Saturday, January 3, 2009


(Image borrowed from

Story from Japan Today, 1/3/09:

Filmmaker hopes to start debate on Japan's 'burnout' psyche

By Miwa Murphy

Kazuhiro Soda, a Japanese documentary filmmaker based in New York, says he has always felt uneasiness about the way in which mental illness is often associated with stigma and shame in Japanese society, saying it is as if an "invisible curtain" shields the mentally ill from the rest of the population.

His latest documentary film, "Seishin" (Mental), which premiered at the Pusan International Film Festival in October and won the best documentary award there, is a candid invitation to the world to look beyond that curtain.

A chronicle of lives focusing on a small outpatient mental clinic in Okayama City, the 135-minute film makes the viewer feel as if he or she is making a personal visit to the clinic, questioning what it means to be "sane" and "insane" along the way.

Read the whole story:

For more information, including a trailer and blog with updated news, see the filmmaker's web page about the film.

Link to Mental web page:

Mental health is indeed an important and usually overlooked/ignored issue in Japanese society and most certainly is a worthy subject for a documentary film. Should be of interest for visual anthropologists. Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Joe said...

I read a book on hikikomori last year that talked about Japanese attitudes toward mental health issues. It was pretty surprising, to say the least, since Japan seems to be on the cutting edge of other medical fields. Treatment here is still at second-world country levels. I had to switch ADD medications over the summer because my old stuff is thought to be a narcotic by the seifu.