Akira Kurosawa | Sanshiro Sugata
| The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail |
Stray Dog | Scandal
| The Idiot | The Bad Sleep Well
| High and Low | Kagemusha The Shadow Warrior
| Dreams | Rhapsody in August
Classic Film and Television Home Page
Kurosawa is a major Japanese film director.
Sanshiro Sugata (1943) was the first film that Kurosawa
directed. It is one of his best. The title is the name of the
lead character, a young man studying martial arts. Set in 1882,
it is not quite the typical Japanese historical drama, which tends
to take place much earlier, but its setting does invoke tradition,
and the "old ways" of doing things.
The whole film is really beautiful to look at. It is a very enjoyable
viewing experience, and shows Kurosawa's skills at their peak.
The scene at the meadow at the end reminded me of the scene in
Dreams, many years later, of the giant flowers. One of
the most beautiful images in this film is of the lotus.
Construction in Scenes
The film breaks down into a series of scenes, each around 10 to 15 minutes long.
Each scene is a mini drama, in Kurosawa's best style, a little
self-contained play. Within each scene Kurosawa shows his great
inventiveness with visual composition and camera angles. For example:
Kurosawa's approach causes his film to have a different,
and refreshing, pace from those of many other directors. Scenes
do not follow as rapidly from each other, as they do in many other
filmmakers. This gives Kurosawa a chance to explore each scene
in depth, for its characterizations, drama, and ideas. In theory,
it sounds as if this slower succession of scene changes should
lead to a slow paced film. However, Kurosawa's continuous inventiveness
with his camera, lends each scene in fact a fast pace, a sense
that a lot new is always happening on screen.
- For the segment in which the hero is in the water, no two shots
of the hero seem to be alike. Each is invented new and differently.
- Similarly, the succession of love scenes on the outdoor stairs
show an immense range of invention. Admittedly, this is a very
photogenic setting that even a lesser director could make visually
pleasing, but Kurosawa's endless progression of different kinds
of shots is absolutely virtuosic.
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945) is a short
film for Kurosawa, just an hour long, and made on a small
budget. It is a good movie, and should be better known.
Large Scale Discussions in Kurosawa
Although a samurai film, it is the kind of drama found more often in Kurosawa's
modern day films, such as Ikuru (1952), the first half
of High and Low (1963) and Rhapsody in August (1991).
All of these films are favorites of mine among Kurosawa's works.
All of these dramas are in depth examinations of a group of characters
and a single theme. They often have a restricted locale: High
and Low spends an hour in the hero's living room, for example;
here the location is a few areas in a mountain forest. Intellectually,
I can recognize that these films are much slower paced than most
movies. Action is slowed down, so that the characters can thoroughly
explore some issue, which is discussed in depth. There are also
rich character studies along the way. Emotionally, however, these
films do not feel slow. On the contrary, they speed by like the
wind, and are completely gripping.
Moving to Better Values, Rather than War
Tiger depends on two outstanding performance. Kenichi Enimoto
is the comic porter. He gives a rich comic portrait of how an
ordinary, working class guy looks at the upper crust samurai code.
His performance opens the film, and gives a refreshing non standard
twist to the usual solemnity of feudal epics. He is also a humane
character: someone with non violent, non militaristic values who
represents common human feelings, and rich everyday life. Denjiro
Okochi plays the samurai leader, Benkei. His performance only
slowly emerges during the film, and provides much of the dramatic
substance, thematic meaning, and suspense of the later portions
of the movie. He profoundly represents civilization. He expresses
religious values. And also the richness of literature, with his
complex poetic dialogue. These values, too, gradually subvert
the samurai ethos of the characters in the film: an ethos that
the pacifistic Kurosawa believes is wrong headed, a product of
a superficial, mindlessly violent view of life. Kurosawa suggests
that we should stand back from the conflicts of war, nationalism
and other calamities of the modern world, and instead look subtly
for much deeper and humane values. The patriotic and militaristic
ideologies that support such war should be weighed against deeper
religious and humane values, and be replaced.
Benkei's scheme at first is just represented as a device to get
past the barrier. Gradually however, it seems to take on a life
of its own. It causes new values and a new way of living to take
over, and slowly replace the values and life style that have dominated
the characters up to that time. Benkei never quite gives the show
away: he never quite suggests that this is what he is consciously
doing. It just happens, after a titanic struggle on his part.
