Yoshimitsu Morita, 61, a director whose films depicted the absurdity and vulnerability of everyday life in conformist Japan, died Tuesday of acute liver failure at a Tokyo hospital.

Mr. Morita's movies were distinctly Japanese, depicting the fragile beauty of the nation's human psyche and visual landscape while daringly poking fun at its ridiculous tendency for rigid bureaucracy and ritualistic hierarchy.

Mr. Morita made a splash among global film buffs with 1983's Family Game, starring Yusaku Matsuda of Black Rain as an offbeat tutor who forms a heartwarming relationship with a young man in a stereotypical middle-class family.

Its striking cinematography, focusing on rows and rows of identical apartments and people dining solemnly sitting side by side, was an exhilarating parody of Japanese family values.

His works were shown at many international film festivals, including Berlin and Montreal.

They included Tsubaki Sanjuro, a 2007 remake of the 1962 classic by Akira Kurosawa, as well as works based on novels such as Soseki Natsume's poetic Sorekara and Junichi Watanabe's Shitsurakuen.

- AP