Akira Kurosawa

Sanshiro Sugata

Sanshiro Sugata

Kurosawa’s effortless debut is based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu. Starring Susumu Fujita as the title character, Sanshiro Sugata is a thrilling martial arts action tale, but it’s also a moving story of moral education that’s quintessential Kurosawa.

Film Info

  • Japan
  • 1943
  • 79 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Japanese

Available In

Collector's Set

Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa

The First Films of Akira Kurosawa

DVD Box Set

4 Discs


Collector's Set

AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa

AK 100: 25 Films by Kurosawa

DVD Box Set

25 Discs


Out Of Print
Sanshiro Sugata
Denjiro Ookouchi
Shogoro Yano
Susumu Fujita
Sanshiro Sugata
Yukiko Todoroki
Sayo Murai
Ranko Hanai
Sumi Kodana
Ryunosuke Tsukigata
Gennosuke Higaki
Takashi Shimura
Hansuke Murai
Sugisaku Aoyama
Tsunetami Iinuma
Kokuten Kodo
Buddhist priest
Akira Kurosawa
Keiji Matsuzaki
Akira Kurosawa
Original novel by
Tomita Tsuneo
Akira Mimura
Production design
Masao Tozuka
Seiichi Suzuki
Toshio Goto


Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa
Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa
Sanshiro Sugata: A Career Blooms Moviegoers the world over know Akira Kurosawa for Rashomon (1950) and the international classics that followed—Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo, High and Low. The filmmaker’s dazzling technique made …

By Stephen Prince

David Bordwell on Sanshiro Sugata
David Bordwell on Sanshiro Sugata
Over on the Criterion Channel, we’re bringing film school into your home with our monthly series Observations on Film Art. Hosted by esteemed film-studies scholars David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, and Jeff Smith, who recently collaborated on the e…


Akira Kurosawa

Writer, Director

Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa

Arguably the most celebrated Japanese filmmaker of all time, Akira Kurosawa had a career that spanned from the Second World War to the early nineties and that stands as a monument of artistic, entertainment, and personal achievement. His best-known films remain his samurai epics Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, but his intimate dramas, such as Ikiru and High and Low, are just as searing. The first serious phase of Kurosawa’s career came during the postwar era, with Drunken Angel and Stray Dog, gritty dramas about people on the margins of society that featured the first notable appearances by Toshiro Mifune, the director’s longtime leading man. Kurosawa would subsequently gain international fame with Rashomon, a breakthrough in nonlinear narrative and sumptuous visuals. Following a personal breakdown in the late sixties, Kurosawa rebounded by expanding his dark brand of humanism into new stylistic territory, with films such as Kagemusha and Ran, visionary, color, epic ruminations on modern man and nature.