Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 – This is My Place – Carving out a sense of existence and belonging in Japanese Cinema (Online Special)

Whenever the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme rolls around, I end up doing posts on Anime UK News (AUKN) and my blog. Earlier this month, I published a preview on AUKN and now it’s time for my blog!

A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語  Film Image 5

Here are the headlines:

  • This year’s programme is totally online and totally FREE to view for people in the UK,
  • There are 18 films (one anime, no documentaries or shorts),
  • Screening dates have been announced (keep checking the Japan Foundation’s SNS to get info on screening links),
  • So far, no word on guests.

Here is the preview but with my own data format for the films.

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme goes online for 2021 and film screenings will be free to view for people in the UK. Running from 19 February to 10 March 2021, there are 18 films, of which there is only one anime but there are also a number of live-action adaptations of manga.

The theme for this year is “belonging” and this is examined in a range of films where people from diverse and complicated backgrounds seek out a sense of acceptance and connection with others. These stories cover all genres from a mockumentary set in the Japanese movie world (Extro) to a crime drama unpicking the difficulty of Japanese social conformity (A Girl Missing), films centring on LGBT issues (his) and also the final work of Nobuhiko Obayashi (Labyrinth of Cinema), an anti-war opus that is also about the power of cinema.

So far, only the screening dates and films have been announced. Full details on streaming services and booking information will be announced later so keep checking the Japan Foundation’s site/SNS. Here are trailers for the films:


HELLO WORLD  Hello World Film Poster

ハローワールド  Haro- Wa-rudo

Release Date: September 20th, 2019

Duration: 98 mins.

Director: Tomohiko Ito

Writer: Mado Nozaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Minami Hamabe (Ruri Ichigyo), Takumi Kitamura (Naomi Katagaki age 16). Tori Matsuzaka (Naomi Katagaki age 26), Haruka Fukuhara (Mirei Kadenokoji), Rie Kugimiya (Karasu), Minako Kotobuki (Ii Shizuka),

Animation Production: Graphinica

Website ANN MAL

Saturday, 20 February from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Monday, 1 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Synopsis: In Kyoto in the year 2027, male high school student Naomi Katagaki, encounters a person who claiming to be him from 10 years in the future. Together, they must change the future and save a classmate, Ruri, whom the younger Naomi will start to date in three month’s time!!!

Shape of Red 

Red Film Poster

Release Date: February 21st, 2020

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Yukiko Mishima

Writer: Yukiko Mishima, Chihiro Ikeda (Script), Rio Shimamoto (Original Novel)

Starring: Kaho, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tasuku Emoto, Shotaro Mamiya, Reiko Kataoka, Kimiko Yo,

Website IMDB

Friday, 19 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Saturday, 6 March from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Synopsis: Toko Suguri (Kaho) has a house, is married to a handsome guy and has a charming daughter. Despite these signs of success, she is unhappy. When Toko meets her ex-boyfriend Akihiko Kurata (Satoshi Tsumabuki) at a friend’s wedding, the two launch into a passionate affair. Akihiko looks after Toko in ways her husband doesn’t but as she gets sucked into the passion, she loses her sense of responsibility and her life begins to fall apart.


A Girl Missing          A Girl Missing Film Poster

よこがお  Yokogao

Release Date: July 26th, 2019

Duration: 111 mins.

Director: KojFukada

Writer: KojFukada, Kazumasa Yonemitsu (Screenplay),

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Mikako Ichikawa, Sosuke Ikematsu, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Hisako Okata, Ren Sudo, Miyu Ogawa,

Website     IMDB

Wednesday, 24 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Thursday, 4 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Koji Fukada’s films include Human Comedy Tokyo (2008), Hospitalite (2010), Au revoir l’ete (2013), Sayonara (2015), and Harmonium (2016). The latter won the Prix du Jury in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival of that year. It stars Mariko Tsutsui who has been doing stellar work as seen in Jam (2018) and Antiporno (2016) and she returns here with a so-good-it’s-bonkers cast including Mikako Ichikawa (Rent-a-cat (2012)), Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish (2011)) and two newbies both in NDJC 2019 films, Ren Sudo (Last Judgement) and Miyu Ogawa (Quiet Hide-and-Seek). This has awards potential as it lets Tsutsui off the leash and looks like it has decent direction but Fukada will have to present a reigned-in story! 

