Tokyo Chorus

Last updated

Tokyo Chorus
Directed by Yasujirō Ozu
Written by Komatsu Kitamura (adaptation)
Kōgo Noda (scenario)
Produced by Shochiku Kinema
Starring Tokihiko Okada
Emiko Yagumo
Cinematography Hideo Shigehara
Edited byHideo Shigehara
Distributed byShochiku
Release date
  • 15 August 1931 (1931-08-15)(Japan)
Running time
90 min.
Languages silent film
Japanese intertitles

Tokyo Chorus (東京の合唱, Tōkyō no kōrasu) is a 1931 Japanese silent film directed by Yasujirō Ozu and starring Tokihiko Okada and Emiko Yagumo. It was based on various stories in the Shoshimin-gai (Middle Class Avenue) series and shares influences with King Vidor's The Crowd . [1] Most of the film takes place in Tokyo during a depression-like time in the beginning of the Shōwa period.



The story starts with a group of young men attending school drills under the direction of Mr. Omura (Tatsuo Saitō). Shinji Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) is seen goofing off, misbehaving, and upsetting his teacher. Okajima is disciplined, the drills resume. and the boys eventually graduate and go into the working world. Okajima has grown up, has a family, and works as an insurance salesman. On the day of their annual bonuses, the men are all anxious. Okajima's son (Hideo Sugawara) has his heart set on a bicycle. After receiving his bonus, Okajima writes the list of presents he will buy for his family. A co-worker named Rou-Shain Yamada (Takeshi Sakamoto) is laid off because his last two clients died shortly after signing their policies. Upset for him, Okajima gathers the other workers to "protest at least once" to the boss, but the others back down, and one such worker (Isamu Yamaguchi) challenges Okajima to make the protest himself. Okajima takes the challenge. While in the office, the boss is offended at the subject, and the two begin a comedic fight. By the end of the fight, Okajima is fired and bows as he leaves. He returns home with a scooter for his son, who immediately is disappointed and throws a tantrum. His wife Tsuma Sugako (Emiko Yagumo) returns from the market and tries to calm the boy while Choujo tells her what happened.

Sugako scolds her husband saying he should not lie to children. He eventually shows her his discharge notice, and she tries to get her son to accept the scooter. Chounan refuses, and Okajima says quietly that they should buy him a bike, which by the next scene they apparently have. Still looking for employment, Okajima does his best to be pleasant. He sees his son playing with a group of boys and their bikes only to be told that Miyoko is sick with "childhood diarrhea". Upset, he takes his son and rushes home to find it is true. Sugako informs him the doctor wanted Miyoko to stay at the hospital, but due to money concerns, she waited. Okajima says he will make the money somehow and tells his son to summon a rickshaw to take them all to the hospital. At the hospital, Miyoko recovers apparently quickly, but they are forced to sell Sugako's kimono to pay the bill.

Still in need of work, a well-dressed Okajimo encounters Mr. Omura, his old teacher. Omura has quit teaching and now runs a restaurant called The Calorie Café that mainly serves curry rice. He offers Okajima a temporary job holding a banner and passing out flyers; the very job Douryou ended up with earlier in the film after he was fired. Okajima is disappointed as he feels it is beneath him; but takes it for his family. Sugako is distraught at the thought of her husband working such a degrading job, but decides to join them at the restaurant.

One day, Sugako, Tsuma, Mr. and Mrs Omura (Choko Iida) are cooking big plates of curry rice. Omura invites his schoolmates to the restaurant for a meeting. The class sits at the table and drinks happily. As they eat, a letter arrives from the Ministry of Education; it is a notification of a job for Okajima, teaching English in a small rural town at a girls school. After discussing the matter, Okajima and his wife return to the dining room, and the final student arrives "late as always". Everyone celebrates and breaks out into song.


The film was released in Japan in 1931. It did not see a release in the U.S. until 1982. It was released in Japan on DVD as part of a box set from Shochiku Company in 2003. It was released with a new score by Donald Sosin on DVD in the U.S. in 2008 through The Criterion Collection. [2]


Tokihiko Okada Shinji Okajima
Emiko YagumoSugako, Shinji's wife
Hideo Sugawaratheir seven-year-old son
Hideko Takamine Miyoko, their daughter
Tatsuo Saitō Ōmura Sensei, a teacher
Chōko Iida Mrs Ōmura
Takeshi SakamotoYamada, an elderly employee
Reikō Tanithe company president
Ken'ichi Miyajimathe president's secretary
Kanji Kawarathe doctor
Isamu YamaguchiShinji's colleague

Related Research Articles

<i>Late Spring</i> 1949 Japanese film

Late Spring is a 1949 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu and written by Ozu and Kogo Noda, based on the short novel Father and Daughter by the 20th-century novelist and critic Kazuo Hirotsu. The film was written and shot during the Allied Powers' Occupation of Japan and was subject to the Occupation's official censorship requirements. Starring Chishū Ryū, who was featured in almost all of the director's films, and Setsuko Hara, marking her first of six appearances in Ozu's work, it is the first installment of Ozu’s so-called "Noriko trilogy", succeeded by Early Summer and Tokyo Story ; in each of which Hara portrays a young woman named Noriko, though the three Norikos are distinct, unrelated characters, linked primarily by their status as single women in postwar Japan.

