A Last Note

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A Last Note
A Last Note.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Kaneto Shindō
Written byKaneto Shindō
Produced by
  • Yasuo Ibata
  • Kiyoshi Mizogami
CinematographyYoshiyuke Miyake
Edited byYukio Watanabe
Music by Hikaru Hayashi
Distributed byNihon Herald Eiga
Release date
  • June 3, 1995 (1995-06-03)
[1] [2]
Running time
112 minutes [1] [2]

A Last Note (午後の遺言状, Gogo no yuigon-jo) is a 1995 Japanese comedy-drama film directed by Kaneto Shindo. [1] [2] It was the last film of actresses Haruko Sugimura [1] and Nobuko Otowa. [3]



Yoko, an aged but still active widowed actress, takes a rest from rehearsals and the hot temperature in Tokyo in her rural summer residence. Toyoko, her housemaid of many years, tells her that the 83-year-old gardener committed suicide, leaving behind a note which simply said, "it's over". On his self-made coffin, he had placed a heavy stone from the nearby riverbed, to be used for nailing the coffin's lid.

Later, Yoko receives a phone call by Mr. Ushiguni, who is on a trip with his wife Tomie, an old friend and former theatre troupe colleague of Yoko. Yoko invites them into her house. Tomie is senile and has memory lapses and difficulties to recognise others, but with Yoko's help, she can still recite passages from Chekhov's plays The Seagull and Three Sisters , which they used to perform many years ago.

The next day, an armed man breaks into the house and demands food from the women at gunpoint. Tomie tries to grab his weapon, and moments later, he is arrested by the police. The intruder turns out to be a mentally ill criminal who had attacked residents of an old people's home, driven mad by their incessant playing croquet. Tomie receives a reward for helping to capture the escapee, but when she, her husband, Yoko and Toyoko go out to have lunch in an exclusive restaurant, they are disappointed to find that the envelope she was handed out contains only 10,000 yen rather than the 300,000 yen they had hoped for.

The Ushigunis leave the summer house to continue their journey. After their departure, Toyoko confesses to Yoko that she had an affair with Yoko's husband Saburo while she was on tour 22 years ago, and that Saburo is the father of Toyoko's daughter Akemi. Yoko is indignant at first, and Toyoko leaves the house, but eventually the women settle their dispute. Later, they attend the traditional "tentative marriage" ceremony of Akemi and her future husband Daigoro, a common local man, and watch various stylized costumed dances of sexual rituals.

The next morning, newspaper journalist Naoko visits Yoko's house, telling her that Tomie and her husband committed shinjū in the ocean near Naoetsu, Niigata. Yoko realises that the couple had been on their last journey and that their visit was Tomie's means of saying goodbye. Together with the journalist, Yoko and Toyoko retrace their final steps. Back in her residence, Yoko packs her suitcase to return to Tokyo, instructing Toyoko to keep the gardener's stone for Yoko's coffin in case she should die. After Yoko has left, Toyoko takes the stone to the river and throws it into the water.



The house in the mountains was director Shindō's actual mountain retreat, and is the same building as the old man's house in Tree Without Leaves. [4] Shindō's wife Nobuko Otowa was diagnosed with terminal cancer during the production and died in December 1994, prior to the film's release. [3]


A Last Note was also shown in competition at the 19th Moscow International Film Festival. [6]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "午後の遺言状 (A Last Note)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database . Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 "午後の遺言状 (A Last Note)" (in Japanese). Kinenote. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  3. 1 2 3 "第 19 回日本アカデミー賞優秀作品 (19th Japan Academy Film Prize)". Japan Academy Film Prize (in Japanese). Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  4. Shindo, Kaneto (2012). Nagase, Hiroko (ed.). 100 sai no ryugi [The Centenarian's Way] (in Japanese). PHP. ISBN   978-4-569-80434-7.
  5. "過去の受賞一覧 (List of past awards)". Hochi Shinbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  6. "19th Moscow International Film Festival (1995)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2021.