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Something Like Biographical Sketch of Yoshimitsu Morita




  Morita was born on January 25th in Maruyama town, Shibuya 

  in Tokyo. His parents ran a traditional Japanese restaurant,

  so geisha(a traditional female Japanese entertainer) were very

  familiar to him. He learned the two-faced human beings

  through interaction with guests even as a child.

  His grandmother, who loved theater took him to see Kabuki

  and Shin Kokugeki. She also liked horse racing

  and took him to the off-track betting shop at Namikibashi

  in Shibuya, so it was only natural that he later became a great

  lover of horse racing. Morita said in later years, "It wasn’t their    intention to make me a filmmaker, but all those things may

  have been a big influence on me."

  He and a maid went to the nearby Shinsen station to watch a   

  train every day.


  Morita entered Omukai Elementary School in Shibuya,

  Tokyo (the school was closed in 1997 and the former site is

  now the Theater Cocoon in the Tokyu Department Store).



  He attended the Toho Entertainment School.

  He appeared as a child actor in the TV drama Dear Tenants!

  (a comedy starring the Dassen Trio).

  He was shocked by Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro and remembered

  the name of the film director for the first time.

  He entered Shoto Junior High School in Shibuya.

  Morita entered Nihon University Sakuragaoka High School. He joined

  the newspaper club and wrote some movie reviews. He was impressed

  by the dynamism of "Doctor Zhivago", became fascinated by movies,

  and at the same time, obsessed with jazz.

  He entered the Broadcasting Department of Nihon University's College

  of Art, but due to the Japanese university protest, the university was on

  lockdown and had no classes, so broadcasting equipment was also not

  available. He began making 8mm films including Films, The Weather

  Forecast, Perspective, etc. and presented them at independent film

  screenings, which turned them into critically acclaimed films. He       

  attended Soichi Oya's Tokyo Mass Communication.












  Morita graduated from college without even looking for a job. He attended Kubota Advertising Institute. He kept

  on filming 8mm films while working part- time at Ginrei Hall, a movie theater in Iidabashi town, Tokyo. The film    Water Vapor Express (1976) and other works are still said to be fresh and youthful after half a century.

  He married Kazuko Misawa, who became his business and personal partner for the rest of his life.

  He released Live in Chigasaki, a culmination of Morita's 8mm films. This film depicted the daily lives of local young 

  people in Chigasaki,which was becoming famous as a surfing mecca. This film not only caused a stir in the independent

  film community but also attracted attention from various fields. Thus, he became a major catalyst for the leap from 8mm

  to 35mm film. Morita said of the film, "It would be nice to make a youth film in which people don't die. I think youth is

  something more commonplace and ordinary.”

  He established the production company "News Corporation" with Kazuko Misawa.

  Something Like It was released on September 12th.

  His career started in an unusual way, as all the processes were managed by himself except for distribution. He wrote the 

  screenplays, raised funds for the film, and opened the office (not to be taken disadvantage in the negotiation with the   

  actors). When talking about that time Morita later said, "When I thought about what I should make first, I decided on the

  adult entertainment business and rakugo, because I knew those two better than anyone else." Furthermore, “It doesn't 

  project a clichéd pattern of relationships, but something like one. In fact, I think that's where the truth lies."

  This revolutionary film was very well received and a big hit despite its single-theater release, and he won the Yokohama

  Film Festival's Best Picture Award and Best New Director Award. Even now, 40 years later, it is said that "There has

  been no impact as great as Morita’s debut.” The catchphrase for this film, "How interesting humans are," is the essence

  of Morita's films every time.


  He became the center of attention with his debut film, but

  the next offer for him did not come easily. An offer finally

  came in February after the new year.

  The film is Boys & Girls (Come on Girls!) starring the 

  then No. 1 popular idol group Shibugakitai (Released on

  July 21st). The film was shot on location only for 12 days,

  focusing on "making a good film for their fans."

  At about the same time, he was assigned to work on the   

  Nikkatsu Roman Porno film Top Stripper, and then

  he got a job for The Family Game.

  As a result, he managed to write three scenarios in one

  month simultaneously.

  Top Stripper was released on October 1st.

