©JamesFisher2017 All Rights Reserved

A Film by James Fisher and Yvo Sprey

Text: Kamo No Chomei, Hōjōki (1212). Adapted from ‘The Ten Foot Square Hut and Tales of the Heike’, translated by A. L. Sadler. 1928

Makoto is a short film which explores the life of a unique character who lives alone in a tiny improvised home on the streets of Tokyo. Whilst the film is set within a marginalised community in a complex, modern city, it transcends the passage of time by drawing a correlation between Makoto’s humble existence and the life of a 12th century Zen Monk, Kamo No Chomei. Passages of ancient, lyrical prose elevate Makoto’s daily wanderings to reveal an archetypal character beneath. The film is an exploration of the loneliness of modern urban life and a tribute to the familiar humanity that is restored thought the artistry of creating ones own unique habitat.

Ceaselessly the river flows, and yet the water is never the same, while in the still pools the shifting foam gathers and is gone, never staying for a moment. Even so is man and his habitation. The streets of the city are thronged as of old, but of the many people we meet there how very few are those that we knew in our youth. Dead in the morning and born at night, so man goes on forever, unenduring as the foam on the water. Kamo No Chomei 1155–1216

©JamesFisher2017 All Rights Reserved

The hills crumbled down and filled the rivers, and the sea surged up and overwhelmed the land. The earth split asunder and water gushed out. The rocks broke off and rolled down into the valleys, while boats at sea staggered in the swell and horses on land could find no sure foothold. What wonder that in the capital, of all the temples, monasteries, pagodas and mausoleums, there should not be one that remained undamaged. Some crumbled to pieces and some were thrown down, while the dust rose in clouds like smoke around them, and the sound of the falling buildings was like thunder. Those who were in them were crushed at once, while those who ran out did so to find the ground yawning before them. If one has no wings he cannot fly . . . For one terror following on another there is nothing equal to an earthquake.

©JamesFisher2017 All Rights Reserved

It is a cottage of quite a peculiar kind, for it is only ten feet square and less than seven feet high, and as I did not decide to fix it in any definite place I did not choose the site by divination as usual. The walls are of rough plastered earth and the roof is of thatch. All the joints are hinged with metal so that if the situation no longer pleases me I can easily take it down and transport it elsewhere.

©JamesFisher2017 All Rights Reserved

But in this little impermanent hut of mine all is calm and there is nothing to fear. It may be small, but there is room to sleep at night, and to sit down in the day-time, so that for one person there is no inconvenience. The hermit-crab chooses a small shell and that is because he well knows the needs of his own body. The fishing-eagle chooses a rough beach because he does not want man’s competition. Just so am I. If one knows himself and knows what the world is he will merely wish for quiet and be pleased when he has nothing to grieve about, wanting nothing and caring for nobody.

©JamesFisher2017 All Rights Reserved
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