Floating Weeds

Floating Weeds
Floating Weeds

Poster to Floating Weeds (1959)
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Produced by Masaichi Nagata
Written by Kogo Noda
Yasujiro Ozu
Starring Ganjiro Nakamura
Machiko Kyō
Cinematography Kazuo Miyagawa
Distributed by Daiei Motion Picture Company
The Criterion Collection
Release date(s) November 17, 1959 (Japan)
Running time 119 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Floating Weeds ( Ukigusa?) is a 1959 film by Yasujiro Ozu and shot in colour by Kazuo Miyagawa, one of Japan's most highly regarded cinematographers. It is a remake of Ozu's own black-and-white silent film A Story of Floating Weeds (1934).

Early on, there is a traveling shot filmed from a ferry as it docks at the harbour. This is the only instance of camera movement in Ozu's six colour films.



The film takes place during a hot summer in 1958 at a seaside town in the Inland Sea. A troupe of travelling theatre arrives by ship, headed by the troupe's lead actor and owner, Komajuro (Ganjiro Nakamura). The rest of the troupe goes around the town to promote their kabuki acts.

Komajuro visits his former mistress, Oyoshi, who runs a small eatery in the town. They have a grown-up son Kiyoshi, who now works at the post office as a mail clerk and is saving up to go to the university. However, he does not know who Komajuro is, thinking he is his uncle. Komajuro invites Kiyoshi to go fishing in the sea.

When Sumiko, the lead actress of the troupe and Komajuro's current mistress, learns that Komajuro is visiting his former mistress, she becomes jealous and makes a visit to Oyoshi's eatery, where Kiyoshi and Komajuro are playing a game of go. Komajuro chases her away before she can say anything destructive, then confronts her in the pouring rain. He tells her to get off her back from his son, and decides to break up with her. Sumiko calls Komajuro an ingrate, and cites examples when she has helped him out in the past.

Backstage one day, Sumiko offers Kayo, a pretty young actress from the same troupe, some money and asks her to seduce Kiyoshi. Although Kayo at first refuses, she gives in after Sumiko's insistence. She goes to Kiyoshi's post office to make him fall for her. However, after knowing Kiyoshi for some time, she falls for him and decides to tell Kiyoshi the truth. Kiyoshi says it does not matter how it all starts. The two then engage in a relationship which only later is found out by Komajuro.

Komajuro confronts Kayo, who tells him of Sumiko's setup, but only after asserting she now loves Kiyoshi and is not doing it for money. Komajuro has a violent confrontation with Sumiko, and refuses to listen to her plea for a reconciliation.

The manager of the troupe has absconded, and business is bad. Komajuro has no choice but to disband the troupe, and they have a last night together. Komajuro then goes to Oyoshi's place and tells her of his troupe's break-up. Oyoshi persuades him to tell Kiyoshi the truth about his parenthood and then stay together her place as a family. Komajuro agrees. When Kiyoshi later comes back with Kayo, Komajuro becomes so enraged to see them together that he beats both of them repeatedly, leading to a physical tussle between Kiyoshi and him. Oyoshi is forced to reveal to him the truth about his birth there, but Kiyoshi refuses to accept it and goes to his room upstairs. Taking in Kiyoshi's reaction, Komajuro decides to leave after all. Kayo wants to join him, but Komajuro asks her to stay to help Kiyoshi out. Kiyoshi later has a change of heart and goes downstairs to look for Komajuro, but his father has already left.

At the train station, Komajuro tries to light a cigarette but has no matches. Sumiko, who is sitting nearby, comes up and offers him a light. Sumiko asks where Komajuro is going, since she has now no place to go. The two reconcile and Sumiko decides to join Komajuro to start anew under another impresario at Kuwana. The last scene of the film shows Komajuro, tended by Sumiko, in a train heading for Kuwana.


  • Ganjiro Nakamura - Komajuro (troupe leader)
  • Machiko Kyō - Sumiko (his mistress)
  • Hiroshi Kawaguchi - Kiyoshi (his son)
  • Haruko Sugimura - Oyoshi (Kiyoshi's mother)
  • Ayako Wakao - Kayo (younger actress)
  • Hitomi Nozoe - Aiko
  • Chishu Ryu - Theatre owner
  • Hideo Mitsui - Kichinosuke
  • Haruo Tanaka - Yatazo
  • Yosuke Irie - Sugiyama
  • Hikaru Hoshi - Kimura
  • Mantarô Ushio - Sentaro
  • Kumeko Urabe - Shige
  • Toyoko Takahashi - Aiko no haha
  • Mutsuko Sakura - O-Katsu

DVD release

Floating Weeds was released on Region 1 DVD by The Criterion Collection on April 20, 2004 as a two-disc set with A Story of Floating Weeds.[1] An alternate audio track contains a commentary by Roger Ebert.


External links

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