Cinema on the planet

005 – Azusa Kawabata


Matsuyama Travelogue Part 1: Itami Juzo Museum


One of the “uncles”(*1) I most deeply respect is Juzo Itami. He is most famous as a film director, but in fact, he was a man with many faces.

以前、伊丹十三記念館のオンラインショップを利用した際に同封されていた手の込んだリーフレットにきゅん! とし、何度も眺めては、いつか訪れる日を夢見ていたのでした…。

I have dreamed of visiting The Itami Juzo Museum ever since I received this sweet, elaborately designed brochure sent with my online purchase.




Like most people, I was first introduced to Juzo Itami by his movies. The first one I watched was The Supermarket Woman on TV. His Movies were often shown on TV while I was little, but Tampopo or A Taxing Woman had sexy scenes that made me embarrassed to watch with my family.

Later, started with a revival screening of The Funeral, and I watched his complete filmography all at once. Itami’s films are studded with wit, pathos, and comedy derived from grown men’s follies. And the super woman (all played by Nobuko Miyamoto) always solves every and any problem, instead of sloppy men. The only competent man would be Tampopo’s Goro (played by Tsutomu Yamazaki).




This is an essay book I came across when I started to be more curious about Juzo Itami and his interesting movies. It is called Europe Boring Diary. As I read his essay books like this one, I slowly discovered who he was as a man.

Eventually I started noticing his name all over the place: he was credited as a designer for Hitomi Yamaguchi’s book, as an actor in Ten Dark Women (Dir. Kon Ichikawa), he starred in a TV commercial when I was a child… The more I’ve learned, the more curious I have become. The Itami Juzo Museum became one of the places I wanted most to go.


さらに毎年開館記念日の頃に開催される「収蔵庫ツアー」にも応募したので楽しみ倍増! 張り切って開館時間ぴったりに入館!

Then, my wish finally came true! I decided to go to Matsuyama City in Ehime Prefecture to see my favorite “Uncle”. I visited The Itami Juzo Museum during its 10 year-anniversary on May 15th, 2017. To double my pleasure I applied for “The Warehouse Tour” that is held every year at an anniversary. With all my excitement, I was at the door right when it opened.

入館するとまず目を奪われるのが端正な建物と美しい中庭。建築設計は“イタミスト”の建築家・中村好文氏。ワクワク! ドキドキ! おじさん、やっと会いに来ましたよ〜!

The first thing that caught my eyes was the exquisite building and courtyard designed by “Itami-st” architect Yoshifumi Nakamura, a big fan of Juzo Itami. I finally came to see you “uncle”! I’m so excited!

《常設展》Permanent Exhibition

*Display contents are as of May 2017.



“Hey, welcome!” Itami greets visitors at the entrance, with a monitor and bench on the left side; Nobuko Miyamoto, the director of the museum, also greets onlookers with a big smile from inside the monitor.


In the monitor area, Itami’s film is screened every 13th of the month at 13:00 (except May and August of 2017) for his name “Juzo” literally means number 13. The little brochure made for each screening contains information to help participants more deeply understand the exhibit, and I could feel staff’s enthusiasm.



The exhibition room is divided into 13 sections after Itami’s 13 different faces: Takehiko -Ikeuchi (boyhood), music aficionado, commercial designer, actor, essayist, illustrator, culinary connoisseur, vehicle enthusiast, television presenter, cat lover, psychoanalytical enlightener, commercial writer, and film director. Each section was specially designed by Yoshifumi Nakamura, depending on each theme. It felt like I was looking inside of Itami’s head.


These photos of little Juzo was taken by his father, Mansaku Itami, who was not only a well known film director in Japan, but also a screenwriter and author. Nice photo!


右/イラストは鉛筆やペンで描かれたものが多く、中には原稿用紙の裏紙に描かれたものも。いろいろなことにこだわりが強いはずなのに、ここはスルーですか! 裏写りするじゃないですか! と、デザイナー目線で突っ込んでみたり。

On the left, there is a mechanism to see the display: Opening the drawer to peek inside, looking at illustration printed on cloth by turning a handle. This handle is a replica of a gramophone handle, the idea for which came from Itami’s drawing of gramophone.

