nowhere to go but everywhere
Water moves freely.
Where will I end and the sea begin?
After the devastating 2011 tsunami, Yasuo Takamatsu confronted his grief in the same ocean that stole his wife. "nowhere to go but everywhere" uniquely reflects the essence of the delicate relationship between humans and nature.
Israel’s “Tohoku Initiative”
Short Film Project
“Nowhere to go but everywhere” is a unique project born out of Israel’s deep connection to the Tohoku region in Japan. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Israel, which is known for its world-class emergency response capabilities, was the first country to dispatch a medical team to support the local communities in Tohoku. Before leaving the team also donated their medical equipment to the local hospital in Minamisanriku. The close interactions between the Israeli team and the people of Tohoku formed a deep bond that has been continuing ever since.
Throughout the past 11 years, Israel continue to assist the region in various ways while touching many individuals in the affected area. In light of the 10th anniversary of the disaster, Israel decided to allocate special resources in order to enhance its support to Tohoku, help in the creation of a more sustainable future in the region, and strengthen the friendship and solidarity between people from Israel and Japan. As part of this initiative, the Embassy of Israel in Japan launched in the region a series of projects, among which are fascinating artistic productions. “nowhere to go but everywhere” is one of them.
An Israeli-Japanese cultural collaboration, that involves filmmakers, musicians, and writers from both countries, nowhere to go but everywhere tells the personal account of Mr. Yasuo Takamatsu from Onagawa in Miyagi prefecture, who lost his wife to the huge Tsunami waves and never found her to this day. Over 2500 people remain missing as a result of one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in the world. This film depicts their story.
Message from Producer
“Nowhere to go but everywhere” came to life very organically in the midst of the 2021 Covid19 lockdown when all those involved in this project were stuck at home, feeling very isolated. It was the run-up to the ten year anniversary of the great east Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster. I reached out to the Israeli music composer and Jazz pianist Shai Maestro, proposing to create a special cultural project marking the occasion as part of this series of projects. Shai, who came on board right away, suggested we collaborate with the directors duo - Masako Tsumura and Erik Shirai. Shai knew they were developing a feature narrative film ‘Umi’ that takes place in the same region, three years after the disaster. After getting together virtually, we were all excited about the chance to create something meaningful together.
In conversation, we recalled that Israel was one of the first countries to deploy an emergency relief team to Japan, and so the artistic team felt an extra significance towards this project.
Masako and Erik proposed creating a short artistic documentary film about Mr. Yasuo Takamatsu as their narrative film is based on his real life story. Takamatsu, we learned, was still diving every week even during the pandemic in search of his wife that was taken by the 2011 tsunami - never to be found. His experience and positive outlook touched us deeply and inspired us to share his story with the intention it would spread a sense of hope during these difficult times. With a wish to widen the prism, we asked David Grossman, the renowned Israeli author who experienced grief of losing his own son, to join and participate in the project. Grosmann, who was very moved by Takamatsu’s story, proposed we include a quote from his book “Falling Out of Time '' which tells the story of bereaved parents setting out to reach their lost child. The music for the film was composed by Shai Maestro, who collaborated with the Japnaese-Israeli cellist Mayu Shviro in the recording for the film. Shai created a beautiful composition "nowhere to go but everywhere” dedicated to the people of Tohoku. We hope it touches you as well as the film.
In nowhere to go but everywhere - through the very personal story of one man and his beloved wife we touch upon the ongoing grief and resilience of the wider community. For over 2,500 families who lost their loved ones to the sea during the 2011 great east Japan earthquake and tsunami - never to be found, there is still no closure. The film tries to capture the delicate journey of one soul within a stunning landscape, rich in ancient traditions and spiritual nature.
I hope the sensitivity of the film, the images, sounds and words from this far away region will resonate with many people across the globe.
