The Three Treasures (1959)

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Image gallery for The Three Treasures
Credits for The Three Treasures
The Three Treasures soundtrack

The Three Treasures
The Japanese poster for The Three Treasures
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png The Birth of Japan (1959)
See alternate titles
Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
Producer Sanezumi Fujimoto, Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Ryuzo Kikushima, Toshio Yasumi
Music by Akira Ifukube
effects by
Eiji Tsuburaya
Distributor Toho
Rating Not Rated
Budget ¥250,000,000[1]
Box office ¥344,232,000[2]
Running time 182 minutesJP
(3 hours, 2 minutes)
126 minutesIntl.
(2 hours, 6 minutes)[3]
112 minutesU.S.
(1 hour, 52 minutes)
Aspect ratio 2.35:1
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(11 votes)

The Greatest of Toho's Great Films of Special Effects Photography.
A Spectacular Epic of the Love and Battles of Prince Yamato, A Legendary Hero of Old Japan.

— International taglines

The Three Treasures (日本誕生,   Nippon Tanjō, lit. "The Birth of Japan") is a 1959 tokusatsu epic historical fantasy film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and written by Ryuzo Kikushima and Toshio Yasumi, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Produced by Toho, it is based on the legends Kojiki and Nihon Shoki and was promoted as the studio's 1,000th film. It stars an ensemble cast including Toshiro Mifune, Yoko Tsukasa, Akihiko Hirata, Kyoko Kagawa, Takashi Shimura, Setsuko Hara, Kumi Mizuno, Misa Uehara, Kinuyo Tanaka, Akira Kubo, and Akira Takarada. The film was released to Japanese theaters by Toho on November 1, 1959.[4] Toho International released a shortened English-subtitled version of the film to American theaters on December 20, 1960.


An old lady explains to the townsfolk how the gods appeared and how Japan came to be, and how two gods invented marriage. Prince Osu then arrived home in this town, and heard a rumor that his older brother, the current heir, had taken a girl who was supposed to be in the Emperors’ house. He became upset at this, and fought his brother. He defeated his brother, almost killing him, but ultimately decided to let him go. He told his brother to leave and never come back. The Emperor believed his eldest son to be dead, and this greatly upset him. One of his advisors saw it as a good opportunity to move forward with his plan of putting one of his nephews in power, so he advised the Emperor to execute Prince Osu, but the Emperor instead sent Osu off to kill two brothers who had been terrorizing a nearby town. Before leaving, Osu began a romantic interaction with Princess Ototachibana, who had devoted herself to the gods. Osu headed out with his small group and killed the two brothers, but not before the younger one acknowledged his greatness and gave him the name Yamato Takeru, which means "the Bravest of Yamato."

Afterwards Yamato returned home, but his father sent him off to the east on another mission, as the advisor wished Yamato to die. Back in the town, the old lady from earlier told another story of how the sun goddess Amaterasu went into a cave due to a prank by her brother Susanoo, and how it caused the world to become dark. She went on to tell how the other gods threw a laughter festival and drew her out, bringing the light back into the world. Just before leaving, Yamato, who was grieving due to him thinking his father wants him dead, visited his aunt, who gave him the mythical sword, Kusanagi no Tsurugi, and said that his father wanted him to have it.

Yamato went to his men and told them the story of how Kusanagi no Tsurugi came to be, saying that the god Susanoo went to a house he had found upriver, and had found two old people and their daughter weeping. He discovered that they had originally had eight daughters and had been forced to sacrifice them every year to the serpent Yamata no Orochi, and that the time for him to appear to take their last daughter was coming soon. Susanoo declared that he wouldn’t let that happen, and transformed the daughter into a comb and set up eight large jugs of sake for the monster to drink. The monster appeared, as was expected, and it drank the sake, and passed out drunk. Susanoo went to the monster and went to attack it as it slept, but it awoke, forcing Susanoo to cause the serpent to weave its heads through the bushes and become stuck. Susanoo then went to the backside of the monster, and plunged his sword repeatedly into the tail of the beast. He then reached inside one of the wounds he had made, and pulled out the Kusanagi no Tsurugi. Yamato finished the story, and took his men to the east as per his father’s orders. Just before leaving, however, Princess Tachibana approached him and told him that she hated him, though in reality she was forbidden from loving anyone due to her oath to the gods.

Yamato and his army headed east, with them first finding a village in which Princess Miyazu attempted to kill him, but decided not to and then fell in love with Yamato. Yamato then later found a village whose leader tried to kill him, as the advisor’s men went ahead to tell him to kill Yamato. Yamato found that his father had been the one to tell the leader to kill him, which troubled his heart. Princess Tachibana followed Yamato here, and declared that she does love him. This upset the gods, however, and they plagued Yamato and his army with great storms. Tachibana then jumped in the water, killing herself, in order to appease the gods, which worked. Yamato then decided to head back home and confront his father.

He arrived near home, though the advisor had sent a large army out in order to kill Yamato. After he fought against them with his army, he ended up being killed and transformed into a bird. As a bird, he caused a volcanic eruption and flooding which resulted in the deaths of all the members of the army which had tried to kill him.


Main article: The Three Treasures/Credits.

