Yoshiwara (1937 film)

Yoshiwara is a 1937 French drama film directed by Max Ophüls and starring Pierre Richard-Willm, Sessue Hayakawa and Michiko Tanaka. It is based on a novel by Maurice Dekobra. The film is set in the Yoshiwara, the red-light district of Tokyo, in the nineteenth century. It depicts a love triangle between a high-class prostitute, a Russian naval officer and a rickshaw man.[1]

Directed byMax Ophüls
Produced bySamuel Epstein
Herman Millakowsky
Written byMaurice Dekobra (novel)
Arnold Lipp
Wolfgang Wilhelm
Max Ophüls
StarringPierre Richard-Willm
Sessue Hayakawa
Michiko Tanaka
Roland Toutain
Music byPaul Dessau
CinematographyEugen Schüfftan
Edited byPierre Méguérian
Milo Film
Distributed byCompagnie Cinématographique de France
Release date
22 October 1937
Running time
102 minutes


The film was Ophüls' greatest pre-war French financial success.[2] Yoshiwara proved controversial in Japan where the government objected to the depiction of Japanese brothels and banned it. There was a negative reaction against the two Japanese actors who had starred in the film, and they were labelled as traitors.[3]



  1. Seigle p.10-11
  2. Bacher p.37
  3. Seigle p.10-11


  • Bacher, Lutz. Max Ophuls in the Hollywood Studios. Rutgers University Press, 1996.
  • Seigle, Cecilia Segawa. Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan. University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
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