“I wanted to make something that speaks to my soul and to the world. I wanted to make a piece of work that would last long after I die. This is when I decided to work on the subject about the Buddhist sculptors of Japan, Būshi.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Filmmaker Yujiro Seki. His latest project, Carving The Divine is a documentary that offers a rare and intimate look into the life and artistic process of modern-day Būshi — practitioners of a 1400 year lineage of woodcarving that’s at the beating heart of Japanese, Mahayana Buddhism.
What is your “backstory”?
I first encountered the magic of cinema when I was in high school. I felt the power of creating a world out of nothing. As I was making my first feature film, Sokonashi Deka (Enigmatic Detective) I fell so much in love with the process that I vowed to master the art of cinema and become a great director like Akira Kurosawa. As naive as that sounds, I was dead serious so I convinced my parents that I wanted to study film in the United States. I thought I had a bright future ahead.
As soon as I arrived there though, I quickly found that the English I’d studied when I was in Japan was inadequate to communicate with people in the US. I desperately wanted to make friends but very few people wanted to be friends with an Asian man with a heavy accent who could not speak English. But I was determined to pursue my dream. I decided not to make Japanese friends. I studied all the time and slept very little so that one day I fainted in class. Slowly, my English improved and I started making some open-minded friends.
Being in a multi-cultural country for the first time was very stimulating for me. I never experienced interacting with people from different cultures. I thought the US is an amazing country because many people from different cultures come together and support one another.
At first, I couldn’t make a movie because I couldn’t even speak the language, but slowly I started making a few short movies at the University of California, Berkeley. My insatiable thirst for…