The Gohan Society

Alexis documentary

Fresh from Afar: Japanese Food Education Documentary Post-Filming Thoughts

Nourishing Japan will be a documentary about the school lunch and food education system in Japan. It has been a project that’s a long time coming, inspired by my time working in rural Shimane Prefecture, and experiencing the power of food for myself through eating kyūshoku (school lunch) nearly every day. I found that upon my return to the States, every time I talked to anyone who had never experienced “food education” and “Japanese school lunch” before, I would often get blank stares. I realized that to know is to see, and to see is to understand – at least in terms of food.

I’d been toying with the idea of this film for some time. And, personal circumstances last year helped me to realize that there was no point in waiting any longer! I’d broken my foot and was housebound for several months. This, compiled with the turn of events in November 2016, made me realize that I had to take a more active part in my destiny and, in whatever small way I could, make the world a better place. The ultimate goal of this film isn’t just to share one country’s way of doing something, but hopefully begin a positive dialogue here in the United States and around the world.

Alexis documentary

My filming took place over the course of five days, visiting four different sites: Nagoya City, Seto City, Tokyo, and Kitamoto in Saitama Prefecture. Every day I met a different person somehow involved in supporting food education and meal creation in Japan. I was struck, amazed by their dedication to the children and the future. Listening to their words, I truly felt that what they were doing – the passion they possessed – had brought me to their doorstep. I was simply telling their story.

This process, which I am still in the midst of, was one made possible entirely by the support and help of others. I was not operating with an affiliation (yet?) or facilitation of a company – but was an independent scholar/journalist/advocate on a mission! Without people believing in me, supporting this project, I would not have secured an interview, could not have received permission to film people. Even though trained in Japanese and had experienced many facets to Japanese culture myself, this was new and unusual territory for me to traverse.

Just as food connects us all, so too did I realize that I had come to rely on and feel a deep sense of appreciation, respect, and gratitude of everyone I met. They did not have to meet me. They did not have to work with me. But they did. They chose to because they believe in this project.

Now, as my boyfriend says, “The slog begins.” Yes, the real work of going through the footage, making the difficult editorial choices, working with others and finding the time and money to make this film possible. Yet, I know that the memories and motivation of those who supported me will help to carry this project to its completion.

Follow the journey of my documentary filmmaking here! 

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