Would you be interested in seeing some twenty thousand pages of Kurosawa’s screenplays, photos, storyboards, drawings, notes, newspaper clippings, personal scribblings and other materials? If yes, head to the Akira Kurosawa Digital Archive, just opened by Kyoto’s Ryukoku University in collaboration with Kurosawa Production.
I don’t think that I am exaggerating if I say that this is probably the most important release of Kurosawa archive material ever. There just is so much of it! Want to read some production notes on The Idiot? Here you go, 16 pages, hand-written. The script for The Quiet Duel? Sure, take a look. Want to know what the Film Daily thought about Yojimbo in 1962? Well, apparently it has satire and sophistication.
More of a visual type? No worries, may I interest you in some drawings for Rhapsody in August or posters for Dodesukaden? Production stills from Seven Samurai? Or are you more into Kurosawa as a person? Take a look at his travel photos from, say, Rome, New York (?) or London. Or how about some golf?
Or, if you are a more hard-core researcher, take a look for instance at the almost 100 pages of notes for The Sea is Watching, or Kurosawa’s notes for his autobiography. I feel that I could go on forever.
The website and most of the material is in Japanese, so those with no command of the language may find it slightly difficult to navigate around, but I’m sure that you’ll get the hang of it. The material is arranged into folders and subfolders, accessible from the left-hand menu. It helps if you are at least able to recognize the film names in Japanese. Note also that it may take a while for the images to load, as they are really good scans, some taking hundreds of megabytes as they are presented with incredible detail. (Thanks to the zoom system, you don’t actually need to load the whole image in one go, though.)
Even if the scans are not dated or tagged (edit: they actually are — each picture has this information in the “metadata” section), the search doesn’t seem to function perfectly, and some fairly obvious material is missing (probably due to copyright restrictions), this is an absolute treasure trove.
Jump in, take a look, and post your findings in the comments! Happy hunting!