Nakahira was born in Tokyo in 1926 and died in 1978 at the age of 52. During his career, he directed a total of 34 films. He was active as a director between 1956-1975, having previously worked as an apprentice at the Shochiku Studio. Here he gained valuable experience as an assistant to well-known directors at the time such as Kurosawa Akira and Kawashima Yuzo.
His debut in 1956 with Kuristta Kajitsu (Crazed Fruit), with its focus on a rebellious youth movement, established Nakahira as a significant name in the Japanese New Wave cinema and developed the Japanese ‘taiyozoku‘ (sun tribe) subgenre of film. Crazed Fruit is an adaptation of a novel by Shintaro Ishihara, a controversial story based in a small town by the sea where two brothers compete for the attention of the same women.
Famous for his experimental and innovative style, it is rumored that Crazed Fruit influenced French New Wave directors François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. His films have been well received by Japanese cinema fans and critics, with his 1971 film Yami no naka no chimimoryo (A Soul to Devils) receiving a Palme d’Or nomination at the legendary Cannes Film Festival in 1971.