On the anniversary of their matriarch’s passing, the Shinjo family congregate in their ancestral village on remote Okinawan island of Aguni. In line with the ancient tradition practiced on the island, the family must carry out a senkotsu – or a bone washing ceremony – by exhuming the remains and ritualistically cleansing them. Returning home from mainland Japan is unwed daughter Yuko (Ayame Misaki), who immediately sets local tongues wagging with her advanced pregnancy, while eldest son Tsuyoshi (Michitaka Tsutsui) lashes out at their estranged father any opportunity he gets as he nurses his own wounds. The two are dismayed to find that their widower father Nobutsuna (Eiji Okuda) had been drowning his sorrows in alcohol. As the clan prepares to bid a last farewell to their wife and mother, they might just find that the journey forces them to face several other unresolved issues.
Based on an acclaimed short of the same title, this is the second feature from Okinawan comedian Toshiyuki Teruya a.k.a. Gori. Light-hearted and humanistic in its approach, it is a rare opportunity to learn about a near-extinct regional custom, and a tender meditation on love, family, and coming to terms with grief.
沖縄の一部にまだ残るという、死者を弔う儀式「洗骨」をテーマに、家族の繋がりやきずなに焦点を当てたドラマ。監督はお笑い芸人ゴリ、そして俳優としても知られる、沖縄出身の照屋年之。本作は、自らの短編作品「born、bone、墓音。」を基にベテラン俳優を起用し長編映画化した。(Japanese synopsis by Eikoku News Digest)
A Special Message from director Toshiyuki Teruya
“Even if you know the country of Japan you don’t know the islands of Okinawa. The islet of Aguni-jima in Okinawa is even more unknown. It is on this small island that the custom of Senkotsu (Bone Washing) is still practiced. Across the world, regardless of race or culture, the sadness felt when losing a family member is universal. I think that everyone will be able to relate to the sadness and anxiety that the characters in this film bear. People aren’t so strong, but every day we have to keep moving forward. If I can make people laugh and find peace of mind through this film, even just a little bit, then I would be delighted. I think it’s the kind of film that when you have finished watching it, it makes you want to go and see your family and loved ones.
My mother’s death was a large driving force in making this film. During the pre-funeral vigil at the side of my mother’s body, I drifted into thoughts about “life” and “death”. I only exist because my mother gave me life and my mother’s existence was only because my grandmother gave her life and my grandmother’s existence was only because…etc, going back through my ancestors. Even I feel that I exist thanks to my ancestors from long ago who didn’t give up to life and passing the baton of life onto the next generation. I was able to think as if my ancestors and I were connected through one long body.
It was thanks to my mother that I was able to finish writing the screenplay and make Senkotsu. I owe so much to her.”
2018/111 min/English Subtitles