About three years ago my wife and I went to the Tokyo screening of the movie 「ミリキタニの猫」 (“The Cats Of Mirikitani“).
The movie is a documentary by Linda Hattendorf about ジミー・ツトム・ミ力谷 (Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani).
In the beginning of the documentary, Linda Hattendorf simply films and interviews a homeless Japanese artist who lives on the street near her apartment in New York City selling his artwork (many of which features cats).
But then the “September 11th” attacks on the World Trade Center happen and Linda sees the artist, Jimmy Mirikitani, still on the street breathing the toxic dust in the air from the fallen towers…so she invites him into her apartment. And that’s when they change each other’s lives.
She discovers that he was born in California (and therefore was an American citizen) and raised in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan).
When he was a young man, he moved back to America to pursue his dream to become an artist. But when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, he was put in an internment camp and lost his U.S. citizenship.
A chain of events led to him becoming homeless and stateless. But with Linda’s help, he reacquired his American citizenship, located long-lost relatives, paid a visit to the internment camp that had caused him to resent the U.S. government (but revisiting it helped him to overcome the anger), and also visit his hometown in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan).
She also helped him get an apartment of his own and a job teaching art.
The reason I’m writing a blog post about this story after it’s been three years since I watched the documentary is because I just found out there is a show of phots of ジミー・ツトム・ミ力谷 (Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani) and a new painting by him at a vegetarian restaurant in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) called Nagishokudo from March 29 until April 18, 2009.
If you’re in Tokyo, you should go see it if you have a chance (especially if you like vegetarian food since restaurants like that are fairly uncommon in Japan. (As for me, I’m definately not a vegetarian so I don’t think I’ll be going there for the art show)).