Yasujiro Ozu has been widely touted as the most Japanese of Japanese film directors. In fact, Japanese distributors initially refused to release Ozu's work abroad, fearing that the West wouldn't appreciate its subtle beauty at a time when films of Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi were winning award after award at international film festivals. Fortunately, such fears proved to be unfounded and Ozu is now recognized as one of cinema's truly great filmmakers.
Yasujiro Ozu was born in the old Fukagawa district of Tokyo, to a fertilizer merchant, in 1903. He proved to be an indifferent student in middle and high school, frequently choosing to watch movies rather than tend to his studies. Later in life, he proudly recalled how he watched Rex Ingram's Prisoner of Zenda when he should have been taking the entrance examination for the Kobe Higher Commercial School. In 1923, after a couple of years as an assistant teacher in rural Japan, Ozu was hired as assistant cameraman at the Shochiku Motion Picture Company.