Stories of all sizes and mediums matter to filmmakers across the world. Similar to short films, short stories offer a unique and valuable approach to storytelling. They can provide a concise and focused narrative that looks at the complex facades of human life through a seemingly simple visual motif or a delicate change of a relationship between two characters.

There are so many opportunities for great short stories, which is why the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia (SSFF & ASIA) is celebrating short stories that focus on the beauty of life in Japan. 

As a part of the 2022 Japan Cultural Expo sponsored “Stories from Around Japan” project, SSFF & ASIA is continuing to honor storytellers at its 9th Book Shorts Award. Over 700 submissions were made this year, but one story stood out amongst the rest.

This year’s winner, Sunset Road by Uda Tamaki, is a short story based on the children’s song Kono Michi, which tells a story about the memories of a relationship between the narrator and his father. The song is one that many people in Japan have heard before, but what makes this short story so memorable is how Tamaki transformed a familiar tale into something much more.

Image0_1Credit: Couresty of SSFF & ASIA

How Sunset Road Grew From Inspiration 

In the children’s song Kono Michi, translate as “The Road” in English, the narrator recalls walking down a familiar road with his family long ago.

Award-winning writer Tamaki took the simplistic beauty of this song and transformed it into a short story that reflects on the hardships of parenthood, grief, and the passage of time, themes that she often tackles in her short works.

Tamaki’s story follows a father and his adult son reconnecting after the father’s long stay at a hospital for his early-onset dementia. Their relationship is strained due to the son’s resentment of the father’s drinking and gambling addiction that broke their family.

On the day of his discharge from the hospital, the main character walks along the path to his parent’s home with his father who has broken memories of his son. As the clock tower chimes, the memories come flooding back. During this state of recollection, the main character searches to see if he can find forgiveness for his father’s actions.

You can read the full short story here on the SSFF & ASIA website.

As filmmakers, reading and writing short stories matter. Doing so will sharpen your storytelling abilities, help you understand character development, explore complex themes through visual language, and provide you will a source of inspiration for your next project.

Until you start writing your next short story about a moment in your life or an inspirational city in Japan, check out more of the short story winners from this year’s Japan Cultural Expo-sponsored “Stories from Around Japan” project on their website.