YIDFF 2005 BORDERS WITHIN—What It Means to Live in Japan
Hijiori Story
An Interview with Kato Takanobu (Cinematographer)

I Want You to Watch This as a Reminder of Ogawa Shinsuke

Q: When did Ogawa get the idea to make a film about Philippine brides?

KT: I joined Ogawa Productions in 1989. At that time, Ogawa was fully engaged in preparing for the first YIDFF. My first job at Ogawa Productions was serving as Otsu Koshiro’s assistant cameraman for the film A Movie Capital (1991), directed by Iizuka Toshio. At the time I’d heard about plans for the next film. One was a film about persimmons, which lead to Manzan Benigaki (2001), and I also remember him saying that he wanted to shoot a film about Korean women who had come as brides to Yamagata’s mountainous areas. The latter idea might have something to do with the film about Philippine brides, but it’s not certein. Around November or December after the film festival was over, the first round of filming for A Movie Capital had already been completed, and in January we’d started doing test filming for the new film.

Q: Is test filming done in preparation for the real shoot?

KT: In this case, I think he did it to see what the crew was made of. I shot with 16mm film and Kuribayashi Masashi recorded sound with a Nagra, and Ogawa was always there on location. In addition, Shiraishi Yoko and Abe Hiroko were in charge of production management. The crew was five people in total, with Ogawa and Shiraishi at the center, and the three younger members, namely Kuribayashi, Abe and myself. Mori Shigeya, an employee of the then-Okura-mura town hall, served as our guide. We stayed at a hot-springs lodge for two weeks, and actually filmed for about six days. Most of the filming was specified and directed by Ogawa, but he pretty much left the morning sun shots up to me.

Q: How did that footage turn into Hijiori Story?

KT: Hijiori Story was edited to be shown at the gathering to bid farewell to Ogawa Shinsuke following his death, but Ogawa had previously edited and structured just over thirty minutes of the rushes. He’d playfully added narration and music. After Ogawa passed away, cinematographer Tamura Masaki and director Tsuchimoto Noriaki re-edited it into a shorter version. The original idea was to ask Tamura to edit together a short version of unused Sanrizuka series outtakes to screen at the farewell gathering, but for some reason the footage the Hijiori was used, and after that Tsuchimoto took over the editing and it became the version that was screened here.

Q: What were your feelings about Hijiori Story being screened at this festival for the first time in thirteen years?

KT: Ogawa has passed away as a person, and in that sense maybe Hijiori Story can pay tribute to his memory, but I didn’t think that “Ogawa, the film director” was ever flesh and blood person, and I still think that. So perhaps it isn’t possible to memorialize a “person” that didn’t exist. The scary thing is for Hijiori Story to go around like a finished work. I think it’s fine to view Hijiori Story as a reminder of Ogawa when he was alive, but it’s kind of scary that with this screening people could perceive it as an established fact that it’s completed. It goes against Ogawa’s wishes for this to be considered finished, and it’s out of synch with my intentions too.

(Compiled by Kato Hatsuyo)

Interviewer: Kato Hatsuyo
Photography: Hashimoto Yuko / Video: Sonobe Mamiko / 2005-10-13