Off Highway 20

Off Highway 20

Color, 16mm, 77 minutes, 2007

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Written, Directed and edited by Katsuya Tomita
Written by Toranosuke Aizawa
Camera by Yoshiko Takano
Sound Recording by Hiroo Ishihara
Art Direction and Script Continuity by Akiko Kawaguchi
Sound Mixing by Iwao Yamazaki
Production still photos by Mayuko Hotta
Produced and Distributed by Kuzoku

Highway 20 begins at the Emperor’s Palace in Tokyo and stretches west. Once it goes through the capitol into small towns, the scenery is typical of any seen from Japan’s highways. Shopping malls, discount outlets, pachinko parlors, ATM loan dispensing machines, karaoke clubs, golf practice ranges and love inns… This is what rural areas look like in modern Japan. A drama takes place in the town of Kofu. It’s a small drama about some locals, a drama that could unfold in any Japanese rural town.

Hisashi was once a member of a motorcycle gang. Now he plays pachinko everyday with his live-in girlfriend, Junko. He has a habit of “huffing” paint thinner. His debts accumulate every day. Hisashi’s old friend from the gang, Ozawa is a loan shark. He persuades Hisashi to join his easy-money-making scheme,
“Quit inhaling paint thinner and score big with me!” Hisashi’s dead-end life is made up of the same things that symbolize contemporary rural Japan: Karaoke clubs, pachinko parlors, ATM loan machines and discount outlets along a highway. In this ordinary place that is just like hundreds of other small towns in Japan, Hisashi sees the darkness. Darkness that is out of the reach of neon lights along the highway. In the vacuum of this darkness, life repeats itself endlessly. Hisashi has a flashback of a paint-thinner trip he once had. The hallucination tempts him to the other side. Tantalized, he asks himself, “Can I really go?”