Film: 9654

Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | Colour


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A reflection on changing life in Japan, thanks to innovative new industry.

A stone carving of a face that could be Buddha with the Japanese Kanji characters for Japan superimposed over it. The title screen shows a traditional Japanese castle with blue sky in the background, fir tree in the foreground. Cheery upbeat traditional Japanese music plays. Smoke billows from a chimney across an industrial backdrop. Hot sparks and flames burst from an iron bin surrounded by darkness. A man working in the hot environment wears dirty overalls and a helmet. He moves a brick and places it on a beam above a sparking flame. A welding iron close up and the sparks that explode out.

A busy street in Japan with smartly dressed people walking quickly. A man in a camel overcoat runs up the street towards us. The narrator is English. He explains how alike Japan’s streets are to the UK. A bus drives by on the road surrounded by road traffic, a shabby white pickup in the foreground, a large block in the background. Buildings line the street. We are at a busy interchange with cars driving quickly and high-rise buildings. We are sheltered by another structure.

A hooded figure walks through a quiet park. Through the trees, we see the traditional castle in the distance, raised high above the park floor. The castle walls are very white, settled upon strong stone foundations. It is very elevated and has the many curved roofs of traditional Japanese architecture. The sun shines brightly, leaving one side cast in shadow. We are told how the feudal rulers used to live here.

The hands of a stone Buddha are sealed in the meditation pose, palms up, fingers curled over and thumbs tip to tip. There are many detailed folds in his robes. As we move away his low slung robe barely covers his bare chest; he wears a calm expression and sports the beaded headwear of many such depictions. We are informed that there are many temples and religious idols.

Priests aged between 40 and 70 walk in procession wearing heavy elaborate kimonos and traditional soft cloth high-pointed hats.

A courtyard is framed by wooden decking and beams, the traditional veranda of a Japanese building. The floor of the courtyard is covered by raked stones with three large stones forming islands in this very smooth area. The narrator suggests this creates a feeling of being “close to nature.”

A lake is seen with richly forested mountains in the distance. Mist lies low. It is explained how valuable natural resources and tree conservation are. As we turn a small coastal dwelling comes into view. A hillside with further trees is covered in snow that appears to be melting, revealing the rocks beneath.

Tall trees with leaves growing at their tops have no branches beneath. At ground level, two men walk through the undergrowth battling with vegetation. They hold tools. A man uses a saw on a tree trunk. These trees will be replanted to maintain sustainable forests.

A swiftly moving river rushing over rocks. Snow appears in chunks throughout. It is melting into the river. These are important natural resources that provide electricity.

A hillside with pylon in the foreground, shows four large straight shiny metal pipes running from its summit to the valley floor. Water rushing down these pipes moves the blades in machinery in the plant and produces energy. A man appears inside a room of white industrial machinery. Curved girders rise from the ground appearing like giant cogs or gears. He examines one carefully. The room is large and bright with protective bars around the machinery. A large wheel spins within the machinery. A higher view shows three identical machines in a row. Each consists of two large semi-circles of metal, perhaps ten foot high set 12 foot apart. They appear to be casings for a wheel that runs inside them. They are numbered No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. Another man walks past No. 2 with a paper document in his hands.

A large metal matrix is shown, the size of an enormous warehouse. A building sits below at one end, with more industrial structures running alongside it. At one corner stands a pylon. Various outbuildings appear in the background. We look up beyond the matrix to see wires connecting to a larger pylon. Because there are few natural resources such as coal and oil, hydro-electricity is a major source of power and is used throughout the country.

A train goes by on a railway. We see three trains passing on a wide area of many tracks. Wires stretch from post to post above the trains. A train pulls in at a busy platform. We are told of the value of trains with roads being few in Japan until recently. Another train rides on a rail high above the city floor. In the cab we see views of the city, stretched out below. The mono-rail of Tokyo is one of the oldest and largest and is powered by electricity.

A round-nosed train speeds by. This is the original Shinkansen, or ‘Bullet Train’. It is the fastest train in the World and travels over 100 miles per hour.

Passing a lake and town, fields and mountains, looking down from a train and looking over traditional Japanese dwellings and farms. Most of the land is used and families work together to farm. Farm workers thresh crops by hand in the fields. They wear hats to protect them from the sun. One worker pulls at dead leaves, while another hoes the soil. A lady with a wicker basket strapped to her back walks by. She wears modest clothing and a headscarf. She passes what could be a tradesperson on the street. It is explained that the families should be able to cultivate most of the crops during the growing season that they will need for the whole year.

A man in kimono dress slides open a wooden door to a residence and goes inside. A mother walks along the street, her son’s hand in hers. A dog sits at the side of the road. Market traders carry products on their backs walking through the village. Most villagers work in trade, the government or at the schools.

