A Japanese Tragedy (1953)


A Japanese Tragedy (日本の悲劇, Nihon no higeki), also known as Tragedy of Japan (alternative US title), is a 1953 Japanese drama film written and directed by Keisuke Kinoshita. The film tells the story of a mother who has to raise two children during and after World War II, but whose children reject her.

Kinoshita interspersed newsreel footage within the film in an attempt to relate the story of the film to the wider context of Japan’s post-war difficulties.


War widow Haruke, mother of two children, gets involved in prostitution during and after the Second World War to raise money for the family and secure the children a proper education. Her son Seiichi and daughter Utako, sharing a flat of their own, are embarrassed by their mother’s activities and reluctant to her visits. Eager to cut ties with his past and poor upbringing, Seiichi, a medical student, aims at being adopted by an upper-class family. His sister Utako studies dressmaking and attends an English language school, engaging with her married teacher. Eventually, Seiichi’s plan fulfils, while Utako, who claims that she can’t lead a normal relationship after being raped by a cousin as a child, evokes a marital crisis. When Haruke finally realises that she has lost both her children, she commits suicide.


  • Yūko Mochizuki as Haruko Inoue.
  • Yōko Katsuragi as Utako, Haruko’s daughter.
  • Masumi Taura as Seiichi, Haruko’s son.
  • Teiji Takahashi as Sato.
  • Keiji Sada as Tatsuya, a street musician.
  • Ken Uehara as Masayuki Akazawa, the English teacher.
  • Sanae Takasugi as Mrs. Akazawa.
  • Keiko Awaji as Wakamaru, a geisha.


Kinoshita won both the Mainichi Film Award and Blue Ribbon Award for best screenplay in 1953. Yūko Mochizuki won the 1953 Mainichi Film Award for best actress.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Keisuke Kinoshita.
  • Producer(s):
    • Takashi Koide … producer.
    • Ryôtarô Kuwata … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Keisuke Kinoshita.
  • Music:
    • Chûji Kinoshita.
  • Cinematography:
    • Hiroshi Kusuda.
  • Editor(s):
  • Production:
    • Shichiku.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Shochiku Company of America Inc. (1979) (USA) (theatrical) (subtitled).
    • Shochiku (1953) (Japan) (theatrical).
    • Filmfreak Distributie (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD).
    • Shochiku Home Video (2008) (Japan) (DVD).
  • Release Date: 17 June 1953 (Japan).
  • Running Time: 116 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: Japan.
  • Language: Japanese.

Video Link(s)

Currently unavailable.

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