Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




A Martin Scorsese Picture “SILENCE”



I went to see the film “SILENCE”.
It has been 28 years since Martin Scorsese first read the book written by Shusaku
Endo and finally the film completed.


Director Scorsese was born and raised in Little Italy of New York as a son of Sicillian
immigrants. Surprisingly, he wanted to be a priest when he was a boy.
Little Italy was a two-sided community in which there were many devout Catholic families
but once you step outside, Mafia controlled the town.
So it might be a necessity that his lifetime theme are “Faith” and “Violence”.


I also read the book for the first time.
The film was very faithful to the original.
There was no music for the opening, so the film actually starts in silence.
Even throughout the film, I hardly heard music.
Moreover, as for the credits at the end of the film, I only heard nature sound such
as wind, rain, waves, cicadas, frogs and distant thunder etc.


I was deeply touched by Socrsese’s aesthetic consciousness.
And I thought that he not only showed respect for the book but also deeply understood
of Japanese climate and spirituality.
This is no wonder, since he has a detailed knowledge of Japanese films.
And he said that he shot a scene boat putting out to sea at a night with image of
“Tales of the Moon and Rain” by Kenji Mizoguchi.


Meanwhile, Japanese actors did a great job.
Specially, Yoshi Oida, Shinya Tsukamoto, who is a film director, and Yosuke Kubozuka
are amazing. One of them, I was so impressed with his eyes when Kichijiro(Kubozuka) was watching the priest’s rosary because he wanted its single bead.


Also, this film was nominated for an Academy Award Best Cinematography this year.
I think the scene of a crucifixion in the sea contributed to that.
In fact, Yoshi Oida and Shinya Tsukamoto were fearing for their own physical safety
while shooting, the crew and the extras at the film location were crying watching the scene.


Another important role is an old samurai Inoue , who was a Christian and thought brutal
tortures himself to let give up the faith. Today’s Japan, although it’s only as events, people celebrate Christmas, Halloween, St.Valentine and have weddings at chapels.
He used to explain about religion by using metaphors
“Buddhism is a lawful wife. Heathenry is a concubine”. He probably gives up about the situation in Japan.


The film “Silence” casts you a questioning one after another about not only God or faith,
but only truth and the inner nature of human beings. I still cannot put the faces of Ichizo, Mokichi and Kichijiro away from my mind and the voices “Padre” of followers throw themselves on. In fact, I wish I could go back again the world in the film.


In the book, the priest Rodrigo said
“There are two types of human beings naturally. The strong and the weak.”
The strong means martyr, and the weak means people who abandoned their faith.


But at the last, he mentioned.
“There are no the strong or the weak. Who can assure the weak didn’t suffer than the strong?”


In the present world which logic of the strong goes unmentioned, these words touch the hearts quietly and seriously. (H.S)


The Japanese film “OKINAWA : The Afterburn”



I was so disappointed when I heard the news that an Osprey crashed in the sea off Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture last December. Actually, I was afraid that this could happen at some point. I have visited U.S. Air Force’s Kadena Base in Okinawa for their festival before and gotten inside an Osprey which was opened to the public. Thus I was concerned with the safety of
the aircraft. The Osprey in front of me was just huge and I felt coercive pressure.
“Can such a huge aircraft takeoff and land vertically? Can it keep it’s balance?”
Many questions came to my mind as I didn’t know about its function. When I got into the Osprey, a monitor image kept airing that how Osprey has wonderful functions and it is like
a dream aircraft…


By the way, going back to a little while before the accident, the screening of “OKINAWA :
The Afterburn” was held at a movie theater Theatre Cinq in Fukui City. It was held
by a voluntary film club “Mini-Kinema-Fukui”, which received the “Fukui Shimbun
Culture Award” with Natsu Miyashita(Writer from Fukui) last year. The film is a full-length documentary directed by an American director John Junkerman, who studied in Japan.
The producer Tetsujiro Yamagami started a film production company when he was thirty two and he continues to make films on the theme of Okinawa. After the showing of the film,
his talk show was held too.



