Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




The Japanese film “Fukushima 50”



From the official website of the ”Fukushima 50"


I wanted to see this film at a theater, but I have hesitated to go to theaters due to coronavirus, and eventually they themselves had closed. I gave up seeing the film for the time being. However, online distributing of the film has started despite a new one and I was able to watch it the other day.


Needless to say, the film depicts desperate effort at the Fukushima-1 plant by about fifty workers when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. (Based on the book “Man who saw the edge of death-Masao Yoshida and Fukushima-1 plant” written by Ryusho Kadota) The unexpected state of emergency at the nuclear plant resembles the world today. The words by Mr. Yoshida such as “Don’t panic””Stay alert””Why did this have to happen?””What did we do something wrong?””Let’s go back home alive” resonated very deeply within me. The nuclear accident in the film inevitably seemed like a foretaste of today’s pandemic.


And, what I realized from the film are planning a more worst-case scenario than a worst-case scenario, there is no “definitely” in this world, crisis management, manual preparation, doing first things first, regular practice, preparing all the time for emergencies, adhering to rule, fear of unfounded optimism. Of course, a reliable leader and a unified chain of command are necessary.


In the future as well, unprecedented natural disasters or unknown viruses might attack us. Human beings tend to be like the proverb “The danger past and God forgotten”, but I had an acute feeling that we should examine recent events in all aspects and keep learning. And I think that I should never forget that there are people who secure our country at the risk of their own lives even at this very moment. (H.S)



Documentary film "Becoming Who I Was"



I would like to introduce a documentary film that made a strong impression on me. The film“Becoming Who I Was”(2017), created by a Korean production, depicts a boy in northern India, Ladakh region, who is discovered to be the reincarnation of an esteemed, high-ranking Tibetan monk, and his aging godfather takes him on a journey to Tibet with beautiful images. The film won many film awards including Banff Mountain Film Festival 2017.


The boy, Padma Angdu, 9, who is believed that he is a Rinpoche (reincarnated centuries-old monk). But he cannot contact the monastery in Tibet that he used to live in his previous life due to Chinese policies. And yet, Urgain planned to take him to Tibet. Then, the two set off on a long and grueling journey for more than two months.


The boy can draw the monastery in Tibet in detail. I have heard about some children who remembered their previous lives around the world. But it seems the memories begin to fade as they grow up.


In HIS HOLINESS THE 14TH DALAI LAMA OF TIBET , it is written about reincarnation as follows.
Generally, Buddhists believe that there is no beginning to birth and that once we achieve liberation from the cycle of existence by overcoming our karma and destructive emotions, we will not be reborn under the sway of these conditions. Therefore, Buddhists believe that there is an end to being reborn as a result of karma and destructive emotions, but most Buddhist philosophical schools do not accept that the mind-stream comes to an end. To reject past and future rebirth would contradict the Buddhist concept of the ground, path and result, which must be explained on the basis of the disciplined or undisciplined mind. If we accept this argument, logically, we would also have to accept that the world and its inhabitants come about without causes and conditions. Therefore, as long as you are a Buddhist, it is necessary to accept past and future rebirth.


I was moved by the boy’s pure, innocent, and steady behavior. Also, I felt the preciousness beyond words in Urgain’s unconditional love for Padma Angdu. The scene where Urgain leaves Padma, it is difficult to watch without tears. I really wish they would meet each other again. (H.S)


Padma Angdu
(Photo from NHK online)



Academy Award-winning film “Parasite”



I went to see the Korean film “Parasite”, which won the 92nd Academy Award for the Best Picture as the first Asian film.



Although I have watched several Bong Joon-ho’s films, especially in this film, I was so amazed by his original script. No one can write one in this way. He included different essential parts in a two-hour film naturally. I think that this film expanded the possibility of films.


No utter villains appeared, but there were family love and hope in the film, and that was really great as an entertainment. The film is deserved by Palme d’ Or award and Academy Awards.


By the way, here are ten of my favorite Korean films in random order.


Christmas In August
My Brother
Memories of Murder
A Moment to remember
The Man from Nowhere


I am afraid that these are a bit old films because I haven’t watched Korean films for the last few years.
Anyway, there is “Bong Joon-ho’s “Memories of Murder”. I remember the impact when I watched it for the first time. I heard that finally the criminal of murder cases that the film used as a model was identified last year. A fruit appeared in both films, “Memories of Murder” and “Parasite”. I am wondering about it. (H.S)

The Japanese documentary film “The unyielding life of Kamejiro, who was feared most by the U.S. occupation”




I went to see the documentary film “The unyielding life of Kamejiro, who was feared most by the U.S. occupation”. This film depicts a postwar history of Okinawa and “A man named Kamejiro, who was feared most by the U.S. occupation” which was released in 2017 and created a sensation, in more detail.


Kamejiro Senaga, who was against the U.S. occupation during occupation period in Okinawa, left over 230 diaries. The film deciphers the diaries and depicts anew his life, a battle by teachers, Koza riot and the movement of chemical warfare munitions.


The climax of the film is debating with Eisaku Sato, Prime Minister of the time, in the Diet.
Kamejiro never becomes emotional, and argues in a distinct voice with humor sometimes, which shows his strong belief. Also, I learned details about Paul Caraway, who was a High Commissioner of the United States Civil Administration of Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) and the movement of chemical warfare munitions, which was an estimated 1,900 metric tons.


The narration by Motoyo Yamane, who was a former NHK announcer, and an actor, Koji Yakusho, and music by Ryuichi Sakamoto were all great. (H.S)


Autograph by the director, Tadahiko Sako


Visitors can write reviews of films freely in this notebook.



The film “Ford v Ferrari”




I went to see the film “Ford v Ferrari”. The film depicts how Ford challenged Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. And, after all, the relationship of trust between Shelby (Matt Damon) and Miles (Christian Bale) was moving. The decision that Miles made toward the end of the race made me cry.


There was a monologue by Shelby: “The machine becomes weightless. And all that’s left is a body moving through space and time.” with Miles’ s profile while the race. Only car racers may know such a state. Somehow, the 24 Hours of Le Mans resembles a 1000 Day Circumambulation, and the car racer looked as if a priest who completed the training.


To recreate the course of the Le Mans, the producing staff looked for a similar place for several months. Also, they created the stands from scratch. They equipped cameras in the racing car and the filming was done at the same speed as the actual race. So the realism was truly awesome.


In the film, former Ford President, Lee Iacocca, who is also known as the author of “Iacocca: An Autobigraphy” in Japan as well, appeared. The real Lee Iacocca died in July, 2019, at the age of 94, four months before the film was released.


Talking of films of car racers, “Rush” (2013), which depicted a rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda (who died in 2019) was very good, too. (H.S)