Today, I will tell you about the 24 Eyes movie village on Shodoshima.
But first of all a few explanations of what lies beneath this odd appellation.
Let’s start with Sakae Tsuboi. She was a writer native from Shodoshima, and in 1952, she wrote 24 Eyes (二十四の瞳 Nijū-shi no Hitomi). It’s a novel that takes place on the island, and that follows the path of a young progressive teacher and her twelve students, from 1928 – when the kids are in first grade – until the end of World War Two, from which some of the former students won’t return. The novel was adapted for cinema by Keisuke Kinoshita in 1954. The movie is very famous in Japan and elsewhere (it won the Golden Globe of best foreign film that year).
Both the novel and the film have a strong anti-war and anti-totalitarianism message. Despite being written and directed less than 10 years after the end of the war, they don’t shy from showing Japan as it was during this troubled period; a reality that most Japanese were trying to forget at the time (and that most of them seem to have succeeded in forgetting nowadays, but that’s another story).
I warmly advise you to watch the film if you haven’t done so already (I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t say anything about it). Beyond its message, it’s also a very good movie, and it also shows everyday life in Japan during the beginning of the Showa Era (the 30’s and 40’s), something that not many Westerners know well. The DVD isn’t too hard to find.
Now, I guess, you know where I’m heading after this long introduction. If you go to Shodoshima, you can actually visit the set of the film that has been turned into some sort of “ecomuseum” that will be fascinating for whoever cares at least a little for cinema or Japan’s recent history.
The place is called Nijū-shi no Hitomi Eiga Mura (二十四の瞳映画村), which can be translated into 24 Eyes Movie Village.
Now, a big caveat, I never really managed to understand whether the village was used to shoot the 1954 film or its 1987 remake (that I haven’t seen and that is much less interesting from what I’ve heard). Maybe it was used for both? And all in all, it doesn’t really matter, this real fake village from the 30’s-40’s remains fascinating no matter what.
It is located at the tip of one of Shodoshima’s southern peninsulas (it’s easier to simply show you on a map), and you can get there by road, including by bus, or by boat, as a small private “shuttle” can bring you there from the Olive Park’s beach.
Here are some of the things you can see there:
(as usual with galleries, just click on the pics to make them bigger, and after clicking, you can navigate from picture to picture with the arrow keys of your keyboard).
A few comments about the pictures:
- The family picture is of the Imperial family at the time, with Showa / Hirohito on top with his wife, and the current emperor (who was quite young then) on the bottom left.
- Those pictures were taken in March, however, as you can see there were a lot of koinobori. I assume they’re there all year round.
- The Godzilla poster is located on the wall of a small cinema museum. It houses all sorts of props and posters from the 50’s and 60’s.
That’s all for today, hoping that this post has put the 24 Eyes Movie Village on your list for the next time you visit Shodoshima.
Hi David —
For obvious reasons, I like to think that the original “Twenty-Four Eyes” was shot at the village (as well as the remake). For sure, the original’s made much more reference of at the movie village than the remake — with the statue of the teacher definitely being modelled on Hideko Takamine to my eyes (no pun intended), a Keisuke Kinoshita exhibit inside the “schoolhouse” and the 1954 film playing several times in the on-site theatre.
BTW, those interested in Keisuke Kinoshita should check out “Dawn of a Filmmaker: The Keisuke Kinoshita Story”, the 2013 film of the director which shows his experiences in the years leading up to, and during, the Second World War.
Thanks for stopping by.
What makes me question the date of the creation of the village is the fact that I know for a fact that the school used for the 1954 is located somewhere else (one can see when driving from Sakate to the movie village). I need to inquiry more about that.
Thanks for mentioning the Kinoshita film, I’ll try to give it a look when possible (i.e. when I have time to watch movies again)
I found a new-old-stock copy of the book, printed in Japan 1958, well-translated into English after seeing the B&W 1954 movie.
(It is one of my two current “favorites”, the other being Redbeard starring Mifune Toshiro 🙂
It seems like a “chick-flick” chronically everyday life and everyday people from 19289 to post-WW2, but is way more than just that….
It is about not compromising good values, endurance, dealing with great sadness, and doing something positive instead of moping.
I hope to see the color version soon.
My daughter is bicycle touring Shodishima with her pen-pal who visited us here in the inland NW. (He is a “foodie” , so he enjoyed meals of wild turkey, grouse, venison, and blackbear, & cooked traditional Japanese meals for us 🙂
I also taught him to shoot a .22 (He was a good student! 🙂 , and (cautiously 😉 run a chainsaw since we heat & cook with wood, by way of appreciation for a resource.
Old Guy in inland Pacific NW
Thanks for stopping by. I hope your daughter is having a good time on Shodoshima, it really is a wonderful island.
Where is Inland Pacific NW? Is this Canada?
’24 Eyes’ (the 1954 original) is one of my most favorite movies. And as a true movie buff, I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of films. So, it is really something special. No wonder the Shodoshima movie village will be one of absolute ‘must-see’ of my first journey to Japan. You couldn’t believe how surprised my friends were when they heard about my plans (So you are going to visit some small island just because one ‘obscure and ancient’ film was shot there?!). Yes, absolutely!
Hi Vitaly, and thanks for stopping by.
You will have a blast on Shodoshima, it’s really a great island. And I know the feeling. The first time I went to Ogijima, it was because of the novel (and the movie, but mostly the novel as the movie isn’t really set anywhere in particular) Battle Royale.
But if I went there for the story, I fell in love with the actual island beyond the story. I hope you will experience the same with Shodoshima. You should.
Enjoy (and if you have any question about anything in the area, do not hesitate to ask).