Today, we mostly know the great Japanese star Kinuyo Tanaka for her ability to disappear into roles in such films as The Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, and The Ballad of Narayama. But in the late 1940s, she was a personality offscreen as well, serving as Japan’s first postwar goodwill ambassador to the United States. In October 1949, she embarked on a three-month tour of Hawaii, California, and points east. This journey is documented in Koko Kajiyama’s 2009 film The Travels of Kinuyo Tanaka, a film bursting with rare footage and available on our release of The Life of Oharu. In the following clip, we see film and photos from the Hollywood leg of Tanaka’s trip, including visits with some major American stars.
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