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STORY Japanese Film Festival 2018: Top 5 Picks

Japanese Film Festival 2018: Top 5 Picks


It’s that time again, Australia.


Your favourite film festival (JFF, of course!) is in town and will be gracing a screen near you from 17th October – 2nd December!


For all you Cinephiles and Japanophiles out there, check out our brief synopses of our top 5 picks that not only highlight the often underrated Japanese film scene, but also shine a spotlight on some of Japan’s spectacular travel locations.


1. Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura


An adaptation of Ryohei Saigan’s Kamakura Monogatari manga series, Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura is set in an unassuming Japanese town in Kamakura (Kanagawa Prefecture), where devious spirits and larger than life animal-human hybrids coexist in domestic harmony in a reality filled with childlike wonder.


Location spotlight: Kamakura


An easy day trip from Tokyo, just 1 hour by train, Kamakura is an ancient city with a beautiful sea, mountains and a rich historical heritage. Must-see sites include Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Kamakura Daibutsu (a giant Buddha statue) at Kotokuin Temple.


Screening at: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney


Sessions and bookings: website


© 2017 “Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura” Film Partners


2. The Travelling Cat Chronicles


Adapted from the bestselling novel by Hiro Arikawa, The Travelling Cat Chronicles takes us on a road trip with antagonist, Nana, and his owner, Satoru. Together, they travel throughout Japan, revisiting Satoru’s childhood and exploring the heartwarming and heartbreaking nature of true companionship.


Location spotlight: Mt Fuji


Set out on your own unforgettable journey to Japan’s most iconic landmark! Just a 1.5-2 hour bus or train trip from Tokyo, Mt Fuji is home to countless attractions including the Fuji Five Lakes, Shiraito Falls, Fuji Q Highland and  the spectacular Shibazakura (Pink Moss) Festival in spring.


Screening at: Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney


Sessions and bookings: website


© 2018 “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” Film Partners


3. The Scythian Lamb


This is Japan’s answer to the popular British series, Black Mirror. Based on the manga by Tatsuhiko Yamagami and Mikio Igarashi, The Scythian Lamb is a drama/thriller/black comedy about a young man who oversees a programme that brings ex-convicts to a peaceful seaport town in Toyama Prefecture to see if rehabilitation is possible.


Location spotlight: Toyama


Toyama Prefecture is located in the Hokuriku region of Japan and serves as a gateway to the Sea of Japan.  Toyama is blessed with rich nature and sublime scenery for all you nature lovers and boasts sights like the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage listed villages of Gokayama as well as the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Screening at: Melbourne and Sydney


Sessions and bookings: website


© 2018 “The Tree of Sheep” partners © Tatsuhiko Yamagami, Mikio Igarashi / Kodansha


4. Tampopo (4k Restoration)


Arguably one of the most delicious examples of food on film,Tampopo is a ramen-centric comedy by Juzo Itami originally released in 1985. Acknowledged as the first ‘ramen western’ (a play on the term Spaghetti Western) the cult classic is a tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle-shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe.


Location spotlight: Ramen regions


There are dozens of regional ramen varieties in Japan with many you might not have tried. If you feel like going slightly off menu, head to Fukushima Prefecture to sample its famed Shoyu-based Kitakata ramen or Hokkaido to slurp down a bowl of Sapporo ramen—a heartier style of ramen seasoned with miso, bean sprouts, onions and with medium-width curly noodles.


Screening at: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney


Sessions and bookings: website


© 1985 “Tampopo” Film Partners


5. Goodbye, Grandpa!


Director Yukihiro Morigaki tells the tale of a Japanese family reluctantly brought together after the death of their elderly patriarch. Set in Hitoyoshi (Kumamoto Prefecture), Goodbye,  Grandpa! explores the dramas, awkward antics and good times that arise from family hardship and funerals.


Location spotlight: Kumamoto


Soak up the sights of Kumamoto at the popular Kurokawa Onsen before or after you visit Mount Aso—one of the world’s largest active volcanoes—and one of Japan’s most impressive castles, Kumamoto Castle. Kumamoto is also one of the host cities of the Rugby World Cup 2019.


Screening at: Melbourne and Sydney


Sessions and bookings: website


© 2017 “Goodbye, Grandpa!” Film Partners