Locating Heisei in Japanese Film

The Historical Imagination of the Lost Decades


  • Marc Yamada Brigham Young University




Heisei, Lost decades, Japanese film, Kore-eda Hirokazu, Kurosawa Kiyoshi


This paper will discuss the films of the “lost decades” of Japan’s Heisei period (1989–2019)—three decades of economic stagnation, social malaise, and natural disaster. Through an examination of the work of major Heisei filmmakers—including Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Ichikawa Jun, Sono Shion, and others—it explores the dissonance between the dominant history of Japan’s recent past and the representation of this past in the popular imagination of the period. Along with posing a challenge to normative accounts of history, Heisei film, this paper will also suggest, explores social issues that Japan continues to contend with as it enters the Reiwa period (2019–). In particular, this paper will discuss the work of Kore-eda Hirokazu, situating his films within neoliberal transformations over the last twenty years that have shaped social and cultural conditions in Japan.  





Yamada, M. (2020). Locating Heisei in Japanese Film: The Historical Imagination of the Lost Decades. MINIKOMI: Austrian Journal of Japanese Studies, (88), 32–42. https://doi.org/10.25365/aaj-2020-88-04