Dive deeper into Japan
with Japan correspondent
Kjeld Duits
Home » Archives » September 2005 » Hirokazu Kore-Eda's "Nobody Knows"

Hirokazu Kore-Eda's "Nobody Knows"

Thursday, September 22, 2005 Posted: 09:30 AM JST

Last year Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda brought out his film "Nobody Knows". The movie is very loosely based on the "Affair of the Four Abandoned Children of Nishi-Sugamo", an event that took place in Tokyo in 1988.

Four young children, each with a different father, were left alone for six months in a dilapidated apartment after their mother abandoned them. Since they did not attend school, and were not even registered after their birth, no one knew of their existence.

Fourteen-year-old Yuya Yagira won Best Actor award at Cannes 2004 for his moving performance as Akira, the eldest of the four children who acts to keep the kids together and in good spirits. The movie has just started showing outside Japan, so try to catch it if you can.

Today I found a wonderful interview with director Kore-Eda about "Nobody Knows".

Keywords: arts_entertainment

*   *   *

18 comments so far post your own

1 | At 06:05pm on Sep 22 2005, Surronded wrote:
I've seen the film, i liked it, good film.
2 | At 05:27am on Sep 24 2005, japglish wrote:
This is more than just a good film. Cynical, hard-bitten old unreconstructed anti-humanist, stalinist that I am, I must admit, I actually, yes, really, CRIED when I watched this movie. Actual salt-water tears. Real ones and not becuase I was making a speech. Wow, WHAT a movie. It lumps hope and despair in generous portions. It confuses moral senses and leaves you feeling disorientated. The photography is beautiful, the acting astonishing from such young actors. Casting was brilliant and the touch that I most liked was the mother character, an exceptionally likeable YOU, who we almost empathise with because she is not unlike us. A beautiful and intelligent movie, one of the best I have ever seen. Top marks.
3 | At 07:55am on Sep 24 2005, Vincent wrote:
I went looking for this movie after reading this article.
Man oh man, what a movie !
Excellent movie and the number of movies that actually made me cry have now raised to 2.
Hotaru no haka was the first and now this one.

Everything seemed perfect, the stills, the silences, the views, the acting, all were perfect.

btw: Who knows where i can read the real story ?
4 | At 01:28pm on Sep 24 2005, Kjeld wrote:
Vincent, I have been looking for that on the net as well. I remember the coverage in the Japanese medai in the late 80's, but so far I have only found articles about the movie on the net. Somewhere the real story must be hidden.

Any internet search expert who can dig it up?
5 | At 09:57am on Sep 26 2005, karen francis wrote:
I was wondering if I could get a hold of or be directed to the article from 1988 about the affair of the four abandoned children in Tokyo of Nishi-Sugamo. I am also interested in if anyone has done a follow up on these children or if the mother was arrested etc. What happened? I saw the amazing movie Nobody Knows and I guess nobody really knows what happened to these children. I was also abandoned and would like to know if they were taken care of alright and were able to stay together.
6 | At 09:59am on Sep 26 2005, RR Cas wrote:
I don't know either and I also want to have some follow-up info. The movie should have has this info at the end.
7 | At 11:32am on Sep 30 2005, kim wrote:
We must all be watching on-demand tv - that's where I saw this wonderful film. I too went to the web to find the "real" details and agree that info. should have followed the film. The film elevated my concern for the children to point where I want to know what happened and how they're doing. Has anyone found some facts yet?
8 | At 07:35am on Oct 04 2005, BRP wrote:
Could be an 'American' cinema technique to provide script follow-up of the characters in the movie. Just watched "The Lords of Dogtown" and was really satisfied that the movie did a good job of tying up loose ends about where the characters are today. Even the DVD of "Nobody Knows" did not have a Special Feature on the real story or the making of the movie, which would have been fascinating -because it took a year to shoot it. It would be fascinating to know how Japanese society absorbed and aided the children and whether they found the mother, too - and what happened to her. I particularly wanted to know if the real-life story ended in tragedy, like the movie. I like the movie - thought it was very depressing, though and left me with a hopeless feeling instead of a hopeful outlook. It certainly provided different shades to Japanese society than I have painted them before.
9 | At 12:42am on Oct 27 2005, elizabeth wrote:
If anybody knows where to find information about what happened to the real children of this drama in the 1980s, can you please let me know too?! Thanking you in advance,
10 | At 02:38pm on Oct 30 2005, susan wrote:
11 | At 01:25am on Nov 18 2005, Maria wrote:
I just saw the DVD and like most everyone, went to the internet right away to find out what really happened to the family in 1988. Not great - sadder and more violent. I found only one artcle about the real events. And its not the actual article, but a write up from a movie critic.
12 | At 03:02am on Nov 19 2005, mai wrote:
I am also looking for the real story of Nobody Knows and I only found the internet talking about the movie. However, I did stumbled across a very brief article about the true story and it is a lot more tragic than the movie. The real story said that there are five children, two older boys 12,10, and three younger girls, 7, 3, 2. One of the older boy died before the mother completely abandoned them and she wrapped his body with a plastic sheet with some deodorant and hid it in the closet. The older boy took care of his sisters and he brought home two friends, A and B and friend B beat his youngest sister to death because she ate the food that he has brought over. The brother was not present at the time of the beating. The brother and friend A buried the body in a shallow grave. This happened in April and in June the landlord suspected that only the children lived in the apartment so he notified the police and they came and searched the apartment and found the body of the dead child in the closet and it was all over the news. The mother heard about the news and turned herself into the police.
13 | At 01:30am on Dec 23 2005, Mae Arant wrote:
I am more sadden by the fact that all the critics loved to movie but gaven no thought as to provide us with the information about what happened to the real children of this horror.
14 | At 06:52am on Jan 02 2006, Lisa Carothers wrote:
Like everybody else, I want to know how the real children are and how they were found, and if the movie is accurate.
15 | At 06:14pm on Jan 13 2006, Michelle wrote:
This article about the movie states without any other information, that the mother did go to jail.

16 | At 12:43pm on Jan 21 2006, Steve wrote:
I just saw this movie on Jan 18. i could not stop thinking of what actually happened to the kids in real life? i could not find any articelcs except movie critics.
17 | At 11:05pm on Apr 18 2006, Keith wrote:
The Director says this in his onterview of the movie:


Reporter: The story's based on a real news event from 1988. How much did you develop the story from the newspaper description of the event?

Director: It's almost entirely fiction. The barest bones, that four siblings with different fathers are abandoned by their same mother and spend six months alone-that much is the same. But everything from their ages to their genders to their personalities was invented.
18 | At 04:06pm on Jun 04 2006, Cynthia wrote:
This is a beautiful sad & depressing movie. I just wished they also say something about the real story and what happened to the kids. Anyway, this is some additions that I found for what happenned to them & the mother. I am wondering how the kids are doing now, especially the oldest boy.


The story was covered very heavily by the mass media; and the mother, seeing this on the news, wondered if it was all about her children, and turned herself in to the police.

The eldest boy was not in the room when his sister died, but he knew what his friend was capable of, and had criminal charges against him which were later dropped. The two younger surviving children were eventually returned to their mother's care. The children's true names were never released to the media.

The mother spent 3 years in prison with an additional 4 years of probation after release. Amazingly, after her release she eventually regained custody of her two surviving daughters
Subscribe to newsletter:
First name:
Daily:   Biweekly:

(Unsubscribe or Update)

We Recommend:


The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press

Syndicate iKjeld news

Powered By Greymatter

© 2001~ iKjeld.com/Kjeld Duits. All rights reserved.
To publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material, please contact us.