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High and Low: The Burakumin Issue

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    Ugetsu

    According to Wikipedia, quoting a book by Frank Upham, the scene where Gondo sews the briefcase showing his skills as a leatherworker was implicitly identifying him as a Burakumin – part of the lowest caste (if thats the right word to use) of Japanese society.

    If so (do any other sources confirm this?) it would seem to be a very radical statement by Kurosawa. If I’m not misunderstanding this, it would be as if, for example, a contemporary American version of the film featured (without comment on his ethnicity) an African American actor in the part. Given that it was a huge commercial success in Japan, I find it strange that this element isn’t more commented upon – or is it just wishful thinking on the part of Upham?

    If it is a correct inference, it seems to me that this adds an extra element to the binary ‘heaven and hell’ relationship between Gondo and the kidnapper. I was curious the first time I saw it as to why the kidnapper turns out to have been a medical student – i.e. educated and with a middle class future ahead of him, whatever his current situation. Perhaps Kurosawa wanted to emphasise that his jealousy of Gondo wasn’t just that Gondo was wealthy, but he had in effect ‘leapfrogged’ the middle classes by going from the lowest level of society to the top, with apparent ease?

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    Jon Hooper

    The fact that Gondo may have risen above his station is also suggested by the reference to him marrying into money – his wife’s dowry allowed him to get established in the shoe trade, and when she suggests he pays he accuses her of not knowing what money is worth (the details may not be exact as I’m writing this without notes, but something along these lines is mentioned in the film). It does point then to increased social mobility, but yet again I find my ignorance of Japanese society letting me down. Just how common would someone like Gondo have been in the Japan of the mid twentieth century?

    Another thing I found myself thinking about is the choice of shoes as Gondo’s trade. I’m not sure if it’s in the source novel, but shoes seem to be an ideal example of something that was once the product of a craftsman but has since become mass produced and has declined in quality. This is evident in the scene where Gondo rips the shoe apart in front of the other partners. My father happened to be a shoemaker and of course he found himself being increasingly redundant. In fact, it was in about the mid-sixties when the work started drying up altogether. I find Gondo’s plan, to produce hardy, good quality shoes which are also stylish quite interesting. He comes across as a craftsman as well as an entrepeneur, with a working class background as far as I can tell; the fact that he refuses to sell his soul completely to modern business practices, by insisting on quality as well as fashion in the early scene, goes a long way towards explaining why he eventually gives in to pity and agrees to help his chauffeur’s son. My reading, then, is that he retains certain working class values, and while he has attained wealth and an elevated social position, he is at rock bottom a good man.

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    Ugetsu

    My understanding of the burakumin (and 90% of my knowledge comes from that Wikipedia article – I once asked a Japanese friend about the subject and she just said ‘oh…. I don’t know much about such people’ in a very enigmatic way) is that they are certainly more than just ‘working class’ – they were more of an outcast element in society, more like Roma gypsies. Thats why I make the comparison with an African American actor in a 1960’s US film (I’m sure there are other good parallels, but I can’t quite think of any).

    Certainly the writer of that book sees the choice of Gondos trade as a shoemaker as significant, although possibly by the time the movie was out that direct link between leatherwork and the burakumin wasn’t so clear.

    But on the other hand, Jon points out, it is made clear that Gondo’s wife is a high-born woman – it seems highly unlikely that a woman like that would marry (and bring a dowry) to a man who was really of such low birth, so maybe its reading too much into it.

    I’m also curious about the background of the kidnapper – a medical student. This may have been simply because it gave an excuse for the hospital scene. But it does seem very curious to me as to why a future doctor would be so intensely jealous of a successful businessman. Perhaps Kurosawa just intended that we are supposed to see the irony of someone relatively privilaged being jealous of Gondo under the mistaken impression that he inherited his wealth, whereas in fact Gondo came from a much more humble background than the kidnapper?

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    Vili Maunula

    Apologies for the silence, work has taken its toll.

    Ugetsu brings a very interesting point to the table here.

    I was not aware of the burakumin stigmata associated with professions such as leather workers, butchers and grave diggers, but have now read a little bit into it from the Internet. Although the system was apparently officially abolished in 1871, the burakumin past of leather workers appears to remain something of an issue in Japan. See, for example, a Google cache for an article that appeared in Japan Today in 2006 (the actual link seems to be down).

