The unbearable lightness of corn

When we think of art, it is often envisioned as ethereal as floating clouds. I often see it as insubstantial as mist that escapes my grasp. My perspective, however, has started to change while spending time at Atelier Hiko, especially while witnessing how Yacchan creates his artwork. 

My first meeting with the artist Yacchan arose from a misunderstanding. I was riding my bike to Atelier Hiko and thinking about its nagaiya architecture and how it needed restoration work. As I approached, I was excited to hear “Dang Dang Dang,” the steady sound of a carpenter swinging a hammer to a wall. There was a pause and then “Dang Dang Dang,” repeated in cadence. I wanted to find the carpenter and discuss the renovation work.

As I entered the atelier, I saw burly-figured altelier member Yacchan was intensely creating a unique art form. Highly focused, he was knocking in some small colored nails, one by one. His intensity was underscored by the “Fu Fu Fu” of his exhalation at each fall of the hammer.

What I took for granted as the sound of a carpenter’s labor was actually art under creation. I was fooled by my own preconception that art must be a lofty process. How embarrassing is that! The act of hammering nails is not merely limited to construction work, it can be artistic impression. Since Yachan was not knocking nails into the wall, I wondered what medium he was working with to make such a “Dang Dang Dang?” 

Surprisingly, it came from what looked like a thin cardboard tube that seemed to be composed only of many layers of paper. How could thin paper resonate with the sound of hammering?

Yacchan had applied a generous amount of glue mixed with dye to penetrate the surface of the tube which soaked into the absorbent material. After letting it dry, it become almost as solid and durable as dried bamboo stalks. Through this unexpected process, the potential of paper as a canvas for art was unlocked.

For over one-and-one-half hours, Yacchan kept sitting still there, repeating the same sequence – knocking the nails into the paper tube. He relaxed his shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and relied on the weight and force of the hammer to do the work but sweat beaded upon his forehead belying his intensity on this early summer afternoon.

Since the paper tube tends to roll, it is unstable to drive a nail onto it. On top of that, Yacchan holds the paper tube with left hand while having the next 10 pieces of nails to be knocked. At the same time he swings the hammer down with right hand, aiming for the spot he wants to hit. I noticed the intense effort he made to line up the colorful nails in evenly-spaced rows of the same color.

I decided to throw away my preconceptions and experience the scene unfolding in front of me. I wanted to understand why Yacchan is so determined at his task. Was it perhaps the joy in creating that had him so deeply immersed in his art work?

As I was watching the precision of how his right and left hands coordinated together, Ishizaki-san told me that Yacchan’s favorite food was corn, and I immediately perceived it! The shape of the paper tube and the spacing between the nails are reminiscent of the ordered rows of corn on the cob! Had I solved it? If one can create something he loves entirely by relying on himself, then his happiness would be relatable. 

“For Yacchan, the nails may represent ‘unreasonable things’. Every time a countless number of ‘unreasonable things’ are knocked into the paper tube, he feels slightly relieved and his favorite food, corn, can be sublimated.” said Ishizaki-san. I learned from her that Yacchan first started creating his “corn art” when going through a difficult and chaotic time during his middle school graduation. For him, it was an “unreasonable thing” that people had to part from each other at certain times in their lives.  

Another reason may lie in the work itself, I pondered. Yacchan knocks the sharp, painful end of the nail into the center of the paper tube, leaving the flat smooth head of the colored nails in orderly rows on the curved tube. As a result, countless myriad-colored circles are lined up in an orderly manner on its surface. The sharp ends, like thorns that can cause pain, are safely hidden away within. 

Yacchan continues to work with a serious expression on his face and I wondered what emotions fueled his art. Whether it was satisfaction or emotional unrest, like the interior of the paper tube, it was impossible to know what lies beneath. By the time he completed filling the corn full of nails, it was many times heavier than the original paper tube. He however stood up vigorously from his chair with lightness as if unburdened of a weight. I imagined I could feel his satisfaction. 

