“HONMONO” Authenticity & Japaneseness



I saw a preview of “Chiri tsubaki,” directed/shot by Daisaku KIMURA, on theatrical release from September 28th of this year. It’s the kind of “true Japanese film” and “beautiful samurai Movie” that I haven’t seen in ages. The film has an atmosphere similar to the old Japanese films made by great Japanese directors of the 20th century like Akira KUROSAWA and Yasujiro OZU, who surprised the world and were universally admired. Now, I wonder what was behind the praise and acclaim.
KIMURA is a famous and respected Japanese movie cameraman. As an AC, he worked on KUROSAWA’s 1960s movies, from “The Hidden Fortress” to “Dodes’ka-den,” exhibiting his skill as a focus puller. After that, he mainly shot movies with Ken TAKAKURA in the leading role, such as “Mt. Hakkoda,” “Virus,” “Poppoya,” and “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.” Also, he shot many masterpieces like the “Gokudo no onna-tachi” series, “Kita no kanaria-tachi” and “Reminiscence.” He still stands at the forefront of the Japanese film industry. This is because of his strong passion in shooting ‘Honmono’ about nature, as well as his perfect framing and shooting skills to capture the atmosphere and figures that inspired many leading ladies to request him as their cameraman. Even in his latest movie, you can see his techniques.
I was talking with my friend, who is working in Paris, about the fact that there is no adequate translation for ‘Honmono’, whether it is English or another language. The word doesn’t just mean quality or something traditional. It includes an ancient Japanese spirituality, formal and traditional beauty, artists’ passion to cultivate it, and developing innovation. Great things in Japan definitely have ‘honmono.’ It is important when handing down cultural traditions to the next generation. We reached a decision.
Now, is it essential in the film industry?

Many productions give up on ‘honmono’ because of low budgets or a lack of property. Those people are not creators but hired workers, I state. However, there was a strong passion and creative spirit about ‘honmono’ in the old Japanese film industry, and “Chiri tsubaki” has that ‘honmono’. The movie is filled with powerful imagery, excellent acting, and fear and awe of nature’s beauty. Most of all, the movie’s appearance leaves the viewers with images that Japanese people cannot forget. I felt its ‘honmono’ might be connected to the old Japanese film’s ‘Japanese-ness.’

The feature of this issue is the special interview with KIMURA, and contained within the dialogue is his spirit of ‘honmono.’ In order to convey his message, I picked up on some of his key phrases and used his words verbatim.
A longtime veteran of the Japanese movie industry, who is greatly revered. A man who still stands at the forefront of the cinematography world. How does such a man approach movie shooting? What does he convey in “Chiri tsubaki,” his 3rd movie as a director? Moreover, he talks about the Japanese movie industry, movies themselves, and his admiration for director Akira KUROSAWA. So, don’t miss it and enjoy!