An Inlet of Muddy Water

Last updated

An Inlet of Muddy Water
An Inlet of Muddy Water.jpg
Chikage Awashima and So Yamamura in An Inlet of Muddy Water
Japanese にごりえ
Directed by Tadashi Imai
Produced by
  • Takeo Itō
  • Chieko Yoshida
  • Shizue Miyamoto
Written by
Based onshort stories
by Ichiyō Higuchi
Music by Ikuma Dan
CinematographyShunichiro Nakao
Distributed by Shochiku
Release date
  • 23 November 1953 (1953-11-23) [1]
Running time
130 minutes [1]

An Inlet of Muddy Water (Japanese : にごりえ, romanized: Nigorie) is a 1953 Japanese drama film based on short stories by Ichiyō Higuchi and directed by Tadashi Imai. It was entered into the 1954 Cannes Film Festival [2] and awarded numerous national film prizes.



In three episodes, the film portrays the fate of women during the Meiji era:

1. The Thirteenth Night: Young wife Seki turns up at her parents' house, announcing that she wants to divorce her abusive husband. Her father talks her into returning to her marital home, as her parents' welfare and the career of her brother depend on the marriage, also reminding her that she will have to leave her young son behind. On her way back home in a rickshaw, she discovers that the driver is Rokunosuke, a childhood friend who never got over their separation. They reminisce their once mutual affection, but part ways without an outlook to meeting again.

2. On The Last Day Of The Year: Mine works as a maid in the strict household of Mrs. Yamamura, wife of a wealthy businessman. To help her sick uncle who is in debt, Mine asks her employer to lend her money. Mrs. Yamamura first agrees, but later withdraws her offer. Out of desperation, Mine steals money from a household drawer and gives it to her aunt. Moments before her misdemeanour is revealed, Mrs. Yamamura's carefree son Ishinosuke takes the remaining money to waste it on gambling and drinking, thus obliterating all traces of Mine's theft.

3. Troubled Waters: Courtesan O-Riki is the "star" of a brothel in a red light district. To her disapproval, she is still being followed by her impoverished former patron Genshichi who spent all his money on her. O-Riki gets involved with a new client, Asanosuke, but is reluctant to the possible prospect of marriage, citing her profession and her poor upbringing as reasons. Meanwhile, Genshichi forces his wife and little son to leave him due to her constant complaints that he is unable to support the family. Afterwards, he waylays O-Riki, murders her and commits suicide.


Episode 1 "The Thirteenth Night"

Episode 2 "On The Last Day Of The Year"

Episode 3 "Troubled Waters"

Literary source

An Inlet of Muddy Water is based on Ichiyō Higuchi's short stories The Thirteenth Night (Japanese : 十三夜, romanized: Jusan'ya, 1895), On the Last Day of the Year (Japanese : 大つごもり, romanized: Ōtsugomori, 1894), and Troubled Waters (also: Muddy Bay, Japanese : にごり江, romanized: Nigorie, 1895). Other than the film, Higuchi's original story Troubled Waters ends with the discovery of the bodies of O-Riki and Genshichi and the passersby's speculations whether the two committed shinjū (lovers' double suicide) or O-Riki fell victim to a crime, leaving it to the reader to decide.

Awards and filmhistoric relevance

An Inlet of Muddy Water was awarded the Kinema Junpo Award, the Blue Ribbon Award and the Mainichi Film Award [3] for Best Film and is regarded by film historians as one of director Tadashi Imai's major works. [4] [5] Two additional Mainichi Film Awards went to Imai for Best Direction and Haruko Sugimura as Best Supporting Actress (for An Inlet of Muddy Water and Tokyo Story ). [3]

Related Research Articles

Ichiyō Higuchi Japanese writer

Natsu Higuchi, known by her pen name Ichiyō Higuchi, also known as Natsuko Higuchi, was a Japanese writer from the Meiji Period. Specializing in short stories, she was Japan's first prominent woman writer of modern literature, and also an extensive diarist.

Repast is a 1951 Japanese drama and shomin-geki film directed by Mikio Naruse and starring Setsuko Hara. It is based on the final unfinished novel by Fumiko Hayashi and was the first in a series of adaptations of her work by the director.

Yoshiko Kuga Japanese actress

Yoshiko Kuga is a Japanese actress.

