The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail

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The Men Who Tread On the Tiger's Tail
Tora no o wo fumu otokotachi poster.jpg
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Motohiko Itō
Written by Akira Kurosawa
Starring Takashi Shimura
Susumu Fujita
Denjirō Ōkōchi
Iwai Hanshirō X
Music by Tadashi Hattori
Distributed by Toho Company Ltd.
Release dates April 24, 1952
Running time 59 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (虎の尾を踏む男達 Tora no O o Fumu Otokotachi?, aka They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail) is a 1945 Japanese period drama film, written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is based on the kabuki play Kanjinchō, which is in turn based on the Noh play Ataka.

The film stars Takashi Shimura, Iwai Hanshirō X, Susumu Fujita, Kenichi Enomoto, and Denjirō Ōkōchi.

The film was initially banned by the occupying Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) due to its portrayal of feudal values. It was later released after the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952.


In 1185, the Heike family fights against the Minamoto family. After a bloody naval battle in the Pacific Ocean, Yoshitsune Minamoto defeats the enemy and the survivors commit suicide. When the triumphant Yoshitsune arrives in Kyoto, his brother, the Shogun Yoritomo, is uneasy and orders his men to arrest Yoshitsune. However, Yoshitsune escapes with six loyal samurai led by Benkei and they head to the country of his only friend Idehira Fukiwara. Near the border, after crossing the forest disguised as monks, their porter Suruga discovers that they are Yoshitsune and the six samurais and advises that the fearful Kagiwara and his soldiers are waiting for them in the border to arrest them. Yoshitsune disguises as a carrier and at the barrier at the border, Benkei has to convince Kagiwara that they are six monks traveling to collect donation to build a large temple in Kyoto.


The film begins with a shot of the landscape, after which it zooms in on a group of foot travelers and a porter. After walking for a while, they sit to rest, where the porter finds that this is Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Benkei, and his advisors. Their job is to cross a border checkpoint without being found, so they disguise themselves as monks. They are followed by the porter as they make their way to the barrier set up to catch Benkei, and his advisors but they skillfully talk their way past the barrier, but Susumu Fujita as Togashi, commander of the border guards of the barrier sees through their disguises and sends his men after them. But rather than capture of the travelers the commander's men bring food and sake to help them on their journey.

Also known as[edit]

  • They Who Step on the Tail of the Tiger
  • They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail
  • Walkers on the Tiger's Tail


Susumu Fujita as Togashi, commander of the border guards
Kenichi Enomoto as porter

External links[edit]