Stress Relief

I usually cap off my day by watching a delightfully quirky Japanese drama, but I’ve been having a particularly stressful week, so I was not in the mood for any surprises. Instead, I turned to an old favorite, Yasashii Jikan. Beautifully set in Hokkaido, this tranquil, slow-paced story centers around the seemingly mundane goings-on at a forest cafe, its proprietor, and his estranged relationship with his son. It works like a balm on my frayed nerves, and I have an even better appreciation of the subtleties of the story the second time around. It also helps that his son is played by my favorite Japanese actor, Ninomiya Kazunari (you might have seen him as Private First Class Saigo in Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima, which he brilliantly played with just the right balance of cynicism, vulnerability and surprise comic timing; Nino also happens to be a member of the uber popular idol group Arashi–but that’s for another story).

Anyway, here is a screen cap of one of the scenes in Yasashii Jikan. Roughly translated, it means “gentle time”–perhaps “the gentle passing of time”?–which gives you an idea of the feel of the drama. I had forgotten that there were a few disturbing themes, but the non-sensational treatment, soothing soundtrack, and hypnotic falling snow keeps the nightmares at bay.

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I’m almost at the end (the series consists of only 11 episodes), and as always with shows (and books!) I love, I want to drag it out because I don’t want to say goodbye.

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