Her Island, My Island

After the success of his last film, "Give It All" (1998), Itsumichi Isomura returns to Shikoku Island's Ehime province for his latest film. It's a gentle tale set on the fictional island of 'Senoshima' nestled in Japan's picturesque Inland Sea. Kuriko, an office worker in Tokyo, returns unannounced to her parents' house to let them know of her decision to get married. In the midst of the lyrical beauty and severity of the island winter, she ends up contemplating her future and reevaluating her life up until that point. Describing her as "pure, like the clear blue of the Inland Sea itself" Isomura chose the actress Yoshino Kimura for the part of Kuriko. A city girl raised in Tokyo and with experience of living overseas, Kimura visited Ehime prefecture a number of times in preparation for the role, which involved mastering a flawless local accent.

Japanese screen veteran, Ren Osugi, marking his second appearance in an Isomura movie, plays the role of Kuriko's father, a retired elementary school principal. The relationship of these two allows an examination of the generational differences in attitudes towards one's birthplace. Isomura says, "Through the depiction of this girl's approach to marriage, I hope this movie reminds people of the warm feelings they have for the land of their birth."

In order to move on with our lives, it's essential sometimes that we also look back at where we've come from. "Her Island, My Island" is the kind of movie that prompts us to pause in the midst of our busy lives and look back at the fundamentals of life.


Kuriko Kono is a 25 year-old worker for a Tokyo publishing company. After two year's absence, she makes a trip back to her birthplace on the idyllic island of "Senoshima". Her father, having saved his former school from demolition, now runs it as an inn with Kuriko's mother, Yasuko. Kuriko has come to the island to inform her parents of something very special.

However, once back home, lulled by the familiar gentleness of her parents' company, for some reason, she can't bring herself to tell them. They sense that something is looming and are filled with anxiety but the words "I'm getting married" cannot pass Kuriko's lips.

In the following days, she spends her time calling on old friends on the island. She meets her childhood buddy, fisherman Kenta (Shouei), her Aunt and Uncle, another Aunt, who runs a beauty parlor, her local government employee elder brother and high-school friend, Mika. Among all of these, she finds the friendship and welcome as warm as ever.

In time with the slow rhythm of waves lapping at the shore, the blue sky, the scent of tangerines, the easy pace of island life begin to calm her. As she forgets the hustle of urban life, half-forgotten memories begin to come back to her. Among these, there is one memory that Kuriko cannot leave alone.

Going through her things at home, she comes across a tiny ceramic bell. A symbol of a local legend, "The Tragic Love of the Crane Princess", Kuriko remembers giving one as a parting gift to a visiting student from another island back when she was in elementary school. Troubled that she could almost forget an incident as important as her first love, Kuriko decides to search out the boy in question. She is convinced that finding this boy, Takashi, may tell her something about her present situation.

In the course of this quest, numerous, bittersweet memories come back to mind. Like a second shadow, her 12 year-old self seems to be everywhere as she recalls childhood days spent on field trips, searching for haunted houses, playing in the tangerine orchards and running from the scary Shinto shrine.

However the end of her journey brings her face to face with loss. She learns from Takashi's sister of how he was killed in an auto accident many years before. Noticing a little ceramic bell on her bag, Kuriko asks her where she got it. The answer comes as a surprise; "It was something my brother always treasured..."

Kuriko recalls the last conversation she had with Takashi. His parting words when she gave him the bell, echo back, "Don't blame me, if I forget you when we're grown up. It's not my fault. We all forget." Now, it's her turn to blame herself as she finds herself forgetting her past and embarking on a happy future. Along the sea-shore, conjured by the sound of waves, a kindly-smiling vision of the Crane Princess of legend appears to Kuriko as a guide.

Her odyssey at an end, Kuriko gently throws the bell into the sea as a gesture of tribute to Takashi's memory and determination to allow her future to unfold.

The next day she goes fishing with her father.

"I'm getting married", she tells him. He continues to stare out to sea, lost for words. He still hasn't responded later when he sets off on his daily walk up to a mountain-top lookout. As he contemplates the view, he's approached for directions by a young man. This is Mitsuo Takahara, Kuriko's fiance who has arrived to pay his respects to her family. Concealing his identity, Kuriko's father chats with him. This innocent conversation reveals to him a great deal about Mitsuo's thoughts and feelings for his daughter. He relaxes and lights up a cigarette. In this simple gesture, his positive response is apparent.

Kuriko and Mitsuo head back to Tokyo. The winter sunlight bathes them and sets the Inland Sea sparkling. On shore, Kuriko's father watches after them, his eye's full of warmth and pride.
Kuriko gazes back at the island with a renewed sense of who she is and where she is from.


Itsumichi Isomura was born in Gifu prefecture in 1950. After graduating from Tokyo's Waseda University he entered the corporate world but soon started to shoot his own films and get involved in independent film. In 1977 he joined the film industry as an Assistant Director to Koji Wakamatsu then further learned his craft under directors Tetsuya Kamidai and Banmei Takahashi. In 1993 he teamed with fellow director Masayuki Suo and producer Shoji Masui to form the production company, Altamira Pictures in which he is active as writer, producer and director. "Give It All" is his most recent and most well-known film to date.


Yoshino Kimura
Ren Osugi
Naoko Otani
Jun Murakami


Written and directed by Itsumichi Isomura
Executive producer: Yasushi Tamaoki
Producers: Shoji Masui, Yuji Ogata, Yoshino Sasaki
Director of Photography: Takahide Shibanushi
Lighting: Tatsuya Osada
Sound: Hiromichi Kori
Production design: Takayuki Nitta
Editing: Junichi Kikuchi
Original music by Kotaro Oshio
Production company: Altamira Pictures

Presented by Ehime Film Committee