For most great directors there is a period of great creative fertility where a series of masterpiece appear in quick succession. Think of Hitchcock with Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho and The Birds. Think of Ingmar Bergman with Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and The Virgin Spring. Think of Federico Fellini with La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita and 8½.
There is a similar run of masterpieces in the output of Yasujiro Ozu. Late Spring (1949), Early Summer (1951) and Tokyo Story (1953) are often referred to as the ‘Noriko trilogy’ since the lead actress of each of these films, Setsuko Hara, plays a young woman named Noriko. The three Norikos are not related but one would have to think that there is a common thematic element that Ozu and his co-screenwriter Kogo Noda are drawing our attention to by so naming the heroines of all three films.