[125 Years Memory] a story of friendship and compassion

Kainan 1890 · Background

Relations between Japan and Turkey, Asia's easternmost and westernmost nations, have a long history, with 2015 marking its 125th anniversary. This motion picture reflects those deep ties in the story of two actual historical incidents. In both cases, 125 years ago as well as 30 years ago, people in a difficult situation were offered help, with no thought of reward, for the simple reason that they needed it. The courage and sincerity shown in these two real-life dramas now come to the screen in a large-scale international co-production.

The film comprises two episodes: The wrecking of the Turkish frigate Ertuğrul off the Japanese coast in 1890, and the evacuation of Japanese nationals from Tehran in 1985. The Ertuğrul episode stars virtuous actor Seiyo Uchino as Tamura, the doctor who treats the shipwreck survivors. He personifies the bold yet sympathetic global outlook of a time in which Japan had only recently opened itself to the outside world. For his performance Seiyo Uchino was nominated for the Japan Academy Film Prize as Best Actor. Shooting star actress Shioli Kutsuna is featured as Haru, left mute by the shock of her fiancé's drowning, but who still functions as Tamura's faithful assistant. In the Tehran episode she plays Harumi, a teacher at a Japanese school, who does not want to give up on her students. Turkish TV and cinema idol Kenan Ece plays two roles: Mustafa, the Turkish officer who survives the wreck and is moved by the kindness shown by his Japanese rescuers, and Murat, who comes to the assistance of the Japanese in the Tehran episode.

Directing is Mitsutoshi Tanaka, whose 2014 motion picture “BLOSSOMS BLOOM” won the awards for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Music at the Asia International Film Festival in Taipei. The long tradition of Toei Kyoto Studios and Creators' Union vouches for the high level of technical expertise of their staff. Japan's Creators' Union and Toei have joined with Böcek Yapım, Turkey's premier production house, to produce a film of stunning visual images.

“125 YEARS MEMORY” was initiated by the residents of Kushimoto, a coastal town in Japan's Wakayama prefecture where the first episode of the film takes place. For a very long time they wanted to share this story of friendship and compassion with the rest of the world by making a film about the Ertuğrul story. To pursue their goal, Kushimoto mayor Katsumasa Tashima contacted film director Mitsutoshi Tanaka and the NPO “Ertuğrul Saves the World” was established in the city of Wakayama. After more than ten years of work “125 YEARS MEMORY” was released in Japan and Turkey in December 2015, and since then has been carrying its message of friendship and peace to audiences around the world.

“125 YEARS MEMORY” was nominated for the Japan Academy Film Prize in ten categories, including Best Film and Best Director, and won the awards for Best Sound Recording and Best Art Direction.

Separated by 9,000 kilometres, the people of Japan and Turkey have fostered deep ties of friendship. In a time when people all over the world are growing steadily more suspicious of other nations over politics, economics and religion, this is an epic of hope demonstrating how fellow-feeling between one person and another can bring about a miracle.

Japanese-Turkish blockbuster [125 Years Memory], characters of Tamura (Seiyo Uchino) and Haru (Shioli Kutsuna) looking at Turkey on globe
[125 Years Memory] movie initiator Kushimoto mayor Katsumasa Tashima
Dr. Sait Kapicioglu Ertugrul frigate
Japanese engineer Junichi Numata evacuated from Tehran by Turkish Airlines in [Kainan 1890]
Tsukiko Watari granddaughter of [Toruko Gakan] author and tea master Torajiro Yamada
Composer from Wakayama Seiji Mukaiyama [A Call for World Peace]
[Tomoatsu Godai] movie by director Mitsutoshi Tanaka