An older woman hangs small fish on a line, presumably to dry them out. Fisherman use rod and line on boats on a lake and we see a larger boat with several fishermen using nets to be sold at village markets or for the city stores. The men create an underwater wall using fishing net. Floating wooden buoys hold up the wall. The nets are hauled aboard the boat with their catch.

Fish lay displayed with cards denoting types and cost on a market stall. Market traders wander the streets and lay out their wares on their fish stall in neat trays. The fish are shiny and laid out in tidy rows.

A restaurant flag waves in the wind outside a traditional restaurant. Sushi chefs make sushi with rice, seaweed and fish, taking ingredients from separate bowls. A suited man enters the restaurant and sits. He is served by the chef and eats sushi from a round bowl with a small dipping dish of soy. He uses chopsticks and is surrounded by three other men all eating sushi.

A snowy street in winter houses travelling merchants who blow horns or whistles to inform the villagers as they walk along. We see one with a parasol, another with a bicycle with a box of products aboard. People pass by on the street.

The narrator tells us that some Japanese homes contain a small room “with furniture like ours.” We see a family gathered round a coffee table on sofas eating cakes and drinking tea. We are told most homes are furnished traditionally. A woman, dressed in kimono, plays a koto, a traditional stringed instrument. Another lady arranges flowers, ikebana. A man drinks from a cup and chats. Traditional arts and handicrafts are considered valuable, we are told.

Inside a workshop a man fashions tools by hand. He is surrounded by tools and shelves and handles, woodwork and products. He works in his own home. In another home a small factory exists with a family sewing cotton handkerchiefs. Sewing machines are arranged in lines and cloth moves as it is sewn.

Another house sees wooden looms in use with strands of cotton stretching up to the ceiling. Card hangs in drapes. It is punched with holes to create codes that transfer to patterns using the loom. The cotton moves up and down and the loom parts move back and forth. A red pattern is seen in detail.

We are informed for the need of more metal tools. In a foundry a large glowing molten rod is seen leaving an oven and travelling a conveyor. Some families build their own smelting ovens so as to develop their own tools. A row of men wearing protective masks use pincers to grasp glowing rods of metal that are being squeezed into long poles and move them between foundry rollers. They appear like long glowing snakes.

A large factory plumes smoke from two tall chimneys. New factories arise in the development of Japan and we see molten liquid metal being poured in a foundry. Workers wear welding masks and move the iron between different areas. The molten metal spits and glows.

Steel girders are used to build high rise buildings. A skeleton of a high rise is seen standing high above the ground floor. A landscape is shown of a full city, with large ships at harbour. We are told of the export of products across the world. Large ships stand at the dockside, with metal drums and wooden crates around them. Cranes lift off cargo and it is guided to land by dock workers.

A bucket-load of iron ore from Malaysia is dropped into a container from a large ship to a smaller boat. A map of Japan shows that the ore will be delivered to Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe. We are told Japan is “one of the most industrialised nations in the world.”

Inside a factory, men wearing overalls move steel parts in a giant machine. On a floor rows of machines stand together with a suspended machine moving along the ceiling. The narrator explains how the Japanese respect education and science.

Helicopters are made and fitted with parts. These will be used for air and sea rescue among other uses.

A car factory shows chassis’ suspended moving through a factory. Workers fit the chassis’ with engines. We are told many parts are sourced from other Asian countries.

A large ship is docked at an industrial port. Giant cranes work at a ship building site. Welders use tools to build. It is explained how quickly work can be done with mechanised tools rather than hand tools. Cranes lift giant iron parts.

With more money earned families are able to buy more. Appliances such as hoovers and tape recorders are displayed. More jobs are created for more factories. Fans are built in a factory with many women working on a production line. On another floor, washing machines are built and tested by bonneted workers. Water pours into a drum. Others work on cameras. Many wear facemasks to protect the products. Copper wires hang either side of a worker while television sets are made. On another floor, tape recorders and radios are made. Giant electron microscopes are made in another by grey-clothed workers surrounded by equipment.

Copper drums spin in a chemical plant. Vitamin pills are made. On a conveyor, workers inspect the pills for flaws and use tweezers to remove the failures. They wear white protective clothing and facemasks. Jars of tablets are packed ready for delivery.

Busy streets are filled with traffic, buses. New highways are built to meet demand. Trams are being replaced by motor cars. People dressed well walk along the street, including a young child in red shoes. We are told the “Japanese are enjoying better living standards.” It is pointed out that long running traditions are still practiced. An ornately dressed woman wears a kimono and walks along in a procession as part of a ceremony.

The credits rise over a landscape of a boat on water from a hillside.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 9654.