It Only Happens in the Movies? Japanese Cinema and Encounters:Wood Job

The end of January marks the start of the Japan Foundations acclaimed touring film festival. There is normally a theme and a collect of movies to match and depict contemporary and past of Japan. After the introduction an an anime called ‘Colourful’ featuring the famous director in attendance, Keiichi Hara, (directed, Shin Chan, Doremon). They have returned with two more anime’s for there line up.

Wood Job! directed by Shinobu Yaguchi (directed Waterboys) brought a stir to the ICA London last night. With a sold out screening of the movie which held promise of comedy and foresting. Looking at the preview photos it is apparent the film is about nature and country life. We follow protagonist the city kid Hirano Yuki falling in love with a photo of a girl in a lumberjack magazine.

Unlike most boys, he decides to become a lumberjack in hope of meeting this beautiful girl – he has no idea what he is in for.  He has to learn the physics of trees and why people become forresters. This deters him from the start and before running away he actually encounters the girl from the advertisement and finds out which area she is from. Skip a intensive learning course and he has graduated and now embarks a year placement at a village to learn the physical ins and outs of felling trees. This again wouldn’t be too bad if the region he chose (to find the love of his life) wasn’t in the most treacherous mountain with the supervisor who hates his guts.

Yoki takes to the village introduces him to the people and tells him not to think of running away and Yuki tries but when he figures it’s a 2 hour drive to the only bus stop he begins to realise he is needs to suck it up. For eating snakes to being munched on by leeches he grows up fast in the village and this becomes his way of living for a year. He appreciates the smell of the freshly cut trees, the money made for a finely kept log and even  gets to meet the girl of his dreams – a maid since she was dumped by the last trainee forester – ouch.

This film integrates so much comedy between Yuki and villagers from the culture clash and does so subtly as compared to Waterboys. The film strengthens the notion of looking after mother earth and making do with what you have. A group of Yuki’s town friends come to spectate his new life and disrespect his lifestyle which makes him question going back home. Without spoiling the ending he has a lot to prove to the village before being considered a true mountain man.

Watch it on 3rd Feb at the ICA buy tickets here:

https://www.ica.org.uk/whats-on/japan-foundation-touring-film-programme-wood-job-qa-0

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