"Yasujiro Ozu, the man whom his kinsmen consider the most Japanese of all film directors, had but one major subject, the Japanese family," writes Donald Richie in his definitive study Ozu: His Life and Films, "and but one major theme, its dissolution."
And in his 53 films, Ozu essayed these themes in a rigorous style of which his fans can't get enough. You can count on this most compositionally disciplined of all directors for certain visual elements: opening credits displayed over burlap, conversations composed out of shots looking straight onto the face of each participant, "pillow shots," red tea kettles (at least in his color movies)… I could go on.
Ozu also loved passageways, apparently. At the top of the post, a short but hypnotic piece by well-known video essayist kogonada assembles and places in parallel all Ozu's color shots of passageways, showcasing the eye his films had for not just the participants in midcentury Japanese life, but the architectural spaces they moved within.
Still, when I try to tell all this to my Japanese friends, they usually just wave me off — the most Japanese of all film directors isn't cool in Japan anymore. Fortunately, he has other virtues.