盆唄 BON-UTA, A Song from Home
- Sakurazaka Theater
During Obon, everyone in the village dances “Bon Odori”. The dance is enlivened by “Bon Uta”, traditional songs passed down from generation to generation in each region, each with its unique charm. Interestingly, the term “Bon” used here has little religious significance. It’s a day when people dance with joy while welcoming their ancestors but still let loose and dance without worry. It’s a time when making noise and having fun are allowed, and it happens only once a year. So, how do they spend the rest of the year?
The film portrays the people of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, who lost their homes after the nuclear reactor exploded during the earthquake. Their homes were scattered, and they could no longer gather together to practice singing, drumming, or dancing, and certainly, Bon Odori couldn’t be held anymore. “Bon Uta” is in danger of disappearing if things continue this way. From there, the movie delves into the long, profound history of the people of Futaba, who have endured various losses through generations. Behind the songs, hometowns, and lives, one can sense the presence of Japan as a country. Despite their losses, the powerful and vibrant “Bon Uta” created by these resilient people who never gave up on life reveals the coexistence of light and darkness within the nation.
- NAKAE Yuji
And “Bon Uta” Continues
For 3 years starting from 2015, we documented the efforts of Mr. YOKOYAMA Hisakatsu and his group to preserve the traditional Bon dance of Futaba Town in Fukushima Prefecture. During that time, the entire area of Futaba Town was designated as a difficult-to-return zone due to the nuclear disaster. People like Mr. Yokoyama who had evacuated from Futaba faced the challenge of showing their identification when entering their own land. When they entered Futaba, they chose not to wear protective clothing. “We got used to it. It’s okay for everyone else to wear it though”, they said. Perhaps it’s just they didn’t want to admit that their hometown of Futaba had been contaminated. Starting a documentary is easy, but finishing it is difficult. In my search for an ending, I proposed, “Can we return to Futaba for just one day and have a Bon dance?” Mr. Yokoyama responded, “I think that’s impossible”. I explained, “I want to use the Bon dance in Futaba as the closing scene of the film”. And he replied, “It’s not feasible. No one is coming back”. While, in the summer of 2023, I received a call from Mr. Yokoyama. He told me, “This year, we’re going to have the Bon dance in front of Futaba Town’s train station. We’re also going to do the dance in front of the ‘Yagura’ (Bon tower) like we did in the film”. And he sounded happy. The Bon dance brings together those who evacuated and even those who passed away. Everyone gathers, and the Bon dance continues.