Naoko Ogigami – Rentaneko aka Rent-a-Cat (2012)

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Sayoko rents out cats to help lonely people fill the emptiness in their hearts. She walks along the banks of the river with a megaphone promoting her service and her animals in a handcart. It turns out that Sayoko is lonely too, ever since the death of her grandmother. All she has left is her cats. However, one day a young man shows up from Sayoko’s past. He follows her home and suddenly Sayoko’s life seems to completely fall apart. Continue reading

Naoko Ogigami – Kamome shokudo AKA Ruokala Lokki AKA The Seagull Diner (2006)

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On a summer day, a small Japanese restaurant by the name of Ruokala Lokki (The Seagull Canteen) opens for business in the Punavuori district of Helsinki. The restaurant is run by 38-year-old Sachie who wishes to offer her Finnish patrons not only Japanese food but Japanese-style food for the soul, too. Attracting Finns to the small restaurant run by a lone Japanese woman proves quite difficult, however.

Luckily Sachie gets to know Midori and her restaurant’s only customer, Tommi Hiltunen, with the help of whom she slowly begins to bring in more customers and settle down in her new life. Kamome Shokudo is a charming little tale of people in the middle of a foreign culture. The film is based on a novel by popular Japanese writer Yoko Mure. Director Naoko Ogigami received an award at the Berlin International Film Festival for her previous film Barber Yoshino. Continue reading