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Directed by Yoji Yamada
Produced by Suketsugu Noda
Hiroshi Fukasawa
Kenichi Tamura
Ichirō Yamamoto
Written by Yoji Yamada
Emiko Hiramatsu
Starring Sayuri Yoshinaga
Tsurube Shofukutei
Yū Aoi
Music by Isao Tomita
Cinematography Masashi Chikamori
Editing by Iwao Ishi
Release date(s) January 30, 2010 (Japan)
Running time 126 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Otōto (Japanese: Her younger Brother) is a 2010 movie by Yoji Yamada which saw its first screening outside of Japan during the closing ceremony of the 60th Berlin Film Festival as a special tribute to then 81 year-old Yoji Yamada.[1]



The story unfolds as the young Koharu (Yū Aoi), the daughter of a pharmacist in a modest neighborhood of Tokyo, is about to get married to the son of a prestigious family and even before the event everybody is anxious that the younger brother of Koharu's mother, Ginko (Sayuri Yoshinaga) might join the wedding ceremony, as he is considered to be the black sheep of the family and even Ginko and Koharu consider him to be an embarrasment, even though he has lived with the family for quite some time after the death of Koharu's father. As the invitations to the wedding had been returned to the sender, everybody is relieved that the younger brother Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei) will not show up as he has embarrassed the family in the past with his childish behavior and his drunkenness.

But during the party after the ceremony he turns up anyway in a loaned kimono and even after Ginko warns him, he starts drinking heavily and causes a ruckus, which is unsettling the groom's family. During the event he reveals his special relationship to Koharu: Her father asked him to name her, something he is still particularly proud of as every other endeavor in his life failed miserably.

After the event the family is forced to apologize formally to the groom's family and the oldest brother of Ginko and Tetsuro severs all ties with his younger brother. After staying with Ginko for a short time, she lends him money to go back to Osaka where he came from in the first place.

Her uncle's behavior casts a shadow over Koharu's marriage and soon she has got to move in with her mother again. Even Ginko's patience with her brother comes to an end when she is forced to reimburse a lover of his who had entrusted him with her savings which he has gambled away. Now even Ginko severs her ties with Tetsuro and does not want to hear from him anymore: When he visits her next time, Ginko and Koharu throw him out. Some time passes while Koharu struggles with her ultimate divorce and tries to get her life back together and starts a new relationship with a shy carpenter from the neighborhood.

Finally Ginko- who has secretly filled a missing person report- gets the news that Tetsuro has been hospitalized in Osaka. Despite his misbehavior, she is deeply worried and visits him in Osaka, learning that he is terminally ill with lung cancer and living in a hospice. Despite his illness, Tetsuro has neither lost his sense of humor, nor his childish character and Ginko is moved to see him being merry among the other patients and the staff of the hospice who have learned to enjoy his character.

Tetsuro predicts his own day of death, telling Ginko that the buddha told him in a dream.

When the day draws closer, Ginko gets the news that Tetsuro's health is deteriorating. She hurries to Osaka and finds him being as cheerful as ever, even tricking her into giving him a drink through his feeding tube. When his death gets closer, Koharu arrives as well and finally forgives her uncle on his deathbed.

Some time later Koharu makes preparations for her upcoming wedding with the shy carpenter. Around the dinner table Ginko's senile mother-in-law suggests inviting Tetsuro and Koharu and Ginko agree, moved to tears by their memories.



The movie is dedicated to the memory of director Kon Ichikawa who had made a film with a similar film under the same name, Otōto, in 1960. This movie had been an entry for the 1961 Cannes Film Festival where it won a Special Distinction.[2]

Yoji Yamada's version was a special entry at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival where it was screened after the awards ceremony as a tribute to the then 81-year old Yoji Yamada whose films had been invited to the festival several times before.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Berlin Film Festival: Otôto". 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Her Brother". Retrieved 2009-02-21. 

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