Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan

By Yoshiko Matsumoto | Go to book overview

5 Aging, Gender, and Sexuality
in Japanese Popular Cultural Discourse
Pornographer Sachi Hamano and
Her Rebellious Film Lily Festival (Yurisai)

Hikari Hori

THIS CHAPTER DISCUSSES aging and the aged from the perspective of gender and sexuality as represented in the feature-length dramatic independent film Lily Festival (Yurisai, 2001), directed by the female film director Sachi Hamano (b. 1948). The film, which Hamano says is about “elderly women’s sex and love” (Hamano 2005, 83–85), narrates episodes revolving around the lives of seven women and one man who range in age from 69 to 91 years old. It is a comedy largely based on an award-winning contemporary novel of the same title, written by Hōko Momotani (b. 1955). The outline of the story is reminiscent of the eleventh-century Japanese classic The Tale of Genji, written by the female writer Murasaki Shikibu, describing the life of the attractive protagonist Genji and his numerous lovers. If any analogy is to be drawn between the movie and the classic novel, the film’s narrative might be seen as a subversive version of the literary work.

The film is distinctive in its departure from the stereotypical characterization of the aged as recipients of caregiving, as often seen in contemporary Japanese media and films. This unusual portrayal was made possible by the career experience of Sachi Hamano, who has worked for over 30 years in the film industry as a producer and director of porn films. Hamano’s directorship, with contribution from her longstanding collaborator, scriptwriter Kuninori Yamazaki, created a provocative cinematic narrative that undoes the centrality of the male hero of the modern novel from which the film is adapted.1

This chapter explores the politics of representation—in other words, it examines the problem of stereotypical images of aging and the aged in contemporary Japan. The representation of aging and the aged is a set of images created,

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