    I think that Upham may be onto something here. The film certainly makes sure that we are aware of Gondo’s past as someone who has risen to the position where he is, rather than having been born to it. While I have always assumed this to simply be a device with which to strengthen our sympathy towards him, the film may well be trying to communicate a far more precise message than that, albeit one that most foreigners are bound to miss.

    If the burakumin connection is maintained, it would possibly explain a few matters that I have wondered about the movie. One is why Gondo’s family seems to exist in a total vacuum, with no family members who could help them with the finances. I don’t know how these things go in Japan, but the fact that not a single mention is made of the wife’s supposedly rich family being able to help out indicates that it is not even an option here. Is this because of Japanese tradition, or could it be that all ties to that side of the family have been lost with the marriage?

    I have also been puzzled by the reaction Gondo receives when he takes out his tools and starts to work on the leather bags. While you could consider the reactions the result of a surprise and sympathy towards him, something about the body language of the detectives and Gondo’s wife in particular has always seemed to me to communicate more of a mixture of shame and curiosity. This has felt strange to me, but seems a more appropriate reaction if Gondo’s possible burakumin past is considered.

    It is perhaps also significant that after the scene mentioned above we cut immediately to the train sequence, at the beginning of which we witness Tokura and Bos’n talk about Gondo. Bos’n notes that while he does not care for the rich and despised Gondo at first, something has changed his thinking. Could that something be the realisation that took place at the end of the previous scene?

    Then there is indeed also the fact to consider that our villain is a medical student. While the burakumin were at the very bottom of the societal hierarchy, doctors in Japan were and still are very well respected. In fact, I think that they, like priests, were in fact outside of the hierarchy altogether, so respected they were. It would therefore be ironical that the character labelled High would really be of low societal standing, and the other way around.

    The issue of privilige that Ugetsu mentions is actually referred to in the final scene. Takeuchi tells that “it’s amusing to make fortunate men taste the same misery as the unfortunate”, to which Gondo replies with “Were you really so unfortunate?” Judging from Takeuchi’s response, this seems like a question that he has not actually considered. As he has already said by this point in the scene, he has no interest in self-analysis.

    Jon — Gondo’s character in the original novel was apparently also in the shoe business. The first act is supposed to be very true to its source.

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    Ugetsu

    First off, apologies if my references to scenes in the movie are not accurate, its been months since I saw it, and I lent my dvd to my brother in June and still haven’t got it back. Although actually its a tribute to the movie that so much of it is still vivid in my mind.

    Thinking about this, I wonder if the traditional view of High and Low as being one of a pair with Stray Dog is correct. Virtually everything I’ve read about this movie sees it as a reprise of the theme of Stray Dog – how apparent ‘opposites’ really are just two sides of the same coin. The very similar endings (the cop and murderer covered in mud in Stray Dog; Gondo’s face refected over the kidnapper in H’nLow) leads nearly everyone (including Richie) to this conclusion. But I wonder if its more accurate to see it as thematically leading directly from Rashomon?

    My thinking is this – Rashomon is essentially about the unknowability of objective truth, when filtered through someones self interested account. An incident occurred, but everyone who witnessed it interprets it in a way that reflects their own interests. In H’nL, we have the same thing, but instead of an incident, it is an individual – Gondo, who is ‘interpreted’ by characters according to their own prejudices, their own desire to believe that he is what they want to believe.

    What I am throwing out is the idea that ‘High and Low’ (or Heaven and Hell) if you prefer, is not a reference to the relative positions of Gondo and the kidnapper, as most critics interpret, but is a reference to Gondo alone. It is Gondo who has been in ‘high’ (first as he is about to depose his competitors for the company), while he has been implicitly ‘low’ (in hell) in his origins, and in the hellish situation he has been thrown into by the kidnapping.

    To refer to Vili’s ideas about the priest being the audience in Rashomon, perhaps the ‘audience’ is actually the police officers. They first see what they think is a very rich, powerful man. They then see what ‘we’ (the contemporary Japanese audience) see – that Gondo is actually from very humble origins. They express their admiration of him, realising it must take a remarkable individual to rise as he has. On the other hand, the kidnapper never wavers from his view that Gondo is simply a rich, privilaged individual, and goes to his execution completely oblivious to the irony that Gondo is a very different man than he thinks. He is blinded to the ‘truth’ by his hatred.

