Documentary Film


For a thousand years, Japanese have lived in this forest. A thousand years from now, what will you leave behind?

Finding their place between the forest and the sea, the Japanese have always felt awe and gratitude toward Nature. Since ancient times, they have negotiated their own unique relationship with their natural surroundings.

Acclaimed photographer Masa-aki Miyazawa discovered the essence of that ancient way of living in Ise Jingu, Japan’s holiest Shinto shrine. Inspired by the idea of sending a message to the future in the same way this ancient shrine keeps alive the traditions of the past, Miyazawa used an ultra-high resolution 4K camera to create a breathtaking visual journey linking the Ise forest with other forests throughout Japan. The result was “In Between Mountains and Oceans,” Japan’s first documentary film shot entirely on 4K. The film reverberates with the voices of the past and present, linking everyone who views it with invisible threads of human connection.

With crystal-clear photography that lets you feel the clear forest air on your skin, stirring music that uplifts the soul, and words of wisdom from 12 of Japan’s most intriguing personalities, “In Between Mountains and Oceans” is an unforgettable experience. How will you view the world after you watch it? The answer lies inside you.

Embark on a journey to a sacred forest, to cultivate a heart that can appreciate beauty even more deeply.

The visual beauty of the divine mysteries. “Shikinen Sengu” as seen through the eyes of photographer Masa-aki Miyazawa.

The Ise Shrine has been rebuilt every 20 years for approximately the last 1300 years in a ceremonial construction process known as “Shikinen Sengu.” In an incredibly elaborate ceremony that has taken place without interruption for centuries, the Divinity inside the Shrine is invited to move into a new shrine identical to the current one built directly adjacent to it. It is one of the oldest and rarest religious ceremonies in the world.

Acclaimed photographer Masa-aki Miyazawa, known for his work in advertising, magazine, and photography collections, followed this ancient rebuilding process for 10 years, documenting every stage of the elaborate ritual until it finally culminated in the 62nd Shikinen Sengu ceremony of 2013. With a unique photographic sensibility that is both sharply clear yet full of warmth for the subject matter, Miyazawa documents the rebirth of the Ise Shrine – its severe and pure appearance, its never-before-seen esoteric rites, and finally the secret Ceremony of the Transition, taking place in the “pure darkness” of an auspicious night. Transcending both space and time, Miyazawa takes our breath away by transporting us to the mysterious world of the Divine.

Entering the Forest, we meet the Wise Men. Documenting a journey to find the soul of Japan.

By following the “Shikinen Sengu” ceremony, Miyazawa set out to capture the distilled wisdom of the ancients through the visual medium of filmmaking. Miyazawa was seeking answers to the question of why the Japanese people have continued this ancient tradition for centuries without cease. On a cinematic journey starting from the Ise Forest and then continuing on to the forests of Kiso and Shirakamisan, Miyazawa follows an invisible thread leading to enlightened masters of the forest all throughout Japan. By planting trees with fisherman-activist Hatakeyama Shigeatsu, learning the science of forests from world-renowned biologists, lending his ear to the Master Carpenter of Ise, and listening to Kengu Kuma and Takeshi Kitano expound upon the meaning of space and time, Miyazawa discovers that the true heart and soul of Japan exists in the mystical space “between mountains and oceans.” To watch this film is to join Miyazawa on this transcendental journey.

You can smell the clear air of morning, feel the temperature of the air on your skin. Brilliantly clear 4K photography that places you in the scene.

Ise Shrine at dawn. Immaculately robed Shinto priests walk across the pure white sands of the shrine to present the “Higoto Asayu” food offering to the Diety. The superlative image quality offered by the high-resolution 4K system when seen on the big screen allows viewers to feel as though they are actually there, feeling the temperature of the pure morning air on their skin. The dappled sunlight glinting through the leaves, the rough bark of the trees, a single drop of water trickling down a tree branch…for a moment, you feel as though you’ve been transported to the forest, physically encountering the presence of Nature. Experiencing the incredibly beauty of this film could transform you into a slightly different person than you were before you saw it.

The babbling brook, the stirring orchestra. Music that reverberates with your soul and makes you melt into the scene.

Under the direction of Musical Director Naoki Tachikawa, renowned artists Akiko Grace, Osamu Kitajima, and the AUN J Classic Orchestra create an inspired soundtrack that perfectly complements the sumptuous photography and the story of the search for Japan’s soul. The soft piano music and austere tones of traditional instruments combine with the ambient sounds of Nature – twittering birds and babbling brooks – to create an inspired soundscape. With the additional factor of the super high-frequency “hypersound” naturally generated by the forest, you may experience the awakening of a previously-undiscovered sense of peace and well-being engendered by the harmonious mixture of these various auditory elements.