217 Tokyo Story

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tenia
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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#226 Post by tenia » Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:01 am

artfilmfan wrote:I wonder if "a higher average bitrate ... helping for a better resolve of the film grain" has something to do with the more textured look.
Looking at what you wrote, I think that yes, it could be linked to grain being better resolved.

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#227 Post by pro-bassoonist » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:58 am

1. There are no such troubling artifacts on the Criterion release. Also, there is less grain on this specific release because a) the original negative no longer exists and b) 4K scanning actually minimizes grain exposure. In other words, the higher the quality of the scanning and consequently the transfer, the less grain you see, or virtually nothing at all. In this case what is written is an assumption that a higher bit rate on the Criterion release, which has a very healthy one, would have made a difference. Where the grain on this transfer is uneven and there is some softness -- most obviously during some transitions -- it is clear that there are source limitations. Also, the two points andyli made are absolutely correct.

2. Charulata - Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but grain is not at all prominent on this release. It is remarkably refined. This is the reason why some people online have speculated that the transfer was actually seriously DNR-ed. It is not. The RDB Entertainments resto is very good. One of the reasons why it is misleading some people is because ARRISCANs nowadays do tremendous work. 2K ARRISCAN transfers typically boast outstanding grain balance. In fact, in my opinion some 2K ARRISCAN transfers can easily rival select 4K transfers (especially when they come from one particular studio). So the higher/better the quality of the scan is, and the transfer that is consequently struck, the less grain you see. The lower/more problematic the quality of the scan, the more grain, and noise, you will notice. But again, the exception is probably 2K work done recently on ARRISCAN(s). (Another really strong 2K transfer is the one ITV did for A Night to Remember at Deluxe in London, which Criterion also used for their release in the U.S. It was done on an ARRI Laser Scanner ).

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#228 Post by Max von Mayerling » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:07 am

The tracking shot at approximately 1:01:04 (when Tomi and Shukichi begin their bout of homelessness) starts with a composition that includes a group of small stone pillars that have writing on them (at the top half of the frame). Does anybody know what these are? In one article on the web I saw them referred to as funerary markers. Is that right?

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#229 Post by manicsounds » Sat Dec 07, 2013 7:31 pm

Written are names of people, companies, and organizations who gave a charitable donation to the shrine.

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#230 Post by Max von Mayerling » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:30 pm

Thank you.

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#231 Post by manicsounds » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:31 pm

Nice Google banner today. (110th birthday)

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#232 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:45 pm

And 50th anniversary of his death. ;~{

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#233 Post by miha » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:30 am

pro-bassoonist wrote:1. There are no such troubling artifacts on the Criterion release. Also, there is less grain on this specific release because a) the original negative no longer exists and b) 4K scanning actually minimizes grain exposure. In other words, the higher the quality of the scanning and consequently the transfer, the less grain you see, or virtually nothing at all.
It is not correct that 4K scanning minimizes grain exposure or the higher the resolution the less grain you see. There is no such relationship.
What is true is that

- the amount of grain in a film element depends on what kind of stock was used and what was photographed with it and how. There are more and less sensitive stocks with finer and coarser grain. When you underexpose and push in development more grain is visible. If you optimally expose less grain is visible. Camera negative stock has usually coarser grain than duplicating stock. When printing negative to IP/release print negative grain and IP/release print grain mix and overlay. Every generation adds more grain while attenuating the definition of the rephotographed grain. So typically you have a mix of coarser camera negative grain and finer grain from duplicating and print stock on top with varying attenuation (camera negative most attenuated, last genration least attenuated).
- The appearance of grain in a digital scan does depend on scanning resolution and scanning quality indeed (and additional digital manipulations not the subject here). But not in the sense that the higher the resolution the less grain is visible. The higher the resolution and quality the more accurate the grain representation is, meaning there is no additional electronic noise not part of the film element, there is minimal to no grain aliasing and the different kinds of grain on top of each other are properly resolved. How much grain you visually see from such a top quality >= 4K scan depends on how "grainy" the film element is. The representation of the grain will be very accurate and refined compared to the look older telecines used to give 15 years ago (aliased grain lacking fine detail plus electronic noise plus digital sharpening (plus compression artifacts when reaching the end consumer)), but this is not the same as showing far less or no grain. Digital/electronic artifacts and grain are different things.

