Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunshine Through the Rain - 尾瀬 (Oze)

An ancient Japanese legend states that mythical foxes, the Kitsune, hold their wedding ceremonies during sunshowers. Thus begins Sunshine Through the Rain, the first sequence from Akira Kurosawa's film Dreams, a collection of vignettes supposedly based on the director's actual dreams.

The story begins with a mother warning her young son against venturing into the woods on the day of a sunshower. The boy willfully disobeys his mother and walks deep into the nearby cedar forest where he happens upon a fox-wedding...

A week ago on Friday night, I boarded the nightbus for Oze, a national park deep in the heart of Honshu, the main island of Japan. The bus arrived in the pitch-black wilderness around 4AM. When the first rays of sun began to break through the mountain peaks, we began our hike up the trail.
By mid-morning, we had made it over the first hill into the central area of the park, a spectacular marshland surrounded by broad green mountains. The trail consisted of two rows of flat wooden planks that led hikers safely over the soft muddy ground beside tufts of grasses, half-wilt flowers, and groves of trees.
Along the path, one was subjected to many small wonders: spiderwebs, a myriad of colorful flower petals, and vistas overlooking the wide expanse of the marsh.

Kurosawa's Sunshine Through the Rain weighed heavily on my mind throughout the morning and afternoon. Sparse and beautiful birdsongs could be heard at every curve along the trail. The subtle energy and beauty of the songs seemed to mimic the haunting, hollow flute music of the Kitsune Procession.

In the final sequence of Sunshine Through the Rain, the young boy walks through a lush mountain valley in search of the Kitsune in order to beg them for forgiveness. He has viewed their secret ritual and they are furious. Abandoned by his own family, the boy walks through a flower strewn valley towards a mountain range far off in the distance. The scene is so reminiscent of the sweeping landscape throughout Oze. Many years ago, could Kurosawa himself have witnessed this place with his own eyes?


A link to the full-size slideshow
Part I of Sunshine Through the Rain

No comments: