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Gokogu no Neko

Cats of Gokogu Shrine
Film still from "Gokogu no Neko" by Kazuhiro Soda. It shows a close-up of a cat with one eye. The cat is looking into the camera. In the background is nature.
Still from GOKOGU NO NEKO by Kazuhiro Soda © Laboratory X, Inc.
  • Director

    Kazuhiro Soda

  • Japan / 2024
    119 min / Original version with English subtitles

  • Original language


Steep steps lead up to the Gokogu Shinto shrine in Ushimado. The local children play on them and the older residents attend to their upkeep, even planting mint on either side. Kazuhiro Soda presents these steps as a site of transition that also forms a key element of this tiny set-up. For this elevated shrine isn’t just somewhere to visit for spiritual purposes – Ushimado’s feline community has also set up home here, an occasionally dynamic collective consisting of cats abandoned by their owners and their subsequent offspring. They need to be cared for, even as their population must be kept in check. Kazuhiro Soda’s documentaries – many of them which have already screened at the Forum – always follow his own set of rules and show the seemingly innocuous, yet still weighty requirements of co-existence. Slowly, yet persistently, The Cats of Gokogu Shrine expands his gaze; the focus on details, everyday tendernesses and discipline gives this chronicle of a year a dimension that is at once down-to-earth and universal. And the presence of Kazuhiro Soda himself, who has lived in Ushimado for several years, can also be experienced first-hand in a restrained, honest manner. (Carolin Weidner)

Kazuhiro Soda, born in 1970 in Ashikaga, Japan. He studied religion at the University of Tokyo and filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He practices an observational method of documentary filmmaking based on his own “Ten Commandments”. He has made eleven feature-length documentaries with this method, which have screened and received prizes at festivals worldwide. He is also the author of nine books published in Japanese, one of which, “Why I Make Documentaries” has been translated into English, Korean, and Chinese.

Production Kazuhiro Soda, Kiyoko Kashiwagi. Production company Laboratory X (Ushimado, Japan). Director Kazuhiro Soda. Cinematography Kazuhiro Soda. Editing Kazuhiro Soda. Sound design Kazuhiro Soda. Sound Kazuhiro Soda.

World sales Asian Shadows

Films (selection): 1995: A Night in New York (10 min.), A Flower and a Woman (5 min.). 1996: Freezing Sunlight (85 min.). 1997: The Flicker (17 min.). 2001: Intanetto de Kazoku ga Umareru / Internet Adoption (59 min.). 2005: Mafuyu no 111 / 111 First in Winter (20 min.), Soshite Musuko ha Korosareta / My Son Was Killed (20 min.). 2007: Senkyo / Campaign (120 min., Forum 2007). 2008: Seishin / Mental (135 min., Forum 2009). 2010: Peace (75 min.). 2012: Engeki 1 / Theatre 1 (172 min.), Engeki 2 / Theatre 2 (170 min.). 2013: Senkyo 2 / Campaign 2 (149 min.). 2015: Kaki Kouba / Oyster Factory (145 min.). 2018: The Big House (119 min.), Minatomachi / Inland Sea (122 min., Forum 2019). 2024: Gokogu no Neko / The Cats of Gokogu Shrine.

Bonus Material

Director’s Statement and Interview

  • Film still from "Gokogu no Neko" by Kazuhiro Soda. It shows a man holding a cat from the frog

    Director’s Statement

    Kazuhiro Soda on settling in Ushimado and coming into contact with the community of cats featured in GOKOGU NO NEKO

  • Film still from "Gokogu no Neko" by Kazuhiro Soda. It shows a cat lying on the ground outside. Behind the cat is a building and cherry blossom trees.


    Kazuhiro Soda and Kiyoko Kashiwagi in conversation with Carolin Weidner and Barbara Wurm about GOKOGU NO NEKO

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur