Full film available to watch at the bottom of the post
In some sense, the three protagonists in the short film – Jin-san (the organic farmer), Tanaka-san (the junk collector), Mitsuhashi-san (the circus trainer) – represent three levels of integration into the village, Yadorigi. Jin-san is a long standing member of the community; his family have been a part of Yadorigi for generations. Tanaka-san, on the other hand, was an outsider, moving from Kyushu around 30 years ago, but who nevertheless also came to become both well-liked and well respected. Finally, Mitsuhashi-san, while being a big influence on the recent history of the village, is less involved now, and tends to keep himself to himself. The three men, while differing in so many ways, share an appreciation for their surroundings and of village life that is common to all their stories.
In reality, as you would imagine, there is significantly more to each person than appears in this short: Tanaka-san in fact built many of the fantastic structures on his land that house his “junk”, Mitsuhashi-san has a small but valuable collection of classic cars, and Jin-san is a well-educated scholar with an interesting past, to name but a few. However, for the purposes of this film, I wanted to simplify each character to their most unique traits, and marry that with their personal philosophies on life. In fact, it was a real struggle to keep the film ballooning into feature length, due to all the fascinating moments that I was forced to leave out, but which would have also ultimately undermined the original motive. This blog, and its multimedia format will hopefully be the ideal platform to re-explore some of these characters more deeply than the 30minute documentary could afford.
Acceptance – being accepted, being accepting of others – is perhaps the ultimate and very personal motivation behind this film, and indeed the entire project. In my life, I have at some time or another struggled to find absolute acceptance by both Japanese and English people, perhaps burdened with the perceived differences of both. To some extent, part of the message of the protagonists at each level of integration reflect how they have successfully found their own particular contentment and balance in their lives, and it was very much this feeling that inspired me and that which I hoped to convey to a wider audience.
There is an old stereotype in Japan regarding people from rural areas – that they are backward, close minded and insular. Post-Edo period Japan (the end of the feudal shogunate) adopted western modernism with such gusto, escalating in the Post-war boom, that the traditional and modernist sides of Japan became dislocated. Nowhere was this epitomised more so than in the difference between rural and urban societies. The term “Inaka-mono” (country person) consequently had strong negative connotations, yet the reality, as I felt was apparent from my initial visits to Yadorigi, was that there is as much open-mindedness here as anywhere else in Japan.
WATCH THE FULL FILM BY CLICKING ON THE IMAGE BELOW:
Music: Amiina (courtesy of !K7 records)
Colourist – Daniel Gill
Online Editor – Desiree Ivegbuna
Filmed, edited and produced by Eiji Iwakawa
Special thanks to all the people who helped fund the Indiegogo crowd funding campaign and attended the fund raisers. Your help was invaluable in getting the short film made and getting the project this far, and I am forever grateful: