Film director Yoshishige Yoshida dies at 89

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yoshishige Yoshida

Film director Yoshishige Yoshida died of pneumonia on Thursday. He was 89.

Yoshida was known for such films as “Akitsu Onsen” (Akitsu hot spring) and “Eros + Gyakusatsu” (Eros + Massacre), among others. The funeral will be attended by close relatives, with Yoshida’s wife, actress Mariko Okada, serving as chief mourner.

A native of Fukui Prefecture, Yoshida majored in French literature at the University of Tokyo and, upon graduating, joined Shochiku Co. in 1955. He worked as an assistant director for Keisuke Kinoshita and other directors before making his directorial debut in 1960.

“Akitsu Onsen” (1962) chronicles a couple’s story during and after World War II. Yoshida’s lyrical rendering of the tale was highly praised. Yoshida was also part of Shochiku’s “nouvelle vague” movement, along with directors Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda, who joined Shochiku around the same time he did.

In 1964, Yoshida married Okada, who produced and starred in “Akitsu Onsen.” He then left Shochiku and — together with his wife — set up an independent film production company, Gendai Eigasha, in 1966. At the company, he made “Onna no Mizuumi,” “Eros + Gyakusatsu” and other films starring Okada, taking an avant-garde approach to such topics as sex, life and death.

Following “Kaigenrei” (Coup d’etat) in 1973, Yoshida occasionally stopped making films for theatrical release and instead concentrated on other areas. For example, he worked on the fine art TV documentary series “Bi no Bi” and directed the opera “Madama Butterfly” in Lyon, France.

His last work, “Kagami no Onnatachi” (“Women in Mirror”) in 2002, centers around the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Yoshida depicted absurdity and highlighted human contradictions, drawing inspiration from his wartime experiences of fleeing from air raids.