05 August 2010

Ten Things I Know about Natto Wada (和田 夏十)

Natto Wada (和田 夏十, 1920-1983) was the wife of renowned film director Kon Ichikawa (市川 崑, 1915-2008). During the early years of their marriage, Ichikawa and Wada collaborated on over 30 films together with Wada writing or co-writing the screenplays. After Tokyo Olympiad (1965), Wada decided to retire from screenwriting. Kon Ichikawa explained her retirement thusly: "She doesn't like the new film grammar, the method of presentation of the material; she says there's no heart in it anymore, that people no longer take human love seriously" (see James Quandt’s book). Most critics see Wada’s retirement as an important turning point in his career, though it is difficult to know how much she unofficially contributed to his films from the late 1960s until her untimely death in the early 1980s. 

  1. Natto Wada was a pen name. Wada’s real name was Yumiko Ichikawa (née Mogi). 
  2. She was born in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture – famous for its beautiful castle.
  3. Wada had a degree in English Literature from Tokyo Women’s Christian University.
  4. Wada and Ichikawa were married on the 10th of April 1948 and had two sons together.  It was the second marriage for both of them.
  5. Wada won the Kinema Jumpo Award for Best Screenplay in 1960 for both Fires on the Plain (Nobi, 1959) and Odd Obsession (Kagi , 1959). She also won the Mainichi Film Concours for Best Screenplay in 1963 for Being Two Isn’t Easy (Watashi wa nisai, 1962)
  6. Most of Wada’s screenplays were literary adaptations. In fact, the sheer number of adaptations Ichikawa directed in the early part of his career can be attributed to his wife’s extensive reading habits.
  7. Wada also collaborated with pioneering female director Kinuyo Tanaka by writing the screenplay for The Wandering Princess (Futen no Ōhi, 1960). It was adapted from a bestselling book by Hiroko Aiishinkakura.
  8. Other films she wrote or co-wrote that were not directed by Ichikawa include The Woman Who Touched the Legs (Ashi ni sawatta onna, Yasuzo Masumura, 1960) and Hateshinaki Yokubo (Shōhei Imamura, 1958).
  9. In Waiting on the Weather, Teruyo Nogami says that Ichikawa always credited his wife for the unique tempo of his films, quoting him as saying that “Natto has such an ear for dialogue.”
  10. Wada died of breast cancer after a long battle with the disease.
Update: Ten More Things About Natto Wada (29 August 2010)

The Kon Ichikawa Story (English Subtitles) / Japanese Movie
Japanese Movie

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2010