A film about place and memory, a farmhouse in Japan, and the lives of the people who called it home.
MINKA is a short documentary about a remarkable Japanese farmhouse and the memories it contains. In 1967, an American journalist and a Japanese student rescued the ancient house from the snow country of Japan, and their lives were forever changed.
The film begins when Associated Press foreign correspondent John Roderick became the unlikely owner of an enormous rundown farmhouse, a building type known as a “minka.” Working with a young university student named Yoshihiro Takishita, who would later become his adopted son, Roderick transported the massive timber house from the Japanese Alps to the Tokyo suburb of Kamakura. It defined both their lives: for Roderick, it was the backdrop for a remarkable career as the leading “China watcher” of the Mao era. For Takishita, it inspired a life spent collecting and rebuilding similar houses, work that continues today. But MINKA is more meditation than history. Filmed just following Roderick’s death at ninety-three, it uses this one house as a vessel of memory to explore the power of place, memory, architecture, and the meanings of home.