We were staying in Kyoto, waiting for the set to be finished. While there we ran off some 16mm prints to amuse ourselves. One of them was a Martin Johnson jungle film in which there was a shot of a lion roaming around. I noticed the shot and told Mifune that that was just what I wanted him to be.
I had to be sure that this huge gate looked huge to the camera. And I had to figure out how to use the sun itself. This was a major concern because of the decision to use the light and shadows of the forest as the keynote of the whole film. I determined to solve the problem by actually filming the sun. These days it is not uncommon to point the camera directly at the sun, but at the time Rashomon was being made it was still one of the taboos of cinematography. It was even thought that the sun’s rays shining directly into your lens would burn the film in your camera. But my cameraman, Kazuo Miyagawa, boldly defied this convention and created superb images. The introductory section in particular, which leads the viewer through the light and shadow of the forest into a world where the human heart loses its way, was truly magnificent camera work. I feel that this scene, later praised at the Venice International Film Festival as the first instance of a camera entering the heart of a forest, was not only one of Miyagawa’s masterpieces but a world-class masterpiece of black-and-white cinematography.