Feature documentary | BTS | Ubusuna (2013)

JOHN CHO // Writer-Director, Production Designer // Malaysia

Feature documentary | BTS | Ubusuna (2013)

Sometime last year I was contacted over the Internet by a Japanese filmmaker named Mile Nagaoka. He asked me whether or not I would be interested in participating in a two-week-long forest caravan that travelled in and around a part of rural Japan, with the objective of documenting daily life of people living in close proximity to the forest and nature. It was really silly of me because I almost let this opportunity slip away from me due to some big miscommunication, but fortunately I had the opportunity to take part in one important segment of the project.

Other filmmakers from around the world, such as New Zealand cinematographer Ben Ruffell and New York-based Singaporean filmmaker/photographer Kirsten Tan. They were involved in different legs of the project documenting Kamiyama and Okinawa, respectively. For me, I was part of the team – along with Mile and his camera assistant cum editor Taigo Kawaguchi – that documented Kakinoki and Hikimi in Shimane. I remember the Immigration Officer at Haneda Airport looking a little surprised when I answered “Shimane” in response to his question about where I was headed for my film shoot. It was about as rural as rural gets in Japan.

The weather was really great, and I had a great time except for the one moment when I dropped by 200mm lens. It’s all fixed and as good as new now, so I’ve gotten over it. But I could definitely have done without the Onsen experience. Japan is a beautifully quirky place.


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