  The film performed moderately at the box office, but the   

  executives of the production company (Nikkatsu) acclaimed

  the film, thus the following January, Pink Cut : Love Me   

  Hard, Love Me Deep was filmed.


  Pink Cut: Love Me Hard, Love Me Deep was released on January 21st.

  Morita recalled, "Roman Porno allowed me to take the plunge, and I really appreciated it as a place for us, young   

  directors to gain experience."

  Two days later, The Family Game began filming for 18 days. He later said, "I haven’t experienced as an assistant director,

  but I think I overcame a lot of that inexperience by filming my first three films, so if I had made this film right after

  Something Like It, I don't think it would have turned out as good as it did."


  The Family Game was released on June 4th.

  The film won nearly every domestic award and was officially entered into the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland,

  in addition, was also screened in New York and other parts of the U.S.


  Deaths in Tokimeki began filming on August 1st.
  When the offer came, he said, "Although I was confident that I could make it a good film, I was going to turn it down

  because it would not make a hit. However, I heard Kenji Sawada (a.k.a. 'Julie') would be the leading actor,

  so I accept the offer because I could work with 'Julie', who was the symbol of our youth."


  Deaths in Tokimeki was released on February 18th.

  Although the film didn’t do well at the box office, that was as he expected (unfortunately), he later said, "I really

  liked the film myself because everything was very good, including the Hakodate location, the relationships, the

  dialogue, the cinematography, the color, the music, and the atmosphere." Now it is one of the most popular films

  among Morita's films.

  Immediately after the release of Deaths in Tokimeki, Main Theme began filming. The film was filmed on location in

  Okinawa, where the weather was so bad that "all of Morita-Gumi’s (Morita’s Team for filmmaking) bad luck with the

  weather was used up," but this in turn gave the film a mysterious illusionary effect. He was able to turn any negative

  into a positive.


  In April, he released a trilogy of LP records titled Film without image, including Okay, Because, and No Such Thing.

  Morita, who has the best "sense of fun", created “one more film”: his LP record trilogy masterpieces. He believed that

  anything is possible with "sound" alone, even if big tricks could not be visualized in a film.

  Main Theme was released on July 14th.

  The film was a summer vacation hit that year, and Morita, who also had the KADOKAWA brand took another step

  toward becoming a major director.

  Here's the episode before the decision on the next one ...

  One day, Mr. Furusawa of Sundance Company, a production company, said, "Shibuya Pantheon, Shinjuku Milano, and 

  Central (the largest chain of movie theaters at that time) will be open next fall, and we want you to come up with an

  original film with Morita and Yusaku Matsuda." Then, Morita drafted a story about a salesman who sells nuclear shelters

  and showed it to Mr. Furusawa and Yusaku, but they were strongly opposed to the idea. Another day, the three of them

  were having a discussion at the Sundance Company's office and Morita and Yusaku clashed.

  Yusaku: Step Outside!

  Morita: I'm going to shoot you with a pistol! (He’s no match for him in physical strength).

  Furusawa: This is my office. If you two want to do it, do it outside.

  Then Yusaku started to laugh at so much nonsense, and the situation was settled.


  He had wanted to film the classical masterpiece And Then written by Soseki Natsume when he was 60 or 70 years

  old, but Yusaku and producer Mitsuru Kurosawa said, "It makes sense to do it now!" When he was shot And Then,

  Morita was 35 years old. He aimed to make a film that does not disappoint people who have read Soseki’s novel, a

  film that gives you the same feeling as when you finish reading Soseki’s novel, and a film that depicts the Meiji era

  as post-modern, not archaic.

  And Then began filming on April 11th.

  And Then was released on November 9th.

  The film was a critical and big success at the box office and dominated the various film awards that year.

  The first collection of essays, Tokyo Director, was published in September.

  The book Memories of Yoshimitsu Morita was published by Kinema Junposha Co., Ltd. in November.



  He depicted pure Japanese sentiments in And Then, and next pioneered Sorobanzuku which is surreal, nonsensical,

  and uniquely rhythmic comedy.

  After being called the "young master" in And Then, he chose to dismiss

  that title, not wanting to take advantage of that. He said, "I could freely

  experiment with various things, so I had a lot of fun during the filming."

