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Heinosuke Gosho

Heinosuke Gosho
Heinosuke Gosho in 1951
Heiemon Gosho[1]

(1902-01-24)24 January 1902
Died1 May 1981(1981-05-01) (aged 79)
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter
Years active1925–1968

Heinosuke Gosho (五所平之助, Gosho Heinosuke, 24 January 1902 – 1 May 1981) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter who directed Japan's first successful sound film, The Neighbor's Wife and Mine, in 1931. His films are mostly associated with the shōshimin-eiga (lit. "common people drama") genre. Among his most noted works are Where Chimneys Are Seen, An Inn at Osaka, Takekurabe and Yellow Crow.[2][3]


Gosho was born on January 24, 1902, in Kanda, Tokyo, to merchant Heisuke Gosho and his father's geisha mistress. At the age of five, after Heisuke's eldest son died, Gosho left his mother to be the successor to his father's wholesale business. He studied business at Keio University, graduating in 1923.[1]

Through his father's close relation to film director Yasujirō Shimazu, Gosho was able to join the Shochiku film studios and worked as assistant director to Shimazu.[1] In 1925, Gosho debuted as a director[2] with the film Nantō no haru.[1] His films of the 1920s are nowadays regarded as lost.[3]

Gosho's first notable success, and Japan's first feature length sound film, was the 1931 comedy The Neighbor's Wife and Mine about a writer distracted by a noisy next-door jazz band. Naming Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle and Charles Chaplin's A Woman of Paris as the greatest foreign influences, Gosho's work oscillated between comedy and drama, sometimes mixing the two, which earned his films the reputation of making the viewer "laugh and cry at the same time".[2] Other Gosho trademarks were his fast editing style and his repeated relying on literary sources, such as the works of Yūzō Yamamoto and Ichiyō Higuchi.[3][4] Together with Shirō Toyoda, Gosho was one of the first directors to adapt the works of the junbungaku ("pure literature") movement for the screen, which opposed "popular" literature in favour of "serious" literature and a more complex handling of its subjects. A prominent example is The Dancing Girl of Izu (1933), a successful adaptation of Yasunari Kawabata's story of the same name, about the unfulfilled love between a student and a young country woman.[5][6] Of his 36 1930s films, only slightly more than a half-dozen are extant.[5]

A firm believer in humanism, Gosho tried to reduce militarist content in his wartime films, and showed solidarity with dismissed co-workers during the Toho studios strike of 1948.[2] In 1950 he started the independent production company Studio Eight together with Shirō Toyoda and other former studio employees. Studio Eight's first production was Gosho's 1951 drama Dispersed Clouds about an unhappy young woman from Tokyo finding fulfilment as assistant of a country doctor.[7] His best-known works of this era are the social realist marriage drama Where Chimneys Are Seen (1953), which was shown in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival,[8] and Yellow Crow (1957), the portrait of a troubled father-son-relationship, which received the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[9] Although his films grew darker in tone by the mid-1950s, evident in works like An Inn at Osaka, about a group of Osaka residents struggling with an unrestrained materialistic environment, he stayed true to his ideals of "tolerance, compromise and rationality".[3]

Gosho was also one of the first major Japanese directors to work extensively for television as a writer.[2] Due to the rapid changes in the film industry at the time, Gosho's work in the 1960s alternated mostly between melodrama and shomin-geki, sometimes not exceeding well-made commercial entertainment.[5] Notable films of this era are Hunting Rifle (1961), based on Yasushi Inoue's novella about an adulterous couple, An Innocent Witch (1965), the account of a young prostitute falling victim to superstition, and Rebellion of Japan (1967), a love story set against the backdrop of the February 26 Incident.[5][2][3] His last feature-length directorial effort was the puppet film Meiji haru aki (1968).