Arieh Rosen - Former Culture and Science Affairs Attaché at Embassy of Israel in Japan and Producer
Message from Directors
“Nowhere to go but everywhere” was a prayer we chanted during the pandemic. By uttering this, we reminded ourselves of the vast possibilities of our minds while under lockdown. We felt it was an appropriate time to share the extraordinary story of Yasuo Takamatsu, whose wife was swept away by the Great Japan tsunami of 2011. He processeed his grief by learning to dive and search for her in the same ocean that took her away from him. Under the infinite layers of the ocean, he explores yet to find his wife, but unexpectedly has found solace.
Living in these fragile/crucial times, “nowhere to go but everywhere” is our reminder of the delicate relationship between human life and nature, and the extraordinary resilience of the human soul.
-Masako Tsumura, Erik Shirai
Meeting with Yasuo Takamatsu
While developing our feature film “Umi'' we stumbled upon the beautifully written article in the New York Times Magazine about Yasuo Takamatsu in 2018 We were so emotionally moved by his unbelievable story that we decided to base our fiction film on his experience. We were compelled to meet him and were able to secure a meeting through the diving shop where he trained. He arrived before us and we were astonished to be greeted by his gentle and humble demeanor. We felt that it was inappropriate to ask questions about his wife so instead we spoke about his diving and what he saw in the ocean. Those responses were often followed by uncomfortable silence. But as we developed a deeper relationship with him, he slowly began to fill the silence with life before the tsunami, the memories he was left with and his life long project to fulfill his wife's dying wish. When we discovered that Takamatsu-san continued to dive and search for his wife even during Covid, it opened up a space for us to look beyond our own existence during difficult times.
We knew the areas we wanted to film from the four years of scouting different locations all around Tohoku for our fiction film. Among them are the enchanting Shirogane shrine where the shinto priest did his prayers and the magical Kinka-san island with its roaming deers. Despite the delays caused by the pandemic and the harsh winter conditions, we were able to capture beautiful cinematic imagery with our talented underwater cinematography team who drove for an entire day to reach the location from Tokyo. This project spanned the globe with editing done in Germany and New York, music and poetry created in Israel, and post production taking place in NYC. Needless to say, Zoom became the main location we spent the most of our time.
Director / Producer
Born in Tokyo, Masako followed her dream, moved to New York City in 1997. In 2003 she founded Imakoko Media in Tokyo and New York. In 2004, she was an editor for Arakimentari, a feature documentary film about the acclaimed and controversial Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. In 2008, she directed and produced Fire Under the Snow, a feature documentary film about the Venerable Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan monk who survived 33 years of imprisonment and torture under the Chinese occupation in Tibet. The film premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and won the Special Jury Mention at Miradas Film Festival in 2009. After running a successful festival circuit around the world, it launched a theatrical distribution in New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Most recently, she produced The Birth of Saké, which won multiple awards, including Best Documentary Film at the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Director / Editing / Cinematographer
Erik Shirai is a Japanese-American self-taught visual artist and an award winning filmmaker based in New York City and Tokyo. He won 'Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary Director' at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival for his feature film The Birth of Saké, which took an intimate look at the 2000 year old endangered art of handcrafting saké in Northern Japan. The film won Best Documentary Film at the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival and was also an Official Selection at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The film was acquired by Netflix and was broadcasted by PBS/POV. Shirai's visceral and cinematic approach to storytelling has made him a unique visionary in the film world. He honed his skills as a cinematographer for the Emmy award-winning series No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Shirai’s films were also featured at the TED conference in New York City in 2012.
Ⓒ Caterina di Perri
Over the course of six albums as a leader, ECM artist Shai Maestro is one of the world’s leading jazz pianists and a composer. Primarily through his trio work, but also through his collaborations with Chris Potter Joshua Redman, Mark Turner, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony orchestra and his ongoing creative relationship with legendary producer Manfred Eicher at ECM records Maestro has produced a body of compositions that are united by his fundamental commitment to melody and emotional directness. Growing up in Israel, Maestro was exposed to Middle Eastern music and a deep repertoire of folk melodies combined with intensive studies in both classical music and Jazz. Maestro found his way as a composer and improviser performing at venues such as Lincoln Center, Village Vanguard, Blue Note and as a former member of the Avishai Cohen Trio with Mark Guilliana, Maestro merges his love for the great American songbook in his classical training bringing together the freedom and spirit of improvisation with the harmonic and textual pallet of chamber music.