  In fact, he became a hot topic when he declared himself a

  "director in fashion" on his New Year's greeting card that year.

  The film was entered into the directors’ fortnight of the

  Cannes Film Festival in May.


  Sorobanzuku was released on August 23rd.
  The film was too much of a surprise to understand at the time.

  However, it has become a popular film now.

  Kichitaro Negishi shot Whooh! Exploration Unit for which Morita

  wrote the screenplay, at the same studio at the same time.

  Whooh! Exploration Unit was released on October 18th.

  He published Amida-sama (ladder lottery with playfulness)

  in Trouble in April.



  The next film in the drastic jump from pure literature to nonsense

  comedy is Kanashii Iro Yanen (Love and Action in Osaka), about

  two young men at the mercy of a yakuza war. Based on the theory   

  that "pursuing reality alone is not enough to produce a human

  performance," Morita, “the Tokyo boy”, has constructed a world

  that could be described as "Osaka in the near future."


  Kanashii Iro Yanen (Love and Action in Osaka) was released on 

  December 10th.


  The film BAKAYARO! 1 (omnibus film) which he wrote the screenplay

  and was the general supervisor in October was also released. He could

  have directed the film himself, but he gave an opportunity to young

  people from different industries to direct one episode at a time. He said,

  "I wanted to broaden the scope of the film, and people from various

  genres such as TV, theater, and commercials will become film directors

  in the future." This omnibus film became a big hit and was made into a

  series. And today (2022), it’s quite normal for a director who comes

  from a different genre to make a film, but he is also a path pioneered by



  Ai to Heisei no Iro-Otoko (24 Hour Playboy) was filmed as a co-feature with BAKAKAYARO! 2.

  When talking about the film he said that "I tried my best to make a lighthearted film with the idea of a "B-side of a record"

  as much as I can." Ai to Heisei no Iro-Otoko (24 Hour Playboy) was released on July 8th.

  Kitchen began filming on July 31st.

  The film is based on a best-selling novel by Banana Yoshimoto. He accepted the offer

  "on a hunch this is the material with which I could write a good screenplay."

  The previous film, Ai to Heisei no Iro-Otoko (24 Hour Playboy),

  was a film with a "Japanese bubble economy atmosphere,"

  but in Kitchen, Morita has already anticipated the sense

  of loneliness, difficulty in communication, difficulty in living,

  and trapped feeling among young people (humans) in the

  "post-bubble economy" era, which is truly typical of Morita.

  Kitchen was released on October 28th.

  He directed the Telephone’s Life of 100th Year series of

  NTT (the Japanese Telegram and Telephone Corporation) and

  annual TV commercials.

  He wrote a screenplay for the TV drama Playing Just for Tonight (3- episode series).

  The film BAKAYARO! 3 was released.

  Happy Wedding began filming on February 8th.

  He experienced the challenge of writing an original screenplay within the framework of a production company that had

  already decided on the theme, lead actors, and even the title. Morita later said, "I wanted to make a pleasant, well-made,

  and entertaining film that would warm the hearts of the audience." The film was well received and performed well at the

  box office as intended.

  Happy Wedding was released on May 18th.

  The essay collection Horse Racing! Can't help but love it was published in March.

  Future Memories: Last Christmas was released on August 29th.

  The goal of Future Memories: Last Christmas, a collaboration with Fujio F. Fujiko, was to create

  "a story that deviates from everyday life but also looks back at reality."


  He spent the next few years on a "long and painful summer vacation." When talking about that time he said, "I'm not sure

  where I'm headed, whether it's better to go for the hit or do what I think I want to do." He had worked at a movie theater

  before becoming a director, so he understood the struggle movie theaters faced when a movie was not a hit. This is part of

  why he was conflicted on what type of movie to make, and also why he worked harder than any other director on the film’s

  advertising campaign.







  He wrote a scenario for the TV drama Nice to meet you.


  He wrote a series of essays I love horses, I love people in Weekly Shukan Shincho, who traveled to local horse racing 

  tracks all over Japan. Later on, they were published together as Tabi (Travel), Yu (Hot Spring),

  Keiba (Horse Racing) with Director Yoshimitsu Morita (Ariadne project).

