Friday, May 02, 2008

Lovers passing on the what's-your-name bridge

From Mellow Monk's Department of Obscure Japanese Movie Trivia comes some trivia so old that I've also labeled this post under "Japanese history."

Released in 1952 and 1953, the movie trilogy “Kimi no Na Wa” (What’s Your Name?) broke all previous box office records in Japan. This success was helped by the fact that the films were based on a long-running smash-hit radio series. The films proved so successful that they are said to have financed the modernization of Shochiku, the studio that produced them.

The story concerns a young man and women who meet by chance, fall in love at first sight (hitomebore), but are then kept apart by the circumstances around them. (Such stories about lovers kept apart by fate even constitute their own genre, known as surechigai, which means "passing," as in two ships passing in the night.)

The film was so popular that the unconventional way that lead actress Keiko Kishi wore her scarf (see the photo below) started a new fashion trend known as Machiko-maki (a "Machiko wrap," after the character's name).

A famous scene take place in the beginning of the trilogy at Tokyo's
Sukiya Bridge, where Machiko first meets her would-be beau, Haruki, during an air raid. (It is as they rush from the bridge to go their separate ways that Haruki utters the famous phrase, "Kimi no na ha?"—Oh, by the way, what's your name?)

In 1957, the Sukiya Bridge was demolished by the frenetic wave of development that preceded the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today at that spot stands a monument that reads "Former site of the Sukiya Bridge." The words carved into the monument were actually written with a calligraphy brush wielded by Kazuo Kikuta (1908–1973), who authored the original story and after whom a TV screenwriting award was named.

A poster from the movie Kimi no Na Wa (What's Your Name?), showing actress Keiko Kishi sporting the scarf style that sparked a nationwide fashion trend waaaay back in the mid-1950s.

—Mellow Monk

Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)