The 4K of Tokyo Story shows not much grain because the new IP itself is fine grained and the grain of the previous generations is largely attenuated together with fine image detail. The original negative was likely not very grainy itself. The 4K scan shows 4th generation material. A lof of the grain (and with it image) detail/sharpness is gone already, 4K scanning or no 4K scanning.

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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#234 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:53 pm


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Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#235 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:33 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, JULY 4th

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#236 Post by Sloper » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:15 am

I voted for Wild Strawberries, partly because it’s been discussed much less on this forum, but I think Ozu’s is undoubtedly the better film. Coincidentally, I re-watched both of them last week, and had been thinking about how much they had in common – thematically, if not stylistically. Bergman’s film shows a cold, repressed old man finally opening up to his own son and daughter-in-law (and the younger generation more generally) by re-connecting with his memories of youth; Ozu’s shows an old man whose relationships with others, young and old, are gently being closed off and shut down; both end with the man left in solitude, but in one case he’s looking forward to a new, happier phase in his life (however short it may be), and in the other, as the neighbour cheerfully points out, he’s facing a very lonely future (however long it may be). The complexity of both films’ portrayal of family relationships, and the little injuries we inflict on each other – knowingly or not – from generation to generation, is another thing they have in common.

We had a very lengthy discussion about Tokyo Story on this board about eight years ago: this really gets going on page 2 of the existing thread, and especially on the following page with Colin’s post. Looking over what he and I and others said at the time, I don’t have a huge amount to add now, but here are a few thoughts.

I’ve seen the film several more times since that discussion, and it hasn’t lost any of its impact. This last time it was the children singing at the end, and the brutal way the noise of the train cuts their song short – and then Noriko’s expression as she looks at the watch – that really floored me. Something about the obliviousness of the children to the sad realities of getting old, Kyoko’s dawning awareness of these realities, Noriko’s more mature understanding of them, and the dead woman’s watch (a symbol shared by Bergman’s film) standing both for the idea of a life whose time ran out, and for the idea of time thoughtlessly ticking on after that life has ended. The symbolism is straightforward enough to be effective, but not at all heavy-handed.

I was also more struck than before by the beautiful compositions of some of the interior shots. There’s a very vivid sense of a rich, complex, ‘lived-in’ domestic setting in each of the homes we visit. Each place has a particular tone, and we feel what it’s like to spend time there, both as regular inhabitants (the families whose rather small, cramped homes are being invaded and imposed upon) and as guests (the old couple who find themselves in the way, marginalised, or cast out). The attention to the details of set decoration, and the way many shots are arranged to reveal the ‘layering’ of the entranceways, furniture, clutter, etc., it all works to tell us what we need to know about the various branches of this fragmented family. For instance, we can easily feel not only the poverty and sadness of Noriko’s little flat, but also its warmth and humanity compared to the other homes, which makes it an appropriate setting in which Tomi can voice her feelings.

I was also struck by the ambiguity of the central couple’s relationship. As was pointed out several times in the discussion linked to above, Shukishi and Tomi are not idealised, either as individuals or as a married couple. One moment that caught my attention was when Tomi leaves her umbrella behind, and Shukishi reminds her to get it, saying ‘That’s just like you’. I think on other viewings I’ve found his tone here affectionate and tolerant; this time it felt more unkind, a little jibe that’s lost its angry edge over the years and become a sort of reflex. It’s not either/or, of course, and that’s the beauty of the film. But there’s an interesting parallel between the youngest son blaming himself for not being kinder to his mother while she was alive, and Shukishi saying almost exactly the same thing about his wife in the final scene. On one level, the film is sort of saying that we should be kinder to our loved ones while we can, but more than that (as Colin said eight years ago) it also observes that we tend not to be that kind to our loved ones while they’re alive, and that being too judgmental about such a natural, ingrained human tendency might be a waste of energy.

Like a lot of Ozu’s films, this one is about distances opening up in family relationships, but what’s really amazing is that he manages to convey the sadness of this without turning it into a full-blown tragedy – somehow the film never loses its light touch. I don’t find it as funny as Michael Kerpan does, and ultimately I still think of Ozu as a (gently) pessimistic director. Perhaps that’s an issue others could weigh in on...

