Cinema: Homespun Tatami

Ohayo is Japanese for "good morning." With that greeting, day begins for the teeming inhabitants of a crowded modern housing development near Tokyo. And the lives of nearly all of them are woven into the texture of this delicate, homespun comedy by the late Yasujiro Ozu. Virtually unknown in the West, Ozu died in 1963 as Japan's most honored film maker, a man whose gentle art was eclipsed outside his homeland by the blazing, exportable genius of Kurosawa.

Typically plotless, Ohayo derives theme, story and soul from the easy rhythm of middle-class existence. If it has heroes, they are two ebullient rebel...

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