Mikio Naruse, a film director in the early 20th century and his woman’s films

Mikio Naruse (成瀬 巳喜男) was a Japanese film maker who worked in Japan’s golden age of its film industry. He remains lesser known than his contemporaries such as Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu, but he is known for his films with female protagonists.


Mikio Naruse was born in Tokyo, August 20th in 1905. He entered Koshu Gakko, which is currently Kogakuin University in 1920, but he left the school because his father died and the family budget was tight. He started working at Shochiku film studio as a props crew and was soon assigned eto comedy director Yoshinobu Ikeda. While Yasujiro Ozu and Hiroshi Shimizu entered to the same studio after him and got promoted to directors in three or four years, Naruse had not been allowed to direct a film on his own. In 1930, he debuted as a director with Mr. and Mrs. Swordplay. He directed Flunky, Work Hard! in 1931 and Moth-eaten Spring in 1932, Apart From You and Every-Night Dreams in 1933 got acclaimed in Kinema Junpo, Japan’s oldest film magazine. In 1934, Naruse left Shochiku and entered PCL, and directed Three Sisters with Maiden Hearts, The Actress and the Poet and Wife! Be Like a Rose!. In Avalanche in 1937, Akira Kurosawa joined him as the assistant director.

Woman’s film

Mikio Naruse is known for his woman’s film. His protagonists were usually women, especially with Hideko Takamine, he made a lot of films. Naruse directed Repast and Sudden Rain with Setsuko Hara, and succeeded to portray housewives as they were. Other than Hideko Takamine, he worked with many actresses such as Kinuyo Tanaka, Haruko Sugimura, Isuzu Yamada, Mariko Okada and Sumiko Kurishima.

His works

Every-Night Dreams (夜ごとの夢, 1933)

Omitsu works as a hostess in a harbour bar entertaining docked sailors. Since her husband left three years ago, she supports her son Fumio on her own, and shares a flat with a couple who babysit for her. Returning home after a few weeks of absence, Omitsu learns that an unknown man has repeatedly been trying to see her.

Every-Night Dreams – Wikipedia


Sumiko Kurishima
Tatsuo Saito
Jun Arai
Mitsuko Yosikawa
Takeshi Sakamoto
Kenji Oyama
Shigeru Ogura
Choko Iida
Ranko Sawa
Tsuruko Kumoi

Street Without End (限りなき舗道, 1934)

Sugiko works as a waitress in a café in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Her boyfriend Machio proposes to her, although his family has arranged a marriage with a woman from a wealthy family for him. She is also approached by Yukihiko, a talent scout for a film studio which is looking for a new star actress.

Street Without End – Wikipedia


Setsuko Shinobu
Akio Isono
Sozo Okada
Nobuko Wakaba
Fumiko Katsuragi
Shin’ichi Himori
Chiyoko Katori
Ichirō Yūki
Yukiko Inoue
Shōzaburō Abe
Chishū Ryū
Tomio Aoki
Takeshi Sakamoto

The Girl in the Rumor (噂の娘, 1933)

The film opens with a conversation between a barber and his customer about the Nadaya food store across the street which, in their words, is “going downhill” since the former owner Keisaku retired and his son Kenkichi took over. Keisaku starts drinking the store’s sake already early in the day, complaining that the sake’s quality is decreasing lately.

The Girl in the Rumor– Wikipedia


Sachiko Chiba
Ryuko Umezono
Kō Mihashi
Yō Shiomi
Kamatari Fujiwara
Toshiko Itō
Heihachirō Ōkawa
Masao Mishima

The Whole Family Works (はたらく一家, 1939)

The working class Ishimura family, living on the brink of poverty, depends on the salaries of the father and his three eldest sons, Kiichi, Genji and Noboru, who became factory workers immediately after elementary school. Kiichi sees no prospect of a promotion or salary raise at his job, meaning he could never support a family of his own, and expresses his wish to go to a higher school.

The Whole Family Works– Wikipedia


Musei Tokugawa
Noriko Honma
Akira Ubukata
Kaoru Itō
Seikichi Minami
Takeshi Hirata
Den Ohinata
Sumie Tsubaki

Hideko the Bus Conductor (秀子の車掌さん, 1941)

Okoma, a young lady working as a conductor with the Kohoku bus company in Kofu, Yamanashi, is worried about the dwingling number of passengers, who prefer the more expensive but clean and faster buses of the competing Kaihatsu company. After hearing a radio programme about bus guides, she develops the idea to entertain the passengers with informations about the local sites during the drive.

Hideko the Bus Conductor – Wikipedia


Hideko Takamine
Kamatari Fujiwara
Daijirō Natsukawa
Tamae Kiyokawa
Yotaro Katsumi
Tsuruko Mano

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