Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




The movie "Echitetsu Monogatari" (Echizen Railway Story)



a pamphlet of the movie

On November 23rd, the movie ”Echitetsu Monogatari” (Echizen Railway Story)

(the website is only available in Japanese) will finally be released throughout Japan.

The movie is about the local train line in Fukui, "Echizen Railway" and its kind attendants.

On the 23rd, the main actress Natsuko Yokozawa, the actor Naoto Ogata and the producer of

the movie Yoshihisa Kodama will give speeches at Yurakuza Subaru movie theater in Tokyo.

*The speeches will be given after the movie that will starts at 11:35 ends.


You can check the movie theaters that show the ”Echitetsu Monogatari” from here.

(the website is only available in Japanese)


The movie was released on November 3rd in Fukui Prefecture before its nationwide release, so I went to a theater to check it.


It was great to see the amazing scenery of Fukui, the nice local people, Echizen Railway and its attendants on the large screen. They all looked familiar to me because I was born and raised in Fukui. It was also impressive to see the actress/comedian, Natsuko Yokozawa's heartfelt acting with her cheerful smiles.



an attendant on one of the trains of Echizen Railway

The attendants on the trains of Echizen Railway, they sell tickets, tell them how to get to

their destination if they need and show them recommended local attractions.

They are kind and friendly, so I always feel comfortable asking them questions.


the scenery that can be seen from the window of the train of Echizen Railway
scenery that can be viewed from a train of Echizen Railway

It is very soothing and refreshing to see the Japanese houses, beautiful sky, large rice fields, mountains and rivers from the train.



If you have a chance to see the movie "Echitetsu Monogatari" (Echizen Railway Story)

(the website is only available in Japanese) and ride the train, enjoy seeing the great scenery of Fukui, and interacting with the nice local people and the wonderful attendants.




The film "Bohemian Rhapsody"



I have been waiting eagerly for the release in Japan and I went to see the film on the opening day.



The film "Bohemian Rhapsody" depicts Queen, which is a British legendary band, and half the lifetime of Freddie Mercury, the lead vocalist. Actually, I am a big fan of Queen. When I was in junior high school, I heard the cool guitar riff of "Keep Yourself Alive" by Queen for the first time on the radio and I still remember the shock.


It is a well known story that Queen first became popular in Japan. Also, Freddie loved Japan so much and his house had a Japanese garden. He even had read "The Book of Five Rings" by Musashi Miyamoto (a Japanese swordsman). In the film, there was a line "If you get a hit record, you can go on a tour in Japan." , and there also was a paper charm of Kinkakuji Temple (Kyoto, Japan) was pasted by the door in a house set that was supposed to be in Munich.


Mr. Itami, who was Freddie's personal security guard in Japan, even now wears a wristwatch by Cartier that was a gift from Freddie.


The film is a masterpiece the you can experience real Queen's life by the actors' outstanding performances, especially Rami Malek, who played Freddie. The running time, 2 hours and 15 minutes, passes by like a flash with excitement and tears for Queen fans or rock fans. I didn't want the film to end. I would probably never see such a film again. Next, I am going to see the film at an IMAX theater , so I am very looking forward to it. (H.S)


The Japanese film "One Cut of the Dead"




Another lovely Japanese film was brought into the world.
It is the "One Cut of the Dead" finally released in Fukui as well.


At the beginning, I thought that it was the first time for me to see a Japanese film whose casts are all unknown actors and I was a little nervous about that. So I wondered that I was fixed on film's stereotype, but it was only momentary, and I felt drawn into the film more and more.


By the way, Koji Ichihashi, a producer of the film, was from Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture. And, Shinichiro Ueda, the director, was from Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture, where is next to Fukui. So I feel a closer connection with the film.


When Ueda came to Fukui for the premiere, he said "The production cost was only three million yen, so our own making way made the film worthwhile. Also, the casts were all unknown, so the film became non-predictable." in an interview.


You can enjoy the film by various elements, and you could be happy after you saw the film.
Seeing is believing. No prior knowledge is necessary.
Please drop in a movie theater and just enjoy the world of the film. (H.S)

The Japanese film “The Forest of Wool and Steel”



The film is based on a novel by Ms. Natsu Miyashita, who was born in Fukui City.
Also, the novel received “Honya Taisho Prize” (chosen by bookstore staff nationwide) in 2016. I read the novel, and I had been looking forward to see the film since I heard the novel was made into a film, so I went to see the film.


From TOHO website


Then, when I got the theater, surprisingly I met Ms. Miyashita in person at the lobby.
Of course, I had no personal acquaintance with her, but I automatically said to her “It’s a pleasant surprise to see you here! I am looking forward to seeing the film.” and she smilingly replied, “I will see it now.” Although she must have seen the film at a preview, she may have a new impression to see the film at a local theater with audiences. I sometimes see Ms. Miyashita on local TV programs. She looks gentle and elegant, talks modestly, and has a maidenly transparent feeling. I always thought she is a wonderful person and actually Ms. Miyashita was exactly what I had imagined.


The film has a lot of beautiful picturesque scenes and the actors’ performance didn’t disturb the atmosphere. Their performances as a tuner were very good as if they were real ones, from which I could guess that they prepared the roles well. I like Ken Mitsuishi’s performance, and in this film as well, he had a presence, though he didn’t have many lines. I think that he is really a clever actor. Also, you can enjoy piano performance at the same time in the film. Especially, piano performance by Mone and Moka Kamishiraishi sisters was impressive.


The main character thinks that he isn't capable of a tuner and his senior tuner
said to him. “Capability is a feeling of love something.”
I think that the phrase is an axiom which I want to share with everyone.
If you like something very much and if you can master it, it is an excellent capability.


And, the ending theme (written by Jo Hisaishi, played by Nobuyuki Tsujii) was so beautiful that it made me want to cry as if the world of the film would continue. By seeing such a good film, I could re-examine my daily life and make a course correction a little. (H.S)


Cannes Palme d’Or winning film “Shoplifters”



Recently, at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” won the Palme d’Or. In Fukui, its advance screening was held last weekend and I went to see the film.


On the surface, modern Japan is thought to be affluent.
But it has problems piled up that we should discuss more seriously.
Seeing the film, various keywords related to the problems crossed my mind one after another. And, Kore-eda’s screenplay and direction reflects the problems without feelings and messages. In addition, all the cast members’ performance beyond acting creates the overwhelming reality. The two child actors are also really great.
Gradually, I didn’t feel that I was watching a film any more.
And, maybe the reason there were many eating scenes is that we cannot live without eating.


Director Kore-eda doesn’t make us cry easily and see things in black and white.
He purposely avoids them. I felt that his pride that he would not make a shallow film such people could cry easily and this is a right answer.


I don’t think that this film should not be criticized posing as a critic.
Nobody could say anything in a know-it-all attitude.
Even after you see the film, probably you don’t have the answer.
However, the film will give you a chance to think deeply once again about poverty, good and bad, life and death, love of family. (H.S)