The Japanese embassy in London regularly screens films that are hard to find in the West and they are an eclectic bunch. This one features the story of the Japanese literary giant Kenji Miyazawa and has animation. It’s from the 1990s but despite its vintage there were no trailers.
Here’s the information on the embassy’s film website:
Night Train to the Stars
わが心の銀河鉄道 宮沢賢治物語 「Waga kokoro no ginga tetsudou miyazawa kenji monogatari」
Running Time: 111 mins.
Release Date: October 19th , 1996
Director: Kazuki Omori
Writer: Machiko Nasu (Screenplay), Kenji Miyazawa (Life Story),
Starring: Naoto Ogata, Tetsuya Watari, Maki Mizuno, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Ryuji Harada, Yuriko Hoshi, Sayaka Osawa, Yuki Saito, Kippei Shina,
Synopsis from the embassy’s site: A biographical film of Kenji Miyazawa, Japan’s most popular fantasy novelist.
Kenji is an idealist from an early age, forming a utopian vision with his friend Kanai Hosaka that inspires them to work for the happiness of farmers, although his pawnbroker father, Masajiro, objects to such idealism. Kanai is expelled from school for outlining his revolutionary plans in an essay. Meanwhile, Kenji develops a devotion to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism and goes to Tokyo. While proselytising on a voluntary basis, he continues writing his fantasy stories at night. Kenji urges Kanai to join his group but Kanai refuses, saying that it will not benefit the farmers, and makes a decisive break from Kenji. On top of this, the death of his biggest supporter, his beloved sister Toshi, hits Kenji hard. Subsequently he regains contact with Kanai, who is now farming in Yamanashi prefecture and has gone a long way toward realising their original vision. Encouraged by what Kanai has achieved, he returns to Iwate prefecture to start his own experimental school in the family summer house. A tragic rainstorm hits the northern area of Japan and ruins most of the crops as well as many of those at Kenji’s school. His efforts to develop new farming methods and help poor farmers only serve to undermine his health, forcing him to close the school. Kenji dies at the age of just 37. It is only after his death, through the help of his family, that his writings become widely read. The film was made in 1996 to commemorate the centennial of his birth.
The event takes place on May 18th at 18:30pm. The location is the Embassy of Japan in the UK, 101 – 104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT and you can find out how to book tickets with this link.