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Hiroshi Inagaki
  • Written by   Ryuzo Kikushima, Toshio Yasumi
  • Produced by   Sanezumi Fujimoto, Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Music by   Akira Ifukube
  • Cinematography by   Kazuo Yamada
  • Edited by   Kazuji Taira
  • Production design by   Kisaku Ito, Hiroshi Ueda
  • First assistant director   Teruo Maru
  • Director of special effects   Eiji Tsuburaya


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Toshiro Mifune   as   Prince Yamato Takeru / Susanoo
  • Yoko Tsukasa   as   Princess Ototachibana
  • Akihiko Hirata   as   Kibino Takehiko
  • Kyoko Kagawa   as   Princess Miyazu
  • Takashi Shimura   as   Elder Kumaso
  • Setsuko Hara   as   Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess
  • Kumi Mizuno   as   Azami
  • Misa Uehara   as   Princess Kushinada
  • Kinuyo Tanaka   as   Princess Yamato
  • Akira Kubo   as   Prince Iogi
  • Akira Takarada   as   Prince Wakatarashi
  • Ganjiro Nakamura   as   Emperor
  • Eijiro Tono   as   Otomo
  • Jun Tazaki   as   Otomo's Kurohiko
  • Kenichi Enomoto   as   God of Yaoyorozu
  • Hideyo Amamoto   as   Spectator at Gods' Dance
  • Keiko Muramatsu   as   Goddess Izanami
  • Kichijiro Ueda   as   Kume's yahara
  • Akira Sera   as   Anazuchi
  • Minosuke Yamada   as   Okuri of Kunizo
  • Michiyo Tamaki   as   Ehime
  • Haruko Sugimura   as   Narrator
  • Kakuko Murata   as   Obaki's mother
  • Chieko Nakakita   as   Tenazuchi
  • Nobuko Otowa   as   Goddess of Anenouzume
  • Ikio Sawamura   as   Gods of Yaoyorozu
  • Hajime Izu   as   Prince Ousu
  • Bokuzen Hidari   as   God Amenominaka
  • Yu Fujiki   as   Okabi
  • Ichiro Arishima   as   Gods of Yaoyorozu
  • Junichiro Murai   as   Moroto
  • Kozo Nomura   as   Ootomo Makeri
  • Hisaya Ito   as   Ootomo Kodate
  • Ko Mishima   as   Yakumo
  • Norihei Miki   as   Gods of Yaoyorozu
  • Yoshio Kosugi   as   Inaba
  • Keiju Kobayashi   as   God Amatsumaura
  • Daisuke Kato   as   God Fudetama
  • Hiroyuki Wakita   as   God Izanagi's son
  • Kingoro Yanagiya   as   God of Omoikane
  • Taro Asashio   as   God of Tachikara
  • Koji Tsuruta   as   Younger Kumaso



Weapons, vehicles, and races

  • Gods and goddesses
    • Amenouzume
    • Gods of Yaoyorozu
    • Amenominaka
    • Amatsumaura
    • Fudetama
    • Izanagi's son
    • God of Omoikane
    • God of Tachikara
    • Amaterasu
    • Izanami


Main article: The Three Treasures/Gallery.


Main article: The Three Treasures/Soundtrack.

Alternate titles

  • Birth of Japan (literal Japanese title)
  • Japan Birth (alternate translation)
  • Japan is Born (alternate translation)
  • Age of the Gods (alternate title)
  • The Age of the Gods (A Idade dos Deuses; Brazil)
  • Three Treasures (Tres Tesoros; Spain)

Theatrical releases

  • Japan - November 1, 1959  [view poster]Japanese poster
  • United States - December 20, 1960  [view poster]American poster
  • Portugal - April 5, 1962
  • Spain - 1972  [view poster]Spanish poster
  • France  [view poster]French poster

Foreign releases

U.S. release

The Three Treasures was released theatrically in the United States by Toho International on December 20, 1960. The film's runtime was cut down from 182 minutes to 112 minutes, and it was given English subtitles.[4]

Box office

The Three Treasures grossed ¥344,232,000 in Japan.[2] It was Toho's highest earner in 1959, and second among Japanese films overall.[4]

Video releases

Toho VHS (1991)

  • Tapes: 2
  • Audio: Japanese

Toho DVD (2001)

  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (Mono)
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special features: Theatrical trailer, isolated score, music and effects track (from shortened export version), talent files, promotional gallery, export version pamphlet
  • Notes: Since its initial release on February 21, 2001, the DVD has been reissued three times: on February 23, 2007, on February 7, 2014, and on July 15, 2015.

Though The Three Treasures is not available on Blu-ray, an HD version of the film can be rented or purchased on the Japanese versions of Amazon Video and iTunes.


Japanese The Three Treasures trailer


  • The Three Treasures is Toho's longest film featuring a kaiju, with a runtime of just over three hours. Because of this, the film contains an intermission 76 minutes into its runtime.
  • In 1994, The Three Treasures was loosely remade by Toho as Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon.


This is a list of references for The Three Treasures. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. Godzilla 40th Anniversary Complete Works. Kodansha. 1 August 1994. pp. 56–57. ISBN 406178417X.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kinema Junpo Best Ten 85th Complete History 1924-2011. Kinema Junpo. 17 May 2012. p. 158. ISBN 9784873767550.
  3. Toho Films 1962. p. 72.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Stuart Galbraith IV (2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 161. ISBN 1461673747.


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