    Therefore, the theme of the movie is that when judging a man, we can be like the policemen – adjust our judgement in the light of evidence, or like the kidnapper – stick to your prejudices about a person and refuse to accept that things are not quite as they seem at first glance.

    In portraying Gondo as a leathermaker, Kurosawa was delibrately putting it up to the contemporary Japanese audience to address their own initial response to the character – to address their own prejudices. They are invited to admire him – his success, his integrity, his beautiful wife and home – then they are bluntly presented with the evidence that he is burakumin. They could choose themselves to relate to the policemen, or the kidnapper (a fairly loaded choice of course).

    So, in the way that Rashomon played with our notion of what is ‘truth’ in relation to your judgement of an incident, High and Low is an exploration of what is ‘truth’ in relation to your judgement of a man.

    But then again, maybe not 🙄

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    cocoskyavitch

    How does it fit in that Gondo’s intial wealth comes from his wife’s family?

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    Ugetsu

    How does it fit in that Gondo’s intial wealth comes from his wife’s family?

    I’m not sure if that is particularly relevant as we know so little about it. Its not clear that it was ‘initial’ wealth anyway (from my memory of the movie). He may well have already been successful within the company when he married (from my knowledge of Japanese society of the period it would have been unheard of for the daughter of a rich powerful family to marry a lowly shoemaker and hope to bring a dowry with her). Maybe her family wealth was related to National Shoes anyway. Its a bit of a mystery… perhaps she is something of a deliberate Hitchcock style red herring. Or maybe its a deliberate plot device to force the contemporary audience to work hard at creating their own backstory to Gondo.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Ugetsu, you remind me of how much I assume. Good reminder. I somehow landed in some space where I thought Gondo was using, in part, his wife’s dowry for the shoe takeover. Curious how it happened to jump to that conclusion. I think that Kurosawa liked very much playing with our assumptions-not so much from a will to make us be fools, but, rather because he was questioning “truth” at a very deep level.

    Between us, Ugetsu, I think it is very funny that we are forced to use “truth” in quotes. It seems silly to do otherwise, considering subjectivity.

    It’s very much like the concept of “beauty”, isn’t it? The subjective pollutes the absolute, infecting it by making it relative. A concept in reaction to modern scientific methodology. Unlike scientific fact-which necessarily accounts for the fact of observation (isn’t it interesting that tiny subparticles of matter react to being watched, and behave differently than those that are not? Wait a minute-how would science know that? Oh. Nevermind. For a minute I was like the person doubting that the light goes off in the fridge when you close the door…!) unlike science, “truth” connects with “meaning”. And “meaning” (significance) must be relative to the individual group or self. We would feel mighty silly not accounting for subjectivity, wouldn’t we?

    I think that Kurosawa was intuitive about these things, and felt them, rather than abstractly intellectualized about them. That’s probably why we feel these issues so powerfully in the films themselves-they are living arguments, first this side then that- lived through the characters (and environments, weather) in the films. I think Kurosawa was most surely struggling with concepts of truth and meaning, Ugetsu-you hit the nail on the head there.

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    Vili Maunula

    Excellent points, Ugetsu!

    While there is a connection with Stray Dog, particularly in that both films are concerned with a dualism of some sorts, there are also large differences, and now that you mention it, indeed the audience’s role in High and Low seems more similar to that in Rashomon.

    As for the dualism, for one there is at least a very clear time-related difference between the films. In the case of Stray Dog, Murakami and Yusa were metaphorically one and the same long before the movie started, but have since drifted apart. They are of course physically brought together at the end, but I am not sure if I agree with Richie and others who suggest that the final scene is there to remind us of the similarities — I rather think it further emphases their differences. True, they look almost indistinguishable from one another, but clearly we have learnt by that point that they are in the end very different individuals due to their choices.

    High and Low works the other way around, with there having been no actual contact between Gondo and Takeuchi before the movie. And although again it is really only at the very end that they come together, even there I am again not entirely sure if I agree with Richie about the meaning of the final scene, that it serves to show that the two are really the same. Then again, I can’t really say what exactly the film is trying to communicate to us through those reflections.

