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Obayashi Nobuhiko, Ghost Cats, and To Sleep So as to Dream


This last weekend, we held a workshop on the film director Obayashi Nobuhiko at Yale. This was part of a project Aiko Masubuchi, formerly of the Japan Society in New York, and I have been pursuing to publish the first book-length anthology on Obayashi in English. We had a public call for papers and invited those whose proposals were chosen to come to Yale to discuss their papers. It was in the format I like a lot: instead of people just reading their papers, the drafts were distributed beforehand and time was mostly used for discussion. Befitting a director who worked in so many media and genres, there were papers on many different topics by people of quite different backgrounds, with mine focusing on Obayashi’s work in television commercials. Contributors will now re-work their papers and turn in final drafts in the spring. 

The workshop was closed to the public, but as its public facing aspect, we screened Obayashi’s TV movie Reibyo densetsu (麗猫伝説: which we provisionally translated as The Legend of the Beautiful Ghost Cat), which he made in 1983 for the Tuesday Suspense Theater slot. The film has come out on DVD in Japan, but it has likely never been shown abroad, so several of us split up the work and made some very rough English subtitles. Obayashi Chigumi, the director’s daughter, was a guest at the workshop, and she made a few comments after the film. It was interesting to hear that the house used in the film is actually the Obayashi family home in Onomichi.

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