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Hiroshi Shoji


Born in 1986 in Hiroshima. Graduated from Tokyo Broadcasting Arts and Film Actors College.
After making more than a dozen short films, he directed a feature film “Ken and Kazu” which was released theatrically in 2016. The film brought him multiple awards including the prestigious Kaneto Shindo Award and Directors Guild of Japan’s New Director Award.
He is currently directing and producing an independent feature film “Tatsumi”.


~Feature films~
Tatsumi (2024)
Ken and Kazu (2016)

Saihate Kara, Toho 5-fun (2022)
Oshako, Sommelier of Fancy Homes (2021)
How About Coffee? (2021)
Giver: Revenge’s Giver (2018)

~Short films~
Fake Tooth (2012)
Ken and Kazu (short film) (2011)
BONSAI (2010)
A Place with an Ocean View (2010)
Carrier (2009)
Episode 23 (2008)

10+5 Questions for Hiroshi Shoji

1. What is the first film in your memory?
As far as I remember, the first movie I ever saw was “Friday the 13th.” I have loved watching horror films since I was a child, and I used to watch “Friday the 13th” on TV broadcasts.

2. What are some of your favorite films?
“My Sassy Girl”
“Million Dollar Baby”
“Léon: The Professional”
“Reservoir Dogs”
“The Social Network”

3. Which creators have you been inspired by or influenced by?
Kenji Uchida
James Cameron
Quentin Tarantino
David Fincher
Doug Campbell (Professor at my film school)

4. What are the films that shook your world or changed your life?
“My Sassy Girl”
I remember watching it when I was in high school and moving to Tokyo because I wanted to make a film like this.

5. Are there any Japanese directors of your generation you are inspired by?
It’s not exactly my generation, but I have been inspired by the works of Shuichi Okita and Shinichiro Ueda.

6. What does filmmaking mean to you?
When I make a film, my first priority is always to make a good film. I know “a good film” is a little bit ambiguous, but I strive to make a film that is an exciting experience for me and that makes the world look a little different before and after people see it.
I believe that being able to make such films is what filmmaking means to me.

7. What are you interested in outside of films and filmmaking?
I’ve been fortunate to write a script for the stage director Mr. Tomoyuki Kuramoto. I have also been directing a stage play myself recently. So I am interested in stage plays these days.

8. Where’s your happy place?
The house I grew up in Hiroshima.

9. What are the customs or phenomena that are unique to Japan that you want other people to know?
The four seasons in Japan are exciting so I want people to know more about them.

10. Where would you be in 10 years?
I hope I’ll still be making movies.


1. What is your favorite moment in the film? (no spoilers)
I’d say the opening scene with Ken, Kazu and Teru talking in the car. I love the conversation between the three in the everyday scene before they get involved in the series of events.

2. Why did you decide to write/make this film?
I made a short version of this film “Ken and Kazu,” which was received well at various film festivals. I was inspired to make a feature-length version of this short film. At the time, I had only made short films, and I thought I could make a better story by reconstructing what I had made once rather than coming up with a completely new story, so I started from the short film to this feature film.
Katsuya Maiguma played the same role (Kazu) in the short film, so it was smoother for him to grasp the character. And I think the addition of Shinsuke Kato to the cast brought a breath of fresh air to the feature-length film.

3. Were there any films that you watched as a reference or a source of inspiration?
I referenced the atmosphere of a lot of the movies I was watching at the time.
“The Town”
“Training Day”
“Winter’s Bone”
“Frozen River”

4. Was there any music you were listening to or book you were reading while you were making this film?
“James Cameron’s Titanic”
This is a production journal of the movie “Titanic”, and it’s a book I always read before shooting a film. When I read about the grueling production of this film, I realize how fortunate I am with my production, and it makes me want to do my best.

5. Any fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes or episodes you’d like to share?
With this film, we had an additional filming six months after the main production, and it was very difficult to recreate the way it was at the time. Katsuya Maiguma, who played Kazu, had a punch perm, so we had to perm his hair again and make it exactly the same length. Shinsuke Kato, who played Ken, had very coarse hair, so the length of his collar was different every time he cut his hair. If you watch carefully, you will notice that the length of the hair differs from scene to scene as the shots from the additional shoot are inserted even in the same scene.

Message to our audience about this film

This is my first feature film. I made it with the idea of what I want to watch and what excites me when I watch it. It was shot in 2013, released in 2016, and traveled to many film festivals around the world. It’s a film about young people who are stuck in their local town, and it was made in a rural corner of Japan. I was excited to see how such a film would be viewed by people in other countries where values are completely different, but I was also anxious that it might not be accepted. As it turned out, the reactions in Korea and other Asian countries, in Edinburgh, England, and in New York, the U.S. were very sympathetic to the sentiments of the young characters in the film. These reactions encouraged me a lot and gave me the drive and strength to release “Ken and Kazu” theatrically in Japan and to make my second feature film. I owe it to the experience I had at these festivals, and I am very grateful for it.
I really appreciate the release of “Ken and Kazu” on SAKKA where it can be seen by people overseas again 10 years after the shooting of the film. I will be very happy if the world looks a little different for you after watching this film.