The Effect of Smell in the Representation of Family in Post-war Japanese Films


This study aims to examine the effect of smell in the representation of family in Japanese films of the 1950s and 60s. Previous Japanese film studies have concentrated on analyzing vision and sound instead of smell because the sense of smell has been thought to be too subjective. This paper explores the importance of smell in Japanese films of the 1950s and 60s. There has been studies on the effect of smell in fiction. In these studies including studies of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (1913-1927), smell has often been associated with memory. This paper focuses on presentiment and intimacy linked to smell. By referring to Chantal Jaquet’s Philosophie de l’odorat (2010), I analyze post-war Japanese films which represent family relationships such as Yasujiro Ozu’s Early Spring (1956), Mikio Naruse’s A Woman’s place (1962), and Keisuke Kinoshita’s Times of Joy and Sorrow (1957). When these films depict some presentiments, whether it is comfortable or not, the sense of smell hints at the future which hasn’t arrived yet and is coming soon. Furthermore, the link between smell and intimacy is found in these films. For example, there are scenes in which characters share the same smell which imply their intimate relationship. Therefore, although it may be true that the sense of smell is less objective than the visual sense and auditory sense, it represents the psychological and temporal proximity beyond time and space. The sense of smell plays a very important role in the representation of family in Japanese films.

Author Information
Yui Hayakawa, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2020
Stream: Media

This paper is part of the ACAH2020 Conference Proceedings (View)
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