Kainan 1890 · Story

In 1890, Dr. Motosada Tamura (Seiyo Uchino)'s kindness in caring for his patients is winning him the trust of Kashino, a poor village on Kushimoto's Kii Oshima island in Wakayama prefecture. Assisting him is Haru (Shioli Kutsuna), who the shock of losing her fiancé to drowning has left mute. In the night of 16 September of that year the Turkish frigate Ertuğrul, on its way home after paying a courtesy visit to the Emperor of Japan, is driven aground in a typhoon and wrecked in the Pacific Ocean off Cape Kashino. Hearing the alarm bell that warns of a vessel in distress, the villagers rush to the shore, to be confronted there with the grisly spectacle of vast numbers of dead and dying. With more than 500 crew members dead, it is the largest sea accident in history at that time. Risking their own lives, the villagers rescue who they can, while Tamura and Haru go to work treating the injured. The next morning, there are 69 survivors. In the wake of her life rescuing efforts Haru builds a special bond with Mustafa (Kenan Ece), 2nd engineering officer on the Ertuğrul. Although being very poor and having hardly to eat, the locals share what little they have with strangers from a country 9,000 kilometres away. In the following weeks donation campaigns for the Turkish crew and their families start all over Japan. Torajiro Yamada, a businessman and tea master from Gunma, delivers the collected donations to Turkish Sultan Abdülhamid II. Yamada is to lay the foundation of Japanese-Turkish relations.

In 1985, during the Iran-Iraq war, a Turkish embassy official named Murat (Kenan Ece) encounters Harumi (Shioli Kutsuna), a teacher at a Japanese school, during a bombing raid in Tehran. Iraq announces that in 48 hours it will start an indiscriminate attack and shoot down any aircraft over Iranian air space. Japanese ambassador Yutaka Nomura (Toshiyuki Nagashima) requests rescue flights from Japan, but is told that a quick response is not possible. Meanwhile rescue flights from other nations are arriving, leaving only the Japanese stranded. Harumi wants to save her students and prevails upon Nomura to ask the Turkish ambassador for help. Out of gratitude for the rescue of Turkish sailors in 1890, Turkish prime minister Turgut Özal (Deniz Oral) decides to evacuate the remaining 215 Japanese nationals. In the morning of 19 March a Turkish Airlines aircraft, led by Pilot in Command Orhan Suyolcu takes off for Tehran. But not only are there only a few hours remaining until Iraq's ultimatum expires and Tehran is already under heavy rocket fire. By now Tehran Mehrabad International Airport is full of Turks trying to find a flight to safety. They still need to be convinced that they won't be able to board their own country's evacuation flight. Kimura (Takayuki Takuma), an automotive engineer posted to Tehran, and the other Japanese have all but given up hope of getting onto the last flight. That's when Murat starts speaking out to his fellow citizens about the compassion and sacrifice Japanese villagers had shown to Turkish sailors shipwrecked far away a long time ago.

Kainan 1890 · Cast

Japanese actor Seiyo Uchino starring in [Kainan 1890] as Dr. Motosoda Tamura Seiyo Uchino [Kainan 1890] A doctor living in Kashino, a village on Kushimoto's Kii Oshima island in Wakayama prefecture. Originally a samurai of the Kishu Domain, he is thus a skilled swordsman. A friend of many years to naval officer Fujimoto. He provides free medical care to the residents of this poor fishing village who are as a result very fond of him. He speaks good English and is well versed in world affairs.
Turkish actor Kenan Cahit Ece starring in [Kainan 1890] as Lieutenant Mustafa and embassy staff Murat Kenan Cahit Ece [Kainan 1890] Mustafa: A Lieutenant on the Turkish frigate Ertuğrul. He is the son of a prominent family whose father was a senior naval officer.
Murat: A member of the staff of the Turkish Embassy. He encounters Harumi after Tehran is attacked and throws himself into helping with the evacuation of Japanese nationals.

Japanese actress Shioli Kutsuna starring in [Kainan 1890] as Haru and Harumi Shioli Kutsuna [Kainan 1890] (sometimes also written as Shiori Kutsuna) Haru: A woman from the village of Kashino. Left mute from the shock of her fiancé's death by drowning. She serves Dr. Tamura as his assistant.
Harumi: A teacher at a Japanese school in Tehran who goes to the Japanese embassy for help in evacuating Japanese nationals.
Turkish actor Alican Yücesoy starring in [Kainan 1890] as Bekir Alican Yücesoy [Kainan 1890] A non-commissioned officer in charge of the Ertuğrul boiler room. Highly respected by his men. He is also a skilled wrestler who bonds with Mustafa after the two of them fight to a draw. His wife has a son while he is at sea and he is eagerly anticipating his return home.

