What was the war about, anyway? In the war crimes tribunal, just what or who was on trial?
Following months of hard work and preparation, the NNTT will present the Tokyo Trials Trilogy in the second half of Uyama Hitoshi's final season as artistic director.
For several years, the Tokyo Trials Trilogy has been something of a life's work for Inoue Hisashi; Part 1, Yume no Sakeme, was produced in 2001 as part of our series "The Age and Memory". This was followed by Yume no Namida and Yume no Kasabuta in 2003 and 2006. The three works explore the lives of ordinary people of the time, in a renewed attempt to get at the truths of the Tokyo trial and the war. The "Dream Series" was staged over a period of nearly five years starting in 2001. Now, in a project sure to attract much attention, the entire series will be staged in consecutive productions, over a period of three months starting in spring 2010.
The "music play" form, featuring live musicians, has become a trademark of Inoue's recent work. In fact, Yume no Sakeme was the first such play. This is a series that has spawned many memorable songs by Uno Seiichirō and Inoue Hisashi, while posing tough questions that all Japanese must inevitably consider. For the upcoming productions, some first-time performers will be joined by great well-known actors including Tsuji Kazunaga, Kiba Katsumi and Doi Yuko. The Tokyo trials will be presented in a way that is entertaining and humorous, with the power also to elicit sadness and anger.
August 28, 1945. A man jumps to his death from the bluffs of Byobugaura, Atami. From the suicide note addressed to his daughter Tomoko (Fujitani Miki) in Dalian, China, we know his name: Miyake Tokuji (Kadono Takuzo), army colonel and staff officer at Imperial headquarters. His note contains an admission: "Responsibility for the war lies with us, the planners." His body is never recovered.
Fast forward two years to mid-July 1947. We pick up the action at the residence of the owners of Sato Orimono, a fabric maker in a town in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region.
Sakubei (Inuzuka Hiroshi) is the eighth generation proprietor of Sato Orimono. His predecessors built up a vast fortune in the silkworm egg card business during the Meiji period. Now, in the chaotic aftermath of WWII, Sakubei finds himself beset with myriad problems. Besides the big issues of land reform, unprecedented inflation, and the growing militancy of the union movement, he is troubled by the lack of marriage prospects for his eldest daughter Kinuko (Mita Kazuyo), a Japanese teacher. His second daughter Mayuko (Kumagai Mami) is supporting her lover, a third-rate artist in Tokyo; she has even been doing gakubuchi nude shows (featuring women posed behind actual picture frames in imitation of famous paintings) organized by her lover's artist friends to make money. Sakubei is working to establish a byobu (folding screen) museum; it is his sole raison d'etre. Helping him is Tokuji, working for his older brother, an antique dealer in Tokyo's Ueno district. Tokuji's daughter Tomoko comes to visit her father, having made a harrowing escape in the chaotic withdrawal from Dalian.
Into this circle comes Ogata Akira (Takahashi Katsumi), the principal writer for a local paper published by his family's printing works in a neighboring town. Ogata is a prospective groom for Kinuko in a marriage by arrangement.
Kono Takako (Kimura Midoriko), nude model and the Tokyo lover of Mayuko's sponging artist boyfriend, arrives to complicate matters further. To round things off, enter Igarashi Takeo (Fukumoto Shin'ichi), the hot-blooded factory boss, who comes to announce that he is organizing a union.
Kikuchi Jiro (Ishida Keisuke), the second son of a sharecropper on the Sato land who has recently risen to become the local police chief, comes with big news: even with the Tokyo Trials underway in a court in Tokyo, it has been announced that the emperor, who as been touring the country since February 1946, will arrive in the Tohoku region in August, visiting their town in mid-month; depending on circumstances, he might stop for the night at the Sato home. In Hachinohe, Aomori, the emperor is scheduled to lodge at the nishin goten (herring mansion) of a wealthy family in the herring fishery, so the prospect of the emperor's lodging at the "silk mansion" of the Sato family strikes no one as particularly unusual. But what will the emperor's visit mean? Until the end of the war, the Japanese people had worshiped the emperor as a living god. But at war's end, the emperor publicly announced his humanity, and in Japan's new constitution, which went into effect on May 3rd, 1947, the emperor's role is defined as that of symbol of the nation. How should this emperor received?