log in / register

Pastoral: To Die in the Country (aka Pastoral Hide and Seek)

Shūji Terayama
Den’en ni shisu
Japan 1974 / 104’
Butterfly Dress Pledge Grass Labyrinth

In the moment of match-strike, with fog on the sea – how could any homeland be worth throwing away my life? writes Terayama in one of his most famous tanka poems. Pastoral Hide and Seek is considered Terayama’s most personal work—a film in which the artist comes to terms with his own childhood, as well as proof that the reconstruction of history comes dangerously close to falsification. This is a pseudo-autobiographical story a boy’s unsuccessful or imaginary escape from an authoritarian mother and a neighbor. Set in a picturesque area, the film is deeply immersed in the spiritualistic world of the legends and traditions of the Aomori prefecture, which Terayama considered his homeland. There, on top of Mount Osore, the worlds of the living and the dead intermingle through blind shamans. In the final moments, the adult protagonist comes face-to-face with a younger version of himself. For Terayama, the creative process is a never-ending game that he plays against himself: the eponymous pastoral hide-and-seek.

Nikodem Karolak


Blue Ribbon Awards 1976 – Best Supporting Actor

Shūji Terayama

(1935-1983), one of the most prominent avant-garde reformers of Japanese cinema and theater. He became an unrivaled intellectual, nonconformist and unyielding fanatic, as well as an artist who was deemed scandalous and subversive, an enfant terrible, who managed to revise his native tradition. Famous internationally primarily as the founder of the legendary alternative Tenjō Sajiki theater, he directed a series of films with strong autobiographical themes, including a counter-cultural manifesto based on the collage method Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets, or Death in the Country, which critics compared and contrasted to Federico Fellini's  Eight and a Half, and near the end of his life to create his own version of Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in Farewell to the Ark, where Macondo culture permeates Japanese myths and beliefs. As a total artist, Terayama not only mixed different genres and conventions, but combined the cinema with theater, destroying the "fourth wall" between the viewer and the artist.

Selected filmography

1971 Rzućmy książki, wyjdźmy na ulice! / Sho o suteyo machi e deyō / Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

1974 Wiejska ciuciubabka / Den'en ni shisu / Pastoral: To Die in the Country (aka Pastoral Hide and Seek)

1977 Bokser / Bokusā / Boxer

1981 Owoce namiętności / Shanhai Ijin Shōkan / Fruits of Passion

1984 Żegnaj, Arko! / Saraba hakobune / Farewell to the Ark

Cast & Crew

director Shūji Terayama
screenplay Shūji Terayama
cinematography Tatsuo Suzuki
editing Hiroshi Asai, Sachiko Yamaji, Otsubo Ryūsuke
music J.A. Seazer
cast Suga Kantarō, Hiroyuki Takano, Yoshio Harada, Isao Kimura, Keiko Niitaka
producer Eiko Kujō, Yumi Govaasu, Shūji Terayama
production Art Theatre Guild (ATG)
sales Toho
language Japanese
colouration colour