Dealing with Life and Death the Japanese Way

Dealing with Life and Death the Japanese Way

Mini Lecture & Documentary Film Screening

©2011 "Death of a Japanese Salesman" Production Committee


Date & Time:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @7PM



The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Street parking is available near JFLA. Click here for parking info.





Part I: Lecture (30mins)

“Dealing with Life and Death the Japanese Way” by Duncan Ryuken Williams (USC)

Duncan Ryuken Williams was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Japanese mother and British father. After growing up in Japan and England until age 17, he moved to the U.S. to attend college (Reed College) and graduate school (Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in Religion). He is currently an Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. Previously, he held the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at University of California at Berkeley. He has also been ordained since 1993 as a Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen tradition and served as the Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University from 1994-96. He is the author of a monograph entitled The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton University Press, 2005) and co-editor of seven volumes including Hapa Japan (Kaya Press, 2017), Issei Buddhism in the Americas (U-Illinois Press, 2010), American Buddhism (Routledge/Curzon Press, 1998), and Buddhism and Ecology(Harvard University Press, 1997).



Part II: Documentary Film Screening (90mins)

©2011 "Death of a Japanese Salesman" Production Committee

Death of a Japanese Salesman
(90mins, 2011)

Directed by Mami Sunada
Produced by Hirokazu Kore-eda

In Japanese with English subtitles

About the movie:

This is the debut film of Mami Sunada, who has been assistant director of Hirokazu Kore-eda in his recent works.  He is engaged in this film as producer being attracted by the brilliant power of her work. “Death of a Japanese Salesman” is a touching and funny documentary depicting the final days of cancer-affected father and his family, through the eyes of his daughter.

Tomoaki Sunada was a Japanese typical sales representative working more than 40 years in the same company.  After retiring, at 67 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer on the final stage.  This was the miscalculation of life for a business soldier.  In order to sum up his whole life and leave the message to his family, he laid on his last project, i.e. making an “Ending Note” by his own.  Then, the “setup” of his departure was launched.

* An “Ending Note” is a memorandum for the family of the deceased, like a testament without legal force.


Part III: Q&A Session with Director Mami Sunada (30mins)

Director Sunada will answer your question (Televised live from Japan)

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