Since Rabiah wanted to watch a movie and I wanted to practice my Japanese, and we both wanted to catch up, when I first saw this movie poster at ICLS, knew that this was perfect for killing 3 birds with one stone. Mel, who is the other kouhai from IUJ decided to join us too.
So it wasn't as if I actually learnt any Japanese during the show because it had English subtitles, and I knew that I'd miss Japan even more after watching it, but we all agreed that it was a very Japanese movie. Simple storyline yet deep meanings, poetically zen.
Some of the things that stood out for me, more than the plot, were the breathtaking landscapes of Kyoto, in particular the rich hues of the maple leaves in their autumn glory. Kyoto is famed for its beauty in the fall, and yet I've only been there during the summer. Thrice, at that!
The other that added poignancy to the movie was its theme song. Even if you were to hear it on its own, it's not difficult to imagine the mood for which the piece is written for. Entitled La Pioggia, which means "rain" in Italian, it captures the brief but delicate time that the main characters were together.
I later found out that the composer Joe Hisaishi has an impressive track record of writing musically distinct pieces, a lot of them for well-loved animes and movies. The list includes Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Departures.
The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur has regular screenings of rare Japanese film shows at FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia), which is next to the National Zoo.