College of Liberal Arts
BA in History
The successes of Akira Kurosawa’s films have shaped and influenced Western views on Japan after World War II. While the male characters in Kurosawa’s films have been analyzed extensively, there is a focus on the subservience of this female characters. With the growing number of independent working women in a seemingly patriarchal society, it is important to study what has caused these women to break free from their traditional roles as housewife and mother. While some of Kurosawa's female characters are designed to be powerful and independent, others are submissive and obedient. The events that occur in postwar Japan have a significant influence on the way these women are fashioned in his films and how they provide support to the male protagonists. This paper discusses the various types of women that are illustrated through Kurosawa’s female characters and their roles in both the film and Japanese culture. The traits of Kurosawa's “strange woman” are outlined with an emphasis on how their characteristics reflect the various types on women in Japan. This paper will argue that Kurosawa’s “strange women” left a legacy for females in contemporary Japan and fashioned a new role for women in a patriarchal society.