On to the Next Step: Lives After 3.11

(Kaze no tayori)

- JAPAN / 2015 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 180 min

Director, Editing, Narration, Producer: Tashiro Yoko
Photography: Tashiro Yoko, Hitotsubo Yusuke
Sound Editor: Yanagiya Fumihiko
Production Company, Source: Kaze no Eigasha

This film follows the lives of three families at their occupations in the two years following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake: Yamada Farm in the Hokkaido town of Onuma, where they raise sheep and goats to make cheese; a bakery on the banks of Lake Toya that uses natural yeast; and a fishing family in Oma, Aomori—a town on the shore opposite Onuma. The film also shows the opposition of and court trials related to the construction of the Oma Nuclear Power Plant, including life at a place called Asako House, built on the land of the planned plant. But the camera’s persistent focus is the everyday life and daily conversations of the people in these places, with the anxiety about nuclear power present as an undercurrent throughout.

[Director’s Statement] March 11, 2011. The overwhelming shock of what happened left me paralyzed. It seemed like the dark hours of anxiety and anger would never end. I asked myself if there was anything I could do—and my answer was to document.

Alongside these emotions I felt an urge to work with people whom I had come to know through film, so while things were still turbulent just after the middle of March, I hesitantly wrote to some of them. The response was positive. I was immensely encouraged, and in April we began shooting with the idea to start off by simply listening. For all the people we met, there were as many worlds, as many stories. I constantly reevaluated my choices about what I should film, why I was filming, and where I stood in relation to it all. The time I spent with the subjects of the film in their respective fields gradually brought everything into focus. And it made me feel that I wanted to live fully, doing my best in everything, sharing joy and humor with others—no matter what I might face.

After two years of shooting I had 400 hours of footage. A three-hour film was born from the many days I spent immersed in the material. Thanks to those who were willing to screen this long film and help me move ahead, I am now able to travel the country with On to the Next Step: Lives after 3.11. Japan is big, and it is beautiful. During this journey to share the film, I have had the chance to personally experience the deliciousness of Japan’s food, the liveliness of its lands, and the depth of its culture. Although I still do question myself as always, now, together with the people who are living through this generation with me, a new story has begun to be told through the tools of film, and spaces for new encounters and new relationships are being created. It seems that I have finally reached the next step.

- Tashiro Yoko

Tashiro encountered documentary film in 1996 at the first Shintoku Kuso-no-mori Film Festival, held in Shintoku Town, Hokkaido. Afterwards, she learned filmmaking with director Fujimoto Yukihisa, as assistant director on Nature in Perpetual Motion (1999), and by helping with editing, postproduction, and screening for Mining in the Dark (2001), all the while also serving on the administrative staff of the Kuso-no-mori Film Festival. In 2002, she began production on her directorial debut, completing the 129-minute The Imagined Forest in 2008. She has travelled the country for independent screenings and showings at mini-theaters and film festivals. She began production on the current film in March 2011, at the same time also forming her own production company, Kaze no Eigasha. The current film was completed in the fall of 2015.