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Title: Maborosi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Makiko Esumi, Tadanobu Asano, Protection log/Archive 2, Golden Hugo, Hirokazu Koreeda
Collection: 1995 Films, Films Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, Japanese Films, Japanese-Language Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Produced by Naoe Gozu
Written by Teru Miyamoto
Starring Makiko Esumi
Tadanobu Asano
Akira Emoto
Music by Cheng Kwan Ming
Cinematography Masao Nakabori
Edited by Tomoyo Oshima
Distributed by Milestone Films
Release dates
Running time
109 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Maborosi, known in Japan as Maboroshi no Hikari (Japanese: 幻の光, literally "phantasmic light", but best translated as 'a trick of the light') is a 1995 Japanese film by director Hirokazu Koreeda starring Makiko Esumi, Tadanobu Asano, and Takashi Naito. It is based on a novel by Teru Miyamoto.

The film won the Golden Osella for Best Director at the 1995 Venice Film Festival.


  • Plot summary 1
  • Cinematic technique 2
  • Critical reception 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6

Plot summary

Yumiko (Esumi) and Ikuo (Asano) are a young Osaka couple who have a new baby. One day Ikuo is walking along the tracks and is hit by a train. It seems like he may have done this deliberately yet there is no apparent motive. A few years pass. Yumiko agrees to an arranged marriage with a widower, Tamio (Naitō), and she and Yuichi (her son, now played by Gohki Kashima) move to Tamio's house in a rustic village on the Sea of Japan coast, shot on location in Wajima, on the Noto Peninsula (the actual location where the film was shot is Uniumachi about 5 km west from Wajima along the coast, map location: 37.400260N, 136.852101E).

A drunken spat over a bell Yumiko had given Ikuo just before he died causes Yumiko and Tamio to discuss their strong emotions for their lost loves. Shortly after, Yumiko follows a funeral procession and lingers at the crematorium, until Tamio arrives by car to pick her up, at which point she says she just wants to know why Ikuo killed himself. Tamio suggests that, like the will o' the wisps his father used to see, perhaps something just drew him away from life.

Cinematic technique

Drawing comparisons to works of Ozu and Mizoguchi, Maborosi employs static shots (using only two pans, both in Noto, one at the rice paddy, one at the crematorium) long shots (using only one close-up and one medium close-up in a shot-reverse-shot at Ikuo's factory in Osaka), and low, "natural" (and therefore dark) lighting to create a mood of loneliness and sadness, rather than well-lit close-ups lain over "sad" (and loud) background music, as is common in TV melodrama. Koreeda also consciously, with one deliberate exception, shot Asano and Esumi in two-shots, side-by-side; since they both wear black and the shots are slightly underexposed, it's difficult to tell where one actor's body ends and the other's begins, creating a sense of personal closeness and oneness between the two.

Critical reception

Rotten Tomatoes gave Maborosi a 100% rating, with 16 reviews tabulated.[1]


  1. ^ "Maboroshi no hikari (Maborosi)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 


  • Guthmann, Edward (1996-11-29). "FILM REVIEW -- The Delicate House of `Maborosi': Japanese film a lovely meditation on meaning of life".  
  • Thomas, Kevin (1996-10-26). "Maborosi: 'Maborosi' Takes Powerful Journey of Spirit".  
  • Thompson, Nathaniel (2006) [2002]. DVD Delirium: The International Guide to Weird and Wonderful Films on DVD; Volume 1 Redux.  

External links

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