In the film, a former Japanese soldier and a former U.S. soldier who actually fought the ground war in Okinawa appeared and talked about their own frightful experiences.
While I was watching the film, I had to face the act of folly called war which humans become not humans. Also, I was surprised to see one of the criminals of the rape of a schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa in 1995 appeared and gave an interview about the crime.
The principal offender assaulted a woman again even after returning to the U.S. and finally killed himself. I was overwhelmed the unreasonable situation of Okinawa that they have to accept such a brutal person.


It was just one-hundredth screening of “Mini-Kinema-Fukui” that day. They continue their activities because they want to introduce films in different genres that would not be released in local areas. If you have the opportunity, please come to their screening this year. (H.S)


The Japanese film “A Man Called Pirate”



I went to see the film “A Man Called Pirate”, which was created by the film director Takashi Yamazaki and the leading actor Junichi Okada together again.
They created another film “The Eternal Zero” three years ago, which was a great hit.


The opening scene reminded me of the one of “The Eternal Zero”. However, this film’s model is existing person and not a kamikaze pilot, Sazo Idemitsu, who was the founder of Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. An impressive scene of harsh dredging the Imperial Japanese Navy’s oil tanks in the original novel, which won the Literary Award by Bookstores in 2013, was fully depicted in the film as well.


After World War II, Japan was suffering from extreme shortage of oil.
Although oil remained in the bottom of the Navy’s oil tanks, it was a very little in sludge.


It’s impossible to use pumps or machines. So the employees have to go down into the bottom 10 meters deep with strong smell and noxious fume. Due to the gas, they could work for only ten minutes in relays.


In the novel, an employee was surprised to see Tetsuzo(Sazo’s role name) who took such
an assignment :
“Even the daredevil Navy didn’t try to do that, but he is going to try without expecting anything in return. Now Japanese people just think about only themselves but he is different. What a man!”


I think that such Japanese people’s willingness to work hard at any task has created today’s Japan. Tetzuzo shouted “Oil is blood of a country!”, and the words made me think if Japan would not be able to import oil again.


By the way, the re-enacted scene of “Nissho-maru(oil tanker) Incident” is the climax scene of the film. The director Yamazaki used amazing VFX which was his favorite, and the scene which the Nissho-maru faced the British Royal Navy’s destroyer was as if I could sense the tension of the crews over time.


The running time is 2.5 hours but I didn’t feel that long and I felt like I also lived the life of Sazo, who was endeared by the employees.
Throughout the film, I felt tears running down my face to see the people worked very hard. (H.S)


The Japanese Animated Film “Your Name”(2016)



I went to see the film “Your Name”, which is now on a smash hit in Japan.
The theater was crowded with many high school students and young people.
In the film, there were a lot of beautiful images, also it had surprising plot and vibrant songs,
so I felt like I experienced something special rather than I just saw a film.


Because it was an animation, it was able to depict several spectacular scenes.
Also, I was amazed that it drew minutely about tradition and culture have been handed down in Japan. And the young audience also watched such scenes in absolute silence.
I liked the feeling of unity in the theater as if it was a part of the film.


When I had no prior knowledge about the film, I thought it was a remake of another film
“Your Name” of 1953. But it was completely different.
People who know the old one must be earlier generations.
“Machiko-maki”, which means an actress Keiko Kishi’s head scarf style in the film,
took the world by storm at that time.
And, I think that young people today think about this new “Your Name”
by Makoto Shinkai if they hear the title in the future.


I think that it’s natural that the film would be picked up a nomination for best animation
for Oscar. In fact, the film will be released in 85 countries!
So let’s see what kind of response we will get from all over the world. (H.S)


The Japanese film “Shin Godzilla” (2016)



I went to see the film “Shin Godzilla” the other day.
When it finished, it made me feel like “ Hang on, Japan!”.


In the film, there was a line “ Japan tried hard to rise up by scrap and build.”
It brought a lump to my throat.
And, as I saw people devote all their time to each work in the film,
I reconsidered that this is the country of Japan.


Throughout the film, it includes a diversity of messages without imposing.
It is left to what feel about to each audience.
It has excellent sense of casting, and Kanji Tsuda from Fukui Prefecture
also enthusiastically performs.
If you have time, why don’t you go to see the film?
It is more than just a monster film. (H.S)