Tokyo Story (Tokyo monogatari) is a Japanese film that was directed by the highly acclaimed Yasujiro Ozu. Ozu spent his life telling stories that featured families and children, but sadly he never married or fathered any himself. That is, perhaps, what makes his work so very interesting. He tells stories about things that he is not familiar with and manages to do so in a heartfelt and sympathetic way. Tokyo Story is only one of a series of movies that follow along this tradition.
Tokyo Story focuses on the journey of two elderly parents, Shukishi Hirayama and his wife Tomi. In the beginning of the movie they are getting ready to travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. At the time this movie was made, it took a full day to reach Tokyo from the small town that the parents live in. When they arrive in Tokyo they are surprised at their reception. Their daughter Shige and their son Koichi do not seem to care that they have arrived. Their lives are very busy, Shige with caring for her children , Minoru and Isamu and with visiting beauty salons, and Koichi with his pediatric practice. It is only Noriko, the widowed wife of their middle son, who seems to care that they have traveled a great distance to see their family. It is she that makes them feel appreciated.
The two children, Koichi and Shige, decide that they can get their parents out of their hair by sending them to a health spa. They get their money together and book them a trip to Atami, a premiere health spa. The elderly parents travel to the spa, reluctantly, but decide that it is not for them. It is very noisy and there are a lot of crowds so they change their minds and head back to Tokyo.
Shige again makes them feel unwanted when she refuses to house them because she has a meeting scheduled the next day, so Tomi decides that they will stay at Noriko’s home. Shukishi decides to visit old friends and ends up getting more than a little drunk. He heads to Shige’s house and makes his feelings about the whole trip very apparent.
The couple travel back to Onomichi and the children are shocked to suddenly receive a telegram that Tomi has fallen deathly ill. All of the children change their attitudes and rush to Onomichi in order to be with their mother.
Tokyo Story has been recognized as being an amazing movie by a variety of sources. Sight and Sound magazine continually lists it as one of the top ten greatest films ever made, and Time Magazine has placed it on their all-time 100 movie list. Even acclaimed critic Roger Ebert includes Tokyo Story in his list of the greatest movies ever made. Film students regularly study Ozu’s work, especially Tokyo Story, to try to emulate his style of filming, which is distinct and extremely beautiful.