Koji Yakusho Portrays Extraordinary Performance in Perfect Days Film | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Koji Yakusho Portrays Extraordinary Performance in Perfect Days Film

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Koji Yakusho and director Wim Wenders won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

The movie “Perfect Days” is currently in theaters. Koji Yakusho, who stars in the film, won the Best Actor Award at the 76th Cannes International Film Festival. The film was also selected to represent Japan at the 96th Academy Awards International Feature Film Awards, and has already been released in eight countries around the world.

At the Cannes Film Festival, some said that “Paris, Texas” the masterpiece of Wim Wenders, the director of this film, seems to have been reworked again in Japan at a more mature and higher level, and Wenders, the master of road movies with cars and bicycles, is back. Praises are pouring in, describing it as turning everyday life itself into a road movie.

Originally, this film was about the renewal of public toilets in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, by world-renowned architects and creators, each with their own perspective. It started out as a short film project to promote their activities. Koji Yakusho, who stars in the film, must not have expected that the film would attract so much attention.

This film tells the story of Masaki Hirayama (Yakusho), a public restroom cleaner who lives in an old apartment near the Tokyo Skytree. He wakes up in the dark and drives his van from one public restroom to another in Shibuya Ward, polishing every corner of the “little sanctuary” (toilet).

In Wenders’ words, “The film gives you a feeling similar to that of standing speechless in front of an incredibly beautiful natural setting.”

The audience may be experiencing such a moment.

At first glance, Hirayama appears to be an ascetic monk, but he has no shortage of daily pleasures.

He listens to old rock numbers from the ’60s and ’70s, such as Lou Reed, the Kinks, the Animals, and Patti Smith, on an old cassette tape in the car while traveling. And when he has a small lunch, he looks up at the trees from the shrine grounds and takes black-and-white photos of the sunlight filtering through the trees with a small film camera.

A chance encounter with a mysterious homeless old man (Min Tanaka). After work, one of my favorite pastimes is to wash myself in a public bath and have a meal at a set meal shop in Asakusa’s underground shopping arcade,” said a producer from a production company.

Conversations with the proprietress (Sayuri Ishikawa) of the secondhand bookstore and tavern he visits on his days off. Then, in his four-and-a-half-tatami-mat room, he reads a paperback book until he falls asleep. What a fulfilling life it is.

Such is the way of life of Hirayama.

People work a lot, earn money, and get what they want. Even so, they are never satisfied and seek for more. Hirayama-san never gets anything, but he is satisfied with his life.

Though he is surrounded by concrete buildings, he has an air of living in the forest.

“He is surrounded by concrete buildings, but he has the atmosphere of living in the forest,” said Yakusho.

However, these modest days change. One day, Hirayama’s niece Niko (Arisa Nakano), who ran away from home, comes to his apartment. Niko persuades Hirayama to follow her to work.

She is speechless when she sees Hirayama cleaning the bathroom with all his might, but when she sees him looking up at the sun shining through the trees at lunchtime and clicking the shutter, a smile returns to Niko’s face. When Hirayama’s sister (Yumi Aso) eventually arrives to take him back, Hirayama’s abandoned past comes back to life.

Hirayama’s heart is stirred by the intrusion of secular people into the sacred world in which he lives. What happened in Hirayama’s past? What happened in Hirayama’s past is never revealed.

However, a hint is given in a book written by the director, Wim Wenders himself.

A long note titled “Who is Hirayama?”

written by the director Wim Wenders himself.

“The story of Hirayama’s past had already been prepared,” Wim Wenders wrote. However, as he began filming and looking at Hirayama, he realized that there was a past that was different from the prepared past. Wenders, convinced of this, wrote a memo titled “Who is Hirayama?” in which he explained the mental process that led the protagonist to his current life.

In it, Wenders wrote beautifully about the feelings of a man who, at the bottom of his life, is saved by a small ray of sunlight that shines through the window of his small apartment.

“Who is Hirayama?” is the key to the film. It is no exaggeration to say that this note was the basis for a series of “sunlight filtering through the trees” scenes in which the filmmaker looks up at the trees and sometimes clicks the shutter of the film camera.

In the end credits of the film, Wim Wenders mentions the meaning of the word “sun through the trees,” which is difficult to describe in a single word in English. Wenders may have wanted to express the mercy of things that lurks in Hirayama’s heart through the word “sunlight filtering through the trees”.

The final scene of the film is a three-minute long scene in which Hirayama drives his car. Here, Yakusho, who plays Hirayama, expresses his feelings about the life he has chosen for himself. The tears of hidden feelings in that scene are what makes us feel the mercy of things.

“I want to work in a job where I can explore people’s ignorance,” Yakusho said.

This desire led Koji Yakusho to become an actor. He may have now entered a rare realm where he can embody the Japanese sense of beauty.


  • Text Ukon Shima (Broadcaster and video producer)

    He is involved in program production in a wide range of genres, including variety, news, and sports programs. He has also planned and published many books on female TV announcers, idols, and the TV industry. While working on documentary programs, he became interested in history and recently published "Ieyasu was dead in Sekigahara" (Takeshobo Shinsho). She has also published the e-book series "Ibun chakurezuregusa" (Different Stories about Craftsmen).

  • PHOTO Kyodo

Photo Gallery1 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles