Miyagawa collection

Linda Ehrlich linda.ehrlich at gmail.com
Mon Mar 7 03:18:05 EST 2011

Dear KineJapan: Recently in Kyoto I had the pleasure of meeting Miyagawa
Jiro, the son of the great cameraman Miyagawa Kazuo (1908-1999). In his
design studio, I was able to view some of a large collection of objects
(documents, photos, scripts, etc.) from the father’s long career with such
directors as Kurosawa (RASHOMON), Mizoguchi (UGETSU, SANSHO THE BAILIFF),
Ichikawa (KAGI), Shinoda (McARTHUR’S CHILDREN), Kurisaki Midori (SONEZAKI
SHINJU), and so on. It is an extraordinary collection which includes
Miyagawa’s own drawings on the scripts, rare photographs, even some reels of
film. As just one example--I saw one photo of a young Miyagawa Kazuo with
Yamanaka Sadao—a photo I have never seen in print.

But the sad news is—the Miyagawas have not been able to find a good
repository for the preservation and display of those materials. The papers
and photos are mostly sitting in yellow envelopes, gradually turning to
dust. Even though Miyagawa-sensei won such prestigious awards as the
Imperial Order of Culture, and a special tribute from the Academy of Motion
Pictures, no Japanese library or cultural center has offered to undertake
the preservation and display work.

My hope in sending this to KineJapan is to let Japanese film scholars and
fans around the world know about this priceless treasure that needs
attention. Jiro-san assured me that the Miyagawa family would support
professional efforts at preservation of those materials that cover a wide
span of Japanese film history.  He also agreed to my sending out this
message. Surely there is a university library or cultural center somewhere
with funds to support the “Miyagawa collection.”

Years ago I had the honor of interviewing Miyagawa Kazuo in his lovely home
in Kyoto. It is still a vibrant memory for me. He was not only one of the
world’s greatest cinematographers, he was also a very warm and witty

When I held Miyagawa Kazuo's personal script for Mizoguchi’s CHIKAMATSU
MONOGATARI in my hands, I was amazed to see his careful drawings on every
page. Although I received a few scanned sheets, they are hard to read and
fail to convey the real impact. I hope others in the future will have the
opportunity to explore this treasure trove of materials before the ink
disappears and the paper crumbles away.

Linda C. Ehrlich

Linda E.

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