Representations of Suicide in Japanese Cinema

Roger Macy macyroger at
Thu Feb 26 20:37:48 EST 2009

Dear Edel,
If you haven't got to it already, I would look at Keiko McDonald's book 'Japanese Classical Theater' in Films, 1994, which has chapters on 'The Ballad of Narayama' and Shinoda's 'Double Suicide'.  I'm sure others could give sources for some more contemporary examples.  But for some reason, two counter-examples spring to mind, of women who won't, which might help your argumentation:  Face by SAKAMOTO Junji, 2000, in Jasper's current touring programme; and IMAMURA Shohei's Intentions of Murder, 1964.
I hope others can help you more,

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Edel Quinn" <delquinn at>
To: "Kine Japan" <kinejapan at>
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:48 PM
Subject: Representations of Suicide in Japanese Cinema

> 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!
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