Family and nature both feature prominently in this stirring glimpse of a day spent far away from the bright lights of Tokyo.
Akita, located in the northeastern Tohoku region of Japan, has a problem that many other largely rural prefecture do. Since it can’t match the excitement and variety of metropolises such as Tokyo and Osaka, many of its residents choose to move away, and in numbers far greater than those who relocate to Akita from elsewhere.
In many ways it’s a shame, as Akita still has plenty to offer. Its forests and mountains are stirringly picturesque, and its fields produce the prized Akitakomachi variety of rice. So when the Akita prefectural government asked Japanese filmmaker Hidetaka Ino to create a video promoting living in Akita, he turned his lens to the prefecture’s natural beauty and mouth-watering bounty.
Titled True North, Akita, the video skips over tourist attractions and instead focuses on families living their daily lives in the prefecture. We see parents and children playing in a clear mountain stream, visiting their local shrine, and biking past expansive rice farms.
As the sun sets, the scene switches to traditional houses, filled with extended families gathering to cook and eat together.
And while Japan generally has no aversion to enthusiastic narration, True North, Akita instead opts for a ballad from Akita-born singer-songwriter Asuka Aoya, who wrote the song after seeing the footage that Ino had compiled.
The chorus translates as:
I’d started to forget
About how much I’d missed this scenery
So now I’ll take your little hand in mine,
Let’s go. Let’s go home.
Combined with the tender musical accompaniment, Aoya’s words produce a wave of nostaliga, even if you’ve never been to the prefecture, and together with the visuals they deliver the message that just like the big city provides certain opportunities Akita doesn’t, so too is there a simple, pure lifestyle you can only find in the countryside.