    The idea of the detectives in High and Low functioning as representatives of the audience is, I think, a thought worth pursuing. As Prince discusses, the film is obsessed with the many ways the detectives see and deduct what is going on, and I don’t think that it is difficult to translate that into the context in which we as the audience are watching the movie and trying to make sense of it.

    I also fully agree that High and Low is not quite as straightforward a piece as to allow us the privilege of tangible objective truth. As you point out, this is especially true of Gondo, whom everyone (us included) seems to interpret their own way. It must also be noted that Gondo is not quite your straightforward hero. For one, I don’t think that he comes across as a very likeable character in the end, and some of the values that he represents (consider for example the “a man must kill or be killed” mentality) are not very heroic, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Gondo also seems to remain in the distance throughout the movie, a character who never quite opens up to us.

    Interestingly enough, the film still goes out of its way to make us see Gondo as the hero, and this is largely through the policemen and the press. In fact, the police officers promote Gondo to such a degree that they make the somewhat strange decision of not catching Takeuchi at their first chance, but instead deciding to lure him to attempt a crime that will get him a tougher sentence. While this is a direct criticism of the contemporary Japanese laws regarding kidnapping (laws that were changed the following year), it also seems like the wrong decision from the part of the policemen. Because of it, an innocent person dies in Takeuchi’s experimentation with the heroin overdose, while much of the manpower of the district police is wasted in staging Takeuchi’s arrest. How many other crimes could have been dealt with had they arrested him once he was found out?

    What makes this line of thinking even more to the point is Gondo’s own reaction to Takeuchi. As he responds in the final scene to Takeuchi’s remark about how he must feel, Gondo insists that they do not need to hate each other. He in fact seems anything but happy — sorry, even — about Takeuchi’s death sentence. I get the feeling that in their enthusiasm in trying to help Gondo by staging the revenge, the policemen have only caused Gondo more grief.

    If we now return to the idea that the police officers on some level represent us the audience, it would appear to me that even we don’t necessarily fully “adjust our judgement in the light of evidence” (alone), as Ugetsu writes. Instead, we are quick to make our decisions and choose our sides, and in blindly supporting our heroes (on or off the screen) we can do terrible things. So, what I am really saying is that while I agree with Ugetsu in that the film invites us to like Gondo despite of our possible prejudices, I think that it ultimately also cautions us against liking him too much.

    In fact, I would say that the film itself, when looked at as separate from the opinions of its characters, is neither more or less sympathetic towards Gondo than towards Takeuchi. Although the crime is clearly denounced and attacked, I think that the film has quite much fascination and even sympathy for the criminal. It does not agree with his actions, but I don’t think that it disagrees with his person. In fact, to begin to answer my own question from a few paragraphs ago, perhaps this is why we have the reflections in the final scene. For, while the two characters are not the same, they are similar enough to warrant our interest and affection as human beings?

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    Ugetsu

    True, they look almost indistinguishable from one another, but clearly we have learnt by that point that they are in the end very different individuals due to their choices.

    Reflecting on it, perhaps the meaning of the ending is ‘look, see how similar they look, despite what we know of them’. In other words, the meaning of the end is ‘don’t be fooled by a mans appearance’ (or more prosaically, ‘don’t judge a book by his cover’.)

    I’d suggest that this interpretation is backed up by the backgrounds of the characters. We see Gondo first of all as a powerful businessman – but we discover he is a burakumin. We think of the kidnapper at first as a lowlife… but we find out he is a medical student, someone with real status. So Kurosawa is commenting both on our anxiety to judge people both by their appearance, and by their apparent status in society.

    On a related issue, one of the features of this movie that has puzzled me is the continual use of reflective surfaces to show the action. Perhaps this is Kurosawas way of saying ‘nothing is real, everything is a reflection through a particular way of seeing’.

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    Vili Maunula

    On a related issue, one of the features of this movie that has puzzled me is the continual use of reflective surfaces to show the action. Perhaps this is Kurosawas way of saying ‘nothing is real, everything is a reflection through a particular way of seeing’.

    That is certainly one way to see it, and I think also the most straightforward interpretation.

    Another and somewhat related idea that I have toyed with is that the reflections are a way to draw the viewer’s attention to himself in a way that he becomes self-conscious about his role in relation to the film.