The two characters he is trying to "deceive" by his
stratagem are also strikingly paradoxical characters. The sympathetic
magistrate is deceived by his stratagem, but only because he wants
to be. He is a man with a deep desire to return to civilization
after the ugliness of war. His militaristic associate is not deceived.
In some ways, this would normally make the associate "smarter":
after all, truth is an important value, and on the surface, this
war mongering aide is in possession of the truth. However, it
is the magistrate who knows what is important in life, and is
deeply impressed by the values Benkei represents. The magistrate,
like Benkei, also subverts the samurai ethos around him. He wants
a return to values that have been lost in the fighting. His profession
is a clue: he is not a soldier. Rather, he was a man whose job
it was to uphold law and order in his province, presumably from
a time before the war started. So his behavior represents a connection
with a deep current of life: civilization and humane life.
The music in the film is unusual by Hollywood standards: songs
whose lyrics directly comment on the action. It reminds one, to
a degree, of Prokofiev's score for Sergei Eisenstein's
Alexander Nevsky (1938), which also has similar songs.
Two montages in this film are striking. Both involve quick cuts
to a series of close-ups of the major characters:
Both montages have considerable power.
- The first occurs near the beginning, when Kurosawa shows the six bodyguards
reacting to the porter.
- The second occurs at the climax of the drama, showing
all the characters reacting to Benkei's speech.
A Japanese Film Noir: Links to American Semi-Documentary Film
Stray Dog (1949) was inspired by the American film The
Naked City (1948), according to interviews with Kurosawa.
The Naked City (directed by Jules Dassin)
is a police drama that used hidden camera photography to show
real life images of crowds in New York City. It was part of a
trend in American film during the 1945 - 1951 period, to make
crime dramas that were realistic in detail and shot on
location. Stray Dog has similar vivid photography of Tokyo.
The photography is packed with crowds, who are seething through
many of the shots.
Kurosawa's interviews state that the film is
showing specific neighborhoods of Tokyo. Unfortunately, I know
too little about that city to know where Kurosawa is shooting
in each scene; and the film's narration never tries to make this
clear, either. The Naked City has a detailed voice over narration
that often identifies locations in New York City, while Stray
Dog's narration ends a few minutes after the start of the film.
Stray Dog shows elements similar to the other American
police semi-documentaries of the period:
The Naked City contains both a young handsome policeman
(Don Taylor), and an older experienced cop who is mentoring him
(Barry Fitzgerald). Stray Dog has a similar structure.
However, in Kurosawa's film, it is the young policeman played
by Toshiro Mifune, who steals the show, while in City,
Fitzgerald's older cop is the focus of the action. Partly this
is because Mifune is such a dynamic performer, but it is also
because Stray Dog is designed to make the younger cop the
- The police hero disguises
himself as a low life, and makes a mild attempt to go undercover
on the streets of Tokyo, and make contact with criminal bands.
This is similar to the more elaborate undercover operations in
films like Anthony Mann's T-Men
(1947) and William Keighley's
The Street With No Name (1948). Kurosawa's film seems especially
close to The Street With No Name; in both films, the hero
dresses like a rough, tough bum, and enters a raffish but appealing
world of arcades and eateries.
- Stray Dog shows the operation of such technical police bureaus as
the ballistics lab and the crime index room; such scenes of high tech police facilities
are common in such American semi-documentaries as Street.
- We see a pistol training range, just as in Street.
Comparison with The Idiot
In Kurosawa's work, Stray Dog pairs with The Idiot
(1951), as two films with a similar approach:
Mifune's characters in the two films have many similarities. In
both films he is a dandy, dressed in glamorous modern clothes,
and mainly clean shaven. He seems young, and often naive about
society. In both films he is intensely emotional, playing characters
that are very different from the macho, controlled Samurai figure
he portrayed in The Hidden Fortress, for instance. Both
films are full of scenes where he pleads with often perverse women
to give him something: love in The Idiot, information in
Stray Dog. Usually, he is not immediately successful, if
at all. In both films his emotionalism eventually leads to a nervous
breakdown, which is displayed on screen at full force.
- Both works serve
as a documentary about a particular region of Japan: Tokyo in
Stray Dog, Hokkaido in The Idiot. In fact, it is
hard to imagine a film more expressive of what 1949 Tokyo was
like than Stray Dog.
