This is a film adapted from a novel considered to be one of the major works of Kiyoko Murata, who lives in Fukuoka. When the thought of making the film version of the novel came to film director Hideo Onchi's mind, he first established the "Society then became the main organization to go into Yamagata Prefecture to collect funds for production. It also shot and completed the motion picture in the prefecture. Having lived in the prefecture when he was young, Onchi was familiar with its scenery and customs and this is why the film was made there. However just as the Japanese spoken in the film is not Yamagata dialect, neither can the film content be called exclusively a Yamagata story. It is a Japanese story, but a story that cannot be identified as one from a specific region. Instead, it is a story that can take place in practically any region of Japan. Just as in the original novel, the film speaks in a unique lofty style of Japanese that the author created. The story, by virtue of the beauty and strength of such speech and language, goes beyond the conventional dimension of admiration for the regional color of a specific region and closes in on the very core of values the Japanese people place on life and death. The values the Japanese have placed on life and death from ancient times, of human life returning to nature and then coming back from nature, is skillfully told through language that seems to transcend conventional speech in having special weight and vibration much like poetry or even a ceremonial blessing. Presenting such a lofty style of language is possible in literature. Surely, however, some may have doubted whether this was possible in a film. Yet Etsuko Ichihara and the others who appear in the film pronounce this style of speech beautifully. In doing so they play the roles, not of stereotype farmers who seems to be so often looked upon as just having an existence of crawing on the earth, but of people who proudly have their individual character that is loved and respected.


The time and place is not certain. However, it is a story about a village set in a certain period of time where snow sets deep in the winter and where famine probably cause a serious calamity every several years. In a village there is a secret passed on from generation to generation. Those reaching the age of 60 must leave the village for a wilderness called "Warabino". Only those who survive through the fall in this wilderness are allowed to return home.Ren is the mother of the village headman. She educates Nui, who has just arrived as her son's wife, on her duties as the female head of the household. Ren then secretly informs Nui of her fate. Ren must leave for Warabino this year. Nui who feels even closer to her mother-in-law than to her husband, is deeply concerned about Ren's fate. One day, Ren leaves for Warabino with a group of others who have reached the age of 60. Everyone helps each other in order to survive but the harsh conditions of life take a toll on one life after another. Ren survives until the winter but realizes that she cannot come home because of this year's famine. Then one night whether in a dream or in reality, she has a conversation with the spirit of the child her daughter-in-law is expected to give birth to. Ren is told that she, herself, will be reborn from the womb of her daughter-in-law. Feeling she had died and feeling her body becoming light, she runs around the wilderness covered in beautiful, pure white snow.



Etsuko Ichihara as Ren
Mina Shimizu as Nui
Hitomi Nakahara as Tose
Reisen Ri as Matsu
Keiko Hida as Tome
Chisako Hara as Chiya
Tetsuya Segawa as Zingoro
Ippei Souda as Tomezo
Tokie Hidari as Shika
Renji Ishibashi as Umakichi


Director: Hideo Onchi
Executive producer: Noriyoshi Konzo, Mitsuru Ito
Screenplay: Hisashi Watanabe
Cinematography: Shoji Ueda
Music: Toshiro Saruya
Sound: Masato Yano
Editor: Nobuo Ogawa
Production Design: Iwao Saito
Lighting: Hideaki Yamakawa

ƒDirector's Profile„
Born in Tokyo in 1933, Hideo Onchi entered Toho Film Studios as an assistant director after graduating from the Department of Economics at Keio University. Thereafter, he served film director Hiromichi Horikawa as chief assistant director for the film, "Kuroi Gashu: Aru Salariman no Shogen"(60). Hideo Onchi's first film as a film director was "Young Wolf"(61). He then went on to make a name for himself in the genre of Japanese films addressing youth with such motion pictures as "Once a Rainy Day"(66). "Izu no Odoriko"(67) and "Two Hearts in the Rain" (58). From the 1970s, Hideo Onchi was involved in many television dramas and documentaries. His major works in films include "The Call of the Flesh"(64), "Towards the Terra"(80), "Ikitemitai Moichido: Shinjuku Basu Hoka Jiken"(85) and "Shimanto River"(91). His major works in television include "Kizudarakeno Tenshi", "Sengosaidaino Yukai: Yoshinobu-chan Jiken" and "P.F. Drucker wa Kataru: 21 Seiki Nihon Wa Konaru".

ƒMessage from the Director„
Beginning in winter, until the snow fell again the following year, I took one year in Warabino filming the old men and women on their way to death. Their lives, until death comes, are comical, sad, and beautiful.
When I was filming each of their death, I realized there are indeed many ways to die, by associating them with my own death. As a man who became seventy years old this year, death is not just other people's business.
During the filming, I had a recurring wish in my heart. If it was at all possible, following the deaths of the eight old men and women, I wished I could be the ninth Warabino folk when the movie is completed.
And now, the film, something my friends have been half jokingly and half seriously calling my "posthumous work", has completed, it has become a reality for me too.
So, where do I go from here?