Cartoons/Animated Features / Family / Foreign / New Releases (2015) 57 minutes ~ Color
◎Production Note The origin of “Taxi Driver Gion Taro THE MOVIE” is a radio drama born out of a radio program by the Kyoto-based, nationally known theatre troupe EUROPE-KIKAKU. In every episode taxi driver Gion Taro, resolves passengers’ troubles while driving around Kyoto. Thanks to its popularity it became a live action mini-series at national broadcaster NHK that aired throughout Japan. The simple paper cutout figures coupled with the overwhelmingly charming locations of world renown tourist city Kyoto, turn this into a uniquely textured work fusing a handmade quality with scenery of the splendid old capital. Now, “Gion Taro” has moved to the big screen! Using Kagizen, a Japanese confectionary store with a 300 year history, as the principal setting the charm of Kyoto’s traditional culture, particularly the special geisha quarters of Gion, is conveyed via a story overflowing with tears and laughs. Bold story developments unique to paper puppets blended with the city charm Kyoto’s Gion possesses bring to life this “kindhearted paper puppet movie.”
◎Synopsis Taxi driver Gion Taro was born and raised in the old capital of Kyoto. He has never even been outside the Kyoto basin. He diligently goes about his day confident that his life work is to show around the Kyoto he loves to his passengers. However, he has also tried to imagine what kind of world stretches out beyond the surrounding mountains. One day, Taro learns from televised news that a beautiful woman who rode his taxi from Kyoto Station to Gion is a famous actress portraying the heroine of a film to be made in Gion. Wanting to meet her again with all his heart, he goes to a local cast audition and passes with flying colors. He is sent on a date with her for preparatory research. There they encounter a foreigner being pursued by someone, and is aided by the owner of Kagizen, the long standing confectionary store in Gion. Amid the disarray the movie starts production, but will the film be finished? Will Taro’s affection be returned? And what is the true identity of the foreigner?
◎Director’s Profile：NAGANO Munenori Born in Miyazaki Prefecture in 1978. Participated in the set up of the theatre troupe EUROPE-KIKAKU while attending Doshisha University in 1998 and appeared in all their works from then on. In 2008, his short clay animation “Ougon” won the grand prize at the 1st Digital Short Award. Thereafter he broadened his activities not only as an actor, but also as a scriptwriter, stage & film director, and radio personality. Standout directed works include the short film “Kanashimi ha Chikatetsu de” (2010) and the television drama “PANIC IN” (2015). Representative works as a film actor include “A Stitch of Life” (2015), “Happy Flight” (2008), and “UDON” (2006).
◎Director’s Comment The humorous paper puppets, including protagonist Gion Taro, bustle about all over the Gion district of Kyoto. At first glance the paper puppets appear expressionless, but over the 50 minute story they exhibit various facial expressions and emotions that draw us into the movie’s world. Perhaps this is linked to Japan’s classical theatre, Noh. I hope you’ll take pleasure in both sightseeing through Kyoto together with them and this movie extravaganza.
◎About Gion The old capital of Kyoto is always ranked at the top of popular tourist cities by people around the world. Located in eastern Kyoto is Gion, known as an exemplary entertainment district. Apart from the Gion Festival, one of Japan’s three major festivals, Gion boasts the Yasaka Shrine which was established more than 1400 years ago, the Minamiza Kabuki Theatre, and two geisha quarters: the Gionkobu and Gionhigashi. Evenings in Gion, geishas and maikos wearing kimonos go to and fro. There are old stores full of history lining the shop avenues, streets of rectangular stone paving, clear brooks, and many antique shops as well. There is a neon quarter too. Gion is a city where each of these become a dramatic story. Famous films that have been set in Gion include Kenji Mizoguchi’s “The Sisters of the Gion” (1936) and “A Geisha” (1953). The Hollywood film “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005) was set in a fictitious city modeled on Gion.