Japanese actress Yui Natsukawa starring in [Kainan 1890] as Yuki The most popular courtesan in the Kii Oshima island brothel. A fine dancer.
Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nagashima starring in [Kainan 1890] as ambassador Yutaka Nomura The Japanese ambassador to Iran. He searches desperately for a way to evacuate Japanese nationals.
Japanese actor Naoto Takenaka starring in [Kainan 1890] as Dr. Kudo A doctor on Kii Oshima island. He spends most of his time in drunken melancholy at the brothel.

Japanese actor Takashi Sasano starring in [Kainan 1890] as mayor Sato Mayor of the village on Kii Oshima island. Devotes himself to organizing the islanders' response to the shipwreck.
Japanese actor Yukisyoshi Ozawa starring in [Kainan 1890] as officer Gentaro Fujimoto A Japanese naval officer and close friend of Tamura. Concerned about his friend, he comes to Kii Oshima island for a visit.
Japanese actor Takayuki Takuma starring in [Kainan 1890] as Kimura An engineer working on a development programme in Iran, where he lives with his wife and little son.

Japanese actor Shunsuke Daitoh starring in [Kainan 1890] as Shintaro A fisherman from Kii Oshima island. Young and vigorous.
Japanese actor Gota Watabe starring in [Kainan 1890] as Shinichi A fisherman from Kii Oshima island. Close friend of Shintaro.
Japanese actor Yuu Tokui starring in [Kainan 1890] as Heiji A resident of Kashino village on Kii Oshima island. Somewhat henpecked.

Japanese actress Ayako Kobayashi starring in [Kainan 1890] as Tome A resident of Kashino village on Kii Oshima island. Heiji's domineering wife.
Japanese actor Yukijiro Hotaru starring in [Kainan 1890] as Takeschita Principal of the Japanese school in Tehran.
Japanese actress Rino Katase starring in [Kainan 1890] as Sato Madam of the brothel on Kii Oshima island.

Turkish actor Mert Aygün starring in [Kainan 1890] as Imam Ali Efendi Imam on the Ertuğrul.
Turkish actor Hakkı Haluk Cömert starring in [Kainan 1890] as Mahmut A Turkish national at Tehran Mehrabad International Airport.
Turkish actor Cem Cücenoğlu starring in [Kainan 1890] as Naci A musician on the Ertuğrul.

Turkish actor Yağız Elmastaşoğlu starring in [Kainan 1890] as Salih A sailor on the Ertuğrul.
Japanese actress Nobue Iketani starring in [Kainan 1890] as Kiyo A resident of Kashino village on Kii Oshima island.
Japanese actor Noboru Kaneko starring in [Kainan 1890] as Yamamoto The Japanese ambassador's secretary.

Japanese actor and musician Naoki Kawano starring in [Kainan 1890] as Mankichi A fisherman from Kii Oshima island. Friends with Shintaro and Shinichi.
Turkish actor Tamer Levent starring in [Kainan 1890] as Süleyman Bey Mustafa's father. A former senior naval officer.
Turkish actor and rakugo artist Halit Mızraklı starring in [Kainan 1890] as Selim A sailor on the Ertuğrul.

Japanese actor and musician Minosuke starring in [Kainan 1890] as Takeo A resident of Kashino village on Kii Oshima island. Kiyo's husband.
Japanese actress Hitomi Miwa starring in [Kainan 1890] as Katsu A resident of Kashino village on Kii Oshima island.
Turkish actor Deniz Oral starring in [Kainan 1890] as Turkish prime minister Turgut Özal Turkey's Prime Minister.

Turkish actor Mehmet Özgür starring in [Kainan 1890] as Ertugrul captain Âli Bey A Lieutenant Colonel of the Turkish Naval Forces and captain of the Ertuğrul.
Turkish actor Oğuz Öztekin starring in [Kainan 1890] as Hayri A musician on the Ertuğrul.
Turkish actor Erkan Pekbay starring in [Kainan 1890] as Sarkis Boiler room staff on the Ertuğrul.

Turkish actor Uğur Polat starring in [Kainan 1890] as Osman Pasha A Major General of the Turkish Armed Forces, empowered to represent Sultan Abdülhamid II.
Japanese actress Tomoko Saito starring in [Kainan 1890] as Nobu A resident of Kashino village. Friends with Katsu and Kiyo.
Japanese actress Toshie Takada starring in [Kainan 1890] as Miyamoto A Japanese national at Tehran Mehrabad International Airport who previously had lived in Iran.