Ⓒ Georgia & Me
Mayu Tsukamoto Shviro
Born in Israel of Japanese and Iraqi descent, Mayu started her studies on the cello when she was 6. She discovered traditional middle eastern music at the age of 18. Enchanted by the power and the beauty of these musical traditions she decided to focus on this style and began her musical journeys with her cello through the Arabic, Turkish and Azeri traditions.
Ⓒ Claudio Sforza
Born in Jerusalem in 1954, David Grossman is one of the leading Israeli writers of his generation. He is the author of eleven internationally acclaimed novels, five works of nonfiction and a short story collection, as well as a number of children’s books, a children’s opera and a play. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and has been translated into 45 languages around the world.
David Grossman is the recipient of the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Booksellers Association in Frankfurt 2010. Among other numerous awards the author received are the Italian Fundazione Calcari for Lifetime Achievement, France's Prix Medicis for translated literature, the Geschwister Scholl Prize (Germany), the Sapir Prize (Israel), the Premio per la Pace e l’Azione Umanitaria 2006 (City of Rome/Italy), Onorificenza della Stella Solidarita Italiana 2007, Premio Ischia – International Award for Journalism 2007, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres (France), International Man Booker Prize (UK) and the Berman Literary Prize (Sweden 2021).
WHAT NINA KNEW (Fiction)
A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR (Fiction)
FALLING OUT OF TIME (Fiction)
UNTIL THE END OF THE LAND (Fiction)
IN ANOTHER LIFE (Fiction 2 Novellas)
SOMEONE TO RUN WITH (Fiction)
YOU SHALL BE MY KNIFE (Fiction)
THE ZIGZAG KID (Fiction)
THE BOOK OF INTIMATE GRAMMAR (Fiction)
SEE UNDER: LOVE (Fiction)
THE SMILE OF THE LAMB (Fiction)
JOGGER (Short Stories)
RIKI’S KINDERGARDEN (Play)
TO SHOOT A PIGEON (Non-Fiction)
WRITING IN THE DARK (Essays)
DEATH AS A WAY OF LIFE; Ten Years After Oslo (Essays)
SLEEPING ON A WIRE (Non-Fiction)
THE YELLOW WIND (Non-Fiction)
But in that loneliness,
where— like soul
I am torn
from myself, there
I am no longer alone,
no longer alone,
And I am not
just one there,
and never will be
—David Grossman "Falling Out of Time" (2014)
a film by/Masako Tsumura & Erik Shirai
music written and composed by /Shai Maestro
producer/Arieh Rosen & Masako Tsumur
editor/Katharina Fiedler & Erik Shirai
cello performance/Mayu Tsukamoto Shviro
assistant director/Yuichi Tazawa
director of photography/Erik Shirai
underwater cinematography/Masaaki Chijimatsu
underwater AC/Hiroshi Arai, Keijyu Kawase
sound/Tatsuya Kishikawa, Nozomu Shimaka
sound design + mix/One Thousand Birds
underwater production support/Masayoshi Takahashi, Sayo Iida, Tadao Orihara
production assistant/Nozomu Shimaka
archival footage/Miyako City, Iwate, Yoshinori Hara
Special Thanks/David Grossman, Deborah Harris, Miyagi Diving Service High Bridge, Shutaro Koiwa, Kenichi Muraoka, Miyako City, Iwate, Mike Bindraban (Good Music Company) , Yuki Uchida, Natsuu Motai, Kira Macknight (One Thousand Birds)
featuring / Yasuo Takamatsu
shinto priest /Shuji Chiba
shi shi odori dancers / Sho Onodera, Yutaka Sato, Kotaro Kobayashi