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Documentary links Fukushima evacuees with Maui musicians

By Staff | Sep 26, 2019

The documentary “BON-UTA, A Song from Home” will be shown at Lahaina Jodo Mission at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28. The event will also feature a concert by Maui Taiko, whose members appear in the film.

LAHAINA – The U.S. premiere screening of the documentary film “BON-UTA, A Song from Home” will be held at Lahaina Jodo Mission on Saturday, Sept. 28, along with a concert by Maui Taiko, whose members appear in the film.

Maui Taiko will perform at 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening in the temple yard (bring your own lawn chair) at 7 p.m. at the 12 Ala Moana St. mission. The suggested donation is $10.

Director Nakae Yuji of the award-winning Japanese movie “Nabbie’s Love” directed this film, which is in Japanese with English subtitles, about the people of Futaba, a town located in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

The residents of Futaba have been forced to evacuate their town due to the nuclear power plant disaster of 2011.

It will be decades before they can return to their town, and they are left scattered far from home.

One of the former residents, Hisakatsu Yokoyama, has always been proud of Futaba Bon-Uta, a traditional folk song that has been performed at their annual Bon Festival since ancient times in his hometown.

It is a song and dance intended to show respect to the ancestors, whose souls are believed to return home during the summer Bon season.

Yokoyama is afraid that Futaba Bon-Uta will disappear – since his hometown has been completely evacuated – until he meets with members of Maui Taiko, who offer to help him continue the song.

Maui Taiko performs Fukushima Ondo, another type of bon-uta from Fukushima, which has been passed down through the families of Japanese immigrant laborers who worked in Maui’s sugar plantations.

For the people of Futaba, who live far from their birthplace, Futaba Bon-Uta provides hope and reassurance. The film documents the journey of distance and time from Fukushima to Hawaii, from past disasters to the present-day diaspora of the residents of Futaba.

The film culminates with an animated representation of their journey, which salutes those dedicated to preserving and sharing their deeply rooted regional traditions through the revival of their bon-uta.

Nakae is a Japanese film director who specializes in films set in Okinawa, featuring Okinawan music, language, themes and atmosphere.

He shared the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award for his debut film, “Pineapple Tours,” and he won the award for Best Director at the 25th Hochi Film Awards for “Nabbie’s Love.”

Trailers may be viewed at https://youtu.be/HNEkGv-aSkw and https://youtu.be/cO3kwnlIqPU.