- Both films have numerous train scenes.
- Both take place in a solstice, during extreme weather: The
Idiot takes place in the dead of winter, during blizzards;
Stray Dog during a midsummer heat wave.
- In both films we
see weather through the windows of buildings: torrential rains
in Stray Dog, snow in The Idiot.
- There are also scenes pointing upward, allowing us to see the stars.
- Kurosawa emphasizes the "Westernization" of both regions: people
in Tokyo are beginning to adopt Western dress, with much American
music on the soundtrack, not to mention dancing and baseball,
while The Idiot stresses the similarities of Hokkaido to
- Both films are contemporary dramas, not historical films like
so much of Kurosawa's work.
- Both films have suffering central
characters, and Stray Dog by extension is also about the
suffering of the Japanese people.
- Both have a humanistic, anti-war
theme, as a subsidiary motif in the drama, recalling the war that
was just over. Stray Dog has much casual but pointed commentary
about the way the recently disbanded Japanese Army abused its
recruits, with frequent references to beatings. This sort of blunt
social criticism is a notable feature.
Both films contain an intense close up of Mifune's eyes, which
then dissolves into city scenes. This scene in a high point of
both pictures. Both launch brilliant sequences of Mifune trailing
another character through the streets.
Links to Other Kurosawa Films
Scandal (1950) relates to a number of other Kurosawa features.
The Idiot. The characterization by Mifune of an artist anticipates his flamboyant
role in The Idiot. These show Mifune broadening his range,
and playing characters other then men of action. His performance
as the artist here is excellent. He creates a dynamic, idealistic,
kind-heated and refreshingly human and real seeming character.
This is a believable and likable hero.
Mifune's studio anticipates
his elaborate lair in The Idiot. The heavy looking furniture
and chairs here anticipates the distinctive Hokkaido look of the
later film, as does the extensive use of wood in this building.
The floor to ceiling windows anticipate the studio windows
of the heroine's house in The Idiot.
Stray Dog. Scandal also recalls Stray Dog in being a film set
among modern day people in contemporary Tokyo - always an interesting
setting for Kurosawa, whose modern day films tend to be a bit
undervalued by some viewers. The many beautiful exteriors of Tokyo
recall Stray Dog. They are not as extensive as in
the earlier film, but they are visually spectacular. Kurosawa
creates superb compositions out of his cityscapes. He uses
multiple superimpositions, within a montage sequence. These recall
in their complexity the dissolves of Sternberg.
The shots in these dissolves often involve motion, being tracking
shots of moving busses and vehicles in the Tokyo streets.
Ikuru. The intense scenes where the crooked lawyer agonizes over the
worthlessness of his life seem like a dry run for Ikuru.
They employ the same actor, but have a more comic tone in
this film. Still, their grim seriousness threatens to overbalance
the otherwise comic mood of Scandal. I confess I like these
sections the least of all scenes in the movie.
High and Low. The scenes shot through grillwork in the publisher's office anticipate
the finale of High and Low, where a conversation takes
place through a grid in a prison. Kurosawa uses the grillwork
for richly inventive compositions. A long take sequence,
which starts outside the publisher's private office, then moves
inside it, is particularly complexly staged.
The scenes towards
the beginning, which show groups of reporters clustered alternately
around the artist and publisher, also recall the group scenes
with policemen at the station in the second half of High and
Low. Kurosawa likes to create compositions, showing groups
of men all performing their job.
The Idiot (1951) is an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel.
It is far more of a serious drama than such later Kurosawa Shakespeare
adaptations as Throne of Blood and Ran, which transform
Shakespeare into Samurai adventure.
In Dostoyevsky's novel, the hero is motivated by explicitly Christian
beliefs. In the film, the hero is actuated by a universal compassion.
This is a translation of Dostoyevsky's ideas into a form consistent
with Buddhist teachings. Kurosawa shows consistent sympathy with
Buddhism throughout his works. The monks in The Men Who Tread
on the Tiger's Tail might be impostors, but the Buddhist doctrines
they preach gradually make an impact on themselves and others,
and become the moral core of the film. In The Lower Depths
(1957), the itinerant Buddhist priest gives hope and compassion
to the other characters. And in Rhapsody in August, the
Buddhist memorial prayer ceremony is a moving ritual.
