeshi to sing in front of them. Slowly Takeshi's grip on the gang fades. 1990, with English subtitles, trailers and liner notes.
SHIMA IWASHITA, AKIRA NITTA, RENTARO MIKUNI
Shokei No Shima (Captive's Island)
Directed by leading 'new wave' director Masahiro Shinoda, in Captive's Island (1966) a man returns to the island where he was imprisoned to seek revenge, his plans altered when he meets a woman. Based on the novel by Shintaro Ishihara, music by Toru Takemitsu. 86 minutes. English subtitles. Special features for DVD. Region Code 2.
HIROYUKI SANADA, RIE MIYAZAWA etc...
Nominated for an Oscar in the 'Best Foreign Film' category. With English sub-titles and deluxe packaging that includes a photo book of films from throughout director Yoji Yamada's career. Yamada is known for his stunning portrayals that reveal the heart and soul of ordinary Japanese people. Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a lower rank samurai of Shonai, north Japan, who after losing his wife looks after his two young daughters and his old mother. He is called 'Twilight Seibei' by his colleagues as he always leave his work at twilight to return home. He finds happiness in looking after his daugters and unlike his colleagues is unconcerned about getting promoted to a higher rank. A moving film, the love story element provided by co-star, Rie Miyazawa.
TAKESHI KITANO etc...
With English subtitles, directed by Kitano (Beat) Takeshi. A classic samurai epic about a blind assassin's struggle to comply to the strict code of the samurai.
YUSUKE SANTAMARIA, MANAMI KONISHI
Delightful film centered around the Japanese 'soul' food, udon, starring Yusuke Santamaria and Manami Koshi, and featuring Tortoise Matsumoto of the group Ulfuls. 31 year old Kosuke, moves from a small town to New York in search of a new life but finds things more difficult than he had thought. He returns with his tail between his legs, and finds nothing has changed, his father is still making noodles, and a big delicious bowl of udon is awaiting him. He soon discovers the wonders of udon himself which opens up a new way in looking at the world. With English subtitles, Region Code 2.
The advent of cherry blossoms in the Spring is an annual event with 'hanami' cherry blossom viewing and parties taking place. This DVD features scenes from all over Japan set to music with English subtitles. Approx. 60 minutes.
Cherry Blossoms 2
Volume 2 features more cherry blossom scenes from Spring time in Japan. Set to music with English subtitles, approx. 60mins.