VERY obscure question RE: Kurosawa's "Sanjuro"

This is a VERY obscure question, but I figure if anyone knows the answer it’ll be someone on the SDMB.

This week, for the first time, I saw Akira Kurosawa’s film SANJURO. About halfway through the film, the nonconformist samurai (Toshiro Mifune) announces his plans to invade a neighboring fortress. “Attack when you see the building burning,” he tells the other samurai. Two highborn ladies of the court are shocked, and suggest a less brutal signal: “Can’t you send some camellias down the stream instead?” Mifune reluctantly agrees, to spare the ladies’ sensibilities. The ladies then begin to bicker about whether the camellias should be red or white: “White’s prettier.” “I prefer red,” etc. Without a word, Mifune walks over to a wall of the chamber painted with Japanese ideographs, and, as the ladies babble, he begins tracing one symbol over and over with his finger–meanwhile doing the funniest “slow burn” since Edgar Kennedy.

A hilarious scene–but I was wondering what the symbol is that Mifune traces with his finger while trying not to explode? I’m sure that it’s part of the gag. Anyone know this movie and can read Japanese?

I had to post here :slight_smile:

I don’t know but I noticed the same thing. Hopefully somebody will know. Great movie BTW

I watched the movie years ago in college. If I can track down a copy during the next few days, I’ll watch it and let you know. Besides, it’s a good excuse to watch it again!

CJ

http://www.gotterdammerung.org/japan/film/kurosawa-akira/sanjuro.html

has a picture of him tracing the character, just in case anyone can identify it. A paragraph referring to it is quoted below:

"All in all, Sanjuro is somewhat more entertaining that Yojimbo, primarily due to the emphasis on overt comedy. Toshiro Mifune is superb: his abrupt and dismissive manner wonderfully illustrates his condescension toward the young samurai. At the same time, his bewilderment every time the old lady speaks is also amusing (recall especially the scene where she insists that he signal the success of his mission by throwing camellias down the stream, as opposed to his original plan to burn down the entire house). Sanjuro never faces her but instead goes to the wall and traces an ink writing with his finger while she speaks. Sanjuro’s characteristic shoulder twitch, present in the first movie as well, adds another stroke to a fine portrait. Sanjuro is eminently likable precisely because he is human despite his clearly superhuman swordsmanship. There is no deep motivation in his action, he obviously thinks fighting is a solution to just about everything, but he is good-natured, even if he tries to hide it under a coarse exterior. "

Looking forward to a answer!


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