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#237 Post by djproject » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:37 am

I've said this before but this film is my yearly viewing on New Year's Eve/Day (depending on when I can get to seeing it). This tradition was inspired by the David Desser commentary addressing the themes of time, transience, and the various moments that occur, more often than that simultaneously. As the ending was mentioned, you had Noriko leaving on a train looking at the watch once owned by her mother-in-law at the same time you hear children from Kyoko's classroom singing. There are other moments one can pick up that's faintly hinted on screen and - if you can exercise a bit of imagination - implied off screen. Sometimes there are parallels, other times there are contrasts. But it is all a part of the cycle of life experienced through time: people are born, people die, and every moment in between.

Another thought I would like to see discussed a bit is its links - deliberate or coincidental - to Make Way for Tomorrow. If it was a self-conscious remake of it, it most certainly took it in a different direction. In the most obvious way, it's the culture that makes the difference and especially how it is received. For Make Way for Tomorrow, it seems to imply that better ways could be reached as far as treatment of one's elders but, in the end, it is a matter of choice. For Tokyo Story, there is also could be better ways and there may be an element of choice but there is also a certain emotional - and I would even say spiritual - maturity at play. These are just basic, rudimentary thoughts but I am curious about how others can connect the two films: is it deserved? is it not? anything else?

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#238 Post by bottled spider » Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:53 pm

Sloper wrote: I was also more struck than before by the beautiful compositions of some of the interior shots. There’s a very vivid sense of a rich, complex, ‘lived-in’ domestic setting in each of the homes we visit. Each place has a particular tone, and we feel what it’s like to spend time there, both as regular inhabitants (the families whose rather small, cramped homes are being invaded and imposed upon) and as guests (the old couple who find themselves in the way, marginalised, or cast out). The attention to the details of set decoration, and the way many shots are arranged to reveal the ‘layering’ of the entranceways, furniture, clutter, etc., ...
An example of that sort of thing: when Shukichi visits his old friend (the one he goes drinking with), as they sit talking we can see in the background through the window a woman performing some domestic chore, a nice picture-within-a-picture effect that doesn't necessarily register on first or second viewing.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#239 Post by bottled spider » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:47 pm

If a plot is a sequence of events linked by motive and causation, while a story is merely a sequence of events*, then Tokyo Story is indeed a story, virtually without plot. A series of anecdotes, as Donald Richie puts it. On the other hand, if plot is the artful arrangement of incident**, then Tokyo Story has a superbly constructed plot. Events unfold in a natural manner that happens to place the characters in a range of useful constellations: Shukichi & Tomi alone together several times, reflecting on their evolving visit; Shukichi, Tomi, & Noriko as a group; later just Tomi & Noriko, revisiting the earlier conversation among the three of them, but from a different perspective; Shukichi out with the boys, separate from his wife. Ozu gets all the various interactions he wants, in the order he wants, without any appearance of contrivance. Sublime choreography of the banal.

* Forster's definition, if I'm paraphrasing correctly
** I think this is a phrase used by Henry James

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#240 Post by Sloper » Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:38 am

That's a really good point, bottled spider - in a lot of Ozu films, there is one major plot point around which everything circulates, and towards whose conclusion everything slowly drives. Here, the central event is simply the visit of the parents to their children in Tokyo, which gradually 'happens' as they do the rounds from one relative to another. Behind all this, there is also the gradual deterioration in Tomi's health, first signalled (I think) in her conversation with her grandson on the hill when she wonders 'where she will be' when he's grown up, and foreshadowed intermittently from then on. This does provide the film with a climax of sorts. But as we're watching, it doesn't feel like the plot is progressing in any conventional way; we're just paying a series of visits, and hardly realise until afterwards how well calculated their arrangement was.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#241 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:34 pm

It was interesting to actually visit Onomichi this past April, and see some locations where parts of the movie were filmed. It was also interesting to see photos of this (and other Ozu films) being shot -- and to see an "audience" of onlookers gazing at scenes being shot.

