Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Public bath featured in "Departures" closes

by Chris MaGee

A little bit of Japanese film history has been lost. The Tsurunoyu, a public bath located in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture has closed its doors after 68 years in operation. How does this factor into Japanese film history? Well, this particular public bath was featured in last year's Oscar-winning film "Departures".

The Yojiro Takita film follows an out of work cellist, played by Masahiro Motoki, back to his hometown where he takes a job as an encoffiner. It's at the public bath that he reconnects with townsfolk he knew growing up.

According to this article at the Mainichi Daily News Kyoko Mitani, the owner and operator of the public bath which opened in 1941 says, "We have been thinking about closing down for quite a long while. The water stoves are old now, so it's time for our business to 'die full of years'." Hopefully the Tsurunoyu won't have to die at all if "Departure's" fans in Japan can somehow pool their resources and maintain the bath as a tourist attraction - cross our fingers.

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