Yasujiro Ozu once had a reputation for making films only other Japanese could understand.

His studio bosses believed overseas audiences wanted the exoticism of samurai and geisha, not Ozu's quietly realistic dramas about contemporary middle-class families.

This explains the reluctance of Ozu's studio, Shochiku, to export his films while he was at the height of his powers, despite the burgeoning outside interest in Japanese cinema sparked by the international success of Akira Kurosawa's 1950 period drama, "Rashomon." Indeed, Ozu's postwar classics only began to penetrate Western cinephile consciousness in the 1960s, with a retrospective of five films curated by critic Donald Richie for the 1963 Berlin Film Festival opening many eyes.