Now more than ever I am convinced that the visit to Tokyo in this film was fairly (very) impromptu. While the parents probably _discussed_ making the trip for ages, their decision to actually go would appear to have been abrupt -- with only a few days advance warning to their children (and no attempt to ascertain whether the timing was convenient). The trip here is only slightly less a "surprise" than the one in Only Son. I continue to think that Only Son is, in many ways, a more significant companion film than MWFT (which I feel pairs better with Toda Family).

Probably I should make reference in this thread to the fact that the much-discussed and (probably) most famous lines of dialog" in this film are probably not well- translated. Namely:

Kyoko: Iyaa nee. Yononaka tte... unatteku wa yo.

Noriko: Sou, iyanakoto bakkari.

Rather than the rather dispassionate "Isn't life disappointing? Yes, it is", this should be rendered as something more like “Isn’t it awful, this world? Yes, it’s just one awful thing after another.”

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#242 Post by bottled spider » Mon Jun 27, 2016 5:58 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Now more than ever I am convinced that the visit to Tokyo in this film was fairly (very) impromptu. While the parents probably _discussed_ making the trip for ages, their decision to actually go would appear to have been abrupt -- with only a few days advance warning to their children (and no attempt to ascertain whether the timing was convenient). The trip here is only slightly less a "surprise" than the one in Only Son. I continue to think that Only Son is, in many ways, a more significant companion film than MWFT (which I feel pairs better with Toda Family).
There's something I've been wondering about, that may require cultural or historical knowledge. The two grandchildren are introduced to their grandparents as if for the first time. Neither of the grandparents say anything to the effect "you won't remember me, the last time I saw you, you were a baby". So it seems to be implied that Shukichi and Tomi have not seen their adult children for over a decade. Is that correct? And do I remember correctly that this extraordinary lack of contact is barely remarked upon, and left unexplained, other than some mutterings about the long journey? If I've remembered and interpreted correctly, then my question is: would a Japanese audience of the time have found this scandalous, or unremarkable?

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#243 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:44 pm

Onomichi to Tokyo (or vice versa) would have been a long train trip in 1952. Usually, if one's "home village" (furusato) was close enough, family members who had moved to big cities for work reasons might return for either New Year or for hometown summer festivals. The work situations of both the two older children (sole practitioner, with wife as sole business support staff, and small business owner) were not amenable to allowing long vacation breaks. Had the mother of the two grandchildren NOT served as a secretary (business manager, etc.) for her doctor-husband, she could conceivably have taken the two kids for hometown visits.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#244 Post by bottled spider » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:18 pm

Thanks. That certainly fits the tone of the film, wherein nobody treats the situation as especially out of the ordinary.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#245 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:28 pm

The situation shown in Tokyo Story probably would have been viewed as sub-optimal, but hardly rare.

We didn't take the full trip from Tokyo to Onomichi, but we did travel from Kyoto/Osaka and back. On the bullet trains, this doesn't take long (4.75 hours from Tokyo), but I would guess that it took at least 11-12 hours back in 1952-53.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#246 Post by Jonathan S » Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:26 am

The watch symbolism (mentioned above) near the end of the film is prefigured by the shot inside the Spa hotel (the night before Tomi's dizzy spell) where a grandfather clock - its pendulum slowly marking the passage of time - is positioned on the right edge of the frame... The film’s depiction of a river or harbour, especially in the opening and closing sequences, reminds me of the “river of life” symbolism found in Renoir’s then-recent The River (and earlier Renoir films). Its suggestion of a continuous life force, transcending time or individual deaths, returns in a more explicit form in the scene where Tomi plays with her grandson and wonders about his future. It’s one of several contemplative scenes that begin and/or end with extreme long shots; in such moments, Ozu seems to be standing back and observing that – contrary to the importance of material success discussed in the film – these nuggets of relaxed shared experience are where happiness is truly found, or (from a bleaker perspective) this is as about as good as it gets.

Assuming “Tokyo Story” is an accurate translation of the Japanese title, it suggests to me, if not universality, then at least (national) typicality, in the sense of everyday life. If a 1953 British film were called “London Story”, that’s how I’d read it (though such a title today would probably be box-office poison in Britain, outside the capital!) Such titles also have international appeal and maybe this partly accounts for the relative popularity of Tokyo Story in Ozu’s canon? But is the title actually intended on some level to be ironic, suggesting for example that the future of Japan is in Tokyo, to which the younger generation (represented in the film) are mostly gravitating?