Location Photography: Hokkaido
The Idiot contains stunning photography of the Northern
Japanese island of Hokkaido in the wintertime. Hokkaido has its
own architectural style, which is different from that of mainstream
Japanese architecture of the Southern Islands. It relies on heavy
buildings made out of wood, firmly constructed to withstand the
fierce winters and heavy snows of the region. The houses and landscapes
reminded me irresistibly of my own American Middle West, where
I have lived most of my life. In fact, if someone had shown me
a random clip from this movie before I'd seen it, I would have
tagged it as an American film shot somewhere in Illinois or Wisconsin.
This convergence in style is probably due to the common weather
needs of both Hokkaido and the Midwest; after all, both regions
have to cope with snow and cold. Still, it gives The Idiot
an unique look, very different from most Japanese movies. For
some reason, very few classic Japanese films were ever set in
Hokkaido. It does not look at all like a "typical" Japanese
film. Combined with its Russian story, the film seems to be taking
place in a different world from that of standard Japanese film.
Among the most vivid scenes in The Idiot is the ice carnival.
This is a visual extravaganza that reminds one of the films of
Orson Welles. This scene, and the guests
at the engagement party, display Kurosawa's ability to direct
crowds. The complex movements of many different people make exciting
visual effects on the screen.
The outdoor scenes in The Idiot show snow, snow and more
snow. This is very photogenic. But one wonders if Kurosawa really
placed his actors in these outdoor areas, or whether he used process
photography to shoot them against rear projections of snow footage.
Similarly, every time the heroine sits down to play her piano
in her house, a blizzard is raging through the window. Is this
back projection, or did Kurosawa actually wait to shoot these
scenes for a major blizzard to appear? Back in the days before
Global Warming, we used to get such huge snows here in the Middle
West. The tall drifts that occur in the later stages of The
Idiot used to be common in Milwaukee when I lived there in
the late 1970's.
Architecture and Sets
I loved the ornate room the Mifune character has - it is
really original. He also gets to wear spectacular clothes, like
the quilted dressing gown with the embroidered dragons on the
lapels - it is like something a fantasy gangster would wear, not
the merchant's son he plays in the film. All this helps contribute
to the film's unique look.
Each main home in The Idiot has its own style, which contributes
to the characterization of the people who live there:
- The Ono family home is the most Westernized looking, and at the same time
the most solidly bourgeois. Its wooden stolidity and heavy furniture
marks it as a bastion of middle class family life and normalcy.
- The heroine's house, given to her as the kept woman of a rich
man, is also entirely Westernized, but much more sophisticated.
It looks a lot like the fancy beach cottage Joan Crawford owned
in Mildred Pierce (1945). Its studio windows, and large
rooms designed for parties, make it seem the home of chic socialites.
- The Kamada inn is the most Japanese looking, with sliding screens
and a traditional looking Japanese entrance gate. Its inhabitants
also seem like the most conventional people in the story.
- Mifune's home looks neither Western nor Japanese. Instead, it is an extravagant
Gothic fantasy that looks like nothing else on Earth. It is a
great location for Mifune's equally flamboyant character.
The technique of The Idiot recalls such earlier Kurosawa
films as The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945).
The story is made up of a handful of long scenes. Each includes
several characters, all interacting in a single setting. Much
of the drama in each scene involves character revelation. As we
enter a scene, typically we know little or nothing about the personalities
of most of the people in it. Throughout the scene, as the characters
talk and act, we learn all about them as people. By the end of
the scene, we have a full character sketch of their personality,
talents, emotions and ideas.
Kurosawa's approach has both strengths
and weaknesses. It makes for rich drama. The viewer is usually
surprised at what happens, which is often very original and imaginative.
The viewer is also often kept in considerable suspense - how will
these people react? On the negative side, the viewer is often
kept in the dark about the people for far longer than in a conventional
film. One can be two hours into this drama, and still not yet
know basic facts about characters that have been wandering through
its frames nearly from the start. Some exposition would have come
long before in many conventional movies.
To be fair to Kurosawa,
his original print was apparently 4 and a half hours, which does
not seem to be available to anyone today; the version I've seen
on video is the 166 minute one, with over an hour and a half chopped
out by the studio. This will play havoc with exposition, and the
little details that mean so much to character development. It
is odd, that for all of Kurosawa's huge prestige both in Japan
and the world, that no one ever seems to release director's cuts
of this film or Dodes'ka-den (1970), chopped from 244 to
140 minutes for release.