Within that specific moment, the unbearable weight accumulated from numerous “unreasonable things” he must face, may have partially departed from Yacchan. Yet can he reduce that heaviness without going through the similar process again and again? 

Then, another question arose. How should we confront works of art? Sometimes it feels unobtainable, like grasping at a cloud, and sometimes it we feel a deep meaning and weight that becomes anticipation. Despite attempts by scholars to categorize, define and interpret art objectively, subjective judgments differ depending on each person’s experiences. This is never clearer than with the types of “art brutal” that is created within the ateliers of special artists. In this way, can we see that a heavy corn cob of paper and nails might convey an unbearable lightness?

If you approach works by tossing aside your preconceptions, and then start by embracing the work and exploring how it was created, you can then experience the art through your own lens.

In this way, you may feel a weight and be shaken by your own ambivalent thoughts or sorrowful experiences and feel unable to bear their weight. That is an art experience.



(日本語 編集協力:  石﨑史子)

















Please enrich me through the power of your words

I was honored to borrow from Atelier Hiko a collection of Haruna-san’s poems. Upon reading the first few entries, I told Ishizaki-san that I am amazed by the cleverness in her writing. Despite being based mostly on very common daily-use words, the topics were as diverse and compelling as ghosts, heaven, Osaka Pro Wresting, hiking, hot spring baths and birthdays. They were composed into slogans, poems, songs and letters.

As a foreigner who feels the “fish out of water” experience, I’m just grateful to read these thought that I find so genuine and powerful.

Among her fun writings, one poem caught my eye.



Meaning dream.

That’s impossible.

It’s messy.

(I’m) still angry.

I will never forgive you.

That’s impossible.

Even if you cry, it’s probably your fault, teacher.

Why don’t you email me?

Hey, teacher.

Next time, you can’t do that again.  

Do you understand?

I’m serious about it.

I won’t forgive you until you cry.
It’s impossible even if you show your guts.

I don’t need a slogan. (*Haruna-san writes slogans to cheer up herself and others.)

That email thing,

Really make it happen, okay?

Make sure to keep doing it until the end.

I won’t forgive if you give up.

Also I want to get you angry.


At first glance, I felt that in this poem, she was longing for communication with someone whom she is close to. After not obtaining what she expected, she used strong words expressing the feelings of being hurt and angry.

However, the phrase “I won’t forgive you until you cry” resonated with my own experiences. I recalled a quarrel with my childhood best friend, and a mischievous image of myself emerged. No matter how many times the other apologized, I would pretend to not forgive my friend just to gain more attention from her. Of course I had already forgiven her – that is friendship. It was only at this moment that I started to see the hyperbole in my youthful sentiment.

Did Haruna-san also feel the same way when she wrote this poem?

After reading the poem the second time, I felt that the author has an enviable sincerity. If possible, I would like to borrow Haruna-san’s frankness by saying directly what I want to say. As adults, we often live our lives with too much caution. In a society full of polite behavior, isn’t it really embarrassing to express negative emotions?

If something that I don’t like happened, if something made me angry, if something broke my heart, I would like to say to the other person, “I won’t forgive you until you cry.” That way, both the other person and I would be able to reach a clear resolution (and perhaps a big hug).

I became aware of Haruna’s candor when I visited Ishizaki-san at Atelier Hiko for the fourth time.

It was a Saturday when the largest number of members attends the studio. While composing new poems, Haruna-san talked with other members about her concerns regarding a recent personal matter. Surrounded by a caring atmosphere, I was trusted to be part of the group, even while I was taking notes next to her. As I listened, I couldn’t help but feel that she carried such a sense of courage to openly discuss her disquiet with others.

“Do you have any secret, Haruna-san?” I asked curiously.

“No,” Haruna answered firmly.

I didn’t exactly understand at the time. However, as I’m reading the poetry collection now, I inevitably think of the reason she came up with such a solid answer. Maybe it’s because everything that came to her mind, including personal issues, worries, and anger, was all written down.

Well then, Haruna-san, I want to share in the power of your words! Keep creating and I will continue reading your poetry collections.



