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The Ballad of Narayama

Poster for Ballad of Narayama (1983)
Directed by Shohei Imamura
Produced by Goro Kusakabe
Jiro Tomoda
Written by Shichirô Fukazawa (stories), Shohei Imamura
Starring Ken Ogata
Sumiko Sakamoto
Takejo Aki
Tonpei Hidari
Seiji Kurasaki
Kaoru Shimamori
Ryutaro Tatsumi
Junko Takada
Nijiko Kiyokawa
Mitsuko Baisho
Music by Shinichirô Ikebe
Cinematography Masao Tochizawa
Editing by Hajime Okayasu
Distributed by Toei Co. Ltd.
Release date(s) Japan April 29, 1983
United States September 7, 1984 (limited)
Running time 130 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

The Ballad of Narayama (楢山節考 Narayama Bushiko?) is a 1983 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura. It stars Sumiko Sakamoto as Orin, Ken Ogata, and Shoichi Ozawa. It is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name. Both films are based on the book Men of Tohoku by Shichiro Fukazawa.



The film is set in a small rural village in Japan in the 19th century. According to tradition, once a person reaches the age of 70 he or she must travel to a remote mountain to die of starvation, a practice known as Obasuteyama. The story concerns Orin, who is 69 and of sound health, but notes that a neighbor had to drag his father to the mountain, so she resolves to avoid clinging to life beyond her term. She spends a year arranging all the affairs of her family and village: she severely punishes a family who are hoarding food, and helps her younger son lose his virginity.

The film has some harsh scenes that show how brutal the conditions could be for the villagers. Interspersed between episodes in the film are brief vignettes of nature – birds, snakes, and other animals hunting, watching, singing, copulating or giving birth.


  • Ken Ogata - Tatsuhei
  • Sumiko Sakamoto - Orin
  • Tonpei Hidari - Risuke
  • Aki Takejo - Tamayan (as Aki Takejô)
  • Shoichi Ozawa - Katsuzô (as Shôichi Ozawa)
  • Fujio Tokita - Jinsaku
  • Sanshô Shinsui - Zeniya no Tadayan
  • Seiji Kurasaki - Kesakichi
  • Junko Takada - Matsuyan
  • Mitsuko Baisho - Oei (as Mitsuko Baishô)
  • Taiji Tonoyama - Teruyan
  • Casey Takamine - Arayashiki (as Kêshi Takamine)
  • Nenji Kobayashi - Tsune
  • Nijiko Kiyokawa - Okane
  • Akio Yokoyama - Amaya



External links


Preceded by
Fall Guy
Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year
Succeeded by
The Funeral


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