Representations of Suicide in Japanese Cinema

Mathieu Capel mathieucapel at
Fri Feb 27 12:20:03 EST 2009

Actually your frame of investigation is huge, and I guess there'll be tons
of films that will fit your demand. *Seppuku* or *Yukoku* are not to be
missed, I assume. Misumi Kenji has some seppuku "depiction" as well, in
films like *Ken* with Ichikawa Raizô, if I am no mistaking (and I may be).
(Sorry for using japanese titles, I don't know the english ones)
Regarding shinju or double-suicide, I would like to point some examples that
may interest you. Aside many examples of Chikamatsu's plays turned into
movies, you should refer to Oshima's *Muri shinju Nihon no natsu*, for it
questions (more or less directley) the links between death/suicide and
eroticism at the core of shinju. One may not forget that at the time Marquis
de Sade was translated by Shibuzawa Tatsuhiko ; Georges Bataille must have
been of prime interest as well to many japanese cinematographers - and to
Mishima, needless to say. In that perspective, Masumura's *Mojû*, among
others, shall provide a funny picture... If we consider Oshima, *Hakuchu no
torima* may also be interesting, for its comparison or competition between
the serial-rapist/killer and the mayor's son, i. e. killing vs shinju...
I think Yoshida should be considered as well, especially for *Kokuhakuteki
joyuron*, in which one of the three characters is a "shinju maniac', some
kind of female Dazai Osamu. *Mizu de kakareta monogatari *links shinju to
incest in a challenging way. *From that point of view, Akitsu onsen* is much
more classical in a way, but should be interesting for your topic.  Last but
not least, *Chi ha kawaiteru* : the main character tries to commit suicide
and then become a popular hero... Yoshida claims that this film focuses on
suicide as the expression of "higaisha ishiki" that most cinematographers
criticized back to 1955/1965, etc. His interviews will ba as interesting as
the movie itself...
If you can read french, you should take a look to two publications : Maurice
Pinguet, *La Mort volontaire au Japon*, and Alain Walter, *L'Erotique du
Japon classique*. They're not free from what one may call some kind of
"japonism", but they will provide some interesting hints.

Mathieu Capel

2009/2/27 <eigagogo at>

> Tabayashi's Nishijin Shinju could be an interesting movie to study too, as
> it
> seems to be a kind of modern approach on the subject. Although it may seem
> off-topic, 'tragic heroes' from ninkyo-eiga are interesting figures in the
> way
> they deal about ninjo-giri.
> Selon Edel Quinn <delquinn at>:
> > Hi there,
> >
> > My name is Edel. I'm a Masters student at the Huston Film School, in
> > National University  of Ireland. I am in the early stages of
> > researching my thesis on Representations of Suicide in Japanese
> > Cinema. The extent to which suicide is mentioned and depicted in
> > Japanese arts has always interested me, especially since,
> > statistically speaking, Japan's title of being one of the world's
> > 'suicide nations' has only in recent years been warranted.   With this
> > in mind I am looking at both contemporary and classical films and
> > emphasis will be placed on how representations are made and whether or
> > not there are links between cultural depictions and sociological
> > trends.This will involve a discussion of traditional forms of
> > committing suicide such as seppaku. Also Shinjyuu, the form of suicide
> > committed among couples, to forms of familial suicides such as boshi-
> > shinjyu along with more contemporary trends amongst young people in
> > particular.
> >
> > I am also considering cross cultural analysis comparing western
> > representations of Japanese suicide with Japanese depictions.
> >
> > However, I am having great difficulty finding resources on my topic.
> > Obviously the fact that I am limited to English resources makes
> > everything more difficult. I would be most grateful if anyone has
> > encountered interesting texts, studies and films that deal with
> > suicide in film generally and particularly within the Japanese context.
> >
> > If anyone has any thoughts, opinions or ideas on how I should go about
> > this study they would be most welcome! As I mentioned I'm in the early
> > stages of my research so I'm still figuring out what direction to take.
> >
> > Thanks so much for your time.
> >
> > Regards, Edel Quinn
> >
> > delquinn at
> >
> > May I commend Kine Japan organisers and contributors on continually
> > insightful discussions!
> >
> >
> >

Mathieu Capel
67 rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris
06 50 32 45 00 / 01 43 79 19 19
mathieucapel at
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