he word “eijanaika” translates roughly as “why not?” or “so what!” & represents a devil-may-care attitude & a movement which spread throughout Japan in the third year of Keio (1867).

Historically the Eijanaika movement is subject to interpretation. Were the peasant riots instigated by anti-Shogunate forces to unsettle the government? Or were they spontaneous eruptions among the general population, pushed too far by the inflation prior to the Meiji Restoration? Shohei Imamura’s film Eijanaika (1980) suggests a complex mixture of both.

The central story deals with a farmer named Genji (Shigeru Izumiya). He was shipwrecked on his way to Yokohama & saved by a passing American ship, unable to return to Japan for six years.

He returns to his village to discover his wife has been sold as a servant. By the time Genji finds Ine (Kaori Momoi), she has become a successful entertainer of the East Ryogoku district in Edo, & mistress to the district boss. The bulk of the film follows the low-life of Edo with all its whores, pimps, pickpockets, dwarves, lady wrestlers, & sideshow entertainments.

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