I love going to the movies.

I love buying the tickets, lining up at concessions, getting my popcorn — and the popcorn salt — and reclining in my seat for two hours, watching a story play out on a giant screen in front of me.

And I love it even more when it’s in Japanese.

This past week, Sam and I went to the movies two days in a row, both times to see films that were made in Japan. And that’s kind of a big deal.

Of course, growing up in the United States, I watched American content. Everything was in English. That meant that the only time I got to interface with the language I grew up with was when I talked to my parents or I watched Japanese dramas on my laptop via random torrent websites.

But now, in 2023, I can go to the movies just like everyone else and watch films in my native language. And after coming back from Japan, where I was immersed in it for weeks, it feels like a reprieve.

Sure, we watch Japanese stuff at home — lots of anime, and the occasional thriller or TV drama. But it’s a different thing entirely to be able to go out in public and experience it, especially in a place like Greensboro.

So on Saturday, we bought tickets and watched the new Godzilla movie, Godzilla Minus One, and less than 24 hours later, we were in the same theater watching the new Miyazaki film, The Boy and the Heron, otherwise known as Kimitachi wa Dō Ikiru ka in Japanese, roughly translated to, “How do you live?”

When we went the second day, I noticed that there was an Asian family — a mother, two kids and a father — seated in our row. But as the film progressed, I picked up on a few words that the kids would utter as they watched the movie.

“Ah, kaeru da.”

Oh, a frog!



And I realized they were Japanese. And it filled my heart with joy. Because when I was a kid, I never got to watch a Miyazaki film in Japanese. Instead, my sister and I spent hours watching the VHS tapes in the custodian-closet-turned-office at my parent’s restaurant on Sunday afternoons.

Now, more than 15 years later, the 12-year-old me from back then couldn’t be happier.

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