As I was making the final revisions to the manuscript, Kurosawa Akira
passed away on September 6, 1998, at his home in Tokyo. Japanese
newspapers reported comments and reminiscences of his friends, staff,
actors, and critics. What these brief remarks show is the enormity of
Kurosawa's presence in Japanese cinema since the 1940S. They are also
a significant reminder that no matter how perfectionist he was as an
artist, Kurosawa's films were made collectively. We should not forget
the contributions made by actors (Mifune Toshiro, Shimura Takashi,
Yamada Isuzu), scriptwriters (Hashimoto Shinobu, Hisaita Eijiro, Ki-
kushima Ryuzo, Oguni Hideo), set designers (Matsuyama Takashi, Mu-
raki Yoshiro), composers (Hayasaka Fumio, Sato Masaru, Takemitsu
Toru), cinematographers (Miyagawa Kazuo, Nakai Asakazu), and nu-
merous others, without whose efforts Kurosawa would never have been
able to make any of his films.
As a way of concluding my study of Kurosawa, I would like to re-
iterate some of its basic points and reflect on the future of Japanese
cinema studies briefly. It is perhaps worth pointing out one more time
that this study is neither an example of auteur criticism nor a subspe-
cies of national cinema studies. Kurosawa is not an auteur who single-
mindedly pursued throughout his career, which spanned more than
fifty years, a single project, whether artistic, political, or otherwise. Nor
is he a representative Japanese filmmaker who, despite his interests in
Western art, literature, and film, relied on traditional Japanese aesthet-
ics and sensibility as a foundation for his films' style and worldview. For
Kurosawa, "Japan" is not an answer but a problem to be scrutinized.
Nothing in his films gives us any privileged access to Japanese aes-
thetics, sensibility, cultural heritage, or Japaneseness. The complexity,
contradiction, and openness of Kurosawa's work cannot be reduced to
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