    This is perhaps somewhat far-fetched (I guess it’s not like you wouldn’t expect that from me by now!), but you could say that the essence of a reflection is typically one’s ability to see oneself. Yet, except for the very last scene where Gondo staring at his own image in the prison, I cannot think of another reflection in the movie that serves this purpose for any of the characters. In a way, the great majority of these reflections are therefore “empty reflections” devoid of actual content.

    And obviously, none of the reflections could show us either. But on some level I would argue that it is specifically the fact that we don’t see ourselves in those reflections that makes us self-conscious about our relationship with the movie, highlighting our status as external to the physical world depicted in the film.

    Which, perhaps, puts us in a position where we contemplate our assumed position within the film, first in terms of our physical position and then, by extension, our interpretive position. Forcing out our own reflections, so to speak.

    Well, I told you it would be somewhat far-fetched. 😆

    Whether or not any of that makes any sense, the final reflection that I mentioned is nevertheless very interesting. Gondo is left there facing himself, and at least I get the feeling that it is visually really he who is being locked up as that metal curtain falls down. Instead of the policemen pulling Takeuchi back in, they to me actually actually seem to be pulling him out. I wonder if this is the way the scene is actually set up (and therefore a common reaction), or is it just my own skewed way of seeing it?

    In any case, it is a very powerful ending — something similar to what we could also have had with Stray Dog would it end with the fight or Drunken Angel if Murakami’s death and the immediately following shot of Sanada carrying the eggs would finish those movies. The coda meant for High and Low was, of course, cut out by Kurosawa after several versions had been written and at least one of them filmed. And I think that it was an excellent decision.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Mirrors, Reflections and Light:

    Vili said,

    :”I cannot think of another reflection in the movie that serves this purpose for any of the characters. In a way, the great majority of these reflections are therefore “empty reflections” devoid of actual content.”

    And, that is the nature of the mirror-an “empty reflection”. I disagree, however, that any visual choice can be devoid of content. Reflections and mirrors are the richest symbolic devices! A mirror is a tease-promising another world and not delivering. It’s funny when your cat sees himself and freaks out, but, fascinating in Cocteau’s liquid-veil-into another-realm in Beauty and the Beast. A mirror is a fascinating subject in art with a long history: http://www.mellenpress.com/mellenpress.cfm?bookid=4182&pc=9 , and mirrors turn the three dimensional world into two- (hinting at a fourth dimension?) a graphic fact wrested from windows and mirrors as a triumph of vision in the development of linear perspective during the Renaissance. The mirrors of the Han dynasty were highly polished white metal that had the peculiar ability to reflect the engraved and carved opposite side of the metal backing into the reflected image as a ghost. If you take the “Haunted Mansion” ride at Disneyworld, the ride ends with your image, reflected in a mirror, with a ghost as your companion. Mirrors and reflections are distortions and deceptions-promises of entry into another world/reality-disconcerting and disorienting plays of light, simultaneously revealing and concealing the “true” reality we believe must exist.

    The reflective surfaces of High and Low are strongly atmospheric, serving to establish mood, and, in some cases, telling us about the individual character. You’ve probably felt the sensation of the night scenes in the second act of the film-if you have walked in crowded, neon-lit Asian cities on a hot night-and seen the reflections on storefronts, cars, car windows, sunglasses-creating a splintered illusion of reality that moves and changes with your movement and perspective. I suggest that it engages our senses in the environment-and, in the storyline. The disorienting reflections are appropriate setup to the very surreal scenes that follow.

    The light in the “hell” scene of drug alley provides a pre-Spielbergian use of light to hide figures against the moist, dank air. The lost souls become silhouettes of despair-Kurosawa orchestrates the scene like a ballet of the damned. The use of light to obscure identity is something Rembrandt did, famously, in his etchings, but, for the life of me I cannot think of a film contemporaneous to High and Low that used light in quite this way.

    Obviously, Takeuchi’s sunglasses reflect light and obscure his identity-and make him look pretty cool. But, that last scene-that last scene is-like all Kurosawa’s last scenes we’ve looked at thus far-a mystery. There’s room enough for plenty of ideas.

