In its 41st year this year, “Yufuin Cinema Festival” is the oldest film festival in Japan. Three CoFesta ambassadors (a group made up of overseas students, who promote the appeal of Japanese content) attended this long-established festival.
What did they see there? Beka, from Georgia, and Shan, from Taiwan, will report.
Hello. I am Beka Gogeliani from Georgia. The first thing people think when they hear Georgia is stated in the USA. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am from the country so small that I bet you never heard it before. It is a small, old European country located between Europe and Asia with the population of 3.7 million. Because of its location you can see a lot of European and Asian elements mixed with local culture. I always wanted to study abroad and that’s how in the end, I ended up in Japan. There are about 100-200 Georgians in Japan. So you can call my decision of studying here passion or being a hipster. The real reason why I decided to study abroad was my love of traveling, interest in Japanese culture and my favorite book The Kingkiller Chronicles. I want to put quite from it because this book changed my life:” No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. You don’t know the truth of who you are until you’ve walked until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher. Bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror glass. You learn more about yourself from a long stretch of road than a hundred years of quiet introspection.” And Japan was an ideal place for that. I knew no one in Japan when I decided to study here. It has been about one year since I came to Japan to study in APU Ritsumeikan and I have mated tons of international and local friends. And the best way to make new friends is to travel. That is the reason why I decided to join in Yufuin 41th movie festival in August.
Our group contained 4 members from different countries (Belgium, Taiwan, Japan and Georgia). Our aim was to stay in Yufuin for 2 days experience local culture as much as we could, enjoy Yufuin 41th movie festival and then share our experience.
Some of you who don’t know Yufuin is a small city located in Japan Kyushu island. It is a very popular destination among tourists. Especially if you want to experience local culture and relax for some time. We stopped at the local hotel which had variety of private hot springs inside and outside. The first thing we did was to enjoy outside Onsen and relax from tiring road. After that we walked in the main streets of the city to visit local shops and see sightseeing. Main streets are filled with local shops which offer various food and local crafted items (most of them were made by hand). Most memorable ones where Totoro shop which was selling Ghibli studio items, beautiful Lake Kinrinko and many others. The best part of Yufuin is that you don’t need a waist lot of time traveling between places everything is really close and you can just walk around like most people, but others prefer to be man hauled and see lots of things fast. The city is surrounded by mountains and streets are full with tourists.
The most memorable memory of Yufuin was the movie festival. In the evening people started to gather around the station where we could enjoy an outdoor movie on the big screen. A rare opportunity nowadays, because of so many modern movie theatres. We could also enjoy local outdoor cooked food and drinks around the station. Title of the movie was “My Father’s Backdrop” old Japanese movie about the pro wrestler and his son. A story about the difficulties family is facing and father who has to raise his son alone. He has to keep his career and also look after his only child. As the movie progresses, we see lots of different views from different characters of the movie. Also the difficulties little child has to face when he does not get much attention from parents. The father has to win a match against the karate world champion in order to restore his son’s faith in him and restore their relationship. For me it was a good experience to see the old movie and this side of Japanese society. After the movie we got the chance to eat with local movie fans. Most of them were movie experts and movie directors or actresses. Every year they gather in Yufuin to enjoy this movie festival and share their opinions with each other. They were really friendly and gladly accepted us in their circle. I barely have the chance to talk to Japanese elderly people and this experience was priceless to me. There were a few things that surprised me for example, some of them could speak English really well and knew about my country. When I asked what kind of movies they enjoyed the most. One of them answered that movies like “My Father’s Backdrop” was his favorite and he didn’t quite like Hollywood’s new movies which are filled with special effects and luck the actual meaning behind them. But unfortunately it was getting late and we had to part with them and go back to our hotel.
The second day we had a small tour around the city again tried local food and visited many other shops which we could not visit on our first day. After that we headed to the Yufuin movie theatre where we had the opportunity to see our second movie “Shaberedomo, Shaberedomo”. The situation was happening in Kyoto (or was it Osaka?) in the traditional Japanese family. Father and son are doing Rakugo. For those who don’t know Rakugo is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. The Rakugo artist depicts the comical story. The Son is teaching 4 apprentice the art of Rakugo. I never knew what Rakugo was before watching this movie and had the rare opportunity to learn it. Also enjoyed the movie because it shows lots of old parts of the city and you get to see the lifestyle of the traditional Japanese family. Our modern world has influenced everybody, even the Japanese people who are trying to protect their culture and follow traditions. It is so rare to see that traditional side, even in the movies. After the movie we had the opportunity to interact with movie producers and actors. Listen to their story about the movies and career they follow. But unfortunately our time in Yufuin was running out and we had to leave early before the movie festival was finished.
Overall, this was the rare opportunity for me foreigner. Even though I live in Japan I barely have this kind of opportunity to experience local culture so deep and interact with locals so closely. If you like travelling and movies you should definitely go to Yufuin. And the best time to go there is August when the city is green, the weather is good and you get to see movie festival. I will definitely go there next year. See you again at the Yufuin 42th movie festival don’t miss the chance.
Yui (Yi Shan Hsieh）
This article concerns CoFesta, a campaign to hold a variety of events to aid highly compatible industries in effectively going abroad, and its collaborative planning with Fields Research Institute( FRI), which conducts research in entertainment.