The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Japanese Drama Database
Japanese Title: Koko kara Toi Kuni
English Title: A Country Far from Here
Author: IWASAKI, Masahiro
Author's Profile: The playwright-director IWASAKI Masahiro was born in Mie Prefecture near Osaka in 1963. He is the artistic director of Theatre Company Taiyozoku (Tribe of the Sun). He founded Theatre Company Osaka Taiyozoku in 1982, while still a student at the Osaka University of Fine Arts. In 1990 the company's name was changed to 199Q (Ichi-Kyu-Kyu-Q) Taiyozoku. With the production of "What-say We Run Riot in the Streets After a Bit?" the company disbanded in the fall of 2000. The troupe reformed in 2001 under the name Theatre Company Taiyozoku. "Re-Volution" earned Honorable Mention in the first OMS Drama Awards in 1994, and "A Country Far Distant" won the grand prize in 1997. IWASAKI lectures to Theatrical Performance majors at Kinki University's School of Arts and Letters.
First Performance:   1996
Performance time:  
Acts / Scenes: 1 act
Cast: 11 (5 men, 6 women)


This play portrays the anxiety hanging in the Japanese air at the end of the twentieth century by looking at the mental state of adherents of Aum Shinrikyo, the religious group responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.


Two Aum Shinrikyo members, Yoshimasa and Kanemitsu, are driving through the mountains on the way to carry out a task assigned to them when their truck stalls out. With dense mountain fog all around, Yoshimasa's mother, Tomoko, suddenly appears on the truck bed saying, "Welcome home." Not knowing whether it is a dream or reality, Yoshimasa drifts off to sleep.

Shortly afterward the scene changes to that of a pickup truck left in the garage of the general contracting firm that Yoshimasa's family operates in the suburbs of Osaka. His father, Hitoshi, and his three sisters, Nobuko, Reiko and Mari, are expressing their worries about Yoshimasa who is living in the pickup. Tomoko, whose ashes have not yet been buried, appears before the eyes of the two men, Yoshimasa who occasionally becomes confused and Hitoshi, who is ill and getting worse.
Yoshimasa could not find any meaning whatsoever as someone devoting his life to his family and working like a cog in the machinery of society, so he threw himself into the belief that Aum Shinriky? could change the world. But now, with Aum's crimes exposed by the police, he is in a state of confusion over whether or not to return to the religion or to his life of reality. Kanemitsu ridicules him and a Public Peace officer named Komatsu is tailing him and trying to get him to work as a spy on Aum. Yoshimasa has borrowed "Hamlet" and "The Three Sisters" from Mari who is in her college's drama group. Yoshimasa's distress comes out through the gradually overlapping speeches of Hamlet and Andrey. In the midst of this, Hitoshi suddenly collapses.

Yoshimasa wakes up inside the Aum compound with Kanemitsu next to him. Yoshimasa feels as if what happened at home occurred when his soul had left the body and got lost in an impossible time warp. In that dream-like state he remembers that once he was a candidate for political office giving speeches at plazas in front of train stations. Yoshimasa doesn't know which way to turn in the future, but for now, he begins to realize that there is meaning in continuing to live.
TOP