鬼に訊け 宮大工 西岡常一の遺言 An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka

  • An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka
  • An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka
  • An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka
  • An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka
  • An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka
2012 / Documentary / 88min G
Available Worldwide (except Japan)
English, Spanish (Latin America), Indonesian, Thai, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese


A documentary woven with the words of the last miyadaiku and narratives from people with deep connections, telling the story of his life and work.

The miyadaiku are skilled carpenters involved in the construction and restoration of shrines and temples. Their work encompasses world heritage sites, national treasures, and culturally significant buildings, requiring a broad range of knowledge in fields such as architecture, religious studies, and history, as well as advanced technical expertise. The documentary is described as weaving together the words of NISHIOKA Tsunekazu, such as "A thousand years of life exists in a thousand-year-old tree" and "Wood surpasses iron", along with interviews with people connected to him. The film is highly recommended by the architectural significance venue, Fukaya Cinema, which operates in a renovated Edo-period sake brewery. NISHIOKA Tsunekazu, known as the "last master carpenter" contributed to the reconstruction of the three-tier pagoda of Horinji and the Kondo and the West Pagoda of Yakushiji, passing down ancient temple architecture techniques from the Asuka period to future generations. The weight of his words carries profound meaning. The passage of time, extending to thousands of years into the future, emerges from the archival footage and interviews, creating an awe-inspiring portrayal of an immense flow of time.
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Director Profile


Born in 1942 in Osaka. After working at Iwanami Productions and Oshima Productions, he established a video production company in Osaka, where he produced television programs and video software. Some of his video works include "Miyadaiku Nishioka Tsunekazu no shigoto" and "Nishioka Tsunekazu jisha kenchiku kouza". Yamazaki is also an author with books such as "Miyadaiku Nishioka Tsunekazu no yuigon" and "Richo hakuji no furusato wo aruku" in his bibliography.
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An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka
NISHIOKA Tsunekazu
Fukaya Cinema: TAKEISHI Kenji
Fukaya Cinema: TAKEISHI Kenji

“Miyadaiku” is a carpenter engaged in the construction and restoration of shrines and temples. This profession involves not only working on World Heritage Sites, national treasures, and culturally designated buildings but also extends to other culturally significant structures, requiring extensive knowledge not only in architecture but also in religious studies and history. It is a highly skilled job.

In this documentary, we follow the late NISHIOKA Tsunekazu, a master carpenter (chief who leads a team of craftsmen). He undertook the reconstruction of three iconic Buddhist temple buildings in Nara Prefecture: the three-storied pagoda of Horinji Temple, Yakushiji Kondo, and Saito. These temples are among Japan’s most renowned historical structures, and by preserving and passing down the temple construction techniques since the Asuka period, NISHIOKA Tsunekazu showcased his exceptional expertise.

The documentary features valuable footage and testimonies of him working while he was alive, serving as a reminder of the importance of avoiding the modern tendency to prioritize technology solely for convenience and efficiency. Instead, the film emphasizes the notion that technology should also respect and sustain the life of trees. Through this, it sheds light on the significance of preserving a connection with nature and addresses the concerns of modern society.

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I’d like you to not just see Mr. Nishioka’s achievement in restoring the Garan of Yakushiji but to also sense what lies behind his words – a kind of “Embodied Philosophy”, when he speaks of the “life of wood”. With Mr. Nishioka, for the first time, I believe the concept of “the body” entered the realm of Japanese philosophy, and he is someone who has ventured that far. Additionally, it is the Japanese perspective on nature that has been continuing since the Asuka period. Japanese people haven’t discarded this aspect, they have been looking at trees and nature since the Asuka period. I believe that the craftsmanship and the way of perceiving things, which have been passed down through generations, have borne fruit in Mr. Nishioka. I would be delighted if you could explore these aspects.

A quote from an interview with Director YAMAZAKI Yuji about the film “An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka” – CINE REFLET interview article.

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  • Jamaica

    This was such a beautiful and moving documentary. To see Master Nishioka to do work that was not simply a job but a fundamental part of an entire philosophy was truly transformative to witness. Thank you so much for making this a part of the film festival!

  • Australia

    It was very interesting to learn about Nishioka’s architecture.

  • Canada

    So grateful to see the restoration and preservation of this magnificent ancient temple complex. The film gives us the perfect example of the gifts and wisdom that our elders bring to this world. Thank you also for the deep understanding and reverence for the natural world that this man and his crew have shown us.

  • United States of America

    Director Yamazaki, thank you so much for this wonderful film. Master Nishioka’s story was so inspiring and moving. His dedication to his craft was truly extraordinary, and I feel privileged to have gotten to know him a little through this documentary. The painstaking care these miyadaiku take in building these beautiful buildings meant to last centuries is truly remarkable. I hope next time I visit Nara prefecture, I will get a chance to see these temples in person.

  • Germany

    I learned a lot watching this documentary. Very interesting and informative. Thank you so much!

  • Mexico

    Me encantó todo el amor por la madera que transmite esta película; tanto en el respeto hacia los árboles como en la valoración de la madera y el darle un trato que permita aprovecharla al máximo. Las técnicas que comparte el maestro Nishioka, así como la historia de la arquitectura de los templos son maravillosas. Me emocionó mucho, puesto que el trabajo con la madera es algo que me une a mi familia, y que me ha permitido a lo largo de mi vida conocerme mejor a mí misma.

  • Hungary

    Beautiful documentary. Traditional craftsmen’s amazing knowledge should be preserved and practised. People nowadays tend to prefer the instant, disposable, soulless mass production… I agree with master Nishioka: creating lasting values with respect, care, and soul makes the world a better place. I love that it roots deep in Japanese culture that nature is god, it’s something we should never forget.

  • Germany
    Horst Fabry

    A very interesting film showing the devotion of using the historical techniques when creating and restoring this architectual masterpieces. I have visited all the mentioned temples and now next time i go there i will look at it with a totally different perspective.

  • Thailand

    love Japanese culture

  • Italy


  • Colombia

    Vivimos en un mundo tan automatizado y masivo, que muchas veces olvidamos la importancia de las cosas bien hechas, con dedicación, trabajo. Me parece un documental muy interesante, se pueden apreciar técnicas y materiales usados hace muchos años, donde se le daba mucho valor a la arquitectura, al arte de la madera, al miyadaiku. Me quedo con la frase “los árboles son dios”, para seguir recordando la importancia de esos seres que vemos en tantos lugares, pero que mucha gente no aprecia e intenta destruir para seguir construyendo y añadiendo más gris a este mundo que necesita más el verde de los árboles.

  • Argentina

    Excelente documental de un cosntructor y la forma milenaria de hacerlo, sobre todo con la madera y sus herramientas.

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