Will to Live

Will to Live
Directed by Kaneto Shindo
Produced by Jiro Shindo
Written by Kaneto Shindo
Starring Rentarō Mikuni, Shinobu Otake
Release dates
  • January 15, 1999 (1999-01-15) (Japan)
Running time
119 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Will to Live (生きたい, Ikitai) is a 1999 Japanese film directed by Kaneto Shindo and starring Rentarō Mikuni and Shinobu Otake.[1] It is based on the story of The Ballad of Narayama updated to the present day, with the substitution of putting a parent into an old people's home for the abandonment of the original.[2] The film won the Golden St. George and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 21st Moscow International Film Festival.[3]


Yasukichi (Rentarō Mikuni) visits "Ubasuteyama", a mountain where, in the past, old people were left to die. He is a regular at a bar. While at the bar he defecates in his clothes. The bar owner (Naoko Otani) literally kicks him out of the bar. Lying on the pavement, he is run over by a man on a bicycle, who turns out to be a doctor. His daughter, Tokuko (Shinobu Otake), is awakened by a phone call from the hospital asking her to collect Yasukichi. She tries to decline, saying she has bipolar disorder and cannot look after her father, but eventually is forced to take him in. Yasukichi has stolen a book from the hospital about Obasuteyama and begins reading it to Tokuko. The story of Ubasuteyama is told on the screen, in a black and white film.

Tokuko's sister comes to visit. Yasukichi again loses control of his bowels before she arrives. Yasukichi visits a park and talks to the doctor again. He visits the bar again and begins arguing with the regulars about treatment of the elderly. He then loses control of his bowels and collapses, again, and returns to the hospital. At the hospital, his son visits and announces his marriage.

After some persuasion, Yasukichi accepts that he must go into the old people's home. He goes into the old people's home but then Tokuko decides that she is lonely without him and brings him back out again.


Role Actor
Yasukichi Yamamoto Rentarō Mikuni
Tokuko Yamamoto Shinobu Otake
Hideko Yoshida
Akira Emoto
Masayuki Shionoya
Bar owner Naoko Otani
Yoshiko Miyazaki
Masahiko Tsugawa
Hideo Kanze


  1. All Movie Guide. "Ikitai (1999)".
  2. Shindō, Kaneto (2008). Ikite iru kagiri. ISBN 978-4-532-16661-8.
  3. "21st Moscow International Film Festival (1999)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
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