Director focus:

Yoju Matsubayashi


Born 1979 in Fukuoka, Japan. After a period of traveling solo across Asia, he enrolled in the Japan Academy of Moving Images. In 2004, he completed his graduation film Dear Respectful Humans (Haikei ningen sama), a documentary about a homeless man, and started his career as assistant director at a TV production company. In November 2006, he started a documentary project on the former Japanese soldiers in Thai-Burmese border area. It was completed in 2009 as the film Flowers and Troops (Hana to heitai) and released theatrically in Tokyo and across Japan. The film was acclaimed and received the “Yamaji Fumiko Film Prize” and “Tahara Soichiro Non-fiction Prize”. His first feature documentary after the 311 tsunami and nuclear disaster Fukushima-–Memories of the Lost Landscape (Soma Kanka, 2011) was invited to Yamagata, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, and other film festivals. It won the anthropology and sustainable development prize at Festival Jean Rouch. It was theatrically released in May 2012 across Japan.


Available from Zakka Films:

The Horses of Fukushima

The Horses of Fukushima (Matsubayashi) Total running time: Approx. 74 minutes. / color

No one could have ever imagined the absurd fate awaiting Mirror's Quest and the other horses of Fukushima: almost dying in the tsunami; exposed to radiation inside the 20 km exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear meltdown; left for weeks without fodder; shut away in stables for months because of government red tape.

Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape

Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape (Matsubayashi) Total running time: Approx. 109 minutes. / color

The Enei district of Minami Soma town lies within the 20 km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In early April 2011, immediately after the devastating tsunami and nuclear meltdown forced people to evacuate the area, filmmaker Yoju Matsubayashi rushed here with relief goods. From a chance meeting with city councilor Kyoko Tanaka, he began making this film. Living together with the evacuees in school classrooms designated as temporary refuge centers, he captured an extraordinary period in the lives of the local people. Interspersed with humorous episodes and deep emotions, the film delves into memories of a local culture that has been taken away by the tragedy.

Flowers & Troops

Flowers & Troops (Matsubayashi) Total running time: Approx. 106 minutes. / color

Inspired by the documentaries of the great Shohei Imamura, under whom the filmmaker studied, this film explores the lives of Japanese soldiers who chose not to return to Japan when the war finished, but who stayed behind in Southeast Asia to build new lives for themselves.