Yamada Yoji is one of the most well-respected filmmakers in Japan. Known for his “Otoko wa Tsurai yo” (a.k.a. “Tora-San”) films, he is also known for directing the “Samurai Trilogy” (“The Twilight Samurai”, “The Hidden Blade” and “Love and Honor”).
Yamada has won the Best Picture Award at the Japanese Academy Awards four times for his films “The Yellow Hankerchief” (1977), “My Sons” (1991), “A Class to Remember”, “The Twilight Samurai” (2002), which was also nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”.
In addition, he has won “Director of the Year” three times at the Japanese Academy Awards. In 2004, his film “The Hidden Blade” was nominated for 16 awards and won three. He was honored at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival and his latest film “Ototo” was screened during the awards ceremony.
But it’s his “Otoko wa Tsurai yo” that is best known. From 1969 to 1995, Yamada has created a total of 48 films in the film series, setting a Guinness record and the films have always consistently been box office magic for Shochiku studio.
And the 87-year-old filmmaker shows no signs of waning as he began a new comedy series in 2016, “Kazoku wa Tsurai yo” (a.k.a. What a Wonderful Family!).
As a fan of Yamada Yoji’s work, I had to visit his museum in Katsushika. There are two museums right next to Shibamata Park, the Yamada Yoji Museum and the Tora-san Museum. For this blog, I will focus on the Yamada Yoji Museum.
When you walk inside the room, the first things you will see are movie posters of films directed by Yamada Yoji all over the main lobby.
You can see the screenplay for his lastest film “Kazoku wa Tsurai yo” (a.k.a. What a Wonderful Family!) and his 2015 film “Haha to Kuraseba” (a.k.a. Nagasaki: Memories of My Son).
As you see various dedications to Yamada Yoji’s work in one room, it’s the next room that will amaze fans.
Around the corner, you will find a bust of Yamada Yoji and a collection of photos. You will also see awards that he won, an LP from an earlier film and more. But as you go through the main room, you will discover more cinema gems.
I will go more into this in part 2 of my blog about the Yamada Yoji Museum.