WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.
Looks like it’s been exactly a month since I’ve written here, and we have already entered 実りの秋・食欲の秋 (minori no aki, shokuyoku no aki) or season of harvest, season of hearty appetites. Leaves are started to turn their lovely colors and there is a nice chill in the air most mornings and nights, which makes me wish there was a nearby onsen to soak in…
On the plane on the way back from a recent European vacation I was able to catch Yakusho Koji‘s わが母の記 (waga haha no ki), or Chronical of My Mother. This film was featured in this year’s Japan Cuts, but I was not around when it screened so I was glad to have the chance to make up for it. Based on an autobiographical novel by Yasushi Inoue, it tells the story of novelist Kosaku Igami who has achieved great success, but at the price of mining his family for his material.
He has three daughters and it bothers some of them more than others, notably the feisty youngest one Kotoko (pictured above with her grandmother). In addition to exploring the fragile relationship between Kosaku and his mother due to her abandonment of him in childhood, the movie also gets into his power struggle with Kotoko.
Kiki Kirin who plays Kosaku’s mother is a familiar maternal face, as she also played the matriarch in Koreeda Hirokazu’s Still Walking. This is another movie that looks into complicated family relationships and how they evolve. Both films have been compared to the work of the Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu in their cinematic styles, and story wise they both tackle misunderstandings and lifetime hurts that strain familial bonds. If you had to pick one or the other I would say I prefer Kiki’s role in Still Walking, but she is certainly worth checking out in Chronicle of My Mother as well.