Chikage Awashima Japanese actress

Chikage Awashima was a Japanese film and stage actress.

<i>Super Rescue Solbrain</i>

Super Rescue Solbrain is a Japanese tokusatsu television series produced by Toei Company. It ran for 53 episodes from January 20, 1991 to January 26, 1992 on TV Asahi. It is part of the Metal Hero Series franchise; a sequel to Special Rescue Police Winspector, it is the second series in the Rescue Police Series trilogy.

Haruko Sugimura

Haruko Sugimura was a Japanese stage and film actress, best known for her appearances in the films of Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

1954 Cannes Film Festival

The 7th Cannes Film Festival was held from 25 March to 9 April 1954. With Jean Cocteau as President of the Jury, the Grand Prix went to the Gate of Hell by Teinosuke Kinugasa. The festival opened with Le Grand Jeu by Robert Siodmak. This was the last festival with a predominantly French jury.

Tadashi Imai

Tadashi Imai was a Japanese film director known for social realist filmmaking informed by a left-wing perspective. His most noted films include An Inlet of Muddy Water (1953) and Bushido, Samurai Saga (1963).

Nigorie, translated into English as Troubled Waters and Muddy Water, is a Japanese short story written by Ichiyō Higuchi in 1895. It depicts the fate of a courtesan in the red light district of a nameless town during the Meiji era.

<i>Until We Meet Again</i> (1950 film) 1950 Japanese film directed by Tadashi Imai

Until We Meet Again is a 1950 Japanese anti-war drama film directed by Tadashi Imai. It is based on Romain Rolland's novel Pierre et Luce.

Yūko Mochizuki Japanese actress

Yūko Mochizuki was a Japanese film and theatre actress who already had long stage experience, first with light comedies, later with dramatic roles, before making her film debut. Mochizuki often appeared in the films of Keisuke Kinoshita, but also worked for prominent directors such as Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse. She won the Blue Ribbon Award for best supporting actress for Late Chrysanthemums and for best actress for The Rice People and Unagitori. She was also awarded best actress at the 1953 Mainichi Film Awards for her work on A Japanese Tragedy. In 1971, she ran for the House of Councilors election for the Japan Socialist Party. She died of breast cancer in 1977.

The Thirteenth Night is a Japanese short story by Ichiyō Higuchi first published in 1895. It follows Oseki Harada, a woman married to an abusive husband, who pays her parents a nightly visit to ask for their assent to a divorce.

So Yamamura Japanese actor

So Yamamura was a Japanese actor and film director. He was also known by the name Satoshi Yamamura, while his actual birth name is Koga Hirosada. Yamamura graduated from University of Tokyo.

Shigeru Kōyama Japanese actor

Shigeru Kōyama was a Japanese actor.

<i>With Beauty and Sorrow</i> 1965 Japanese film

With Beauty and Sorrow is a 1965 Japanese drama film directed by Masahiro Shinoda and based on the novel Beauty and Sadness (1964) by the Nobel-winning Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata.

Yoko Mizuki Japanese screenwriter

Yoko Mizuki was a Japanese screenwriter. Born in Tokyo, she later graduated from Bunka Gakuin and began writing screenplays to support her family after her father died. Mizuki was active in the 1950s era of the Japanese studio system and is notable for her work with directors Tadashi Imai and Mikio Naruse. Her work had received several Best Screenplay Awards from Kinema Junpo and has been described in the book Women Screenwriters: An International Guide as "One of the most important and accomplished Japanese female screenwriters of all time".

Fireworks over the Seaa.k.a.Fireworks by the Ocean is a 1951 Japanese drama film written and directed by Keisuke Kinoshita.

On the Last Day of the Year is a Japanese short story by Ichiyō Higuchi first published in 1894. It tells the story of a young housemaid, Omine, who embezzles money from her employers to help a sick relative.


  1. 1 2 "にごりえ (An Inlet of Muddy Water)". Japanese Movie Database (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  2. "Festival de Cannes: An Inlet of Muddy Water". Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  3. 1 2 "8th Mainichi Film Awards 1953" (in Japanese). Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  4. Anderson, Joseph L.; Richie, Donald (1959). The Japanese Film – Art & Industry. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company.
  5. Jacoby, Alexander (2008). Critical Handbook of Japanese Film Directors: From the Silent Era to the Present Day. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN   978-1-933330-53-2.