I forgot everything and stared at life.

MOVIE『Modernversion At Kinosaki』

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About this work

Naoya Shiga's short story, “At Kinosaki,”
sealed since its publication years ago,
is now being made into a movie for the first time.

Director Shingo Ota expands beyond his acting career to create films that allow the filmmaker and the viewer to experience the reality of being human and the environment that surrounds them. His works include: “The End of the Special Time We Were Allowed” (2013), a feature-length documentary film that confronts the suicide of a friend; and “Liberation Zone” (2014), his first fictional feature film, using documentary techniques to create a realistic portrayal of young people adrift in Kamagasaki, Nishinari Ward, Osaka.
Ota chose the Kinosaki Onsen in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture, for the film’s location, where he experienced the healing of his body and soul in April 2021.

During his stay in Kinosaki, Ota learned about the town’s deep history as a therapeutic spa destination. At the same time, Toyooka City (including Kinosaki) was the site of a mayoral election, and the survival of “art” was being questioned in the city. Amid the debate, a passage from Shiga's short story, “At Kinosaki,” came to mind.

“Living and dying were not polar opposites. I felt there was not so much difference between them.”

Due to the loss of Ota’s close friend to suicide in 2013, his films often focused on life and death, improving mental health, and life on the periphery of society. He was eager to adapt this novel into a movie based on the COVID pandemic of 2021. He immediately developed the project with Paris-based actor Kyoko Takenaka and internationally active dancer Miwa Okuno. Although many people tried to discourage them, saying it would be too hard to obtain permission from Shiga's family, miraculously, they succeeded. The film adaptation of the short story, sealed for many years, began.

A masterpiece that depicts the process of illness and healing in modern times
set in Kinosakias as a “therapeutic bath”

In the short story, “At Kinosaki,” the protagonist goes to the Kinosaki Onsen to recuperate from injuries sustained in a train accident. He has nine lives, and the animals have lost theirs. Shiga uses a skillful writing style to explore the boundaries between life and death, which we tend to divide in our daily lives. This film is based on Shiga's masterpiece of the same name and takes place in 2021 amid the pandemic.

Takenaka, who plays the lead role, wrote the film script. Director Ota compiled it into a final draft and shot it in Toyooka City during the summer in collaboration with locals, students, and artists. The style aligns with Ota's previous directorial techniques. Humans, insects, plants, rain, and even the vibrations of the air, are included as “performers” in the film. The production team discovered the “dance” of all life hidden in Kinosaki, and captured the “movement” and “texture” of animals, plants, phenomena, and body parts in order to break away from the humanistic cinema. Thus, “At Kinosaki,” which borrows the novel’s structure, is a unique dramatic film, rich in poetic montage and a cinematic style that portrays a modern version of the short story.


As coronavirus infections continue to spread in Europe, Nui, a French actress loses her male co-star to COVID-19. Just a few days earlier, she was kissing him on stage. Why did Nui survive? Unable to find an answer to these recurring questions, Nui one day loses her voice and decides to return to Japan for the first time in five years and goes to the Kinosaki Onsen for treatment. Her friends died by chance, and she survived by chance. Unable to affirm her own life, she meets Takogawa, the Insect Energy Research Institute’s director.

Director's Statement

“Living and dying were not polar opposites. I felt there was not so much difference between them.” The protagonist of Naoya Shiga's short story, “At Kinosaki,” published in May 1917, goes to Kinosaki to recuperate from injuries sustained in a train accident. By coming into contact with them, he realizes that life and death are not inherently opposed concepts. It has been more than 100 years since the short story was published. The main character almost died, and the animals lost their lives. While reading this short story, which explores the boundary between life and death without dividing them, I found myself reliving the protagonist's realization before I became aware of it. If death is not the end of life, then do the dead still exist? If life is not the beginning of death, then our bodies are still holding death inside them. As I thought about these things, I felt a sudden increase in the resolution of my daily life, the scenery, my body, and the invisible things that exist. Specifically, I considered the activities of invisible living things: microorganisms, for example, more than 99% of which remain shrouded in mystery; ghosts of those who have left this world behind; refugees who live hidden on the margins of a society that refuses to extend an inclusive hand; bedridden people who cannot walk. As the COVID pandemic and lockdowns have caused social fragmentation and human isolation, the awareness of the protagonist in Naoya Shiga's “At Kinosaki” makes me imagine the periphery of society, the body, living beings, and nature. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to make a film that could affect an audience in this way. Borrowing the structure and format of Naoya Shiga's novel, “At Kinosaki,” I intend to make a film that expresses in images my reflection on the meaning of life and death from multiple perspectives. In many Noh stories, a traveler (“Waki”), crosses someplace and meets a ghost or spirit (“Shite”). “At Kinosaki,” in my opinion, has the universal power to remain a performing arts genre with Noh and Kyogen. To prove this, I would like to make a film not by faithfully adapting the original work but by rewriting it based on our composition and framework.