Several compositions in The Idiot are based on triangles.
Kurosawa likes to show three people, two of whose heads are on
a horizontal line, the third of whose head is in between, and
which forms the vertex of a triangle. Sometimes this head is on
top, as in the portrait shot with the two men on the horizontal
base, and the woman's photograph forming the upper vertex. Less
frequently, the vertex is on the bottom: one of the last shots
at the engagement party shows the head of Kameda below that of
a horizontal line formed by Mifune and the heroine. Even when
there are only two characters in the shot, an inanimate object
can form a triangle. The heroine is often paired up with fire,
either through the fireplace in her home, or the stove in Mifune's
room. She, Mifune and the stove form a triangular composition
in one shot.
The remarkable dissolve between Mifune's eye's and the hero also
places the hero at the apex of a triangle formed by the eyes.
This is one of several scenes in the film that involve superimposition.
We also recall the scene at the photographer's window, and the
shot where the hero seems to see Mifune reflected in his table
top through a store window.
Interior shots in The Idiot are often architectural in
composition, taking advantage of building shapes in the background
to form the pattern of the composition. Kurosawa likes to show
deep focus shots of the interiors stretching away behind the characters:
The location photography of the streets of Hokkaido shows some
similarity with that of Tokyo two years before in Stray Dog
(1949). Both films serve as documentaries on their environments.
Kurosawa often shows a straight horizontal approach in his street
compositions in The Idiot. The street forms a horizontal
segment, so do the stores and buildings above it.
- One shot in Mifune's home shows Mifune and the hero talking, with
an open corridor between them stretching off into the distance.
- Early scenes at Ayako's home are based on seeing rooms and the
staircase through a door that is sometimes opened and sometimes
- There is also the bridge shot, where the hero sees a man,
who may be Mifune, in the distance down a long perspective part
of the bridge. Steam obscures this then clears, just like the
opening and closing door in the house.
The Bad Sleep Well
This revenge melodrama is not as good as Kurosawa's other films,
but it has its moments. It deals with a young man who assumes
a new identity to avenge his father's death at the hands of a
conspiracy of high powered crooked businessmen. The Bad Sleep
Well (1960) is among the first films known to me to deal with
such a group of white collar criminals. It seems to be the prototype
for the vast number of 1970's and 1980's American TV films dealing
with this sort of crook. Kurosawa's corrosive portrait of the
powerful and corrupt anticipates the corporate power struggles
in High and Low, and the warlords attempting to take over
Japan in Kagemusha. The young avenger seems like a figure
out of Victorian melodrama, however, or one of the lesser pulps.
Neither he nor his schemes ever seem remotely believable. This
vitiates what could have been a more interesting film.
Kurosawa's sense of wide screen composition is not as good here as in High
and Low, either, although there is a well shot scene on top
of a cliff that is visually striking.
The best scene in the film
is the opening, dealing with a society wedding reception. This
is one of Kurosawa's long, well done drama sequences, that seem
like plays. I was hoping it would go on a lot longer than it did
- maybe for an hour, instead of the 20 minutes or so it takes
in the film.
The other big problem I have with this film is that
I am just not into revenge as a theme. It seems petty and horrifying.
High and Low
High and Low (1963) is a thriller, from the days in which
movie thrillers were genuinely thrilling. Kurosawa manages to
generate almost limitless excitement, in his masterpiece
in the mystery genre.
The first half, the events leading up to
the ransom payoff, takes place almost entirely in the hero's living
room. It is in the tradition of Ikuru, an intense dramatic
encounter among a group of characters, in which they all discuss
some central issue.
The second half concentrates on the police investigation.
It is not quite as gripping as the first part,
but it is still well done. It cross cuts between group discussions
of the police, as they work on the case, to shots of the police
doing the leg work they have just described. These shots move
all over Yokohama, and remind one of the Tokyo montage sequences
in Stray Dog (1949).
Both films also concentrate on male
bonding. Ultimately, some women characters emerge in both films'
police manhunts. They are of the Degraded Woman type, in this
case, a junkie. It's a type that seems to both fascinate and appall
Kurosawa. This film also resembles Stray Dog in that it
takes place during intense summer heat. Men are always mopping
their brows, or fanning themselves. (This fanning started right
in Kurosawa's first film, Sanshiro Sugata (1943).) There
is also an older and younger policeman in each film. Each of the
numerous police characters in High and Low gets his own
well thought out, distinctive personality.
