An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

Brief Intro

“An Autumn Afternoon” is a poignant 1962 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. The story centers around a widower, Shuhei Hirayama, as he navigates the loneliness of aging and the societal pressures to marry off his only daughter. Known for its minimalist style and deep emotional resonance, the film is a masterclass in subtle storytelling.

Literary Devices Used in An Autumn Afternoon

1. Symbolism

Movie SceneDevice Example
Shuhei’s visit to the bar and the baseball batThe baseball bat symbolizes the lost opportunities and the passing of time.
The wedding dress sceneThe wedding dress represents societal expectations and the inevitable change in family dynamics.

2. Foreshadowing

Movie SceneDevice Example
Shuhei’s conversation with his friend about agingHints at Shuhei’s eventual acceptance of his daughter’s marriage.
The bar scene with the drunk teacherPredicts the loneliness that Shuhei might face in the future.

3. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Shuhei encouraging his daughter to marryIronically, he feels more alone when she leaves.
The cheerful tone during sad momentsThe disparity between the visual cheerfulness and the underlying sadness.

4. Metaphor

Movie SceneDevice Example
The baseball gameLife’s innings representing different stages of life.
The empty classroomRepresents Shuhei’s loneliness and the void left by his children.

5. Motif

Movie SceneDevice Example
Repeated visits to the barThe bar scenes highlight Shuhei’s routine and loneliness.
Family dinnersEmphasize the importance of family bonds.

6. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneDevice Example
The youthful energy of Shuhei’s daughterContrasted with Shuhei’s quiet resignation to aging.
Scenes of bustling city lifeContrasted with the stillness of Shuhei’s home.

7. Allegory

Movie SceneDevice Example
Shuhei’s reminiscing about the pastAllegorically addresses post-war Japan’s shift and modernization.
The teacher’s fall from graceRepresents the downfall of traditional values.

8. Personification

Movie SceneDevice Example
The house and its creaksThe house is almost a character, embodying the family’s history.
The old teacher’s lonelinessLoneliness is depicted almost as a tangible entity haunting him.

9. Imagery

Movie SceneDevice Example
The final shot of Shuhei sitting aloneVividly paints the stark reality of his solitude.
Scenes of daily life in JapanRich details create a vivid picture of the era’s lifestyle.

10. Parallelism

Movie SceneDevice Example
Shuhei’s daughter and the younger generationParallels between her choices and the traditional expectations.
Conversations about marriage in different contextsReflect the generational shift in views on marriage.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Shuhei Hirayama

SymbolismShuhei’s loneliness is symbolized by the empty house and solitary meals.
ForeshadowingEarly scenes hint at his eventual acceptance of his daughter’s departure.

Michiko Hirayama

MetaphorHer life changes metaphorically reflect the societal changes in Japan.
IronyDespite her duty to marry, she finds herself bound by her love for her father.


JuxtapositionHer practical approach contrasts with Shuhei’s sentimental nature.
AllegoryRepresents the modern, practical approach to life post-war.

Character Dynamics

JuxtapositionThe generational contrast between Shuhei and Michiko highlights changing values.
IronyThe irony of Michiko’s departure fulfilling her duty yet deepening Shuhei’s loneliness.

Thematic Analysis

Aging and Loneliness

SymbolismThe empty house symbolizes the solitude of aging.
ImageryVisuals of solitary moments emphasize the theme.

Family and Duty

MotifRecurrent family dinners highlight the theme of family duty.
IronyMichiko’s duty to marry contrasts with her desire to stay with her father.

Change and Tradition

AllegoryPost-war Japan’s societal shifts are allegorized through character arcs.
ParallelismContrasts between generations reflect the tension between change and tradition.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismColor paletteMuted tones in Shuhei’s scenes symbolize his quiet loneliness.
ImageryCinematographyStatic shots with deep focus enhance the vivid imagery of daily life.
IronySoundtrackCheerful music during melancholic scenes highlights the ironic undertones.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

  1. Shuhei’s Solitary Drink at the Bar
  2. Michiko’s Departure
    • YouTube Link
    • Breakdown: The use of imagery and irony in this scene highlights the bittersweet moment of Michiko fulfilling her duty yet leaving her father in solitude.
  3. Final Scene with Shuhei Alone
    • YouTube Link
    • Breakdown: This scene encapsulates the themes of aging and loneliness through poignant imagery and a muted color palette, leaving a lasting impact on the viewer.


Interactive Quiz

  1. What does the baseball bat symbolize in “An Autumn Afternoon”?
    • A) Lost opportunities and the passing of time
    • B) Youth and vigor
    • C) Anger and frustration
  2. Which literary device is used when the cheerful tone contrasts with sad moments?
  3. What does the empty classroom represent?
    • A) A place of learning
    • B) Shuhei’s loneliness and the void left by his children
    • C) The future potential


  1. A
  2. B
  3. B