Two Japanese films fell under an international gaze this week as Koreeda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters (Manbiki no kazoku) and Hosoda Mamoru’s Mirai (Mirai no Mirai) were nominated for Academy Awards. Although neither director took home an ‘Oscar’, their nominations testify to the enduring impact of Japanese filmmakers on international cinema. Shoplifters, in particular, has enjoyed a successful run in UK cinemas since it won the prestigious Palme d’Or award for Best Film at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. This poignant portrayal of a makeshift family is filled with moments that are beautiful, humorous and even painful. As in many of Koreeda’s films (Like Father Like Son and Nobody Knows), Shoplifters highlights those forces and events that bring people together and pulls them apart, and challenges the assumption that ‘blood is thicker than water’.
fall under a gaze 注目を受ける / shoplifter 万引き犯 / take home ～を持ち帰る、～を獲得する / testify to ～を立証する / endure ～に耐える / impact on ～に対する影響 / in particular 特に / prestigious 名誉ある / Palme d'Or パルムドール（カンヌ国際映画祭の最高賞）/ poignant 感動的な / portrayal 描写 / makeshift かりそめの、一時だけの / Like Father Like Son『そして父になる』/ Nobody Knows『誰も知らない』/ highlight ～に光を当てる / challenge the assumption that ～という前提に異議を唱える / blood is thicker than water《ことわざ》血は水よりも濃い
These themes resonate with my own connection to Japan and Japanese Studies. As a high school student twenty years ago, I decided to study Japanese at the University of Cambridge. I had no Japanese friends or ancestry, just a desire to learn a language that seemed both challenging and fascinating. By chance, I came to know a young woman from Okinawa who invited me to stay in her family home. In time, I was welcomed into a second Okinawan home and yet another host family in Tokyo. These experiences of living with real families in Japan were illuminating and undoubtedly shaped my desire to pursue an academic career. In 2017, I returned to the University of Cambridge as a lecturer of modern and contemporary Japanese literature and culture, including cinema. My research focuses on fiction by Okinawan, ethnic Korean, and transborder writers.
resonate with ～と共鳴する、響き合う / ancestry 祖先 / desire 切望 / fascinating 魅力的な、興味を引く / by chance たまたま / in time そうこうするうちに / and yet another さらにまた次の / illuminating 啓発的な、目覚めさせる / undoubtedly 間違いなく / pursue a ... career …な職業の道へ進む / lecturer 講師 / literature 文学 / focus on ～に重点を置く / transborder 国境を越えた、越境者の
There is an Okinawan expression, ichariba chōdee, that means ‘once we have met, we become family’. The comparable Japanese phrase might be ‘deaebe kyōdai’. Just as the international circulation of Koreeda’s films has opened up his images of contemporary Japanese society to global audiences, I hope that this column will invite new connections between the writer, her readers, and our relationships with Japan. Yoroshiku o-negai shimasu!
comparable 同等の、相当するような / circulation 流通、流布 / open up ～を広げる