    Vili offers:

    “Whether or not any of that makes any sense, the final reflection that I mentioned is nevertheless very interesting. Gondo is left there facing himself, and at least I get the feeling that it is visually really he who is being locked up as that metal curtain falls down. Instead of the policemen pulling Takeuchi back in, they to me actually actually seem to be pulling him out”

    I think the reflections of the last scene wtih Gondo’s and Takeauchi’s faces interfering with our view of each, serves to disorient and point to how very difficult it is to understand and know another-the reality in the depths of the human heart may be unknowable. We can see the exterior-but it is only a reflection in a distorted glass-it is not the soul of another-

    I agree-they are pulling him out. From what? Confrontation with his crime, the senseless nature of it, himself, perhaps. Takeuchi is in the midst of a breakdown! He is rescued from this confrontation by the police.

    The most emphatic metal door in the world thuds violently closed and Gondo is left with his reflection. Since we see him from the back, we get a sense of a three-dimensional (ah film! OK, the illusion of three-dimensionality) back, and a reflected, two-dimensional surface of his front, as reflected in the glass. I suggest this is incredibly rich in possibility: Glass is transparent and reflective at once. You have, perhaps, played with focus and looked at the reflections in a window to the exclusion of the view outside. It is almost a paradoxical relationship: clear yet, obscure. You can change your focus- Ugetsu points out that the reflections may indicate the subjective vision of “reality”.

    Glass, when backed, is a mirror. So, the final scene Gondo goes from glass with overlapping reflections/visions to mirror-a clearer view of himself. What does Gondo get in that clearer view? That’s where Vili’s “trapped” feeling comes in: a man, in a mirror, is not a man-he is only the reflection of a man. Gondo needs to be in the world, an active agent-three dimensional. He will be! He will leave the room and live. It’s Takeuchi who, being “rescued” from confrontation with himself and reality who is actually being locked up within himself.

    A note on the Burakumin issue-maybe we should see Gondo not so much as buraku, but as “pull-yourself up from your bootstraps”. The term 部落 buraku literally refers to a small, generally rural, commune. Even today, old people living in villages of northern and central regions of Japan may refer to these villages as buraku, indicating that the word’s usage was not originally pejorative. Today, however, the term is primarily used as a shorthand for the hisabetsu buraku people; the use of the word in any medium is often frowned on or even prohibited, owing to pressure from rights groups. Historically the burakumin have also been refered to as eta (穢多, literally, “full of filth”); the term today is considered deragatory but still receives some use. They are some times, although less commonly, called mikaihō buraku (未解放部落 “unliberated communities”, or “unfreed buraku”). Some burakumin refer to their own communities as “mura” (“villages”) and themselves as “mura-no-mon” (“village people”). The buraku are a minority group something like the Hokkaido Ainu people, or Chinese living in Japan. There are something like 8,000 “buraku” currently-I would not think this epithet is applied so broadly to someone whose profession is cobbler without the agrarian connotations bundled in-and I don’t think we have evidence of that in Gondo.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Then again, maybe the tradition of leatherworkers as “lowest caste” may still carry the perfume of prejudice-and, maybe it was more strongly felt when the film was made. I only need to think of Barak Obama in light of our (American) tradition of racial prejudice to see how much some things may change-within the span of a single lifetime.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Today, reading more about buraku-I completely withdraw my earlier thoughts that perhaps Gondo should not be seen as associated to those prejudices. I am shocked to learn that there were outcast registers of families and individuals until the 19th century.

    It is a fascinating topic, with a fairly large selection of readings to be found on the internet. My apologies for spouting off before doing more research.

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    Ugetsu

    I came across this interesting article in the NYTimes a few days ago. Seems like the new Japanese Prime Minister has something in common with Gondo…..

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    cocoskyavitch

    Fascinating.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the link, Ugetsu! It was really interesting reading.

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    Ugetsu

    Just as a follow up to the social standing of the Burakumin (apparently, ‘Dowa’ is now the accepted term), here is another fascinating insight into current Japanese politics by Spike Japan – its about Toru Hashimoto, current Mayor of Osaka and from a dowa background.

    I know its not directly related to the film, but I am pretty sure Kurosawa was deliberately playing with the audiences prejudices about Gondo possibly being dowa, and this is an important and generally overlooked aspect of the film. Perhaps we can explore this in more detail when High and Low swings back again in the AK club.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the link, Ugetsu! A fascinating man, this Toru Hashimoto. And a well-written, even if clearly biased, article.

    This is the first time I hear about it, but the term dowa (同和) seems quite interesting semantically. As the article mentions, the word is written with the characters for “same” and “Japanese”. As a word, it apparently also means “social integration”.

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