Naomi Kawase raises her voice in anger, blaming her foster mother for threatening to abandon her as a young girl. The camera reveals Kawase's impatience when coming to terms with her foster mother’s senility, and at the same time dwells on her aging naked body with a subtle sense of affection. Twelve years after shooting Katatsumori (1994), her first film about the foster mother, Kawase made Tarachime to document the decline of one life at the beginning of another - during the making of the film, Kawase’s son was born.


“I had initially intended this film to trace the period from the day I conceived until the birth of the new life. But as the work progressed, I came to the understanding that this was not a story of just the one life. Soon the film elevated itself to depict the knot between living beings. I realized that my ambiguous question, why people are all alone was fundamentally incorrect in the way it was set up.... And the moment the child left my body, I consumed the singular internal organ that had connected me with it. It tasted a little bloody and warm. The title ‘Tarachime’ means ‘mother’ in archaic Japanese language.”

Naomi Kawase1


“Kawase often intentionally eschews objectivity in her documentary films by locating her camera inside her filming events. Her voice engages in dialogue with a filmed subject, mostly her grandmother Uno in the case of Tarachime, a fact that always reminds us the camera is between them. The camera’s location being inside the ‘reality’ – the representation of events – is in common with the formation of recent reality television, in which surveillance cameras are omnipresent. In this formation, such dichotomies as ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ or ‘reality’ and the representation of ‘reality’ are not sustainable. In the constructed ‘reality’, for instance, the artificiality of the camera’s constant observation becomes the most natural thing, and a real event can exist for the viewers only within the representation of reality. This ‘double awareness,’ borrowing Yoshimoto Mitsuhiro’s term – which makes sense of the event as a real-life happening and, at once, as a ‘spectacle of reality’ – has become ubiquitous in the world of late capitalism, in which all experience turns into spectacle.”

Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano2

  • 1Naomi Kawase in Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano, Japanese Cinema in the Digital Age, 64.
  • 2Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano, Japanese Cinema in the Digital Age, 62.
UPDATED ON 28.03.2022