(日本語 編集協力:  石﨑史子)




















あれ メールは













Warming-up Is Essential

At first glance, it might seem that trampolines and the spark of artistic creation are entirely unrelated. I discovered how intimately and interestingly connected they could be. When one speaks of artistic creation, it tends to evoke the image of someone peacefully painting in front of a canvas or sculpting clay. So, when I visited the Atelier Hiko, a small-size black trampoline set in the corner attracted my attention. One might wonder what it is doing in an art studio.

Machitaka-san, who attends Artier Hiko every Tuesday, is an active fourteen-year-old boy sporting surprisingly sinewy muscles within his thin body. At 4p.m., he came barging in to the Atelier with the force of a typhoon. Right away, he started to arrange the spacing of the furniture to his own proper proportions – all the chairs in line, the desks divided by the proper distance and everything in its place.

“What is going on?” I thought. As I was trying to figure out the situation, he had already picked up the trampoline from the corner. Very conscious of his surroundings, he made precise adjustments to the positions of the surrounding chairs and desks before placing the trampoline in the middle of the room. Then from a menu-like booklet, he selected a picture card representing a music song. He handed his choice to Ishizaki-san, which I perceived as another significant step in his preparations.

With great anticipation, Michitaka-san went to the trampoline. As the music began, he hopped on with a conspicuous sense of happiness. As if he were a metronome, the piano played along to his well-controlled rhythm. His T-shirt swayed loosely, its slogan “Just do it” seemed to match his dynamic energy.

“He is making a sequence of fast body movements as well as spontaneously incorporating the changes!” I thought. The image reminded me of a trampoline gymnast. On top of controlling the speed of his jumps, I guessed he might be targeted to achieve some awesome movements.

His control reminded me of gymnasts’ determination and skill.  For a moment, I didn’t know whether I was in an atelier or at a sports studio. I wondered what acrobatics he might achieve upon a full-sized trampoline. As an audience, I was eager to applaud his wonderful performance!

Jumping quickly, the excitement built up. Machitaka-san’s face blushed warmly and a bright smile emerged. “So is Machitaki-san, so is Hiko-kun…” as Ishizaki-san’s song drew to a close, his pace accordingly slowed down. I thought his energy was spent, but he promptly went to a nearby desk. With vigorous force, he started to draw with black ink.    

Within just six seconds, a painting began to take shape on the paper. Four circles, reminiscent of the Olympic logo, yet imperfect in shape, were linked together. Each brush stroke conveyed a strong force. “Wait, is it painting or calligraphy?” I pondered. In the way it was painted, it could be seen as four geometric shapes yet it could also be read as four written characters. Zero or circle, character or image, it was impossible for me to decide.

As I was trying to seek for an answer, I found out that they were high-fiving, as if celebrating an awesome accomplishment. “That’s it!” I came to a realization. The art work that Michitaka-san made was not just a solo work; instead, it was a fruitful result of his teamwork with Ishizaki-san.

It was the culmination of arranging the space and the canvas, moving within that space, connecting through music and finally creating his own unique art. For this artist, I felt the whole room was his canvas.

Is this any different than the great calligraphers, preparing their brushes, inks and paper and meditating before making the first brush stroke?

A peaceful meditation, playing an instrument, taking a stroll or intensely bouncing on a trampoline, warming-up is an essential part in the act of artistic creation.



(日本語 編集協力:  石﨑史子)




待ちきれない道隆さんはいよいよ楽しそうにトランポリンで飛び跳ね始めた。石﨑さんの弾くピアノ音楽とともに、「Just do it」と書かれたTシャツが彼のジャンプに合わせて上下に揺れていた。音楽のテンポが速くなると、彼は高く飛び上がるほど興奮し、体の動きも活発になっていた。足を前に蹴り出し、手も振っていた。









The Twirling Artist

Aki-san is quite tall. I wondered if it was because of his height that he developed a unique perspective from others. I found out he possesses many more abilities.