Synopsis: Ichiko (Mariko Tsutsui) is a visiting nurse who has earned the trust of her patients. She has been helping Motoko (Mikako Ichikawa) study for the purpose of becoming a care worker. Ichiko is the only person with whom Motoko is open with. One day, Motoko’s younger sister Saki (Miyu Ogawa) disappears. A week later Saki returns home unharmed, but the person arrested for her kidnapping is an unexpected person and Ichiko is suspected of being involved in the abduction. This causes Ichiko to collapse…



Extro Film Poster

Ekisutoro  エキストロ

Release Date: March 13th, 2020

Duration: 89 mins.

Directors: Naoki Murahashi

Writers: Hirohito Goto (Script), Mariko Kikuchi (Original Book)

Starring: Kozo Haginoya, Koji Yamamoto, Yuki Saito, Tatsumi Fujinami, Ryo Kato, Riho Kotani, Nobuhiko Obayashi,


Friday, 26 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 72 hour rental window

Naoki Murahashi makes his debut with this feature and it looks absolutely charming. It featuress Nobuhiko Obayashi who passed away last week.

And here’s a music video:

Synopsis: This is a mockumentary that follows real-life bit-part player Kozo Haginoya (Kozo Haginoya), a man who works as an extra for drama series and movies. He is 64-years-old and while he works as a dental technician and part-time farmer in Ibaraki Prefecture,, his true passion is for acting. The camera follows him around the set of a period drama shot in a film studio and things go slightly awry when two cops on the hunt for a drug dealer go undercover in the same production.



his Film Poster

Release Date: January 24th, 2020

Duration: 127 mins.

Director: Rikiya Imaizumi

Writer: Atsushi Asada (Script) 

Starring: Hio Miyazawa, Kisetsu Fujiwara, Sakura Sotomura, Wakana Matsumoto, Honoka Matsumoto,

Website IMDB

Thursday, 25 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Monday, 8 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Here’s an interview over at the Japan Times with lead actor Hio Miyazawa.

Synopsis: When Shun (Hio Miyazawa) went on a class trip to Enoshima as a high schooler, he met and fell in love with Nagisa (Kisetsu Fujiwara) and their relationship lasted all the way through to university when Nagisa told Shun that he didn’t see a future with them together. They decided to break up. 13 years later and Shun lives alone in the countryside but, one day, Nagisa shows up with his six-year-old daughter Sora (Sakura Sotomura). Shun is scared to come out as gay but after living a lonely life in the countryside, the presence of his ex and Sora brightens his life. However, difficulties arise as Nagisa and his ex-wife fight for custody of Sora…


Our 30-Minute Sessions   Our 30 Minute Sessions Film Poster

サヨナラまでの30  Sayonara made no 30 pun

Release Date: January 24th, 2020

Duration: 114 mins.

Director: Kentaro Hagiwara

Writer: Satomi Oshima (Script) 

Starring: Mackenyu Aratam Takumi Kitamura, Sayu Kubota, Riho Makise, Yutaka Matsushige, Sho Kiyohara,

Website IMDB

Thursday, 25 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Wednesday, 3 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Synopsis: Sota Kubota (Takumi Kitamura) is a shy university student but he undergoes the most radical personality change when he picks up a cassette tape left by Aki Miyata (Mackenyu Arata), a confident musician who died a year ago: Sota becomes able to play a guitar in front of others. It turns out that Aki takes over Sota’s body and Aki wants to reunite his band and see his former girlfriend Kana (Sayu Kubota). The only hitch is that the possession time lasts for only 30 minutes and time begins to run short with each session…


Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie 

Goodbye Life Comedy of Starting From a Lie Film Poster

グッドバイ 嘘からはじまる人生喜劇  Guddobai: Uso kara Hajimaru Jinsei Kigeki

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 106 mins.

