Writer Donald Richie, who introduced Japan films to world, dies at 88

Donald Richie. Kyodo News photo

Donald Richie. Kyodo News photo
Donald Richie. Kyodo News photo

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Writer and critic Donald Richie, who helped introduce Japanese movies to the United States and Europe, died Tuesday at a Tokyo hospital, a friend of his said. He was 88.

Richie, from Lima, Ohio, came to Japan in 1946 with the U.S. occupation forces after Japan’s defeat in World War II, and later introduced Japanese movies including those directed by Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi in newspapers.

He wrote books on Japanese filmmakers, including Akira Kurosawa.

He was a contributor to The Japan Times for more than 50 years, covering film, theater and literature.

One response to “Writer Donald Richie, who introduced Japan films to world, dies at 88”

  1. Thomas Sorensen Avatar
    Thomas Sorensen

    I was very sad to hear of the passing of Donald Richie. More than 50 years ago I went to Japan to study and that is when I first met Richie. He used to go once a week to a restaurant in Shinjuku called “Inoyama”. That was a meeting place for older American ex-pats and I was invited there by one of the members of the group. Most of them were like Richie long time residence of Japan and all had served during the occupation. Most were writers and worked as copywriters for “Dentsu” advertising.

    Richie asked me what I was doing in Japan as at that time there were very few foreigners living there who were not part of the American military. He as well as the others were surprised to find an American studying in a Japanese national university. When he discovered that I was a student at Tokyo Kyoiku Daigaku majoring in Japanese lit he was very interested in the why and hows of my decision to study in Japan. By that time I was already in my second year and preparing to write my graduation thesis. He asked if I was writing on classic works and I said that because I lacked the background in classical language I had been allowed to write on a modern author. I had chosen Dazai Osamu and so he told me he’d help me out with whatever he could so he introduced me to Mishima Yukio and Mishima, although he was not a big fan of Dazai pointed me to many people who had known the author. So Richie was really as instrumental as Mishima in my ability to graduate from the university in a less painful manner than if I had tried to do it all on my own. I can never forget the interest and the kindness shown to me by both men. Both of them are now gone and the world is poorer for their loss.

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