JAPAN: Nature and Culture for the Future - Films

Icon of film projection
Miyori in the Sacred Forest

Miyori no mori
Director: Fumi YAMAMOTO / Nippon Animation, 2007

Still photograph from Miyori in the Sacred Forest
© Hideji Oda・Akita Shoten / Fuji TV・Nippon Animation

Based on a manga by Oda Hideji, this film touches on issues of environmental destruction in Japan. 
Miyori’s parents have gone their separate ways and her preoccupied father is bringing Miyori to live with her grandparents. Miyori is angry about being sent to the countryside when she would rather stay in Tokyo. That night as she sleeps, a river spirit, Kanoko, slips up to the veranda of the house. Miyori follows it into the woods and meets a group of spirits, who greet her as a long-lost friend. She is dismissive of them, and Kanoko is amazed that she is to be the guardian of the forest, succeeding her grandmother. One day, by chance Miyori goes down a forbidden path to a pond where a ghostly woman in white befriends her. From the woman, Miyori learns that the entire region will be flooded by a dam project.

THE SUMMIT:A Chronicle of Stones

Tsurugidake: ten no ki
Director: Daisaku, KIMURA / THE TSURUGIDAKE Team, 2009

Still photograph from THE SUMMIT:A Chronicle of Stones

Mt. Tsurugidake, located in the Tateyama mountain range in Toyama Prefecture’s Northern Alps, has been referred to as “needle mountain” or “mountain of death” for its inaccessibility.
In 1907, Shibasaki, renowned for his skills as a surveyor, suddenly receives orders to conquer Mt. Tsurugidake, the last uncharted region of Japan, in order to complete a map of the nation. At the time, his survey unit was in the process of mapping Japan after triangulation of numerous mountain peaks. Upon receiving his orders, Shibasaki tackles the challenge of reaching the top of Tsurugidake together with Chojiro, a local guide of good character familiar with the Tsurugidake area.

School of Nature

The Children of the Satoyama
Director: Masaki, HARAMURA / Sakura Motion Picture Co., Ltd., 2008

Still photograph from School of Nature ~The Children of the Satoyama~
Photo: © Sanaka.Okamoto

The Kisarazu Community Nursery School is a childcare facility located in a cultivated woodland in an urban area of Chiba Prefecture. The film looks at how the schoolchildren grow up in a dialogue with nature over a period of one and a half years. In an age when many people believe that children should be raised in a safe, secure and clean environment, Eijyu Miyazaki, the director of the nursery school, has declared that “children will not grow up healthy unless they get injured, covered in mud and play rough and physical games.” He carries out his own unique method of childcare, and the preschoolers get covered in mud, eat wild nuts and interact with animals. Fights break out frequently, and the children display unrestrained emotions. Through all this, they learn to help one another and to think about others, and acquire communication skills and grow up to be strong…


Director: Yuri, NOMURA / Stylejam, 2009

Still photograph from eatrip
© Stylejam

To eat is a universal experience, and this documentary takes the audience on a journey throughout Japan looking at how life can be led to the fullest through the daily ritual of eating. From the Tsukiji fish market to an Okinawan farm, the film offers poignant interviews with intriguing personalities, a few of whom include: Nichiji Sakai, head monk of the Ikegami Honmonji temple; Kanji Takahashi, a distributor of Japanese soup stock (bonito broth); Naoko Morioka, an Okinawan leading a self-sustainable lifestyle; So-oku Sen. a tea ceremony master and descendant of famed Sen No Rikyu; and Yayako Uchida, a musician and writer who recites poems about food.
“eatrip” culminates with a passionate meal cooked by the director herself for actor Tadanobu Asano, singer UA and a handful of other eclectic guests.


Chicago, IL

Monday, February 15, 2010   6:30pm   (eatrip)
Thursday, February 18, 2010   6:30pm   (Miyori in the Sacred Forest)
Friday, March 5, 2010   6:30pm   (The Summit)
Friday, March 12, 2010   6:30pm   (School of Nature)


Film Row Cinema of Columbia College Chicago

1104 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60605


Inquiries Consulate General of Japan at Chicago (Japan Infomation Center)
Tel: 1-312-280-0430   E-mail
Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 3, 2010   6:30pm   (Miyori in the Sacred Forest)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010   6:30pm   (School of Nature)


Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC) , Embassy of Japan
Lafayette Center III (Lower Level), 1155 21st Street NW,
Washington DC 20036-3308

For details visit



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