Director: Izuru Narushima

Writer: Satoko Okudera (Script), Keralino Sandrovich (Original Novel)

Starring: Yo Oizumi, Eiko Koike, Ai Hashimoto, Tae Kimura, Nobue Iketani, Asami Mizukawa, Yoji Tanaka, Gaku Hamada, Yutaka Matsushige,

Website IMDB

Tuesday, 23 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Friday, 5 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Synopsis: Post-war Japan, a literary magazine editor named Shuji (Yo Oizumi) decides to change his life and stop being an indecisive philanderer and so he resolves to break things off with all of his girlfriends… by hiring a coarse and straight-talking woman named Kinuko (Eiko Koike) to masquerade as his false wife and getting rid of the other ladies…


Haruka’s Pottery 

Haruka no Sue Film Poster

ハルカの陶  Haruka no Sue

Release Date: November 30th, 2019

Duration: 119 mins.

Director: Naruhito Suetsugu

Writer: Naruhito Suetsugu (Script) Disk Furai, Taisei Nishizaki (Original Work)

Starring: Nao, Hiroyuki Hirayama, Jun Murakami, Takashi Sasano, Maki Murakami,


Saturday, 20 February from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Monday, 8 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

This live-action movie is based on a comic of the same name that won the 13th Okayama Art and Culture Award for Achievement.

Synopsis: Haruka Koyama is an office worker from Tokyo and her days are stable but she decides to throw caution to the wind when she sees some Bizen-ware in a department store exhibition and is inspired by the craftsmanship to visit Bizen City in Okayama Prefecture and see the creator. and study the art of making traditional Bizen pottery under the tutelage of the reclusive master artist who inspired her, a man named Osamu (Hiroyuki Hirayama)…


Little Miss Period Little Miss Period Film Poster

生理ちゃん  Seiri-chan

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 75 mins.

Director: Shunsuke Shinada

Writer: Shin Akamatsu (Screenplay), Ken Koyama (Manga)

Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Sairi Ito, Yoshinori Okada, Ren Sudo, Hana Toyoshima, Manami Iida, Risaki Matsukaze, Kyohei Kanomi,

Website IMDB

Thursday, 4 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 72 hour rental window

Synopsis: Little Miss Period follows several women as they navigate the ups and downs of their daily life while experiencing their period – personified by an obnoxiously large, heart-shaped plush presence which is totally obnoxious. The ladies affected include a high-flying editor of a fashion magazine, a social recluse resigned to singledom, and a young girl frustrated by the trials of puberty.


Miyamoto    From Miyamoto To You Film Poster

宮本から君へ  Miyamoto kara Kimi e

Release Date: September 27th, 2019

Duration: 129 mins.

Director: Tetsuya Mariko

Writer: Tetsuya Mariko, Takehiko Minato (Screenplay), Hideki Arai (Manga)

Starring: Sosuke Ikematsu, Yu Aoi, Arata Iura, Kenichi Matsuyama, Tokio Emoto, Kanji Furutachi, Jiro Sato, Pierre Taki,

Website IMDB

Friday, 19 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Tuesday, 2 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

This is based on a manga by Hideki Arai which was published from 1990 to 1994. It was turned into a television show and now has this movie spin-off directed by Tetsuya (Destruction Babies) Mariko. It is a handsomely shot and kinetic film due to the non-linear story but I have to warn potential viewers about a scene of a sexual assault which is really brutal. Here’s my review.

Synopsis: A hot-blooded stationary salesman named Miyamoto (Sosuke Ikematsu) tries to prove himself to his girlfriend Yasuko Nakano (Yu Aoi) in conflicts that escalate in intensity. Their love is put to the ultimate test when he fails to protect her from a violent and vile assault which forces Miyamoto into a dangerous and reckless act fit for the film’s explosive and melodramatic finale.


One Night      One Night Film Poster

ひとよ  Hitoyo

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Ryohei Suzuki, Mayu Matsuoka, Yuko Tanaka, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Mariko Tsutsui, Hanae Kan, Megumi,

Website IMDB

Monday, 22 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Friday, 5 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

I was not a fan of this one (as explained in my review) but other people really appreciate it’s drama.