  He began writing the (HARU) script not on manuscript paper, but on a computer for the first time.

  When talking about that time he said, "I had been using computers since earlier in my life than others, so I knew what

  computer communication was. I thought the time would come when we would be able to converse over long distances

  using only text as a new form of communication." Morita truly had foresight: two years later came the launch of

  Windows 96, at a time when many people had not yet seen a computer.

  (HARU) began filming on April 7th.

  In this film, they not only filmed the actors and actresses but also filmed a computer screen. None of the staff had any

  experience with filming a screen and the challenges that occurred. The director said, "I experimented in the lab over and

  over again until I read a level where the text on the screen was easy to read." Since it was the age of film with a film

  camera, not a digital camera, it took many months to make a film using the "film recording" method, as in, it took a huge

  amount of work to put text on each and every frame.

  (HARU) was released on March 15th.

  Despite his hard work, the film didn’t do well at the box office,

  as PC and e-mail were not yet common. However, it built

  up a great reputation in the film community, and this film,

  his first in four years, was even called "Morita’s revival" and

  won numerous awards. He said seven years later, "Aside from

  talking about the result, I learned a lot from making (HARU)

  and it became an asset for me. If I had not made (HARU),

  I might not be where I am today."

  He directed TV commercials (annual series) for

  JRA (Japan House Racing Association).

  However, he reluctantly quit making the commercials

  for the latter half of the series due to the filming of Lost Paradise.

  Lost Paradise began filming on December 10th.

  He immediately answered, "I'll do it!” and he saw the potential for success as a pornographic film that women can enjoy.

  It was (HARU)'s next work, so pure love followed by decadent love. The unique and different type of combination from

  (Haru) to Lost Paradise is the same as from And Then to Sorobanzuku: And Then is a literary and classical work and

  Sorobanzuku is a nonsense and comical work.




  Lost Paradise was released on May 10th.

  As Morita expected, the film was a great hit with the female audience.

  The legend of the line of people waiting to enter the Marunouchi Toei

  that stretched all the way to the end of Ginza-Itchome is still passed

  down to this day.


  The film won a number of awards, including the Japan Academy Award

  for Best Director, and was also entered into the world competition of

  the Montreal International Film Festival.

  Keiho began filming on May 11th.
  Morita, who has always loved suspense, believes that "the one-shot picture

  itself should be suspenseful," and Morita wrote with Sumio Omori based on

  Sumio’s original work.

In October, he was the general producer of ceremonies

at the Kanagawa Yume Kokutai (National Sports Festival in Kanagawa).

  Keiho was released on May 1st.
  Morita described the film as "highly satisfying in my mind, because it caused a stir by raising a single issue." The film was   

  highly acclaimed in the film industry, and not only Morita but also the staff and cast received various awards. The film was

  entered into the competition of the Berlin Film Festival.


  The Black House began filming on July 15th.
  When talking about the film he said, "Real-life incidents similar to the original also exist, so I intended to make a 'vibrant’   

  horror film rather than a realistic horror movie. This was the beginning of this work, when I thought, 'You must have a

  sense of fear when you see bright yellow sunflowers and blue skies, instead of black and dark ones.'"


  The Black House was released on November 13th.
  It was especially popular with younger audiences. A number of them said, "I'm scared of working overtime late at night."     

  Recently (2022) it has also experienced a resurgence in popularity.




  Copycat Killer began filming on January 25th and finished on March 15th.

  Miyabe Miyuki, the author of the original story, nominated Morita for the director of the film adaptation, and Morita said,

  "As I read the original story, more and more images came to me, and I thought this would be a good film. The reason why I

  offered so many people from variety shows is that I wanted to visualize the idea of crime in aspects of a variety."

  Furthermore, "I felt the original novel had a consistent value that we shouldn’t judge the value of a person’s life." For him, 

  "Piece, the protagonist, Nakai Masahiro, who was chosen by evil, is also human. The film feels really philosophical to me

  every time I watch it. Someday everybody understands it, I believe."


  Copycat Killer was released on June 8th.

  The film's different ending from the original story caused controversy,  and it became

  the No. 1 live-action film of the year at the box office.


