Hirayama seems to be repeating
the same things over and over again.
But for him, no two days are ever the same.
Each one always brings something new.

Morning slowly unfurls.
No one has noticed yet, except for
the elderly woman sweeping fallen leaves
with her bamboo broom.

The sound of the bamboo broom
reaches the old apartment buildings second floor.
Hirayama opens his eyes,
and stares at the ceiling.

Did the sun form his deep wrinkles?
Or was it just age?
He is always gazing into the distance.

Without warning, Hirayama gets up.
He folds his thin sleeping mat,
goes downstairs and starts getting ready for the day.
He washes his face,
shaves with the shaver hes used for decades,
and trims his moustache with a pair of scissors.
These perfectly efficient movements
seem to be a long-standing routine.

He grabs the spray bottle in the kitchen
and returns to the second floor.

Perhaps because the stairs are steep,
or wanting to minimize the creaking,
he ascends on his tiptoes.

A purple light shines
at the back of the room where he was sleeping.
It is a light for plants.
For saplings of different sizes.
A handmade pot
created by opening a hole in the bottom of a teacup
holds a small maple sapling.
Its leaves are made more magnificent
by its diminutive size.
After carefully watering the maple,
Hirayama flicks the leaves.

He puts on his blue work uniform.
He takes a flip phone,
a small film camera,
his car keys,
and some change
off the small shelf next to the front door
from left to right and puts them in his pockets.

Looking up at todays sky,
he cracks a slight smile.

He then buys a can of sweetened coffee
from the parking lot vending machine.
For years, this is all hes had for breakfast.

The rearview mirror is trained on his eyes.
As always, the eyes in the mirror
look like someone elses to him.
He reaches to the shelf above the driver seat,
and grabs a few random cassette tapes.
Inspecting them, he thinks about which one to play.
It is only then his perfectly efficient movement
stops for a little while.

He slides his selection halfway into the player,
then steps on the gas.

When the car merges with traffic,
he sees the Skytree
and pushes the cassette in all the way.

His short journey begins.

To the usual intersection.

The usual traffic signal.

The usual police box.

The usual expressway.

The usual river.

The usual parks.

The usual buildings.

And the usual public toilets.

He carries his cleaning equipment, checks the stalls,
and puts on his gloves.
He has repeated the same routine for years,
so he does everything in a fluid motion.

Making dirty things clean.
Returning a negative to a zero.
Cleaning work somehow resembles ascetic training.
As he quietly repeats his routine,
the voice inside him quiets.
Following a routine calms the mind.

He meets the homeless man who is always in the park.
Sometimes their eyes meet.
Every time, he feels like the homeless man sees through him.
Could he be the only one who sees this homeless man?

When he finishes cleaning all the toilets,
he reports to the company
and takes the same route back home.

He gets home in the evening.
The night is still young.
He gets on his bicycle and goes to the bathhouse.
He likes the hot water of a freshly drawn bath.

He then pops in at his regular basement pub.
Without having to ask, the usual is brought out to him.
He grabs a drink and cucumber
and looks around at the regulars engrossed in a baseball game.

But hes somewhere far away.

Everything is somewhere far away.

Somewhere far away.

And he feels comfortable with this distance.

He returns to his apartment and continues reading his book.
Its interesting, just as the used bookseller said.
It wasnt popular in its time, but its a good one.

Getting far-sighted, he needs glasses
with a stronger prescription.

Before long, he wonders if he should keep reading,
or just give in to sleep.
He turns off the reading lamp and closes his eyes.

Somewhere in the distance,
a single gust of wind blows by.


  • 76th Cannes International Film Festival 
    Best Actor
  • 96th Academy Awards International Feature Film 
    Representative of Japan
  • 36th Tokyo International Film Festival 
    Opening Film


a film by WIM WENDERS / starring KOJI YAKUSHO

Scrolling Book with Sound
353 days in Hirayamas life 
not portrayed in the film