Kon Ichikawa

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Kon Ichikawa (市川 崑 Ichikawa Kon?, November 20, 1915 – February 13, 2008) was a Japanese film director.


Early life and career

Ichikawa was born in Ise, Mie Prefecture. In the 1930s Ichikawa attended a technical school in Osaka. Upon graduation, in 1933, he found a job with a local rental film studio, J.O. Studio, in their animation department. Decades later, he told the American writer on Japanese film Donald Richie, "I'm still a cartoonist and I think that the greatest influence on my films (besides Chaplin, particularly The Gold Rush) is probably Disney."[1]

Eventually he was moved to the feature film department as an assistant director when the company became a complete production company, working under such luminaries as Yutaka Abe and Nobuo Aoyagi.

In the early 1940s J.O. Studios merged P.C.L. and Toho Film Distribution to form the Toho Film Company. Ichikawa moved to Tokyo. His first film was a puppet play short, A Girl at Dojo Temple (Musume Dojoji 1946), which was confiscated by the interim U.S. Occupation authorities under the pretense that it was too "feudal", though some sources suggest the script had not been approved by the occupying authorities. Thought lost for many years, it is now archived at the Cinémathèque Française.

It was at Toho that he met Natto Wada. Wada was a translator for Toho. They agreed to marry sometime after Ichikawa completed his first film as director. Natto Wada's original name was Yumiko Mogi (born 13 September 1920 in Himeji, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan); the couple both had failed marriages behind them. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from Tokyo Woman's Christian University. She married Kon Ichikawa on April 10, 1948, and died on February 18, 1983 of breast cancer.[2] During the rest of her life she wrote the scripts of many of her husband's films.

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