Between 1964 and 1980, Gosho served as president of the Directors Guild of Japan.[10][11] Although having repeatedly worked with internationally known actresses and actors like Kinuyo Tanaka, few of his films have been seen in the West. In 1989–1990, a retrospective of his work was held by the Japan Society and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.[5]

Gosho also wrote haiku poems and served as director of the Japanese Haiku Art Association.[12]

Selected filmography

Year English Title Japanese Title Romanisation Alternate titles
1930 Record of Love and Desire 愛慾の記 Aiyoku no ki Desire of Night
1931 The Neighbor's Wife and Mine マダムと女房 Madamu to nyōbō
1933 The Dancing Girl of Izu 恋の花咲く 伊豆の踊子 Koi no hana saku Izu no odoriko
1934 Everything That Lives 生きとし生けるもの Ikitoshi ikeru mono
1935 Burden of Life 人生のお荷物 Jinsei no onimotsu
Somniloquy of the Bridegroom 花婿の寝言 Hanamuko no negoto
Song of the Flower Basket 花籠の歌 Hanakago no uta
1936 Woman of the Mist 朧夜の女 Oboroyo no onna
The New Road (Part one) 新道前篇 Shindō zenhen
The New Road (Part two) 新道後篇 Shindō kōhen
1940 Incompatible Relations 木石 Bokuseki
1942 New Snow 新雪 Shinsetsu
1947 Once More 今ひとたびの Ima hitotabi no
1951 Dispersed Clouds わかれ雲 Wakare-gumo
1953 Where Chimneys Are Seen 煙突の見える場所 Entotsu no mieru basho Four Chimneys
1954 An Inn at Osaka 大阪の宿 Ōsaka no yado
The Valley Between Love and Death 愛と死の谷間 Ai to shi no tanima
The Cock Crows Twice 鶏はふたゝび鳴く Niwatori wa futatabi naku
1955 Growing Up たけくらべ Takekurabe Adolescence a.k.a. Growing Up Twice a.k.a. Child's Play
1956 Twice on a Certain Night ある夜ふたたび Aru yo futatabi
1957 Yellow Crow 黄色いからす Kiiroi karasu
Elegy of the North 挽歌 Banka Northern Elegy a.k.a. Dirge
1958 Ragpicker's Angel 蟻の街のマリア Ari no machi no Maria
1961 Hunting Rifle 猟銃 Ryōju
As the Clouds Scatter 雲がちぎれる時 Kumo ga chigireru toki
1962 Mother, Get Married かあちゃん結婚しろよ Kaachan kekkon shiroyo
1965 An Innocent Witch 恐山の女 Osorezan no onna
1966 Our Wonderful Years かあちゃんと11人の子ども Kaachan to jūichinin no kodomo
1967 Rebellion of Japan Utage
1968 A Woman and the Beancurd Soup 女と味噌汁 Onna to Misoshiru
Four Seasons of the Meiji Period 明治春秋 Meiji haru aki


  1. ^ a b c d "五所平之助 (Heinosuke Gosho)". Kinenote (in Japanese). Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Anderson, Joseph L.; Richie, Donald (1959). The Japanese Film – Art & Industry. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company.
  3. ^ a b c d e Jacoby, Alexander (2008). Critical Handbook of Japanese Film Directors: From the Silent Era to the Present Day. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-933330-53-2.
  4. ^ Richie, Donald (2005). A Hundred Years of Japanese Film (Revised ed.). Tokyo, New York, London: Kodansha International. ISBN 978-4-7700-2995-9.
  5. ^ a b c d e Nolletti Jr., Arthur (2008). The Cinema of Gosho Heinosuke: Laughter through Tears. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 214–225. ISBN 978-0-253-34484-7.
  6. ^ Cazdyn, Eric (2002). The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-2939-8.
  7. ^ Hirano, Kyoko (1992). Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo: Japanese Cinema Under the American Occupation, 1945–1952. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1-56098-157-1.
  8. ^ "Programme of the 1953 Berlin International Film Festival". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Entry for Yellow Crow at the Golden Globe Awards official site". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Directors Guild of Japan Official site". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Nihon eiga kantoku kyōkai nenpyō" (in Japanese). Nihon eiga kantoku kyōkai. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Gosho, Heinosuke". Retrieved 30 March 2021.


  • Nolletti, Arthur (2005). The Cinema of Gosho Heinosuke: Laughter through Tears. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34484-0

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Heinosuke Gosho
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