Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture is situated a little way north up the Ise coast from Toba. Matsusaka is worth visiting not only for its picturesque castle walls and former samurai houses (Gojoban Yashiki), but also for the small but fascinating Ozu Yasujiro Seishunkan Museum - dedicated to the famous film director, who spent his youth here in rural Mie Prefecture.
Ozu Yasujiro, is best known for his classic film Tokyo Story which was released in 1953. His major themes of family life portray ordinary people in ordinary situations struggling to adapt to the changes of post-war Japan. Ozu's movies such as Early Spring, The End Of Summer and Early Summer are both mysterious and poignant.
Ozu (1903-1963) was born in Tokyo but moved to his father's home town of Matsusaka aged 10 and lived in the town until 1923 when he returned to Tokyo to begin work for the Shochiku Film Company as a cameraman.
The museum details Ozu's seemingly happy, though wild childhood with displays of his copper plate English homework ("When the chestnuts are ripe, the burs burst open.") and his early sketches.
As a youth, Ozu was entranced by American films of the period and enamoured of their stars, in particular Pearl White and Lillian Gish. He wrote to (and received replies!) from a number of Hollywood greats of his day and kept a list of their addresses in his notebook.
Ozu spent much of his free time watching movies in the local cinema (rather than attending school) and traveled as far as Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe by steam train to catch the latest US releases.
Ozu died in Tokyo in 1963, aged only 60, his end probably hastened by the prodigous amount of sake he was known to consume.
The Ozu Yasujiro Seishunkan Museum (Tel: 0598 22 2660) is a 10-15 minute walk south from Matsusaka JR/Kintetsu Station. Matsusaka is around one hour from Nagoya Station on the Kintetsu Line.
The museum is closed Tuesday-Thursday and admission is 100 yen.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007