Five Men of Edo



Five men from (Greater) Edo

"After the Second World War, shooting Jidai-geki was frowned upon in Japan. Because they sensed that historical films upheld feudal values, the American occupying powers banned the production of such films entirely and destroyed numerous older films.
The American occupiers soon realized that they had significantly underestimated the genre's popularity with Japanese audiences. The few jidai-geki produced in the 1940s all proved to be box-office hits, and by the time Americans left mainland Japan in 1952, historical drama had long since reestablished itself as Japan's top-grossing film genre.
One of the very successful films was O-Edo Go Nin Otoko (Five Men of Edo), based on the famous 1881 kabuki play Kiwametsuki Banzui Chobei (The Renowned Banzui Chobei). A film whose great success was probably due to the fact that it announced a departure from the archaic celebration of the samurai, but at the same time marked a return to the virtue of the Japanese nobleman, which had always given the genre its unique pathos."
after Pablo Knote on, 2014

Samurai are causing trouble

The arrogant Shiratsuka samurai led by Jurozaemon Mizuno invade a theater and crowd the common people out of the auditorium. The bourgeois gentleman Chobei Banzui confronts them as the protector of the common people.

At the commoner's home

Chobei Banzui has hired young Ronin Gonpachi to teach his son the classics.

At the samurai's home

The leader of the Shiratsuka samurai, Jurozaemon Mizuno, is short on cash and therefore wanted to sell his "silverware", which consists of 10 valuable porcelain plates with Western motifs. His lover Okinu considers this dishonorable and has not yet sold the plates.

Movie Data

English title: Five Men of Edo
Original title: 大江戸五人男 O-Edo Go Nin Otoko
Published: 1951
Length: 132 minutes

Director: Daisuke Ito
Screenplay: Fuji Yahiro, Shin'ichi Yanagawa, Yoshikata Yoda
Camera: Hideo Ishimoto
Music: Shiro Fukai

Banzuin Chobei: Tsumasaburo Bando
Okane : Isuzu Yamada
Jurozaemon Mizuno: Utaemon Ichikawa
Gonpachi Shirai: Teiji Takahashi
Okinu: Mieko Takamine
Takamisawa: Kokichi Takada
Noborinosuke Kondo: Masao Mishima
Sogoro: Ryunosuke Tsukigata
Myo-Hime: Saeko Ozuki
Komurasaki: Kogiku Hanayagi
Yume no Ichirobei: Kusuo Abe

Plot and Critics

Japan in the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate: Edo is being terrorized by arrogant Hatamoto, who use their status as samurai to threaten and harass the city's ordinary citizens.
Worst of all are the Shiratsuka samurai led by Jurozaemon Mizuno, a proud but impoverished samurai. Only the brave otokodate (chivalrous man) Chobei Banzui, a commoner, dares to oppose the Hatamoto. Things escalate when a member of Chobei's group, young Ronin Gonpachi, finds himself in competition with the Shiratsuka over Geisha Komurasaki. A tricky situation for Chobei, who wants to put an end to the activities of the Hatamoto, but has to realize that a violent confrontation would only result in casualties on both sides.

"Five Men of Edo" is not a suitable film for newcomers to the Jidai-geki universe. The film is too deeply rooted in the ideology of the Japanese concept of honor, too many references to history (for example the appearance of Hikozaemon Okubo, better known as the quirky counterpart of Kinnosuke Nakamura in the Noble Tasuke series) will simply pass by the inexperienced viewer. For any seasoned viewer, however, the film is very rewarding. A film that de-fascistized jidai-geki by declaring the otokodate to be the true embodiment of bushido, setting the example for a whole generation of post-war films.