The first time when I visited Atelier Hiko, I was immediately attracted by a piece of Aki-san’s painting that was set at the entrance. On a one-meter square canvas, there was drawn a blue human face, composed of several circles and no pupils in the eyes.

At a glance, I felt a bit scared, however, I couldn’t help but continue to look and discern more details. Directly beneath the human face was a square-shaped white space occupying the center of the canvas, completely without paint. Meanwhile, outside the white space was filled with blue.

If there was a human face, shouldn’t there be human hands, body or legs, I wondered? Yet where were these parts? The more I searched for a specific answer, the more chaotic it seemed to me. My usual thought processes failed to apply to this scenario. 

As I was gazing at the painting with confusion, Aki-san, instead, was confidently adding colors on the canvas. “Sa, sa, sa,” he hummed. Without hesitation, he quickly moved the paintbrush in random-seeming strokes. The newly painted blue covered the previous one on the canvas, so the two shades of blue quickly overlapped each other.

Rather than regarding it as painting, in my perspective, the paintbrush, as if it was not trapped by anything, was freely dancing on the stage of the white canvas. I was so immersed in watching this scenario that I didn’t notice Aki-san had left his seat.

Just like an orchestra conductor, Aki-san raised his index fingers up in the air. Following that, I heard music played on the piano. From the back of the room, Ishizaki-san was sitting in front of the white piano, playing pleasant music while singing a song. The name Aki was included in her lyrics.

What happened? Did the two of them just spontaneously mirror each other’s actions?

I was amazed at how incredible it was. Aki-san started dancing to the music, spinning like a ballroom performer, and spun to the back of the room.  Humming along with the on-going music, he picked up a reed pen and began drawing with ink on a piece of paper set on the table.   

Far different from what was painted about the human face, the objects drawn on the paper were so much more recognizable. The shapes of the piano Ishizaki-san was playing, a dessert plate and a cup were drawn with lifelike proportions, in his own unique style.

The outlines of objects in Aki-san’s drawings, rather than being a boundary between objects and space, seem to create connection from one object to another. Furthermore, presenting the objects through this impressionism of their outlines seems to provide some sense of freedom.

I can’t help but wonder if that impression remained so strong from his observation of objects while he orbited the studio. While I tend to get caught up in the details of art, Aki-san seems to embrace a more flexible view of things. I’m so jealous of that freedom!



(日本語 編集協力:  石﨑史子)














A Superhero On Rooftop

Feng was only seven years old but he was a superhero. His power were mainly that of being immune to any appeal beginning with the words, “Do not.”

“Do not touch your food with those dirty bare hands again!” “Do not dare swim in that filthy river again!” “Do not go out onto the plains alone again!” “Do not start a fire again!” So many “do nots.”

Perhaps those words have power coming from gentle mothers who indulge their child or stern fathers who give wise warnings. But for Feng, these admonishments came all too often from his grandpa and the many villagers who felt they had a role. They often said, “It takes a village to punish a child.”

After so many warnings and “Do nots,” the words, and the ear-boxing by the village elders, had lost the power to discourage the curiosity and sense of adventure in a young boy. Instead, “Do not” seemed to Feng like an invitation and became the source of the young hero’s superpowers. It instilled in him the will to explore breathtakingly memorable but forbidden experiences.

Two young boys ran through the yards and around the baked mud walls with sticks serving as laser guns in their imaginary games. “I got you, fall down!” called out the elder boy, Wei.

“No way, you missed,” retorted Feng. “But it’s so hot, lets go over there.”

He indicated the cool shade near the tall barn. Wei wanted to resist but sweat was streaming down his sun-browned face and he followed the younger boy. “OK, but I won.”

Though the days in Gansu’s high desert plains are usually comfortably warm year round, this was one of those days where the plains were baked under the relentless midsummer sunshine.

The two boys flopped down against the barn wall feeling the cool shade. Some curious goats came out of the barn nuzzling the boys for food. All they could do was to pull up handfuls of the brown, tough grass, the only thing to grow in the arid land.

Feng looked up in the clear blue sky with the soft cottony clouds. “I am going to join the airforce and learn to fly. Then I will fly to space like the astronauts.”