On the right, many of these drawings were made by pencil and pen, and you can see some are drawn on the back of manuscript paper. He was so detail-oriented but didn’t care about this!? It would show-through! This is what I would think, being a designer myself…


The book covers he designed are on display. The perfectionist did all the illustration and lettering by himself. I groan with admiration for its beauty.


His culinary skill was close to professional chef, the same could be said of his tools and tableware.
He was fond of this frying pan for Japanese style omelette (“Tamagoyaki”), which was a gift from his family. He practiced everyday to reach the same level as “Sunaba”, the long-established restaurant. His second son had acne break out from eating omelette for 10 days straight. A bit much to be sure…


Itami’s warm handwriting on display. I feel love for Itami in each of these little details.

ちなみに、一番最初にチラっと写っていた「8」の番号が書かれているガレージは、展示の「八 乗り物マニア」と連動しています。鎮座ましますは、伊丹さん最後の愛車でイギリスの高級車ベントレー!

By the way, you can see number “8” in the first photo, the car garage. It’s in conjunction with exhibit number 8, “Vehicle Enthusiast.” His beloved and last car, a Bentley, the british luxury car, is enshrined here!




At the top, in the Film Director section, film strips from his movies are displayed covering the wall. I couldn’t help but look at every single frame.

In the middle, the hard-core perfectionist Itami ordered a graphic designer for his script cover design, then bound it at a print shop. He even revised the design 3 or 4 times from preparation stage to color correction.

At bottom, he was into creating props even the ones not shown in the frame. He created a “Hanameishi” (*2) for his film, A-Ge-Man -Tales of a Golden Geisha !



Looking around in the permanent exhibition space, I started to feel that I was strolling inside of Itami’s head. By examining every display in the first 12th sections, I couldn’t help but think how amazing his knowledge and sense of aesthetics were in their versatility and depth. These first 12 sections contribute to the 13th: Juzo Itami the filmmaker. His curiosity and experience, as well as his perspective and skill as an interviewer, helped his films to have a greater sense of reality.

《企画展》Special Exhibition

*All photos were taken with permission of the museum. *Displays are current as of May 2017.


訪問時に開催していた企画展「ビックリ人間 伊丹十三の吸収術」。常設展を見終えて暖簾をくぐると……、

The special exhibit at the time of my visit was “An Extraordinary Man / Juzo Itami’s cultural absorption technique”. I went through the curtain door at the entrance.



With “Watch/Read/Listen” as a theme, the exhibit displays Itami’s personal collection of films, interview tapes, etc. In one section you can watch “Making of Tampopo” (30 min. short ver.) The special exhibit too, has lots of content worth seeing.

映画の勉強のために本もたくさん読み、三年間ほぼ毎日のように映画館に通い詰めたそう。1983年に観た映画は200本超! 映画関連書籍は、ヒッチコック、ゴダール、フェリーニ、溝口健二、黒澤明などなど。本の中にはたくさんの書き込みが。


Itami read many books in order to study filmmaking, and went to movie theaters almost everyday for 3 years. He watched more than 200 movies in 1983! Film-related books on the likes of Hitchcock, Godard, Fellini, Mizoguchi and Kurosawa. Those books were filled with notes he made.

There were countless Video tapes with movies he had recorded, each one labeled in his handwriting. This was quite nice too. He also made a manual on video cable hook up by himself. He must have made everything by himself.


The projector shows Itami’s notes as he watched movies: Yasujiro Ozu’s Early Summer and Late Spring, Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped, John Huston’s Annie. The notes aren’t in sentences but using symbols instead. Arrows seem to follow a character’s movement in a shot. It would be interesting to watch these movies with these notes in hand.