The moment that always hits me like a slap in the face (even though I now know it’s coming) is Shige’s sudden breakdown on hearing her mother’s death is imminent. For me, she’s by far the most complex and interesting character in the film, as nearly all her “selfish” comments and decisions can also be interpreted as evidence of love. She might appear insensitive by demanding articles of her mother’s clothing so soon after her death, but maybe she’s not motivated by materialism so much as a genuine emotional need for mementoes. When she packs off her parents to the Spa, she might justify it as a money and time-saving measure, but perhaps she also sincerely believes they’ll enjoy it more than remaining in cramped spare rooms. (Apart from the noise in the hotel, it seems like they do.) And she’s probably right that they prefer their usual rice crackers to expensive cakes. (My own parents, especially as they became older, disliked anything outside their normal diets.)

Shige is a very pragmatic businesswoman and often her decisions – like packing mourning clothes – prove to be the correct ones. But this doesn’t necessarily make her cold-hearted. In this slightly Leary tale, Shige might in some ways seem like Goneril or Regan, but ultimately she proves to be more akin to Cordelia, not nearly as hard as she appears. Nobody who talks and thinks so much about their parents, with surface callousness or not, could really lack feeling. Indifference, not antagonism, is the opposite of affection.

Maybe one reason for the film’s reputation as melodramatic - by Ozu’s standards – is its more Hollywood-like use of music to heighten emotion. The main theme has an operatic quality that recalls Italian or maybe Russian arias. (Is it original to the score?) In one scene, we hear it on a heart-tugging solo violin then a later one develops its elegiac quality on a horn.

A personal reminiscence. I first saw Tokyo Story in September 1974, when I was thirteen, in a major BBC2 season of world cinema classics, of which it was one of the most modern examples. This was certainly my first Ozu picture and very probably the first Japanese feature I’d ever seen. I mention this because, although World War Two had ended almost thirty years earlier, there was still an enormous amount of specifically anti-Japanese sentiment in my family and neighbourhood. My mother never failed to provide a running commentary of “Jap” war atrocities whenever I watched a Japanese film, though I don’t remember much about this particular occasion. Probably I didn’t understand much of the film but I do recall being moved by Tomi’s death, partly because the only grandmother I ever knew had recently died, rather less peacefully (my last memory is of being swiftly ejected from her bedroom by other family members as she vomited).

I don’t know if the BBC were still showing the same print in 1991, but my VHS recording from that date is what I watched this week. The greyscale and shadow detail are mostly superior in the BBC copy to the digital releases I own (I haven’t seen the latest restoration). It also reminded me how much I miss watching movies with reel change cues and occasional physical splices. No, I’m not being ironic… rice crackers are good enough for me!

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#247 Post by bottled spider » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:03 pm

Jonathan S wrote:Assuming “Tokyo Story” is an accurate translation of the Japanese title...
Tokyo Story is indeed a direct translation of Tokyo Monogatari. That monogatari occurs in many Japanes film titles: Mizoguchi's Ugetsu Monogatari (Ghost Story) and Zangiku Monogatari (Story of the Last Chrysanthemum), and Ozu's Ukigusa Monogatari (Story of Floating Weeds). I have a vague recollection that the commentary track of one of the Criterion discs briefly discusses the literary connotations of monogatari, but I don't remember which one.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#248 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:10 pm

Jonathan -- great points (especially on Shige). Not sure she is the "most complex" character -- as _most_ of the major characters are pretty complex.

The harbor shots in Onomichi look river-like because, as it turns out, the nearest islands are quite close. (Things one learn sthrough traveling). ;-)

Lots of Onomichi pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 270550996f" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Also some at the end of this album:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 9e10493e70" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#249 Post by Jonathan S » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:28 pm

Thanks, Michael. Not being familiar with Onomichi, I had wondered if there was a river flowing and merging into a harbour, as in some British coastal towns I've visited.

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Re: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

#250 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:56 pm

There are a couple of rivers well east of the old section of town, but none where the movie was set.

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