Shingo Ota

Shingo Ota 太田信吾
Planning, directing,
cinematograph, editing

Film director and actor. Born in 1985, in Nagano Prefecture. Majored in philosophy and narrative theory at university. Interested in filmmaking as a device to remember and record alternative narratives that fall out of the larger narrative of history. His first film, “Graduation,” won the Excellence Award and Audience Award at Image Forum Festival 2010. Her first feature-length documentary film, “The End of the Special Time We Were Allowed,” was released at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2013 and in twelve countries globally. Since then, he has worked on edgy films, including “Liberation Zone,” “Imagination,” and “Sunrise Vibrations.” In 2021, he directed the WOWOW series, “Food Trucker Minegishi Minami.” Ota is also an actor, and his recent credits include “Unfulfilled Ghost and Monster” (produced by KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre, written and directed by Toshiki Okada), the drama “Giving Dreams” (WOWOW), and “Tokyo Weird Liquor” (TV Tokyo).
  • Kyoko Takenaka

    Kyoko Takenaka 竹中香子
    Planning, scriptwriting,
    performance (NUI)

    Moved to France in 2011 and received the French National Actor’s Certificate in 2016 from the French National High School of Drama (first Japanese to do so). Takenaka appeared in many French national public theater plays in Paris. In 2017, she resumed her career in Japan, where her one-woman show, “The Problem of the Fairy,” written and directed by Satoko Ichihara, was performed in New York. In 2020, Takenaka began working with Canadian director Marie Brassard. In 2021, she received a French National Diploma in Theatre Education. She is currently performing in Satoko Ichihara's Madame Butterfly, a co-production with Theater Neumarkt in Switzerland.

  • Miwa Okuno

    Miwa Okuno 奥野美和
    Planning, choreography,
    and performance (BODY)

    Miwa Okuno began performing modern ballet at the age of three. Since 2009 has been working both in Japan and abroad on works between dance and performance based on a unique body method focusing on bones and flesh. In 2017, she graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts,majoring in Advanced Art Expression. In 2017 and 2020, she participated in a play by Canadian director Marie Brassard as a dancer. Recently, she has been focusing on creating artworks that use the body as a material.

  • Uta

    Music, Location Coordinator,
    Performance (UTA)

    Born in 2003.

  • Cafard Sato

    Cafard Sato キャファールさとう
    Insect Supervisor,
    Performance (TAKOGAWA)

    Born Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture, in 1974.
    Researches insect-eating cultures and cuisine while conducting ethnographic insect-eating research in Asia. He strives to popularize entomophagy through lectures,radio, television, and writing.

  • Itto Sakai

    Itto Sakai 酒井一途
    Line Producer, Location Coordinator,
    Performance (GUEST HOUSE OWNER)

    Born in Tokyo in 1992. Sakai is interested in connecting people to people, people to regions, people to art, to create a “free zone,” where all people are free from social roles, positions, attributes, and community norms. He holds workshops for “not acting,” to face the people before us and explore the one-to-one relationship. Since 2020, Sakai has been the coordinator of the Toyooka Theater Festival Fringe. There, he supports the research and fieldwork of the residency and the building of relationships with local people.

  • Sachia Kano

    Sachia Kano かのうさちあ
    Performance (FOOD TRUCKER)

    Sachia Kano was born in Kobe after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. His dream is to bring warm food, music, and energy in his handmade food truck to those around the world awaiting him.

  • 小川祐章

    Yusho Ogawa 小川祐章
    Performance (PRIEST)

    Born in Kinosaki-cho, Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture in 1976.
    After graduating from Koyasan University, Ogawa trained at Koyasan Senshu Gakuin. He is 30th in line of succession at the temple of Kinosaki Onsen's guardian, Onsenji Temple.

  • Satoshi Ogawa

    Satoshi Ogawa 小川惺史
    Performance (SON of the PRIEST)

    Born in at Onsenji Temple in Kinosaki-cho, Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture in 2014. The son of Yusho Ogawa, he started contemporary dance at the age of three. Currently in the first grade of elementary school.

  • 寺内卓己

    Takumi Terauchi 寺内卓己

    Born in 1956, Terauchi started working in the family business in 1976. He became independent in 1985 (Takumi Kogei) and became a traditional craftsman of Toyooka Kiryu-zaiku in 1994.

Shigeharu Aoyama, Keisuke Ishimaru, Nozomi Ishimaru, Shiori Ishimaru, Sakutaro Ishimaru, Genki, Hiroshi Hanafusa, Riho Tsunematsu, Yoshinori Hamagami, bozzo, Ayumi Mori, Jin Shiono, Sacchan, Alexandre Michel, Tomohiko Ogawa, Yuko Tsutsui

Sound Recordist: Takeshi Inarimori
Sound Mixing&Forey artist: Hayato Ichimura
Colorist: Toshimitsu Hoshiko
French translation supervision: Bertrand Lauret
Assistant director, Location Coordinator: Yumeki Kobayashi
Assistant Cinematographer: Kosuke Suzuki, Suzune Ichida
Executive Producer: Hidetoshi Katori Producer: Masumi Soga
Production Manager: Moemi Nagi Production cooperation: DUDES.inc
Production partnership: M.Mattina Co., Ltd., Hydroblast Inc., Sachiya, M.C.P, Insect Energy Research Institute
Copywriting: Ayumu Takenaka
Advertising art: Miyuki Uchida (NORA DESIGN)
Web design: Satomi Furuya Photo: bozzo

Special Collaboration: Infrarouge/ Marie Brassard

Cooperation (in alphabetical order):
Hiroshi Isaka, Shiori Kinoshita, Junko Shibuya, Muneharu Nakagai,Takayo Matsui, Aosachisoraya, Art Camp Tango Committee, Itami City Museum of Insects, Toyooka Art Action, Ido Bee Farm, Inabaya, Mikiya,Kinosaki Onsen Ryokan Management Study Group, Kinosaki Promotion bureau (Kinosaki City), Kinosaki Onsen Tourism Association, Kinosaki International Arts Center (Toyooka City), Kinosaki Literary Museum,Kumihama Park (Kyotango City), Bugs Farm, Takeno Tourism Association,Takumi Traditional craft, Toyooka City Eco house, The Japan Writers' Association, Onsenji Temple, NPO Committee for Making Exciting Kumihama