When that night I asked my brother why he made me look at those terrible sights, he replied: “If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened. If you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of.”
–Akira Kurosawa, a middle school student in 1923, Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed Yokohama and 3/5 of Tokyo, 150,000 killed.
All text below from Wikipedia:
Akira Kurosawa (黒澤 明 or 黒沢 明, Kurosawa Akira , March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) was a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 films[note 1] in a career spanning 57 years.
Kurosawa was born on 23 March 1910 in Ōimachi in the Ōmori district of Tokyo. His father Isamu, a member of a former samurai family from the Akita Prefecture, worked as the director of the Army’s Physical Education Institute’s lower secondary school, while his mother Shima came from a merchant’s family living in Osaka. Akira was the eighth and youngest child of the moderately wealthy family, with two of his siblings already grown up at the time of his birth and one deceased, leaving Kurosawa to grow up with three sisters and a brother.
In addition to promoting physical exercise, Isamu Kurosawa was open to western traditions and saw theater and motion pictures as educationally valuable. He encouraged his children to watch films; young Akira viewed his first movies at the age of six. An important formative influence was his elementary school teacher Mr Tachikawa, whose progressive educational practices ignited in his young pupil first a love of drawing and then an interest in education in general. During this time, the boy also studied calligraphy and Kendo swordsmanship.
Another major childhood influence was Heigo Kurosawa, Akira’s older brother by four years. In the aftermath of the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, which devastated Tokyo, Heigo took the 13-year-old Akira to view the devastation. When the younger brother wanted to look away from the human corpses and animal carcasses scattered everywhere, Heigo forbade him to do so, instead encouraging Akira to face his fears by confronting them directly. Some commentators have suggested that this incident would influence Kurosawa’s later artistic career, as the director was seldom hesitant to confront unpleasant truths in his work.