65+ Being old in rural Japan – documentary (2016)


Pia Kieninger and Isabelle Prochaska-Meyer are scientists. In an empirical study “Aged communities and active ageing – A case study of rural villages in the Japanese Alps” (funded by the OeNB, JSPS, OeAD, DIJ and ÖFG) they investigated the daily life of elderly in rural Japan and spend thereto 4 months on site (2013 and 2014). The documentary is an outcome of the research (funded by TIFO).

Short Synopsis:
Demographic change – ageing of society and depopulation of peripheral regions – is affecting many industrialized countries. Japan, with a proportion of currently 25 % elderly of 65 years and/or older, is in this regard a forerunner worldwide. Based on the ethnographic research project „Aged communities and active ageing – A case study of rural villages in the Japanese Alps”, conducted by scientists from the University of Vienna, this documentary focuses on the daily life and challenges in three overaged villages in the Japanese Alps. The story portraits two single-living seniors: the 84-year-old Shimako, a former farmer wife, with a husky deep voice, who still grows vegetables. She regularly meets her neighbors for tea chats and joins the village choir and gymnastics course. Her biggest passion however is gateball, a very popular senior team-sport in Japan, similar to croquet. And there is the 93-year-old Genichi, the oldest man in his village with driving license, who hates sport but loves composing short poems (tanka) on daily events. As he enjoys his freedom in old age, deciding for himself when to get up and when to work, he refuses to live with his son´s family. Also he still cultivates his agricultural field for self-subsistence.
In between the portraits, the narrator introduces general information about the current situation of rural life in Japan and of the three municipalities, regarding local supply, mobility, welfare and communal activities.

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