Early-Career Scholar Forum

“Japaneseness” of Ozu Yasujiro’s Films in Critical Discourses from the Late 1950s to the Early 1960s

Friday, 29 July 2022 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Hyewon Koo Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director

Since American scholars interpreted Ozu Yasujiro(1903~1963)’s aesthetics as Japanese traditional value in the 1970s, a number of studies about “Japaneseness” in his works have been conducted. However, those studies have not sufficiently examined discourses by Ozu’s contemporaries on the “Japaneseness” of his films. Ozu’s “Japaneseness” discussed from the late 1950s to the early 1960s was not just meant to characterize his films but rather to reflect the conflict between post-war generation directors and the masters in the world of Japanese cinema. Focusing on the critical discourses in his lifetime, this study aims to clarify how the aspects of their conflict intertwined with the meaning of Ozu’s “Japaneseness”. Consequently, it is revealed that Ozu’s Japaneseness had complex meanings even though it was primarily considered as a symbol of old tradition to be abandoned by young generations from the late 1950s.


Hyewon Koo is now working as a postdoctoral project researcher at Dongseo University in Korea. She received her Ph.D. in the field of aesthetics from the University of Tokyo in March 2022 and won a dean’s award for the outstanding doctoral thesis. Her main research interests include Ozu Yasujiro’s films and the history of Japanese cinema. Recently, she is preparing for publication of her doctoral thesis which focuses on the history of criticism of “Japaneseness” of Ozu Yasujiro’s films.