The Great East Japan Earthquake: Preview of the Latest Studio Ghibli Film "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" in Soma

On November 22nd 2013, Association for Aid and Relief (AAR Japan) and non-governmental organization, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) held an advance screening of The Tale of Princess Kaguya, the latest film produced by Studio Ghibli Inc. at the City Welfare Center Hamanasu-kan (Soma, Fukushima) in cooperation with the distributors, Toho Co., Ltd. and Toho-Ad Co. Ltd.

People arrived 2 hours early to get in line for the preview of The Tale of Princess Kaguya. AAR staff Takeji ASANO (right) and Ekuko YOKOYAMA (second from left) check admission tickets. (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013)

 The First Movie Preview Held in Soma, a City Without Movie Theaters
Photo taken with the audience before the start of the preview (from the left on the front row: Michitane SOMA; Producer, Yoshiaki NISHIMURA; Director, Isao TAKAHATA; Producer, Toshio SUZUKI; and AAR Chairperson, Yukie OSA) (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013)
Approximately 500 adults and children gathered for the preview at Hamanasu-kan. The preview was scheduled to start at 14:30. Some came as early as two hours ahead of the opening time to wait in line for seats. It was clear to see just how much people love Studio Ghibli and many of the audience members said that both they and their family members were big fans of the films.

The preview kicked off at 15:00 with speech by Michitane SOMA (grandson of AAR founder, Yukika SOMA) and AAR Chairperson, Yukie OSA, who spoke about the efforts that made this event possible and the connection between Yukika SOMA (past AAR chairperson) and the city of Soma.
When the director, Isao TAKAHATA appeared on the platform, audience members immediately began taking photos and the hall filled with the sounds of camera shutters. It surprised fans as the invitation card only mentioned the date, the place of the event and that there would be "a speech by a special guest". One fan remarked, "I did not expect the director himself would come to the event! I can't even take good pictures because my hands are shaking.”

The crowd seemed deeply moved when the director, Mr. TAKAHATA described his experience during the war and explained that, "We had access to no resources back then. I can imagine living here must have been pretty inconvenient after the disaster. That is why I wanted to hold the first preview in Soma city where there are no movie theaters."

The director, Mr. TAKAHATA talked about his own difficult life experiences and encouraged the people of Soma. (The person on the right is AAR Chairperson, Yukie OSA) (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013 )
Surprised audience members began taking photos when the director, Isao TaKAHARA walked onto the stage. (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013 
Memory of a lifetime
Many of the audience members had tears in their eyes and they left the hall after the preview. Some even approached AAR staff members guiding the crowd near the entrance doors and thanked us.

Ms. Hiromi ONOGAWA from Soma city told us, “I am a big fan of Studio Ghibli and I’ve seen all of their previous films. The latest film is amazing.” She was moved to tears and said, “I was lucky enough to win the entry tickets to the preview, but I never expected the director and the producers would come all the way out here for this event. Thank you for holding the preview in this city that doesn’t even have movie theaters so we could watch a Studio Ghibli film on a large screen. This will be a memory of a lifetime."

When asked what she liked best about the film, one teary-eyed fifth grader, Ms. Ayaka SAKAWAKI, replied, "When Princess Kaguya ran!" We won’t include any spoilers for those who haven't seen the film yet, but Ayaka's words perfectly described how the film conveyed the emotion Princess Kaguya may have felt.

We felt that the new film convinced us again of Studio Ghibli's ability to energize people, especially those living in the areas affected by the tsunami. We would sincerely like to thank Studio Ghibli and Toho for making the preview in Soma possible and everyone who helped us hold this event.

Official site of "The Tale of Princess Kaguya”

Ms. Hiromi ONOGAWA and her daughter, both fans of Studio Ghibli films said, "Today was an unforgettable memory for us both." (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013
Ms. Ayaka ITAWAKI (10) whose favorite film used to be My Neighbor Totoro before the preview said, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya is my new favorite film!" (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013
Miyo Ito, AAR Tokyo Headquarters office 
In charge of PR at AAR Japan. Joined AAR upon graduating from university and working at a private company. She is a mother of three children.