This is a bookshelf where authors can speak about their own works selected
for a UTokyo Grant for Academic Publications (UTokyo Jiritsu Award for Early Career Academics).

A white cover and a picture of Japanese style room


Ozu Yasujiro wa Naze “Nihonteki” nanoka (Why Is Ozu Yasujiro “Japanese”)


Koo Hye-won


376 pages, A5 format, hardcover




March, 2024



Published by


See Book Availability at Library

Ozu Yasujiro wa Naze “Nihonteki” nanoka

Japanese Page

view japanese page

Focusing on Ozu Yasujiro as a symbol of Japan's turbulent times, this book elucidates the historical evolution of the term “Japaneseness” to describe Ozu and the circumstances behind its use. The best-known discussions of Ozu’s films and their “Japaneseness” have been in the United States. American commentators have described Ozu as having a “Japanese” aesthetic in terms of such keywords associated with traditional Japanese culture as zen and mono no aware (the pathos of things). But within the Japan of Ozu’s era, the “Japaneseness” cannot be reduced to these kinds of keywords.
This book goes back to the original question of why Ozu was thought to epitomize “Japaneseness,” tracing the historical changes in the meaning and concept of the term during Ozu’s lifetime, from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. Next, based on discussions of the local context in Japan, we will revisit the global discussions of “Japaneseness," particularly in the United States, that centered on the reception of Ozu in the 1970s and 1980s, and seek out new significance and problems therein. With this methodology in tracing the history of discourse, this book illustrates the dynamic process by which Ozu’s “Japaneseness” was formulated and modified within Japanese and Western discourse from the late 1920s to the 1980s.
Through this kind of exploration, this book shows how the “Japaneseness” described in critiques of Ozu’s films reflected the historical conditions of the war and postwar periods, as well as the overall flow of Japanese film history as it intertwined with the changing times. It also points out that in the case of Ozu’s works, “Japaneseness” not only comprises traditional factors, but also encompasses contemporary, modern, and past multilayered reinterpretations of tradition. While the discussions within Japan of what comprises “Japaneseness” had some global scope to the extent that they addressed Japanese culture within the context of world culture, “Japaneseness” in the global context of the 1970s was confined to stereotypical Japanese cultural concepts such as zen and mono no aware
The above findings in this book provide an unprecedented perspective on Ozu studies and, by extension, on the study of Japanese cinema. Presenting for the first time a complete picture of the “Japaneseness” debate surrounding Ozu, this book opens up future possibilities for new developments in the study of Ozu and Japanese cinema.

(Written by: Koo Hye-won / June 05, 2024)

Related Info

The 4th UTokyo Jiritsu Award for Early Career Academics  (The University of Tokyo  2023)
Related Essay:
Koo Hye-won “A Tour of OZU” (Sekiguchi Global Research association  29 July, 2021)