Thursday, April 30, 2009

mono no aware

the films of yasujiro ozu are simply one of the most beautiful things i know. i love the slow pace and the intimate minutiae of lived life they poetically portray. in the right mood, i could quite seriously watch them with the sound and subtitles off and still be enthralled, as the low monochrome perspective and depth of field unfolds an interior through layers of domesticity, where you can see so exquisitely how families lived in such small spaces, how rooms transformed to meet changing needs during the day and night - the kotatsu and tea trays are packed away to make room for the unfolded futon come night time.

i have been lucky enough to live in some very old traditional houses in kyoto, and every time i watch an ozu film like tokyo story i find all of my senses are transported in a very tangible way to the tatami rooms, papered shoji, green tea and fluttering uchiwa of old kyoto houses.

ozu's films are an exemplar of the japanese concept of mono no aware; this senses of cinema article provides an interesting read from a film critic perspective, and i am most interested in reading this book on ozu and the poetics of cinema।

these stills were sourced via

ps - i went to the public lecture in melbourne last night by sakamato-san. the architect who introduced him mentioned ozu as one who sakamoto's philosophy and architecture evokes. i think one of his quotes was something along the lines of 'ozu makes great film art from the everyday'. and so today i post ozu that i was saving up for a rainy day. i will post more on sakamoto-san's poetics in the ordinary soon.


  1. Beautiful shots -inducing a bit of drool here. So jelly-poos you lived in Kyoto - I'm itching to head back over. Thanks for a lovely post as usual!

  2. Anonymous22:53

    yasujiro ozu. A whole new world has opened. I will learn about him - the pictures you picked really interest me. Very curious to hear more about sakamato-san.

  3. hi kate, you should take advantage of the hello sandwich-endorsed $525 sydney to tokyo jetstar deal;) so glad you like the pictures!

    and thankyou jo, your comment really makes my day. i will try and post some pictures from sakamoto's catalogue soon and also try and work out some way to post that does the idea justice.

  4. Nice collection of stills - you can really see the trademark Ozu point of view, everything shot from a very low camera angle, as if the person is sitting on a cushion on the floor, as they mainly are. I love Ozu too... thanks for posting these.

  5. Perhaps you could have credited me and my site, which is where you found the stills? You're welcome to use them, but common etiquette seems reasonable.

  6. of course! i am updating the entry now. i am very sorry jeffrey, my sincere apologies. i try to be as assiduous as i can be with crediting of sources, and am well aware that the increase in blogging is creating a very slippery slope for dubious trespassing of copyright.

  7. now updated. i am sorry, i would hope to think i had the photo credit in the draft form at some stage, but perhaps got overexcited with the early posting and did not check properly. hope i have not caused too much disappointment/digruntlment along the lines of 'those bloggers who re-post images' etc.