I created this image after I saw Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams”  (after I saw the film for the second time in 2012, to be more precise).

After three Fukushima nuclear power reactors exploded on March 2011, people were talking about “Mount Fuji in Red” by Akira Kurosawa on internet. They were saying that it became true although it wasn’t the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, not far from Mt.Fuji.

Then, I watched “Mount Fuji in Red” on YouTube and thought that I might have seen this sometime, some place in the past, but maybe not. Then I found out that “Mount Fuji in Red” is one of the dreams from “Dreams,” which I did it see long time ago.

I am embarrassed to say that I hardly remembered the nuclear holocaust part. What I remembered were the fairly tale like scenes and Van Gogh. Knowing about the Chernobyl disaster, was I one of fools who must have thought that’s just a science fiction until an actual disaster happened in Japan? Did I fall asleep during the movie?!


Kurosawa’s “Dreams”

So, I borrowed the DVD and watched this film again about one year after Fukushima disaster.

Then a couple days later the earth near Mt. Fuji shook. Mt. Fuji and the Hamaoka nuclear power plant are about 120 kilometers (75 miles) apart. Even though the five reactors at the plant are shut down now, the super hot & radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods have to be cooled in pools for anywhere between five to ten years before transferring into dry casks — then, they were dumped into sea until 1993. ( Ocean disposal of radioactive waste ) We still are seeking places, except Finland, to store them safety for thousands years.

In March 2011 we witnessed through internet and tv that three nuclear reactors (one of them was shut down for the regular inspection) at Fukushima Daiichi exploded since the cooling systems and the backup generators stopped working from earthquake/ tsunami. Indeed “Mount Fuji in Red” wasn’t far fantasy or just a fiction.

This time the scenes of soldier (“The Tunnel”) and nuclear holocaust (“Mount Fuji in Red” and “The Weeping Demon”) were burned into my head, especially “The Weeping Demon” which describes the world after the nuclear disasters.

The Weeping Demon
A man finds himself wandering around a misty, bleak mountainous terrain. He meets a strange oni-like man, who is actually a mutated human with one horn. The “demon” explains that there had been a nuclear holocaust which resulted in the loss of nature and animals, enormous dandelions and humans sprouting horns, which cause them so much agony that you can hear them howling during the night, but, according to the demon, they can’t die, which makes their agony even worse. Many of the “demons” were former millionaires and government officials, who are now (in Buddhist style) suffering through a hell befitting for their sins.


According to a Japanese blogger, while “Black Rain” by Shohei Imanura was evaluated very highly, “Dreams” received poor critiques at that time — only Mr. Yodogawa, the most beloved movie critic in Japan, praised this film.

Now we know, if you are following after 3.11 Japan, why the Japanese media gave harsh comments to this movie and Kurosawa.


Kurosawa and his Two Other Films

“Dreams” (released in 1990) is not Kurosawa’s first film about nuclear tragedy.

Back in 1955 he made “I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being”.  Toshiro Mifune played the old man, who was frightened and obsessed with the idea of nuclear extermination; he wanted his whole family to move to South America to escape from radiation fallout. The old man ended up in a mental hospital.

Kurosawa (March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) lived from the start of Nuclear Age — the first nuclear test, “Trinity” in New Mexico just before Hiroshima & Nagasaki in 1945.

Nuclear weapon tests continued throughout his lifetime: the victims are within the US as well as the Pacific region (when tests were limited by the United States).

US fallout exposure

US fallout exposure By National Cancer Institute [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bikini Atoll program, one of the Pacific region nuclear tests, was practiced between 1946 and 1958 at seven test sites on the reef, in the air above the sea and underwater. In 1954, Daigo Fukuryū Maru, a Japanese fishing boat, was one of victims of the hydrogen bomb. I thought it was only one boat but “it is estimated that about one-hundred fishing boats were contaminated to some degree by fallout from the test.”

The head of the crew of Daigo Fukuryu-maru(Right: The head of one of the crew members of the Daigo Fukuryū Maru, showing radiation burns on April 7, 1954, 38 days after the nuclear test.)

After the Treaty Banning Nuclear Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (Partial Test Ban Treaty) in 1963, US went on underground testing at Nevada Test Site till 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CNTBT). But the most recent test was conducted on December 7, 2012, “an underground sub-critical test of the properties of plutonium”.  (Source: Nevada Test Site)

Then in 1979, Three Mile Island a partial nuclear meltdown, and in 1986, the catastrophic accident occurred in Chernobyl.

Kurosawa wasn’t fooled by “Atoms for Peace.”  His “Dreams” is his product of all these terrible things. Then less than a year after “Dreams, “he made “Rhapsody in August.” 

The beginning of “Rhapsody in August” was a bit boring because of its lecture-y nature. However, it was a smart idea that a young kid doing the lecturing about Nagasaki to her younger brother and sister, instead of parent or grandparent did. When their grandmother began to talk about her family, her story was personal and very interesting. At the end she also lost her mind, but not as tragic as when it happened to Mifune’s character in “I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being”. Mifune was 35 years old, by the way.


On August 11, 2015, a couple days after the 70th year anniversary of Nagasaki nuclear bombing, the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima prefecture, restarted after the four-year shutdown in spite of strong nation’s opposition.

Kurosawa’s bad dream may come true again — this time in Kagoshima where Sakurajima volcano has been erupting for years. It is crazy to build 54 nuclear power plants in Japan, where there are many volcanos and earthquakes, first of all.

Below is the Sakurajima eruption last month.

By the way, the McMurdo* nuclear plant in Antarctica has been leaking for years and suspected of causing cancer**.  No wonder ice is melting and sea animals die!? (I never knew that a nuclear power plant was built at the U.S. base in Antarctica till recently.)

*“Antarctica’s Failed Atomic Power Plant: Still Deadly 30 Years On”

**“Nuclear plant leak in Antarctica suspected of causing cancer”