Chigasaki is no ordinary seaside town in Japan. It has produced many cultural and musical figures including Japan’s most popular singer Keisuke Kuwata of the band Southern All-Stars. In this unique docudrama, the question is posed; why Chigasaki is so special? Especially in churning out such talented artists — aside from Kuwata, other major figures include famed director Yasujiro Ozu, Kabuki actor Danjuro Ichikawa and music pioneer Yuzo Kayama.
Ostensibly, the documentary begins to explore Kuwata’s life via interviews of his childhood friend Junichi Miyaji, who is not only Japan’s top record collector, but a leading music promoter as well. But then the film takes a strange turn as it employs the help of an anthropologist named Shinichi Nakazawa exploring the history and many mysteries of Chigasaki, which are deeply entwined with many music and cultural talents such as Kuwata.
These two tracks converge with a dramatization of Kuwata’s origin story as a musician, the key moment in time where he became a full-fledged musician at a high school fair. This now becomes the bildungsroman of Kuwata, and the rest, as they say, is history.
TALES OF CHIGASAKI is not a documentary about Kuwata or Southern All-Stars. Instead, it is a spiritual examination of the residents connection to the land and sea, to childhood memories, and the rich history of Chigasaki itself, and how it all fits in in the grand scheme of things. Admittedly, it gets pretty cosmic, but in the end, the film’s many ideas culminate to a crescendo building up to the perfect harmony, capturing the mind and spirit of not only the town, but of the Japanese people.
— Anderson Le
Synopsis written by: Anderson Le