Japanese actress Ayumi Takano starring in [Kainan 1890] as Michi Kimura A Japanese resident of Tehran. Kimura's wife.
Japanese actor Yuuki Tsujimoto starring in [Kainan 1890] as Yano A Japanese engineer working in Iran.
Japanese actor Koichi Ueda starring in [Kainan 1890] as village elder Fukushima Village Elder of Kashino.

Supporting actors of NPO [Ertugrul Saves the World] at [Kainan 1890] film shooting: 
Fujio Shimamura ・ Midori Shimamura ・ Matsuko Azuma ・ Can Akalin ・ Kirk Kiyoharu Ura ・ Shinji Nishihiro ・ Tomoki Nakamura ・ Kenjo Seto
NPO Ertugrul Saves the World Residents of Kushimoto town and Wakayama prefecture, who also initiated “125 YEARS MEMORY”, participate in their film with more than 200 people by playing their great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers, who selflessly saved Turkish sailors 125 years ago.

Kainan 1890 · Crew

Mitsutoshi Tanaka [Kainan 1890] director

Mitsutoshi Tanaka [Kainan 1890] director

Born in 1958 in Hidaka, Hokkaido, director Mitsutoshi Tanaka has won many awards directing television commercials, including the All Japan Radio & Television Commercial Confederation (ACC) Award and the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association Award. His first theatrical feature “KEWAISHI” (2001) received the award for Best Screenplay (Yoshi Yokota) at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and “THE BOAT TO HEAVEN” (2003) won a citation from the Directors Guild of Japan. Mitsutoshi Tanaka gained international recognition with the release of “CASTLE UNDER FIERY SKIES” in 2009, which was nominated for the Japan Academy Film Prize Association's award for Best Art Direction (Takashi Yoshida). “ASK THIS OF RIKYU” (2013) won the Best Artistic Contribution Award at the Montréal World Film Festival and was nominated in nine categories for the Japan Academy Film Prize, including Best Film, winning the award for Best Art Direction (Takashi Yoshida). “BLOSSOMS BLOOM” (2014) received the awards for Best Director, Best Actress (Kaho Minami) and Best Music (Masashi Sada) at the Asia International Film Festival in Taipei. “125 YEARS MEMORY” (2015) was nominated for VFX-JAPAN's Best Live-Action Film Award (Masaaki Kamada) and for Japan Academy Film Prizes in ten categories, including Best Film and Best Director, and won the awards for Best Sound Recording (Nobuhiko Matsukage) and Best Art Direction (Hidefumi Hanatani). Director Mitsutoshi Tanaka's upcoming feature film “TOMOATSU GODAI” (working title) is expected to be released in the spring of 2019.

Eriko Komatsu [Kainan 1890] screenplay
Michiru Oshima [Kainan 1890] music
Tetsuo Nagata [Kainan 1890] photography

Hiroshi Butsuda [Kainan 1890] special effects
Koichi Noguchi [Kainan 1890] VFX visual effects
Sisyu [Kainan 1890] Japanese calligraphy

Masahiro Aida [Kainan 1890] camera operation
Nobuhiko Matsukage [Kainan 1890] sound recording
Hidefumi Hanatani [Kainan 1890] production design

Masakazu Akagi [Kainan 1890] underwater camera
Midori Yamashita [Kainan 1890] makeup design
Akimasa Kawashima [Kainan 1890] film editing

Kiyoto Ando [Kainan 1890] lighting direction

Gamze Kus [Kainan 1890] Turkish costume design

Jotaro Saito [Kainan 1890] Japanese costume design

[Kainan 1890] Kushimoto and Istanbul teams: 
Hirofumi Tomita ・ Ryusuke Asao ・ Minako Yamanishi ・ Elif Tomoko Kushi Katou ・ Keiko Maruishi ・ 
Tatsuko Wanibuchi ・ Nakako Osone ・ Can Akalin ・ Keitaro Sugiyama ・ Makoto Sadahira ・ 
Hiroshi Kitao ・ Keishi Honda ・ Sayuri Yamaguchi

Kainan 1890 · Trailer

125 YEARS MEMORY Trailer

125 YEARS MEMORY Visual Effects

125 YEARS MEMORY Making of

Can Akalin [Kainan 1890] underwater photograph