Synopsis: Koharu (Yuko Tanaka), in an effort to protect her three children from their abusive father, she murdered the man. It shattered their family and sent them on wildly different paths. 15 years later, the family reunites again, each bearing scars from their traumatic background…


Labyrinth of Cinema     Labyrinth of Cinema Film Poster

Labyrinth of Cinema=海辺の映画館 キネマの玉手箱Labyrinth of Cinema = umibe no eigakan kinema no tamatebako

Release Date: July 31st, 2020

Duration: 179 mins.

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi

Writer: Nobuhiko Obayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takuro Atsuki, Takahito Hosoyamada, Yoshihiko Hosoda,

Website IMDB

Saturday, 27 February from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Friday, 5 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Nobuhiko Obayashi passed away last year and this was his final film. It was shot in Obayashi’s hometown in Onomichi and has an anti-war message.

Synopsis: Three young people at a soon-to-be-shuttered cinema are enjoying the final screening: a marathon of old war films. The three become so immersed in the action that they soon find themselves time-slipping through the screen to various historical events shown on the screen after a lightning strike. They witness death during the Sengoku period and on a battlefront in China, and are also in Hiroshima just before the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city and.


Mrs Noisy   Mrs. Noisy Film Poster

ミセス・ノイズィ  Misesu Noizi

Release Date: December 04th, 2020

Duration: 98 mins.

Director: Chihiro Amano

Writer: Chihiro Amano (Screenplay), 

Starring: Yukiko Shinohara, Yoko Ootaka, Takuma Nagao, Chise Niitsu, Masanari Wada, Yoriko Doguchi, Raiki Yanemoto,

Saturday, 20 February from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Monday, 8 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Website      IMDB 

Synopsis: Maki Yoshioka is a novelist and mother. She’s suffering a slump in her work and things get worse when her neighbour, Miwako, begins harassing her by beating her futons at all hours of the day. After an argument, Maki gets inspiration and makes Miwako a character in her novel but that causes the fight between the two to spiral out of control as the media and internet get involved…


Soiree    Soiree Film Poster


Release Date: August 28th, 2020

Duration: 111 mins.

Director: Bunji Satoyama

Writer: Bunji Satoyama (Script), 

Starring: Nijiro Murakami, Haruka Imou, Takashi Okabe, Noriko Eguchi, Kanami Tagawa,


Friday, 26 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Thursday, 4 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

This sounds like it could be a powerful drama that looks at the suffering of the younger generation in a society that crushes people’s spirits. It stars two young talents who are making waves, Nijiro Murakami (The GunDestruction Babies) and Haruka Imou (Sayounara).

Synopsis: Shota Iwamatsu (Nijiro Murakami) is a young man who left Wakayama to go to Tokyo to become an actor but he is struggling and forced to make ends meet with his acting skills as part of scams. He is in a theatre troupe but his time there is pretty tough due to a merciless director. When that troupe heads to Wakayama to conduct an acting workshop at a nursing home for the elderly, Shota meets a young woman who works there named Takara Yamashita (Haruka Imou) who is suffering abuse at the hands of a man. The two encounter him on their way to a summer festival and an incident happens…



A Beloved Wife   A Beloved Wife Film Poster

喜劇 愛妻物語 Kigeki Aisai Monogatari

Release Date: September 11th, 2020

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Shin Adachi

Writer: Shin Adachi (Screenplay/Novel)

Starring: Gaku Hamada, Asami Mizukawa, Chise Niitsu, Eri Fuse, Kaho, Kayoko Ookubo, Ken Mitsuishi, 

Website    IMDB

Wednesday, 24 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Sunday, 7 March from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Shin Adachi is best known for his script for 100 Yen Love (2014) and has worked on other projects, including directing a warmly received comedy 14 That Night (2016). He adapts his autobiographical novel for his sophomore film as a director and it is a delight as Asami Mizukawa wows playing a permanently p*ssed wife dealing with a pervy husband essayed by a skeevy Gaku Hamada. Behind the shockingly bitter but often funny tirades is the beating heart of a loving couple but there is a lot of tears and laughter (sometimes at the same time) to get to that realisation. This won Best Screenplay at the 2019 edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Here’s my review.

