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Tokyo Story (T˘ky˘ monogatari) (1953)



Average Rating: 10/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.4/5
User Ratings: 10,496

My Rating

Movie Info

As with much of director Yasujiro Ozu's work, a plot summary of this film does not do justice to the emotional power that Ozu lends to this sad, understated tale. An elderly couple, Shukichi (Chishu Ryu) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama), leaves their small coastal village in southern Japan to visit their married children in Tokyo. Their eldest son, Koichi (So Yamamura), a doctor running a clinic in a working-class part of town, is too busy to show them around town, and their eldest


Art House & International, Drama

Yasujiro Ozu, K˘go Noda

Oct 30, 2003

BFI Production

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All Critics (42) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (0) | DVD (11)

Ozu's long shots, knee-high camera placement, and collapsed perspective -- as gorgeous and unsettling as a CÚzanne -- gather power over the duration, but time itself is the master's most potent weapon.

November 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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This remains one of the most approachable and moving of all cinema's masterpieces.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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The way Ozu builds up emotional empathy for a sense of disappointment in its various characters is where his mastery lies.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Ozu doesn't sentimentalize or condemn; he merely observes human nature with calm and clarity.

December 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Comments (3)
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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It ennobles the cinema. It says, yes, a movie can help us make small steps against our imperfections.

January 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
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Luminous in its freedom from the sentimentality or the satire that so often obscure an artist's vision of normal living.

May 21, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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It soon becomes clear that they have planned their trip at a bad time; it is equally clear that every time is a bad time.

December 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

With its debt to Leo McCarey's 'Make Way for Tomorrow,' Yasujiro Ozu's 'Tokyo Story' is no less true, shattering, and not for viewers fretting about unsympathetic grown-up children.

July 19, 2012 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

In this exquisite merging of specific and universal, infinite and infinitesimal, Tokyo Story perhaps most clearly illuminates that Ozu is not the most Japanese of filmmakers, but the most human.

November 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Ozu has made a film as simple in form and complex in nature as life itself. Here, every viewer is cast as a tourist, and yet will feel right at home.

September 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

These characters never surprise us with anything showy, lurid, or sensational. They're ordinary human beings, treated with fierce attention that feels like deep respect.

May 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

Ozu may have made subtler films, but the clarity of his social critique here is wrenching and unassailable.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Newcomers to Ozu must be prepared for a rigidly controlled work with no mobile-camera shots. This style elegantly frames the delicate performances, which in turn do justice to the wisdom and compassion of Ozu's view of life.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

Ostensibly a snapshot of postwar Japan in the midst of profound cultural change, it is the movie's painful depiction of familial disintegration that remains universal today.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Times [UK] | Comment (1)
Times [UK]

This 1953 classic is one of the cinema's most profound and moving studies of married love, ageing and the relations between parents and children. It is flawless and rewards numerous viewings.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A difficult film to describe without making it seem less than the masterpiece it is, 'Tokyo Story' is a remarkable work that gives a real insight into family life.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

A quiet, devastating poignancy that gently envelops you en route to an absolute tear-streamer of an ending.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Yasujiro Ozu was a master film-maker who specialised in middle-class family melodramas known in Japanese as shomin-geki, and this moving story is one of his finest achievements.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Ozu only has to train his camera on a face to uncover a sense of resignation, or longing, or loneliness, and the mood, if you allow it, becomes quite overwhelming.

January 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Independent

Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story might be his masterpiece.

January 31, 2005 Full Review Source:

Ozu's style is one based on restriction, rigor, and repetition, which paradoxically expands his emotional meanings.

December 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Filmjourney

One of the most quietly powerful studies of the gradual and inevitable erosion of the family in a rapidly changing world.

