Tokyo Story (Tôkyô monogatari)

Critics Consensus

Tokyo Story is a Yasujiro Ozu masterpiece whose rewarding complexity has lost none of its power more than half a century on.



Total Count: 41


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,689
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Movie Info

Originally Tokyo Monogatari, Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story centers on a provincial Japanese family. The elderly parents and youngest daughter journey to Tokyo to visit their doctor son and his brood. Too busy for this onslaught of relatives, the callous, insensitive doctor packs his parents and sibling off to a resort, where they are unable to enjoy themselves due to the noise of the other tourists. The aging father locates some old drinking cronies, while the mother seeks out new friends. And so it goes, in Ozu's inimitable anecdotal fashion, until the tragic finale. A sensitive study of the frustrations and disillusionments accompanying the onslaught of old age (Ozu, incidentally, was only 51 at the time), Tokyo Story was completed in 1953, but not released in the U.S. until 1972.


Chishu Ryu
as Shukishi Hirayama
Chieko Higashiyama
as Tomi Hirayama
Sô Yamamura
as Koichi Hirayama
Haruko Sugimura
as Shige Kaneko
Nobuo Nakamura
as Kurazo Kaneko
Eijirô Tono
as Sanpei Numata
Teruko Nagaoka
as Yone Hattori
Zen Murase
as Minoru
Hisao Toake
as Osamu Hattori
Toyoko Takahashi
as Shukishi Hirayama's Neighbor
Mutsuko Sakura
as Patron of the Oden Restaurant
Toru Abe
as Railroad Employee
Sachiko Mitani
as Noriko's Neighbor
Junko Anan
as Beauty Salon Assistant
Yoshiko Togawa
as Beauty Salon Client
Ryoko Mizuki
as Beauty Salon Client
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Critic Reviews for Tokyo Story (Tôkyô monogatari)

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (41)

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

    Nov 23, 2010 | Full Review…
  • This remains one of the most approachable and moving of all cinema's masterpieces.

    Jan 5, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Jan 5, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The way Ozu builds up emotional empathy for a sense of disappointment in its various characters is where his mastery lies.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The already towering reputation of this film and its director continues only to grow.

    Apr 9, 2004 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • It ennobles the cinema. It says, yes, a movie can help us make small steps against our imperfections.

    Jan 15, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tokyo Story (Tôkyô monogatari)

  • Dec 14, 2016
    Good luck staying awake.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 08, 2014
    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.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • May 18, 2013
    I have not cried so hard in a while, thanks to Tokyo Story, I was able to experience the raw and powerful drama. The premise is simple, an elderly couple visiting their children in the big city, but their children do not have time to serve them except for their daughter-in-law, who showed them unconditional kindness and yet not related by blood. Ozu used the still camera technique which created the quietness and the low angle shots allowed the viewers to observe the characters in great detail. The set was brilliant, it fully presented the post-war Japan. The dialogue was amazing, pure and honest. Tokyo Story is a must see for anyone
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Feb 16, 2012
    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.
    Reid V Super Reviewer

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