Both the discussions in the living room, and the group sessions
of the police, are shot with considerable ingenuity. Kurosawa
comes up with some new composition for each scene, different from
the others, and dramatically appropriate for the relationships
being depicted on screen. These are remarkably inventive, and
show a visual virtuosity. They are less pictorial, and less sheerly
beautiful, than Mizoguchi's or Naruse's, but they are highly creative,
none the less.
Kagemusha The Shadow Warrior
Kagemusha (1980) is the best of Kurosawa's late spectacle
films. I much prefer it to what film history books describe as
his official masterpiece, Ran / Chaos (1985). The story
of an ordinary man who has to pretend to be a major leader, Kagemusha
has an emotionally involving look at a sympathetic character at
its core. It also has a visually elaborate, well done historical
spectacle sweeping around it.
Kagemusha deals with a subject
of real historical importance: the consolidation of power in Japan
in a central military government during the Momoyama period. This
followed hundreds of years of civil war, and led to the stable
period of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kagemusha depicts the
battle for rule of Japan, as centering around three rivals. Typical
of Kurosawa's trenchant critique of history, he shows the victory
going to the most ruthless and immoral of the three men. This
is not a whitewash of history, but a serious look at its dark
The Shakuhachi: A Japanese Flute
The Japanese flute known as the shakuhachi plays a role in the
tale. Shakuhachi music is used in Japanese culture to depict people's
most intimate feelings. One of the best known works in its repertoire
is "Depicting the Cranes Leaving Their Nest", a look
at the sadness of parents when their children leave home. This
ancient tradition survives today. I saw a modern Japanese TV movie
dealing with business corruption on PBS. It was mainly set in
gleaming skyscraper office buildings. Yet, at the climax of the
drama, when the hero and his wife have to make a decision about
the corruption, out comes the shakuhachi music on the soundtrack.
It expressed their deep anguish and resolve over the situation,
as well as their marital feelings.
Kurosawa draws on this tradition
in Kagemusha. There is what at first looks like a humanist
scene in Kagemusha. The playing of the shakuhachi during
a truce can be heard by both sides during a lull in a battle.
Men on both sides of the fight listen to the music, expressing
their common deep humanity and idealistic feelings. But one of
the commanders betrays and exploits this moment of idealism by
ordering a surprise resumption of the fighting. It is a shocking
moment. It shows a modernistic concern for war and power riding
roughshod over the highest values of traditional Japanese culture.
The scene symbolizes the process of historical change going on
in Japan, as a new ruthlessness in fighting takes over the society.
One of the last films of the great 80 year old Japanese director,
Dreams (1990) consists of 8 short film versions of dreams,
all on various subjects. Slow moving but visually beautiful.
Kurosawa has always been socially conscious,
and many of the dreams contain simple minded but heartfelt environmental
warnings. It is both surprising and logical to see Kurosawa going
Green at the end of his career.
Rhapsody in August
Rhapsody in August (1991) is one of the most gripping and
absorbing of Kurosawa's later films. It serves as a memorial to
those killed at Nagasaki during the dropping of the atomic bomb
in 1945. Kurosawa's point of view is pacifist. War itself
is repeatedly blamed for the bomb. The film argues strongly against
the use of warfare itself in the future, and warns people that
wars are still going on.
Growing Links between East and West
A major theme of the film is the rapprochement between Japan and
the United States, seen as a good thing. The Japanese family
in the film has just discovered that they have American cousins,
living in Hawaii. The family in fact should not be considered
as purely "Japanese" any more; it is a mixture of Japanese
and American, Asian and white. This is considered by Kurosawa
as a good thing. The kids in the film all speak English, which
they have learned in school, and they are typically clothed in
sweatshirts bearing the logos of American Universities. Kurosawa
uses this to show the growing Americanization of Japanese culture.
Similarly, there is a recognition that America is becoming more
Japan influenced. The Japanese-American cousins in Hawaii are
persons of major wealth and influence in American life, with a
world wide business empire. Although they are of mixed race, they
have kept up with Japanese language and traditions, and can serve
as a bridge between the two cultures.