“I already can fly,” quipped the older boy.

“No way! You can’t fly.”

“Shh, its a secret,” said Wei conspiratorially. “I did last night.”

“Prove it.”

Wei pursed his lips together and looked away, then shot back “I climbed up on the barn, jumped off and flew all around the village.”

“Oh! Like the kung fu masters in movies?” the younger boy was leaping with excitement. “Then teach me!” Feng jumped eyes wide, glinting with excitement.

Wei already was beginning to regret having made such a claim because Feng was more stubborn than the goats when he got his mind on something.

Feng was looking to the roof and reaching for handholds to try to climb. “Is this where you climbed up? Let’s go.”

Feng tried to clamber up the rough baked mud wall but could not get more than a meter above the ground.

“Do not try to climb the barn, you are too little.” scolded Wei. He did not know that Feng was a superhero and that he had just unlocked his powers.

Feng looked longingly up at the barn roof. He was feeling frustration and almost in tears at not being able to climb. Suddenly his face lit up. Feng got a gleam in his eye. He started running excitedly to the neighbor’s house with Wei tagging along telling him to give up. He went to the side of a shed and returned dragging an improvised ladder. It was made of discarded lumber and bamboo, reused nails and a few repurposed pieces of baling wire.

“You can’t use that, it is junk.” said Wei.

That did not stop Feng from dragging it over to the barn with his tanned arms straining under the weight. Despite Wei’s feeble attempts to discourage him, Feng struggled and strained and in an all-out superhuman effort, the rickety ladder thumped against the edge of the high roof over the baked-mud wall.

Feng looked up reluctantly at the rickety ladder and the great height of the barn roof. He estimated that the ladder was at least twice his age and that the roof was six of him tall. These were reasons to give him pause.

“Do not go up there.” said Wei. This of course gave the boy all the courage he needed.

“Hold the ladder,” Feng said. He started clambering up the improvised ladder.

“Come back down here, the old folks will box your ears!” Wei blustered.

But it seemed nothing could stop the younger boy from undertaking his great adventure. The fear of feeling the slap of grandpa’s belt could not outweigh the reward of adventure.

Feng was teetering as the rickety ladder bowed and swayed. He was half way up by the time he heard a creaking sound followed by a snap as one of the rungs gave way. He froze.

This first-grader’s hands were slippery with sweat that he tried to convince himself was from the scorching midday heat and not from the fear of the height.

Even though Wei was only a year older than Feng, he seemed to have developed an extra decade worth of mischief. Seeing Feng paralyzed with fear, he could not resist shaking the ladder. He hoped the boy would fall from this height or climb down.

But Feng could see that, at nearly four times his own height, a fall to the packed clay ground would be unwise.

“You are too scared, so climb down.” He looked down to see the older boy shaking the ladder.

Feng came back to life, actively swaying his butt from right to left like a metronome in opposition to the undulations of the ladder and then finally he found his balance and new courage. He giggled loudly as he continued clambering up the ladder.

“Do not be stupid! You will fall!” said in a voice filled with authoritative sounding bluster attempting to hide the boy’s nervousness. If the younger boy successfully reached the top, he would have to follow him up there too. Wei’s brow furrowed in worry and regret. It is ironic because it was his exaggerated claims and challenging dare that set Feng off on this adventurous climb.

Feng loudly cheered as he finally reached the rooftop. He landed with a heavy bang. “I did it!” echoed his ecstatic call from the rooftop.

“Be quiet.” Wei hissed as he saw two village women crossing the yard.

In response to the tumult on the rooftop, the chickens sheltering inside the barn from the midday sun suddenly flapped their wings, clucked out of fear and scurried away from their refuge, raising their own indignant protests.

Feng squatted on the straw-made rooftop while he gained his composure. He could see the two aunties striding rapidly and clucking as loud as the hens. But he felt he was already flying high above them. He looked up and saw miles of desert plains without any sign of human habitation. He saw the vast plains of exotic yellows and reds stretching into the distance as he had never seen it before.

