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Kochi Woman - 04

Momoko Ando

Film Director

The prolific Pacific Ocean and the beaming tropical sun—the women of Kochi endowed with the gifts of nature are incredibly optimistic, tough, and committed. Kochians have a name for these women: “Hachikin.” All women who have put down roots here, even immigrants, curiously acquire those characteristics. Let’s take a look at the stories of three Hachikin.


A life not tied down by a job title

Film director Momoko Ando first visited Kochi about eight years ago. Kochi was a potential filming location for her movie 0.5 mm.

“The moment I stepped off the plane, my nerves melted away. The road from the airport to the city was ordinary enough, but the air felt different. My intuition told me there was something special about this place. By the end of the day, I had decided to shoot here. And by the end of the filming, I had decided to move here.”

Quite a few people who have relocated to Kochi were guided by their intuition. Momoko says Kochi is “a prefecture that stimulates your motherhood.” After moving here, she got married, gave birth to a child, got divorced, and became a single mother. And throughout these life changes, she has always remained positive and powerful. Besides her work as a film director, Momoko is a radio personality, an event producer, the founder and operator of mini theater Kinema M, and the organizer of Momoko Juku, a program for developing human resources through theater and video production. Kochi offers endless outlets for Momoko’s creativity.

The movie theater Kinema M was opened for a limited time of 18 months.

“Kochians don’t live by their job title. I think they are more intrinsically Japanese. Rather than their position or title, they interact with one another’s ‘life,’ and they’re kind to the weak and the vulnerable. After living in Kochi for a while, my title of film director naturally faded, and everything I do started to revolve around what I want to deliver as a film director.”

Momoko is also the leader of Wasshoi!—a cross-industry project that aims to brighten the children’s future through hands-on nature and food activities. Last year, the group grew soybeans in the field. This winter, they used the soybeans to make miso with the local residents. To Momoko, the sight of women and men, young and old, working together and making miso in the shrine grounds looked like the future in miniature.

“A world where there is happiness for all ‘life’—talk like this might be considered naïve in some societies. But that place on that day was definitely the microcosm of a happy society. I believe Kochi is the closest place to where we want to be living in the future.”

A scene from the event “Parent and child miso making with live music!”
Miso made with ingredients all produced in Kochi, including the soybeans.

Momoko Ando
Born in 1982 in Tokyo, Momoko Ando is a film director. In 2014 she wrote the screenplay and directed a film adaptation of her own full-length novel 0.5 mm, starring her younger sister, Sakura Ando. Momoko moved to Kochi, where she shot the movie, and today takes on a broader spectrum of roles such as operator of the mini theater Kinema M, and radio personality of the FM Kochi program Hirake Chakra!

In this issue we live as ‘modern nomads’ hunting and gathering our own food. And then setting up camp both Seaside and Mountainside to cook up our daily catch to a scrumptious perfection. Our two women guest for this issue are fishing professional Bun Chan (Ayana Ishikawa) and ‘traveling chef’ Nao Mikami.
text | Yukiko Soda photography | Tetsuya Yamamoto