Japan City Guides: Twenty-four Eyes Movie Village, Shodoshima
Twenty-four Eyes Movie Village, Shodoshima 二十四の瞳映画村, 小豆島
The golden age of Japanese cinema was without a doubt the 1950's. Movies like Seven Samurai (1954), Ugestu (1953), Tokyo Story (1953, and of course, Godzilla (1954) sparked worldwide interest in Japanese cinema and made directors Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Yasujiro Ozu household names. Of course there were plenty of other Japanese movies of this period that did not gain much of a following outside of Japan, a prime example being Twenty-four Eyes (Nijushi no Hitomi), directed by Keisuke Kinoshita.
In 1955, the year after it was released, it was voted best film of the year by both critics and audiences in Japan and went on to become one of the most awarded films in Japanese movie history. Still today it is in the top ten of best films of all time in Japan according to many surveys. The story is set on the island of Shodoshima and spans the years from 1928 to 1946, following the lives of a young schoolteacher who comes to the island and her first class of 12 young students (hence the 24 eyes).
Nijushi No Hitomi Eiga Mura
Called by some an anti-war movie, there is no political content, rather, like most Japanese anti-war movies of the postwar period it shows the suffering endured by the Japanese themselves. It's highly melodramatic, sentimental, and most definitely a tear-jerker, and it's continued popularity in Japan is due in no small part to the feelings it evokes of a nostalgia for a simpler time.
It was based on a novel by Sakae Tsuboi, herself a Shodoshima native, and was filmed on location on Shodoshima. At that time Shodoshima was still pretty much as it was in decades earlier, having escaped any major damage from bombing during the war and the consequent development that occurred in much of Japan.
In 1987 a remake of Twenty-four Eyes was produced, but by then Shodoshima, like everywhere else in Japan, had been massively redeveloped with few areas left that were not blighted with concrete and power lines. This was a problem for all filmmakers in Japan wanting historical locations, so the solution was to create a movie set of a whole village. After the movie was finished the set was reconfigured as a tourist attraction and opened as Nijushi No Hitomi Eiga Mura, Twenty-four Eyes Eyes Movie Village.
Located on a narrow isthmus on a small peninsula on Shodoshima's southern coast, close to the original movies setting and location. Twenty-four Eyes Eyes Movie Village is quite atmospheric and offers a glimpse, albeit artificial, of an earlier time.
Most of the buildings now house gift shops and cafes. There is a small cinema continuously showing Twenty-four Eyes and a museum dedicated to the life and works of the novel's author, Sakae Tsuboi, but the star of the village must be the schoolhouse itself in a picturesque location right on the beach. Another large building has exhibitions on other Japanese movies of the 1950's, and there is a cafe serving school meals from the 1950's to further enhance the nostalgia. There is little in the way of English explanations.
Just less than one kilometer up the coast from the Movie Village is Tanoura, the fishing village with an old schoolhouse where the original 1954 movie was filmed. The schoolhouse was still in use until 1971, but now it is open to the public. It is interesting to see how closely the movie set replica matches the original. Just like at the Movie village, there are plenty of stills from the movie on display.
Twenty-four Eyes Eyes Movie Village is certainly worth a visit if you have an interest in Japanese movie history.
931 Tanoura, Shozu, Shodoshima, Kagawa 761-4424
Tel: 0879 82 2455
Open every day from 8am to 5pm (8.30am in November)
931 Tanoura, Shozu, Shodoshima, Kagawa 761-4424
Tel: 0879 82 5624
The entry fee is 750 yen for the Movie Village, 220 yen for the original schoolhouse, or a combined ticket for 830 yen.
Most visitors come to the site by tour bus or private car. There are only three buses a day. There are more buses heading to Sakate which is four kilometers from the site. Your own car or rental car is the most convenient.
Access - Getting to Shodoshima
There is no airfield on Shodoshima so access is only by ferry. There are six ports on the island with ferry services, the largest being the main town of the island, Tonosho.
Tonosho has ferries to and from Okayama, Uno and Takamatsu. The car ferry from Shin Okayama Port to Tonosho takes 70 minutes and runs about once an hour during the daytime and is operated by Ryobi Ferry (086 274 1222). Shin Okayama Port is a 35-50 minutes bus journey from Okayama Station.
There are two ferries from Uno Port on the Okayama coast, a car ferry that takes 90 minutes and a passenger ferry that takes 50 minutes, both stopping at Teshima Island and both operated by Shodoshima Teshima Ferry (087 851 4491) with about 5 services a day. Uno is 50 minutes by train on the JR Uno Line from Okayama.
The Takamatsu-Tonosho service has both a car ferry that takes 60 minutes and a passenger ferry that takes 30 minutes. Both run about once an hour and are provided by Shikoku Ferry (087 851 0131).
Ikeda Port also has a ferry to and from Takamatsu taking 60 minutes operated by International Ferry with 8 ferries a day.
Kusakabe Port has both car ferry and high speed passenger ferry service to and from Takamatsu operated by Uchinomi Ferry (0879 82 1080), taking 60 minutes or 45 minutes respectively 5 times a day, approximately every 3 hours.
Sakate Port, in the southeast corner of the island, has a car ferry service to and from Kobe run by Jumbo Ferry (078 327 3322). The crossing takes a little over 3 hours and runs 3 or 4 times a day. The ferry then carries on to Takamatsu. There is an overnight service that goes first to Takamatsu before stopping at Sakate early next morning.
Fukuda Port on the north coast of the island has a car ferry service to and from Himeji run by Shodoshima Ferry (0879 62 1348). The journey takes 100 minutes and runs 7 times a day.
Obe Port, also on the north coast, has a car ferry to and from Hinase run by Setouchi Kanko Kisen (0869 72 0698). The crossing takes just over an hour and runs five times a day. Hinase is on the JR Ako Line and is 70 minutes from Okayama or 50 minutes from Himeji.
There are local buses that connect all the ports on the island with each other and all major sites and hotels.