Education About Asia: Online Archives

Japanese Folklore and Kurosawa’s Dreams

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Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, released in Paris 1990, provides three brief visually stunning episodes that turn on Japanese folklore, each episode offering the teacher and student special insight into the context of folklore in Japanese life, even into the late twentieth century. The Warner Brothers home video contains the eight complete episodes, each of approximately eight minutes; however, only the first three are the concern of this review. Episode Five, “Crows,” focused on van Gogh, and the concluding “Village of the Water Wheels,” although outside the limits of the article, is treated briefly in the conclusion as interesting in themselves and capable of providing special discussion in the classroom. Despite the film’s often dismal reviews, it has recently enjoyed frequent showing on American television— perhaps the comments herein will help position portions of the film within literature and humanities courses offered by high school and college teachers.