August 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Audience Reviews for Tokyo Story (T˘ky˘ monogatari)

A moving, emotional story about a retired elder couple (Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama) who visit their children in Tokyo, only to be greeted coldly and as if they are not wanted, for unknown reasons. A tough, difficult, but ultimately frighteningly realistic portrayal of how parents are treated as being a "nuisance" as they get older, and how when their children grow up, they view them as a potential hindrance for them accomplishing and maintaining their adulthood. It is a slow-paced movie, very slow, but it is done so in order to show the importance of a long life lived well, in this case the parents of this family. The last half hour is heartbreaking and hits home for me concerning when I lost my grandmother rather suddenly and unexpectedly, so this film definitely has a piece of my heart concerning the topic of parents/grandparents and how we can sometimes, unfortunately and often unintentionally, not show them the love they deserve to have at all times.
January 8, 2014
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

A beautiful film about the ever-changing nature of life and a people on the mend after the cataclysm of World War 2. This exploration of life's unpredictability and the consequent generational discord is treated solemnly, but with a warm sense of understanding that permeates the screen. The characters are often distraught by the hand they have been dealt, but they seem to have an odd grasp of it. Pain and joy often come hand in hand and Ozu magically captures this push and pull between happiness and sorrow flawlessly. He also succeeds in making these grand statements about change, death, selfishness, guilt, generational disputes, and life's disappointing continuity, without feeling too didactic.
On top of these qualities, the way Ozu plays with space is something I have never seen before. Even in the most intimate of places, we can become disoriented. Although we often take the same steps over and over again, life is always a labyrinth of constant change.
Like Kurosawa's Stray Dog, Ozu also focuses on the oppression of the heat. From the kids worrying about how to get rid of the parent's burdensome visit, to the Grandparent's trip to a spa meant for a younger generation, each character clutches a fan, attempting to comfort themselves from the uncomfortable atmosphere. It is just one of the many symbols of a people trying to do what they can to cope with such a tentative existence.
I can see why this film has been raved about over the many decades since its initial release. It's message is timeless, but the approach feels so fresh. It is an outstanding film and one that should not be missed.
February 16, 2012
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Only Ozu could make such an uplifting and heartwarming film and include the line 'Isn't life disappointing?' as it's conclusion (said with a smile though I might add). It's never condemning or preachy, it is what it is, a window into the past that should be cherished.
February 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

I first watched Tokyo Story in a classroom some time ago and witnessed something curious.
Is such a brilliantly devised movie though it takes more then 1 watch to fully get it the movie is no doubt one of the greatest in cinema.
Tokyo Story takes a deep look at familial relations in post-war Japan. Simply, two aging parents live far away from their children, who are in a quickly modernizing Tokyo. The children in Tokyo are quite selfish and focused on their own busy lives in the hustle-and-bustle of the city. The key character in this film, though, is Noriko, the widow of one of the parents' sons who died in the war.

Elderly couple Shukishi and Tomi Hirayama live in the small coastal village of Onomichi, Japan with their youngest daughter, schoolteacher Kyoko Hirayama. Their other three surviving adult children, who they have not seen in quite some time, live either in Tokyo or Osaka. As such, Shukishi and Tomi make the unilateral decision to have an extended visit in Tokyo with their children, pediatrician Koichi Hirayama and beautician Shige Kaneko, and their respective families which includes two grandchildren. In transit, they make an unexpected stop in Osaka and stay with their other son, Keiso Hirayama. All there children each trying to figure out what to do with their parents while they continue on with their own daily lives.

Ozu Yasujiro is considered to be one of the world's greatest filmmakers and Tokyo Story is considered his masterpiece. There is no reason to deny this. Ozu's camera is often viewer to feel like they are sitting right with the characters. His films are also often slowly paced and meditative, choosing to avoid showing important events which later are revealed through dialogue. Ozu's direction of children has always been brilliant, they are never a weak point in his films and he often bases his stories on child characters (though not here).

Tokyo Story will not appeal to everybody, especially today. The typical moviegoer will either dismiss the film because it is "old" or "black and white," or find it boring. To the cautious and attentive viewers who allow themselves to connect with the characters and feel the story, Tokyo Story is a rewarding experience. Tokyo Story, along with Ozu's other films, is a good example of film as an art. Aimed at telling a story and depicting true life on camera, it is much less of the "entertainment" experience that people have come to expect from the movies today. This is one of the greatest films ever made.
Keiko's score 100% ( I did this review in class after watching it sorry if there are lots of errors I didn't have time to correct it as I was handing it in).
October 13, 2010
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Keiko Aya

Super Reviewer

    1. Kyoko: Isn't life disappointing?
    2. Noriko: Yes, it is.
    – Submitted by Scottt F (11 months ago)
    1. Shukishi Hirayama: Perhaps we expect too much out of our children....
    – Submitted by Srinivas K (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Reise nach Tokio (DE)
  • Tokyo Story (UK)
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