<i>Tokyo Story</i> 1953 Japanese film by Yasujiro Ozu

Tokyo Story is a 1953 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu and starring Chishū Ryū and Chieko Higashiyama about an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. Upon release, it did not immediately gain international recognition and was considered "too Japanese" to be marketable by Japanese film exporters. It was screened in 1957 in London, where it won the inaugural Sutherland Trophy the following year, and received praise from U.S. film critics after a 1972 screening in New York City.

<i>Early Summer</i> 1951 Japanese film

Early Summer is a 1951 Japanese drama by Yasujirō Ozu. Like most of Ozu's post-war films, Early Summer deals with issues ranging from communication problems between generations to the rising role of women in post-war Japan. The plot concerns Noriko, who lives contentedly in an extended family household that includes her parents and her brother's family, but an uncle's visit prompts the family to find her a husband.

<i>Good Morning</i> (1959 film) 1959 film by Yasujiro Ozu

Good Morning is a 1959 Japanese comedy film co-written and directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It is a loose remake of his own 1932 silent film I Was Born, But..., and is Ozu's second film in color.

<i>Woman in the Dunes</i> 1964 Japanese film by Hiroshi Teshigahara

Woman in the Dunes or Woman of the Dunes is a 1964 Japanese New Wave drama directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, starring Eiji Okada as an entomologist searching for insects and Kyōko Kishida as the titular woman. It received positive critical reviews and was nominated for two Academy Awards. The screenplay for the film was adapted by Kōbō Abe from his 1962 novel.The movie is now considered to be Teshigahara's masterpiece, one of the best movies of 1964, of the 1960s and of the 20th century, as well as one of the best and greatest Japanese movies of all time.

<i>An Autumn Afternoon</i> 1962 Japanese film by Yasujiri Ozu

An Autumn Afternoon is a 1962 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu for Shochiku Films. It stars Ozu regular Chishū Ryū as the patriarch of the Hirayama family who eventually realises that he has a duty to arrange a marriage for his daughter Michiko. It was Ozu's last film; he died the following year on the day he turned 60.

<i>A Story of Floating Weeds</i> 1934 Japanese film

A Story of Floating Weeds is a 1934 silent film directed by Yasujirō Ozu which he later remade as Floating Weeds in 1959 in color. It won the Kinema Junpo Award for best film.

<i>I Was Born, But...</i> 1932 film by Yasujirō Ozu

I Was Born, But... is a 1932 black-and-white Japanese silent comedy film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It was the first of six Ozu films to win the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film of the Year.

Tokyo Twilight is a 1957 Japanese drama film by Yasujirō Ozu. It is the story of two sisters who are reunited with a mother who left them as children. The film is considered amongst Ozu's darkest postwar films; it is well received though lesser known. It is his last film shot in black and white.

<i>Passing Fancy</i> 1933 Japanese silent film by Yasujiro Ozu

Passing Fancy is a 1933 silent movie produced by Shochiku Company, directed by Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu and starring Takeshi Sakamoto, Nobuko Fushimi, Den Obinata and Chouko Iida.

An Inn in Tokyo is a 1935 silent film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. The film is Ozu's last extant silent film.

<i>The Only Son</i> (1936 film) 1936 Japanese film

The Only Son is a 1936 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu, starring Chōko Iida and Shin'ichi Himori. The film was Ozu's first sound film feature.

<i>What Did the Lady Forget?</i> 1937 Japanese film

What Did the Lady Forget? is a 1937 Japanese comedy-drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. In 2009 the film was ranked at No. 59 on the list of the Greatest Japanese Films of All Time by Japanese film magazine Kinema Junpo.

There Was a Father is a 1942 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu.

<i>The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice</i> 1952 Japanese film

Tea Over Rice or The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice is a 1952 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. The screenplay concerns a wealthy middle-aged couple who have marital difficulties, and their niece who uses the couple's troubles as her excuse for not attending arranged marriage interviews.

<i>Dragnet Girl</i> 1933 film

Dragnet Girl is a 1933 Japanese silent gangster film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. Written by Tadao Ikeda, the film tells the story of a gangster and his girlfriend finding redemption through the actions of an innocent girl and her not-so-innocent brother.

<i>Woman of Tokyo</i> 1933 film by Yasujirō Ozu

Woman of Tokyo is a 1933 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. The film's working title was Her Case, For Example

<i>That Nights Wife</i> 1930 film

That Night's Wife is a 1930 Japanese crime and drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. The film stars Tokihiko Okada, Tatsuo Saitō, Chishū Ryū, Emiko Yagumo and Tōgō Yamamoto in the lead roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chigasakikan</span> Building in Chigasaki Kanagawa, Japan

The Chigasakikan (茅ヶ崎館) is a ryokan located in Chigasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. It describes itself as one of the few remaining seaside ryokan in the Shonan area to preserve the atmosphere of that age, when such establishments were plentiful, making it an important part of the Shonan area’s cultural history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iida Chōko</span> Japanese actress

Iida Chōko was a Japanese actress. Her real name was Shigehara Tefu. She played working class women and grandmothers, and appeared in more than 300 films. Her husband was cameraman Shigehara Hideo.


  1. Ozu – 90th Anniversary book – part one of two [ dead link ]
  2. "Tokyo Chorus". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 14 May 2009.