I am trying to discover who I am through making movies


The japanese star director Juzo Itami was born on the 15th of May, 1933 in Kyoto, Japan under the name Yoshihiro Ikeuchi and died from a fall out of his office window on the 20th of December, 1997.

Himself the son of a famous pre-war director, Mansaku Itami, he started makiing movies very late in life, directing his first film when he was 50. Before that, he was a jack-of-all-trades, working as a commercial designer, essayist, magazine editor and television reporter. He even acted, mainly in television dramas, and had parts in two big-budget Western films, as well.

His films can be divided into two types. On the one hand, he produced some slightly surreal, episodic looks at Japanese society. For example, Ososhiki dealt with death, Tampopo was a humourous romp through Japanese cuisine with the connecting thread of creating the perfect ramen recipe, while Daibyonin took a darker look at the treatment of cancer patients in Tokyo hospitals, partially based on personal experiences.

On the other hand, he directed a number of films dealing with the troubles of individuals that represent everyone, mostly women, of protecting their families and livelihoods against strong/unbeatable opposition, such as Marusa no Onna, Minbo no Onna and Supa no Onna. In most films, the female lead character was played by Itami's wife, Nobuko Miyamoto

When he produced Minbo no Onna, he got into direct conflict with yakuza interests, because of its tough anti-gang message and because it revealed some inner yakuza secrets as well. Some of the theatres that showed the film were vandalized, and Itami himself was also attacked by two knife-wielding assailants, scarring him for life, and prompting his hospital visit that also inspired Daibyonin.

It is because of these latter incidents that there was wide speculation on the circumstances of his death, some believing it to be murder instead of suicide to prove his innocence of having an affair. There is more on the suicide angle in this excellent node, so I won't go deeper on that.


  • Supa no Onna (1996) (Supermarket Woman)
  • Marutai no Onna (1997)
  • Ososhiki (1984) (The Funeral)
  • Tampopo (1986)
  • Marusa no Onna (1987) (A Taxing Woman)
  • A Taxing Woman's Return (1988)
  • A-ge-man (1990) (Ageman)
  • Minbo no Onna (1992) (Minbo - or the Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion)
  • Daibyonin (1993) (The Last Dance)
  • Shizuka na Seikatsu (1995) (A Quiet Life)
  • Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.