A friend leaves for Japan, comes back, barely has the time to share a little bit of what interested him over there, so far, and leaves again. You can hardly imagine, carried by the confidence that you get from his excitement.
Then he comes back for a bit longer, invites you into an apartment that’s not his. He set up a makeshift editing room in a corner of the room, all he has to offer you is a glass of water. He sits you down in front of his laptop, he starts a film.
30 minutes later, I insulted Moon, like someone insults a friend who has given them a wonderful surprise. Insults of affection, the “bitch,” the “little bastard,” words of love. Because in a half hour from there, I took off.
I was like you. I had never gone to Japan. I knew nothing about Tomokawa. I asked, it’s him? Him? The man over there? There? Where is he? Moon was annoyed and jubilant at the same time, he wasn’t showing mention the subject of the film, hammering holes with frustration and filling them with stories, hiding what he had planned to show us so we would be open to everything, to the Japan of today, the Japan of yesterday, to the anti-pollution masks and cigarette holders, to the ads for phones and engravings, to the smiling young men and to their elders, full of history.
Thus, take this first film like an introduction. You won’t see that much more of Tomokawa in the other two episodes, Wednesday and Friday. But you will go, simply to hear him. He is going to assault you, he’s not going to burden you with a lesser appearance, he is going to grab hold on you, to twist you, to rip you apart. He is not only a face barely discovered, under a hat, drowned in shadow and cigarette smoke. You will not understand any of what he sings. But you will have never seen someone bare himself like him.
To travel. To discover. To be shoved around. Its still essential, no?
This Take Away Show is an introduction to a movie made by Moon on Tomokawa : La Faute des Fleurs. Go and see : kazukitomokawa.com
text by chryde
The memories are very clear. End of February 2009. I found myself to the right of Gaspar, we were live, camera in fist, following the rhythm that he gave his cello and myself for a good ten minutes. His improvisation seemed to be the most beautiful that I have ever been able to witness, and god knows I’ve had the opportunity to film my best friend along the way the past 3 years, in a Take Away show with his dad featuring improvisations from Oberkampf to Bamako. Its then that the lights, at the other end of the room, start to vibrate. All at my business regarding technological-organic relations (sorry…), I started when a guitar made itself heard. The focal point moved to the left of Gaspar, a voice was raised. Kazuki Tomokawa has just entered, blending his marvelous “Story About Swallowing a Star” with the improvisation in progress. Five minutes later, the music stopped and tears filled our eyes. The concert in Osaka, in progress for a few months, has just started.
This was first in August 2008, a harmless message or close to it, a Japanese contact, a certain Naohito Koike who tells me about his favorite musician, Kazuki Tomokawa. And of his desire for me to film him.
The months pass, I come across that message again by chance, I realize that I had not finished the text – in the last line, he notes specifically that he is organizing a concert of this Tomokawa in question in Osaka, in February 2009, and that he wishes to invite me to document the event. We are in December, at least two months before the event, and Gaspar told me some weeks beforehand of this same ‘musician’ that he had just discovered via an experimental blog. Exchanging heated messages, intense listening sessions and an ambition that increased ten fold, we found ourselves together in Tokyo two months later, invited by the good grace of a single fan. Yes, a fan, an amateur, a guy who liked my work and that of Gaspar, and who wanted to initiate a meeting. That is going to change your perspective on cinema and production in the 21st century.
Between time, the idea of the film evolved, it presented itself from then on as a portrait in length, a hour and some, on a character of which the rare elements collected here or there on the Net say little more than the same thing: “cult musician, unknown,” “screaming philosopher,” actor and bettor, drinker and painter, intense and poetic. A cinema-oriented person dreams of this man, who, like in the now-famous anecdote, refused to play the role of Captain Yonoi (eventually held by Ryuichi Sakamoto) in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence by Nagisa Oshima, for a strange history of northern accent.
Two weeks in Japan, in the company of Kazuki Tomokawa, change a life. It is not necessary to understand the language (though the language is satisfying in the mouth), but just to experience the man live his daily life – intense, generous, hilarious, a grand life. And radical in his approach to life and to the creation, like all the great Japanese musicans these days. This ease with which he comes back to the extreme is constantly doing battle in the body of Tomokawa san.
This Take Away show, filmed the day after his huge concert in Osaka, only reveals one facet of his personality. I kept the bulk of what I shot for a film that I’m finishing right now, and if all goes well will be presented at the CPH DOX festival this November. “La faute des Fleurs,” a portrait of Kazuki Tomokawa, will recount the lives of the Akita Japanese, who left Tokyo at the end of the 1960s to sell poetry in the streets, under the joint influence of Chuya Nakahara, the Japanese Rimbaud, and of his younger brother Satoru, who killed himself in Osaka during the 1980s. Of these proletarian beginnings to his constant combat to deliver more words, of concerts fueled by declarations of war and of worldy love. Between Tokyo and Osaka, a city both cursed and intriguing, that gave us a February evening one of the most beautiful moments of our life.
text by v moon
His name is Kazuki Tomokawa… Many years have passed, for me, since I fell under this spell of his but the years definitely have not passed for him; for everyday he grows older he seems shines brighter. Strangely enough my love, also, has lost no vigor and so the time has come for everyone to see what I see and feel what I feel. And what better timing and way than with Moon’s impromptu filming style… and now, a motive has been set. As this feeling grew stronger and stronger, I could not hold back any longer and finally got in touch with Moon and introduced him to the artist Kazuki Tomokawa. It took a while but once I got a response he and I hit it off and talks went down smoothly as all filming ended in March (2009) without a hitch. As a result a small preview is shown on the Take Away Show.
In Japan Tomokawa is known only to a very small community of writers, artists, and dedicated fans. So it will come as no surprise when introduced to the world there will be many people who are not familiar with him or his music. But I have no doubt, in my mind, that those souls will be taken a back by his presence. You see, he is the type of guy who will share jokes with you and then make you laugh but once his creative side comes out it is a total 180. At times his music is hair-raising and at times filled with much despair, but for me nothing can compare to the tenderness and affection filled in all his songs.
A man that can show and tell us what performance, that has carried on since ancient times, is.”
This quoted recently by a prominent artist about Tomokawa made me realize that I always felt his songs to be an archetype. That is, for those decedents of, this present-day, Japan his music concords with a spirit that forms this archetype. And furthermore, he continually references the fundamental root of the human spectacle, that is, sometimes one wears the mask of Universality even if indigenous by nature.
If true creative minds were to have strengths it would be the power to destroy and Tomokawa will not hesitate to use this; to cut through all the boundaries of life and death, past and present, or anything in his sight. Because this is where he begins.
Now I can not predict how one may relate to his styles of expression because it obviously depends on the individual but for those who watch with their eyes they are surely going to be left scarred, to say the least. The past three unveilings are just snippets. For those who have fallen under the spell like I have then I must insist you watch La Faute Des Fleurs for after that you will not be able to break free of Kazuki Tomokawa.