Heart of the Country is the story of Shinichi Yasutomo, the extraordinary principal
of a rural elementary school in Kanayama, central Hokkaido, Japan. Yasutomo is a man
driven by his vision for learning and his passion for educating the heart as well
as the mind. The film follows Yasutomo, his teachers and staff, students and their
families over the course of one entire school year.
The film is also the story of the families of Kanayama. Parents and elders of this
once impoverished town embrace Yasutomo's vision, but not without wary glances back
to the past. This small community, bound together by love for its children, is also
defined by its journey through the cultural upheavals of postwar Japan.
Beyond intimate observation of everyday life, from morning gymnastics to the graduating
ceremony, Heart of the Country takes viewers into the world of Japanese values, revealing
how the school, the family and the community are bound together in a self-perpetuating
relationship based upon obligation, mutual responsibility and trust.
"The visual impact, the characters, the calm pace and cumulative experience of the
children, the school and teachers, Yasutomo and the community are terrific ... A gem."
—Professor of Education Merry White, Boston University, author of The Japanese Educational