“Wei, come up here, it’s just like we saw on the TV about the rovers, it’s Mars!”

Wei saw the two villagers now walking quickly over to the barn, pointing at the roof.

“You will get us in trouble!” Wei scolded. “Climb down or I am taking the ladder. Three…”

“I won’t need it,” shouted Feng joyously. “I will fly to Mars. Come with me, Brother!”


“To Mars!”

“Oh?” Wei suddenly was captivated and swept into the boy’s enthusiasm. It was often so contagious that sometimes when Grandpa was about to punish the boy, his earnestness would make the old man burst out in laughter instead of anger.

Staring at the peaceful reddish land, Feng felt its irresistible attraction. All the former wild adventures suddenly seemed commonplace compared to the adventure of flying to the red sands.

Wei was under Feng’s spell and started to climb the rungs. He was halted suddenly with the tweak of his tender ear in the aunties’ strong grasp.

“Get down here now, you foolish boy.” The other woman called.

They all looked up in horror and saw Feng with his arms out like airplane wings. He was looking toward the horizon and moving to the edge of the roof as if in a trance.

“I didn’t fly. Do not jump.” Wei called out.

The confession came too late. Feng heedlessly bounded towards the edge of the roof and then he disappeared from from sight.

The aunties screamed out and Wei began to wail in piteous tears. They abandoned Wei to his sorrows and began waddling like ducks around the side of the barn, expecting to be greeted by a horrendous scene.

A low cack-cack-cackling came from inside the barn.

Feng could feel the rough straw of the hay loft where he fell through the thatched straw roof. A hen cocked its head curiously looking down at the boy. There was commotion below.

“How could you lie to Feng like that? Boys can’t fly!”

Feng and the hen both looked out from the cracks in the barn boards and could see the women boxing Wei’s ears.

Mars would have to wait.

The Qaidam Basin in North Tibetan Plateau is a Martian analogue. 

Crossing the Divide

A film review of Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.

Art-house movies, made primarily for aesthetic reasons, enjoy the privilege of not following mainstream narrative formulas. Much of the Asian arthouse fare centers on family drama as low-budget vehicles to gain international film festival attention. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s tenth work is an exception to this trend.

Shedding light on the impact of chance encounters, the 2021 Japanese drama, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy偶然與想像 ), weaves an anthological tapestry of tales encompassing a love triangle, a failed seduction and a romantic encounter that results from a misunderstanding.

Unlocking The Charm of Arthouse Movies

It can be a great challenge to define the theme of arthouse films especially when it’s divided into three independent segments.

Encapsulated in the three short stories, Magic, Door Wide Open, and Once Again, this film presented three female protagonists at the age of 20s, 30s and 40s. Coincidentally or not, the chronological order did deliver a sense of growing maturity in facing relationships.

While Hamaguchi often chooses female characters, his works, including this one, are not feminist stories but are reminiscent in sensibility to the works of Eric Rohmer – seeking to reveal the interior imagination of characters.

The movie’s Japanese title is Guzen to Sozo (lit. Coincidence and Imagination) but it seems more like karma that mere coincidence, because it unfolds a philosophical manifesto – both small miracles and devastating tragedies can be born from a minor coincidence. In Buddhist teachings, misconceptions, illusions and desires, especially about the self, bring about suffering.

Each of the three stories explored characters seeking to transcend the isolation in their lives.The social distance in modern society, especially in Japan, is a burden leaving many to feel isolated. It is a scary thing to reach across the divide to seek a connection.

That said, the initial scene of the second installment where a university classroom conducted a group assignment – a teacher asked students the question of “What makes people feel distant?” – could be a key to comprehend the movie theme. It almost seems like a throwaway scene, as none of these are characters within the film yet it might set the tone for the central theme binding the three seemingly disparate works.

Minimalist In Narrative

The aesthetics of minimalism widely defined the production design in this movie through its best use of limited budget, prioritizing the essential and maintaining simple forms.

