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.