Kamei Fumio Retrospective [Pre-War Documentary Films]

Kobayashi Issa

(“Shinano fudoki yori: Kobayashi Issa”)
- 1941 / B&W / 35mm / 27 min

Director: Kamei Fumio
Photography: Shirai Shigeru
Sound: Sakai Eizo
Music: Oki Masao
Narrator: Tokugawa Musei
Production Company: Culture Films Department, Toho
Source: National Film Center

This film is the second of a planned trilogy called The Natural Features of Shinano (“Shinano fudoki”), commissioned by the Nagano Prefectural Department of Tourism. The first in the series, Song of Ina (1940) has been lost. The third film, Town and Countryside (“Machi to noson”) was never completed. The film uses the haiku of early 19th century poet Kobayashi Issa as its motif to portray the lives of farmers residing deep in the mountains (Nagano Prefecture is 80% mountainous) surrounded by poverty and nature through the poetic images of cameraman Shirai Shigeru (Record of the Great Kanto Earthquake, 1923 and Crossing the Waves, 1937). The film is highly acclaimed as Japan’s first “poetic documentary” and many regard it as Kamei’s best work. After releasing this film, Kamei was unceremoniously arrested and sent off to jail on charges of plotting the promotion of Communist anti-war sentiment after the making of Shanghai. He is the only filmmaker to have spent time in jail during the War.

• Kamei Fumio Retrospective [Pre-War Works] Hiking Song | Shape without Shape | An Introduction to Radio: The Audience | School Broadcasting | The Geology of Fuji | Airspace [Pre-War Documentary Films] Shanghai | Peking | Fighting Soldiers | Kobayashi Issa [Post-War Documentary Films] A Japanese Tragedy | Children of the Base | The People of Sunagawa | Wheat Will Never Fall | Still It’s Good to Live | Record of Blood: Sunagawa | The World Is Terrified: The Reality of the “Ash of Death” | Living in a Rough Sea | Fluttering Pigeons | Voice of Hiroshima | Men Are All Brothers | Towards a World without Arms | All Must Live: People, Insects and Birds | All Living Things Are Friends—Lullabies of Birds, Insects and Fish [Feature Films] War and Peace | A Woman’s Life | Become a Mother, Become a Woman | Woman Walking Alone on the Earth [PR and Educational Films] Poem of Life | Invitation to Japanese Architecture | Penmanship | Quiet Construction Methods | Living with Ideas: A Profile of Sharp | Let’s Weave a Rainbow | Hong Kong, Taipei | Norihei Travel Manners | The Southern Cross Is Calling | Wishing for Tomorrow’s Happiness [Other Works] Underwear Makes the Woman | The Models and the Photographer | Kamei on Kamei: A Record of Yesterday’s Film Production Discussion Group | Human Conceit: The World of Director Kamei Fumio