Director Hamaguchi addressed each segment simply with three characters and no more than five scenes. One essential scene dominated most of the screen time of each short. A young entrepreneur’s company, a college professor’s office and a housewife’s home. Despite contained settings, these key scenes were charged with dramatic and enticing twists in conversation.

With almost no camera movement and restrained use of editing, Hamaguchi put more emphasis on the actors’ talents, which offers moviegoer an experience akin to watching stage plays with riveting performances.

Some reviewers criticized the last segment as low-energy and flat compared to the first two stories, but it is carried by delightful performances and it perhaps most deeply explores the themes most essential to the film’s title.

The movie is a delicate presentation that does take a mature exploration into the suffering of the heart faced with the division of society.

Synopses (Spoiler Alert)


At the outset, the story showed Meiko (Kotone Furukawa), a model in her early twenties, making poses at a fashion shoot. She had an older friend Tsugumi (Hyunri) who shared the ride home after the shoot. In this taxi journey, Tsugumi revealed a romantic encounter that she felt could be the love of her life. Meiko prompted her friend to tell all and we learn that her date, Kaz, was still carrying a wound from his previous love.

After the friends departed, Meiko gave the taxi a different destination. She confronted Kaz (Ayumu Nakajima), a handsome entrepreneur, at his office and it was revealed she was the ex-love who broke his heart.

Both former lovers still harbored unresolved pain in their break up and, as the daggers flew, Meiko came to realize her past immaturity and a penchant for hurting the ones she loved. The two come to an embrace and perhaps renewed passions, but they were interrupted and Meiko escaped into the night.

Meiko put her self-reflection to the test during a chance encounter of the love triangle. Meiko both realized that she truly loved Kaz and wanted desperately to recapture his heart, but developed the mature insight not to hurt these two people she loved most, removing herself from the triangle.

Door Wide Open

Following the sense of a female’s maturation, the next segment portrayed a more sophisticated character who still lacked spiritual growth. It also explored the effects of coincidence.

An undergraduate student and housewife, Nao (Katsuki Mori), felt isolated from younger classmates, had an unsatisfying friends-with-benefits affair with a handsome but underachieving student Sakai (Shouma Kai). Sakai convinced her to conspire against Professor Segawa (Kiyohiko Shubukawa) who he claimed wronged him.

Segawa was known for his open door as he would rather expose even indelicate matters that conduct business behind closed doors. Nao attempted to seduce the professor by reading an erotic scene from the professor’s award-winning novel, and attempted to close his office door to offer the hint of intimate interaction.

The professor, however, seeming to take the bait of the “honey-trap”, approached her but, instead, reopened his door. In consideration of his reserve, Nao exposed to him the seduction scheme, which inspired them to reach a mutual agreement. He confessed he admired Nao for acting and thinking without being bound by social rules that distance people.

Despite his restraint and honor, a coincidence turned their unrequited relation into a public scandal ending his career and her marriage. Years later, Nao randomly encountered Sakai who had become a socially successful editor but had no interest in literature.

Undergraduate student Nao (Katsuki Mori), reads from the award-winning novel written by her previous professor Segawa (Kiyohiko Shubukawa).

Once Again

Injuries, especially those of the heart, can leave deep scars. This third segment explored a creative human solution to ease the emptiness of loss.

Set within a sci-fi premise that a computer virus disabled all digital connection, Moka (Fusako Urabe) in her 40s travelled to a high-school reunion in a failed attempt to reconnect with the love of her life. Moka was convinced when she randomly ran into a woman on an escalator. Isolated in the role of housewife, the lonely Aya was obviously overwhelmed and bewildered as she hadn’t met teen friends for long while. Being polite to the woman who she did not recognize, Aya assumed Moka must be her former classmate so she invited Moka to her home for tea.

After revealing their mistaken identities, Aya came up with a creative idea to fulfill the void Moka had endured for decades. For a brief moment through a surreal role-play, they both found a warm closure to console their unhappy souls.

Moka (right, Fusako Urabe) mistook Nana (Aoba Kawai) as her first love. They made a role play to find closure to their life-long regrets.


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