An exploration of the films of Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa. It addresses the entire body of Kurosawa's work from 1943 to 1993, seeking to shift the ground upon which Japanese cinema has been built and question its dominant interpretative frameworks and critical assumptions. Arguing that Kurosawa's films arouse anxiety in Japanese and western critics because the films problematise Japan's self-image and the West's image of Japan, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto challenges widely-circulating cliches about the films and shows how these works constitute narrative answers to socio-cultural contradictions and institutional dilemmas. While acknowledging the achievement of Kurosawa as a filmmaker, Yoshimoto uses the director's work to reflect on and rethink a variety of larger issues, from Japanese film history, modern Japanese history, and cultural production to national identity and the global circulation of cultural capital. He examines how Japanese cinema has been "invented" in the discipline of film studies for specific ideological purposes and analyzes Kurosawa's role in that process of invention.