Wandering Ginza Butterfly

Gincho Wataridori 銀蝶渡り鳥

Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi 山口和彦
Released: April 1st, 1972
Distributor: Toei
Screenplay: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi 山口和彦 & Isao Matsumoto 松本功

Meiko Kaji 梶芽衣子 as Nami Higuchi
Tsunehiko Watase 渡瀬恒彦 as Ryuji
Tatsuo Umemiya 梅宮辰夫 as Shin
Akiko Koyama 小山明子 as Kayo
Ishii Tomiko 石井富子 as Kyoko
Shun Ueda 植田峻
Yayoi Watanabe 渡辺やよい


Meiko's first film for Toei after leaving Nikkatsu thanks to Nikkatsu's decision to focus it's output on Roman Porno films.

Meiko had some small amount of influence over the production, and I've read that she insisted the film be set in present day, instead of being a typical eriod piece. According to Japanese film scholar Tom Mes, Meiko suggested the billiard hall setting after seeing Robert Rossen's 1969 film The Hustler, starring Paul Newman.

The film was initially hoped to be the first in a series, but a poor box office showing, due in no small part to the glut of similar films being released at the time, limited the franchise to a single sequel, Wandering Ginza Butterfly: She-Cat Gambler released later the same year.

Meiko sang two songs for the film's soundtrack, Gincho Wataridori 銀蝶渡り鳥 and Gincho Buruusu 銀蝶ブルース. Both tracks appear on a single together, as well as on the Gincho Wataridori album released in 1972.



After serving three years in prison for murdering a rival gang member, Nami is released and finds a home at a billiards hall run by her uncle. There, she meets Ryuji, who helps her get a job as a hostess in Ginza, which Nami takes in order to help support the wife and son of the man she killed. She becomes very popular in a short time and the club starts to enjoy some success which catches the attention of gang boss Owada. Owada's gang tries to take over the club and it's up to Nami to stop him.