More Info on "Shall We Dance?"
On learning that Hollywood Remake Version of "Shall We Dance?" starring Richard Gere is due to be
released from October 15, 2004 in the USA, I thought that I would have to set up another info page
about the Japanese original version, "Shall we dansu?" starring Koji Yakusho and directed by
Masayuki Suo. There are some more fantastic episodes about the original version.

Modified Version

The original Japanese version was released overseas in 1997 but that was actually a modified version.
There are two major differences between them:

1.  The Japanese original version is actually 136 minutes, whereas the American/Miramax version is 118
minutes?  Why is this?

In his book, "SHALL WE DANCE? Goes Around in America" (1997) Masayuki Suo, the director of
the film reported that the market research screening of his film, which was held somewhere in the USA
in July,1996, showed that 50% of the audience felt the pace dragged in spots and that 56% felt the
length of the film was too long.  After a lot of struggle and hard work, Suo finally agreed to cut 26
scenes out of the original version.

2. There is one more different factor about the American/Miramax version. The narration by Sugiyama
(Koji Yakusho) at the first scene is different in the Japanese version.  Here is the English translation of
the narration in the original version, which is based on the English- translated scenario of "Shall We
Dance?" written by Masayuki Suo.  The translator is Ayako Futami (Ai-ikusha).

What we call social dance, Europeans know as the ballroom dance. Originating from dances at the court
of the (French) the Louis kings, Ballroom contains the dances of many other countries incorporated under
the banner English style. This is what we came to know in Japan.  In Europe, ballroom dance is one
aspect of their culture and as such, can be enjoyed by young and old as a healthy pleasure. Adam Smith,
economist and philosopher once said that dance and music are at the very basis of human pleasure.

Masayuki Suo reported that, on December 12 in 1996, he asked Koji Yakusho to read a new narration
for American audiences, starting with the comment that ballroom dancing is regarded as shameful from
the Japanese point of view, since it involves a man and a woman holding each other in public.

This is Sugiyama's narration in the Miramax version:

In Japan, ballroom dance is regarded with much suspicion.  In a country where married couples don't
go out arm in arm, much less say "I love you" out loud... intuitive understanding is everything. The idea
that a husband and wife should embrace and dance in front of others is beyond (more than just)
embarrassing . However (Moreover) to go out dancing with someone else would be misunderstood and
(would) prove more shameful.  Nonetheless, even for Japanese people, there is a secret wonder ... about
the joys that dance can bring."   

[II] Different Ending!

The director Masayuki Suo published a novel based on his movie, "Shall we dansu?" in the same year,
1996.  The story goes on as it does in the movie, but the last part of the story is quite different from the
last scene in the film.

Looking up at the window of Kishikawa Dancing School from the train window, Sugiyama becomes
stunned and deeply moved to read the invitation to Mai's farewell party on the window pane, which
reads, "Shall We dansu? Sugiyama san"  However, he decides not to go there.  Instead, he decides to
dance in the park where he has been practicing alone. Remembering the melody of Shall We
Dance?,Sugiyama starts dancing by himself, imagining Mai as his partner.  On learning that Sugiyama
wo'nt show up at her farewell party, Mai, too, starts dancing Shall We Dance? in the dance hall by
herself, imagining Sugiyama as her partner.

A Black Pool

In the first scene of this film, we see that a man's shoe is plunged into a black pool on the street.

The director Suo later explains that the scene symbolizes the famous Ballroom Dancing Tournament in
Blackpool in the UK!

                                          December 5 (2004)

[Misa Shimizu}

Did you notice that Misa Shimizu appeared briefly in Shall We Dance?  When I first saw the movie, I
was stunned to find her name on the screen at the end. Where had she appeared in this movie?

After checking the movie program, I was surprised again to learn that the green-haired, sexy singer,
Natsuko in the dance hall scene was actually Misa Shimizu.  Natsuko is also the name of the heroine
whom Misa Shimizu portrayed in Masayuki Suo's earlier film, Shiko Funjatta. Anyway Suo said that
he had intended the audience to notice that the singer was Misa Shimizu at the point when Aoki (Naoto
Takenaka) shouted, "Natsuko" toward her.

Misa shimizu and Koji Yakusho later appeared in Shohei Imamura's  two movies, "The Eel" and
"Warm Water under the Red Bridge".  To think of it, we can enjoy watching Natsuko singing on stage
and Sugiyama watching her absorbedly from below the stage.
Do you know

the differences between

  these two videos?
The Japanese original version
of "Shall we dansu?"
The Miramax Version of
"Shall We Dance?"
October 11, 2004
Updated on December 5, 04