「原稿・メモやイラスト原画」、「愛用品」、「湯河原ダイニングの再現」、「蔵書・映画の参考資料」、「服飾」の5つのコーナーに分類して収蔵されているのですが、収蔵庫というより素敵なお部屋! 伊丹さんのお眼鏡に適った物たちが、美しく飾られていました。伊丹デザインのマッチ(欲しい…!)や、『大病人』と『マルタイの女』の丈ちがいの赤いコートも見られて眼福。

とにかく物を捨てなかった伊丹さん。遺された資料は約8万点! これらの資料が今後の企画展でどのように展示されるか興味津々。再び訪れる楽しみができました。

On the second floor of museum, there’s a warehouse that usually isn’t open to the public. I was able to join the warehouse tour, which is held on every anniversary.

Things are organized and stored into 5 sections: “Scripts, notebooks, and original drawings”, “Favorite items”, “Replica of his dining room in Yugawara”, “Collection of books and references for films”, and “Clothes”. It’s more like a collection of beautiful rooms than a warehouse! Only items that measured up to Itami’s standard are neatly displayed. I was happy to see Itami-designed matches (I want one!) and red coats all in different length, each for The last dance and Marutai.

Itami never threw anything away, and left behind an amazing 80,000 reference pieces!! I’m very curious to see how the museum will select and curate future special exhibits. This will give me an excuse to come back and visit again.

中村好文氏の著書『中村好文 集いの建築、円(まど)いの空間』(写真:雨宮秀也/TOTO出版刊/2017年5月発行)に記念館の設計について、詳しく掲載されています。


In his book “Tsudoi no kenchiku madoi no kūkan”(TOTO Publishing, 2017), The architect Yoshifumi Nakamura explains in details on the design of this museum.

The photo above is the replica of the dining room in Itami’s villa in Yugawara, which was used as shooting location for The Funeral. It is a precise replica, even the shelf with sliding doors is the very same one from the villa.



I had prepared for my visit by watching DVD “Man with 13 faces”, reading “The Itami Juzo Museum guide book” and “Juzo Itami’s films”, yet I was pleasantly surprised by all the detailed displays from the handwritten manuscripts to his favorite personal items. I’m really glad I came!!

DVD’s and books can be purchased on museum’s online shop. *Japan Domestic shipping only.

《館内》 Inside the Museum


After visiting the exhibits, I rested at “Cafe Tampopo”. Sitting at Nobuko Miyamoto’s favorite seat gave me best view of the beautiful courtyard.


I had delicious chocolate cake in the shape of the museum building, and also the seasonal strawberry tart. Itami’s favorite alcoholic drinks and Ehime’s local specialty, mandarin orange juice are served as well. The original poster of Tampopo is displayed on the wall.


I heard that fans of Yoshifumi Nakamura visit here to see the design of the building, but they end up becoming Juzo Itami fans.

休憩後にもう一度展示を観て、オリジナルグッズショップでお土産も買い(十三饅頭が美味! 友人たちにも大好評!)、入館から約7時間! 閉館間際までたっぷり堪能しました。


After resting up at cafe, I looked through the exhibit once more, then did some souvenir shopping at the store. (Juzo-manju ((Japanese sweets with Juzo Itami’s name)) are so good, my friends loved them!) Altogether, this made my visit 7 hours long! I enjoyed everything almost until closing time.

But my journey to know Itami is only just beginning. I will be back again!


In part 2, I will write about movie theaters and movie-location tour in Matsuyama city.(To be continued)



Itami Juzo Museum
1-6-10 Higashi-Ishii, Matsuyama, Ehime
*The museum are only available in Japanese.

In Japanese “uncle” can mean an older gentleman who is so playful and kind that everyone feels related to him.


Geisha’s business card for her customers.

text & photo




Azusa Kawabata
Graphic designer

I’d like to thank The Itami Juzo Museum for their generous support during my visit.
I look forward to the updates on the museum blog. Thank you so much.

English translation

Cinema Studio 28 Tokyo Los Angeles branch

アメリカでは昨秋タンポポの4Kレストア版上映があり、タンポポ最高! と興奮していたところでした。

The 4K restored version of Tampopo was just screened last fall in the U.S.
I was very excited to re-watch this masterpiece!
Since my memory is still fresh, it was perfect timing to read this article. Thank you♡