Mori: Kazuo or Issei?

mark schilling schill at
Sun Aug 21 22:18:57 EDT 2005

As Roland noted, the problem of nailing correct names and titles can be
maddening. Writing for Screen International I am occasionally required to
supply the names of editors, art directors and other relatively less
well-known folks. When all else fails (festival programs, Google) I go to
the source -- usually the distributor -- to find that no one in the office
knows how to read the knotty characters in Mr. So-and-so's name. Sometimes,
after a round of inquiries, they get back to me. Sometimes they don't -- and
I have to take a stab in the dark.

Regarding Mr. Mori, both the Kinema Junpo "Illustrated Who's Who's of
Japanese Cinema Directors" and the "Pia Cinema Club Japanese Film Data Book"
list him as Mori Kazuo. Also, there is no indication in either source that
he changed from Issei to Kazuo. Still not good enough? Sometimes the only
way to be sure is ask someone in a position to know, say a former colleague.

When Terashima Shinobu burst onto the international scene with Vibrator, I
saw some English-language sources giving her name as "Terashima," others as
"Terajima." At a PR event at the 2003 Tokyo Film Festival, prior to being
introduced to the woman herself, I asked her producer for the correct
reading. "Terashima" was the reply, though at some point she may decide she
likes "Terajima" better -- and we'll have no choice but to key in the

Mark Schilling
schill at

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roland Domenig" <roland.domenig at>
To: <KineJapan at>
Sent: Saturday, August 20, 2005 11:40 PM
Subject: AW: Mori: Kazuo or Issei?

The pronuncation of Japanese names and titles is a very tricky problem,
because often the answer is far from being clear. Mori was born Mori Kazuo,
but that doesn't necessarily mean that Mori Issei is a wrong pronunciation.
It is very much like with Yoshida Yoshishige, who prefers now the reading
Yoshida Kiju, or Suzuki Shigeyoshi, who is often called Suzuki Jukichi. In
several dozen of other cases have the directors changed their names (or
characters within their names) like for instance Suzuki Seijun, Sone Chusei,
Hara Masato or Makino Masahiro (several times), used their nickname (e.g.
Uchida Tomu) or have simply chosen pseudonyms (e.g. Wakamatsu Koji). In some
cases it is next to impossible to single out ONE correct pronunciation.

Roland Domenig
Institute of East Asian Studies
Vienna University

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: owner-KineJapan at im Auftrag von Tom Mes
Gesendet: Sa 20.08.2005 12:59
An: KineJapan at
Betreff: Mori: Kazuo or Issei?

Could anyone clear up the long-standing confusion about the correct
pronunciation of this chanbara director's name? Both Kazuo and Issei are
used frequently, and both versions appear in sources that I would normally
consider reliable.

For clarity's sake, here are the kanji: ???

Thanks in advance,

More information about the KineJapan mailing list