Synopsis: Gota Yanagida (Gaku Hamada) is a scriptwriter with a family and a desperate need for a hit film. His wife of 10 years, Chika (Asami Mizukawa), is the family breadwinner and very unhappy about their lack of money. His daughter Aki (Chise Niitsu) is beginning to view him as a bit of a loser. His desperation for a break is finally answered when a film producer tasks Gota with writing a screenplay for his story of “a high school girl who makes udon noodles at a tremendous speed”. Gota has a chance to travel to Kagawa Prefecture to write a screenplay and so he persuades Chika and Aki to go with him, but when he arrives he discovers a different film project has already been decided…


Me & My Brother’s Mistress Me & My Brother’s Mistress Film Poster

おろかもの Orokamono

Release Date: November 20th, 2020

Duration: 96 mins.

Director: Takashi Haga, Sho Suzuki

Writer: Masataka Numata (Script), 

Starring: Nanami Kasamatsu, Yui Murata, Satoshi Iwago, Hachi Nekome,

Website IMDB

Friday, 19 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Monday, 1 March from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

This one is cute. The chief delight is exploring how the mistress is more complex than first perceived and the relationship she develops with the main character.

Synopsis: High schooler Yoko has been looked after by her older brother Kenji since their parents died. He is about to get married so Yoko is trying to deal with a new normal but when she spies her brother dating another woman, she begins to investigate. A confrontation turns to understanding as Yoko finds this other woman more relatable and figures she is a better match for Kenji. But, guilt remains over the love triangle…


Samurai Shifters  Samurai Shifters Film Poster 

引っ越し大名!  Hikkoshi Daimyo!

Release Date: August 30th, 2019

Duration: 120 mins.

Director: Isshin Inudo

Writer: Akihiro Dobashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Gen Hoshino, Gaku Hamada, Yutaka Matsushige, Issey Takahashi, Mitsuki Takahata, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Masahiko Nishimura, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Yasuko Tomita,

Website IMDB

Tuesday, 23 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Saturday, 6 March from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

This one was at Japan Cuts 2019 and it goes down well with audiences. It is a comedy that has an able cast with Gen Hoshino (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?The Night is Short, Walk on Girl), Yutaka Matsushige (The Guard From Underground) and Mitsuki Takahata (Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura) taking leading roles.

Synopsis from Japan Cuts 2019 because it was brilliant: In 17th century Japan, the Tokugawa shogunate ensures political dominance by forcing lords to move their clans from domain to domain. When the Echizen Matsudaira clan is called upon to make a particularly tough relocation, the undesired role of relocation officer falls to Harunosuke Katagiri (Gen Hoshino), a socially inept samurai librarian. Under the threat of forced harakiri, Harunosuke takes to the near impossible task with the help of a loudmouth swordsman (Issey Takahashi) and the former relocation officer’s daughter (Mitsuki Takahata).


Not Quite Dead Yet    Not Quite Dead Yet Film Poster

一度死んでみた  Ichido Shinde Mita

Release Date: March 20th, 2020

Duration: 93 mins.

Directors: Shinji Hamasaki

Writers: Yoshimitsu Sawamoto (Script), 

Starring: Suzu Hirose, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Tae Kimura, Naoko Takenaka, Ryo Yoshizawa, Lily Franky, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Takeru Satoh, Elaiza Ikeda, Tokio Emoto,

Website IMDB

Friday, 26 February from 18:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Sunday, 7 March from 10:00 (GMT) – 48 hour rental window

Synopsis: Rebellious university student Nanase Nobata (Suzu Hirose) and her father Kei (Shinichi Tsutsumi) have a terrible relationship but he has things on his mind. There have been some thefts at the pharmaceutical company he runs so, in order to get to the bottom of things, he drinks a drug that is supposed to make temporarily make him “die” and come back to life two days later. However, you guessed it, something goes wrong and Kei appears again as a ghost. Nanase tries to restore his life with help of Taku Matsuoka (Ryo Yoshizawa) who is one of Kei’s subordinates.


In previous editions of the touring film programme, guests have been flown from Japan to the UK to attend screenings, so maybe this will be changed to Zoom events. To keep up to date with the Japan Foundation, you can check out their websiteFacebook page, and Twitter account.

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