  He went to the Hakodate in Hokkaido to study the location for writing Umineko (The Seagull)’s screenplay in 


  Like Asura began filming on April 15th.

  It was a film adaptation of a TV drama by Kuniko Mukoda, whom Morita was an avowed fan of himself. The cast includes

  the previous lead actresses of the Morita team as well as the brilliant cast. Morita recalled, "This film is the sushi of     

  Japanese cinema, and I directed it as if I were a top sushi chef. Rather than making things up as he goes along, he brings

  out the best of the materials while utilizing his skills in areas that are not visible." Furthermore, "if I look at people as if I

  were looking at them through a microscope, they appear more dynamic than if they were life-size." Also, he said, "When

  the TV version was first shown in 1979, people are appalled that sometimes women could be like the Asura which means

  an agonistic and merciless mind derived from the Indian war god. But now, 25 years later, we all know that not only

  women but also every person has got Asura in his/her heart. I hope that this film will give people some sense of how to

  live with that, and how to live in a positive way when they watch this film. It truly shows "How interesting humans are.'"

  Morita appeared in the film

  Crying out Love in the Center of the World directed by

  Isao Yukisada on September 24th.

  Like Asure was released on November 8th.
  As he expected, the film was popular among female audiences.

  When talking about the film he said, "I think this is an

  interesting film that young people can watch, laugh at, and

  even cry." The director, staff, and cast received awards.

  The film was entered into the world competition of the

  Montreal International Film Festival.

  In December, the book Yoshimitsu Morita-Gumi was

  published by Kinema Junpo Co. Ltd.


  Umineko (The Seagull) winter location was filmed from

  February 14th-26th and the summer location from

   June 14th-August 13th.


  When talking about the film Morita said, "The wave of digitalization is gathering momentum and revolutionizing human 

  behavior patterns and consciousness, but the human mind is not made up of a CPU, so feelings, love, and hatred naturally

  exist even in these times. I wanted to create a film that explored fundamental human themes while more than adequately

  showing the seasons and climate of Japan."



  Umineko (The Seagull) was released on November 13th.


  The Mamiya Brothers began filming on July 25th and finished on September 6th.


  Morita presented a handwritten statement to the people concerned with the film as below.

  "The Mamiya Brothers are not close siblings but are synonymous with close friends. They share the same

  hobbies and are friends with the same atmosphere. Now people are looking for that partner, and that identity is in the film.

  Make no mistake about it, the film will be a hit. My only wish is that the advertising would take that into account."


  The Mamiya brothers were released on May 13th.

  This film, "Lots of little happiness," gave a richness of

  analogs to the people of the Internet society.

  Starting with 13 theaters, the number of screening theaters

  has increased rapidly, becoming a successful example of

  a small release to an expanded release. It has also become

  a popular film, ranking within the top 10 in video rental

  shops more than a year after its release.

  Sanjuro began filming on September 18th and finished

  on December 1st.
  Morita expressed his determination and how honored

  he was at the time of the film’s presentation as shown below.

  "I am humbled and excited by this remake of Sanjuro

  by Akira Kurosawa, a director I respect. The source of

  Kurosawa in the world is the pursuit and fruition of fun and

  excitement as entertainment, making full use of all technology

  and production skills. The directors of our generation have

  respected and learned from Kurosawa’s films. Sanjuro

  is a drama that feels full of life in modern times. I feel it is a

  challenge but at the same time historically significant to show

  people Sanjuro focusing on a drama rather than the style of

  that genre, jidaigeki (historical dramas)."


  Southbound began filming on May 26th and finished on July 18th.

  When talking about the film he said, "I don't remember eating with my parents, and I never went anywhere with

  my parents. Many of my films have a family theme, maybe because I have a longing for the family." Furthermore,

  "The development of the Internet has made it easier to find a place whose land and people are suitable for you. I

  think it is time for us to think about where we are going and where is the most ideal place for us to live. I want you

  to think about your place in the world. Where is your place? That's the biggest reason I made this film."


  Southbound was released on October 6th.


  Sanjuro was released on December 1st.


  It’s on Me began filming on November 16th and finished on December 22nd.

