by Chris MaGee
There was a time when cities and municipalities in Japan would be thrilled to see their hometown being destroyed by Godzilla in one of the umpteenth films in the famous kaiju movie series. I guess it would be kind of neat to point out a familiar landmark onscreen... that is until it was stamped flat or incinerated by everyone's favorite one-monster wrecking crew. Nowadays producers and directors are honouring their city's in less destructive cinematic tributes... less destructive and in the case of Shin Sonoda's "Nemuirba", much more interesting cinematic tributes.
Set in Saitama Prefecture "Nemuriba" tells the story of Mika (Marie Ono), a Japanese-American woman, who returns to her native Saitama hometown and discovers a very unique business, a nemuriba, roughly translated as a place to sleep. Here people worn down by the daily stresses of life pay to sleep with the "therapists" employed by the establishment. Now, before you ask "Isn't that called a brothel?" let us clarify. At this establishment customers really are just paying to sleep, as in take a nap, with the staff.
Director Shin Shinoda and lead actress Marie Ono are both Saitama natives and "Nemuriba" was funded by Saitama's Prefectural office to help promote the suburban area north of Tokyo. Personally I think a "Come to Saitama and take a nap" message could give the term "bedroom district" a whole new meaning; but taken as an idea for a film "Nemuriba" seems like a pretty original story. Folks in Saitama can catch "Nemuriba" at local area theatres starting on October 23rd. For all of you reading this outside of Saitama (and Japan) make sure to check out the trailer for "Nemuriba" below then head to its official website here for more details.
Thanks to Japan Today for the heads up on this very interesting new film.