Film Review: Stories From Tohoku

By Kevin Young

Gaman, “Enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity” is the Buddhist term that depicts the morals of the Japanese following the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. The documentary Stories From Tohoku, explores the various tales of the Japanese people returning to their mundane lifestyles after surviving through these devastating catastrophes.

This is a heartfelt film communicating how the Japanese people persevered during these troubling times. It focuses on the people from the Tohoku village, the coastline village that was turned into vestiges of the past.

There’s the story of an elderly woman turning salvaged kimonos far too soiled to wear again into dresses for miniature dolls to gift people in America who contributing aid to the local village. The film highlights the story of a chef who during his time living in an evacuation center woke up at 5 a.m. everyday to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the 200 people living in this facility for six straight months.

In the city of Fukushima, the film tells the tale of how children do not play outside in fear of radiation. One mother in particular goes to the length of changing the school her daughter attends and plans on moving out of the city. An organic farmer informs viewers of how his business is struggling despite being miles away from the nuclear plant. Buyers no longer wish to purchase products from him anymore.

The film puts an emphasis on all of the charity work that the USA is doing to improve the quality of life for these people. Photo journalists have brought students to help with reconstructing buildings in Tohoku. Olympic gold medalist, and Japanese-American, Kristi Yamaguchi along with other Hawaiian natives traveled to Japanese schools to entertain and share the Hawaiian culture with the children.

The film shows how friends can be made after disasters. People come together to help one another in harmony. Two elderly women became close friends because they have no family nearby. They lived next to one another while living in a temporary housing slum.

The film proves that networking interactions can plant seeds to blossom into more innovative ideas. The chef that cooked three meals a day for victims opened up his very own cafe on the recommendation of a relief volunteer.

Yet the idea that stands out the most is the idea that these Japanese not only still require assistance to get back on their feet but they love it when visitors come to see them. They love to share their culture and talk about their experiences. It causes them to feel significant and happy.

This is a great warming heartwarming film that not only shares the stories of triumph but also educating people about what’s going on in Japan today.

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