  When the film was presented he said, "Money is a very important thing for people. I think it is time to think about the   

  purpose of spending money in the current world. I thought this story was necessary in this day and age because we live in    a time when the economy is a major factor in people's lives and the use of money seems absurd." Furthermore, "Money

  does not live without people's hearts, but even without money, the human spirit lives on. However, money makes people's

  hearts feel more lively. In order for money to be spent effectively, it must be spent on people and companies that you

  believe in or your soul will not live on. Even the financial crisis of 2008 happened because the people involved had no

  heart. It's a terrible mess because people in the financial world have been pursuing only short-term profits (because the

  mechanics are too complicated) and betting their money on securities that they have no love for. If they had bet with their

  heart, I think there would have been a way to recover from that."

  It’s on Me was released on October 31st.

  Abacus and Sward began filming on December 3rd and finished on January 26th, 2010.

  For the first time, the film was shot at Shochiku Studios in Kyoto.

  Morita was shocked and in awe of Kyoto's technical skills (art, costumes, hair-dressing, actors, etc.), and the outstanding   

  teamwork made him realize that he should have come to Kyoto earlier. Thus, he prepared several projects to be shot in   

  Kyoto after this filmmaking. When talking about the film he said, "Each time I make a film, I want it to have an innovative

  concept. I thought the samurai of abacus idea was very interesting. The economy should be the foundation of society in

  any era, but why has this never been depicted in a samurai drama before? It was truly a brilliant idea. The fact that there

  were expense accounts in the the days of the samurai was a surprise, and the detailed expense accounts inspired me to

  create drama about the family."



​  He appeared in the film That’s The Way!!

  Train Brain Express began filming on September 1st and finished on October 19th.


  Morita-Gumi always held an after-party when they finished filming.

  The announcement of the after-party for this work was as written.

  "Dear All Staff, Cast, and other team members,

  Train Brain Express, which departed from Kyushu on a sweaty day, ran for about

  40 days until it finally arrived at the president’s office of Nozomi Estates.

  We took many trains from Kyushu to Tokyo and ran without any accidents or

  injures I am so grateful for all the members of the team. Now I would also like to

  hold a party to appreciate you all. Please join us!"

  Also, in the handbook delivered to the staff in Kyushu, he wrote: "Production staff

  will protect walls and floors on the facility of the location, but please takes care to

  not damage or defile anything. Don’t rush. Safety first."


  Abacus and Sword was released on December 4th.

  It was a great success. The first pre-release took place and made a hit in Kanazawa and after that, he said “I’m so happy”

  for the first and last time in his life.


  After the pre-release, he campaigned in various places to make his film a blockbuster. This was Morita's last advertising

  campaign trip. He was more enthusiastic to be advertising campaign than anyone else in Morita-Gumi every time.

  Train Brain Express was previewed on January 18th.

  The preview of the film started on March 22nd. Morita's concept for this film was that good friends who share hobbies     

  without any monetary interest are the most important and happiest thing in this day and age. This is also the case with

  The Mamiya Brothers.

  Morita wrote on July 5th about the hip-hop group LIP SRIYME who made the film’s theme song as below. "What I find

  wonderful about LIP SRIYME’s music is that the rhythm is derived from the lyrics, instead of the lyrics being dictated by

  the rhythm. Therefore, it is easy to visualize the image of the film even while getting into the rhythm. I first asked him to

  sing the theme song because the funny tension and warmth of the brother’s music suited them perfectly… From the

  beginning, I wanted to ask LIP SRIYME to sing the theme song for the film Train Brain Express. The feeling of the two

  main characters getting along and warming up their friendship on the trains matched LIP SRIYME’s sense of

  brotherhood…I liked that the rhythm, the warmth, and the lyrics seem to say what the main character is feeling. I want all

  the boys and girls to listen to this song and get on the Train Brain Express when they are lonely."


  He took the Train Brain Express alone on December 20th.






  Train Brain Express was released on March 24th.

  In January, the book Yoshimitsu Morita Festival was published by PIA CORPORATION.



  The book Yoshimitsu Morita Film The Complete Collection was published by Little More in September.

  The Blu-ray of Yoshimitsu Morita’s "Something Like" Complete Collection was released in December.

  In a never-before-seen release, more than 10 companies collaborated on the Blu-ray which included 27 works.

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