Our Little Sister

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Our Little Sister
Directed byHirokazu Kore-eda
Screenplay byHirokazu Kore-eda
Based onUmimachi Diary
by Akimi Yoshida
Produced by
  • Kaoru Matsuzaki
  • Hijiri Taguchi
CinematographyMikiya Takimoto
Edited byHirokazu Kore-eda
Music byYoko Kanno
Distributed by
  • Toho
  • GAGA corporation
Release dates
  • May 14, 2015 (2015-05-14) (Cannes)
  • June 13, 2015 (2015-06-13) (Japan)
Running time
126 minutes
Box office¥1.55 billion[1]

Our Little Sister (Japanese: 海街 diary, Hepburn: Umimachi Diary, lit. "Seaside town diary") is a 2015 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda and based on Akimi Yoshida's manga series Umimachi Diary. It stars Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose. The film follows three sisters living in Kamakura, alongside their half sister.[2] It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[3][4]


Three sisters, Sachi Kōda, Yoshino Kōda and Chika Kōda, live in the house of their grandparents in Kamakura. Their parents are divorced. One day, they receive news of the death of their father, whom they have not seen in fifteen years. At the funeral, they meet their half-sister, fourteen year old Suzu Asano. Suzu is living with her stepmother and stepbrother. Observing the behaviour of the stepmother at the funeral (she tries to pass on the responsibility of addressing the guests to Suzu), Sachi guesses that Suzu looked after their father as he died, not the stepmother. At the train station Sachi spontaneously invites Suzu to come and live with them. Suzu joins the local football team and becomes popular as the relationship develops.


Kore-eda and stars promoting the film at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.


The film was produced by Fuji Television, Shogakukan, Toho and Gaga Corporation.[5] Principal photography began in July 2014.[6]


The film premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film was released in Japan on June 13, 2015.[7] It premiered in London, England on October 14, 2015 as part of the BFI London Film Festival[8] It was released in South Korea in 2016.

Box office[edit]

The film has grossed ¥1.55 billion in Japan.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reports a 94% approval rating for Our Little Sister, based on 123 critics, with an average score of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Our Little Sister uses the story of one fractured family to offer universal -- and deeply moving -- observations on the human condition."[9] The film also holds a 75/100 average rating on Metacritic, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave it a full four stars and said that "this is the kind of movie that will leave you feeling restored, maybe a little misty-eyed as well".[11] Calvin Wilson of St. Louis Post-Dispatch referred to it as "a beautiful drama with comedic undertones about the tension between the comforts of family life and the vast possibilities beyond it. [...] an insightful film that bears comparison to the work of British directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach."[12]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film's plot: "Seeming to wander through small incidents and mundane busyness, it acquires momentum and dramatic weight through a brilliant kind of narrative stealth." He said the film "goes down as easily as a sip of the plum wine the sisters brew and yet leaves the viewer both sated and intoxicated."[13] Kenji Fujishima of The Village Voice found the film less powerful than Kore-eda's Still Walking (2008) and Like Father, Like Son (2013), writing that the film has "an emotional reticence that at times verges on too subtle for its own good. [...] moments of bitterness and anguish don’t quite have the gut-punch impact they ought to have." Still, Fujishima commended the acting and also lauded one scene as showing "the laudable humanity at the heart of Kore-eda’s patient, warmhearted worldview".[14]

It was Christian Blauvelt's choice in IndieWire's 2018 list of the best Japanese films of the 21st century, with Blauvelt writing that "Kore-eda doesn’t delve into the histrionics usually involved with depictions of “broken families” in American films – these young women know they have to make do, get on with life, and leave the self-pity behind."[15]


Our Little Sister received the most nominations (12) at the 39th Japan Academy Prize, winning four of them including Picture of the Year and Director of the Year. The four actresses who portrayed the sisters were all awarded or nominated for the acting awards (Haruka Ayase was nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Masami Nagasawa and Kaho were nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Leading Role and Suzu Hirose won Newcomer of the Year).[16]

The film also won Audience Award at San Sebastián International Film Festival.[17]


  1. ^ a b Kevin Ma (2015-07-30). "Hero victorious for second week in Japan". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  2. ^ Ma, Kevin (28 May 2014). "Kore-eda Hirokazu adapts Kamakura Diary". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 2015-04-07. Retrieved 2015-04-03.
  3. ^ "2015 Official Selection". Festival de Cannes. Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  4. ^ "Screenings Guide". Festival de Cannes. 2015-05-06. Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
  5. ^ Noh, Jean (2015-03-23). "Filmart 2015: Hot titles - Japan". Screen International. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  6. ^ "Haruka Ayase Stars in Hirokazu Kore-eda's Umimachi Diary Film". Anime News Network. 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  7. ^ "Our Little Sister". gaga.co.jp. Gaga Corporation. Archived from the original on 2019-01-04. Retrieved 2015-04-03.
  8. ^ "BFI London Film Festival 2015: 30 recommendations". www.bfi.org.uk. 2015-10-13. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  9. ^ "Our Little Sister". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  10. ^ "Our Little Sister Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  11. ^ Rea, Steven (2016-07-29). "'Our Little Sister,' Japanese director Koreeda's gentle, joyous study of sisterhood". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  12. ^ Wilson, Calvin (2016-09-15). "'Our Little Sister' is cinema at its finest". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  13. ^ Scott, A. O. (2016-07-07). "Review: 'Our Little Sister,' or What We Found at Dad's Funeral (Published 2016)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  14. ^ Fujishima, Kenji (2016-07-08). "Kore-eda Sets His Empathic Gaze on Another Troubled Family in 'Our Little Sister' | The Village Voice". Village Voice. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  15. ^ Ehrlich, David (2018-03-26). "The Best Japanese Films of the 21st Century — IndieWire Critics Survey". IndieWire. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  16. ^ Hodgkins, Crystalyn (2016-01-18). "Umimachi Diary/Our Little Sister Film Nominated for 12 Japan Academy Prize Awards". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  17. ^ ?"Uminachi Diary/Our Little Sister". San Sebastián International Film Festival. Retrieved 2021-03-09.

External links[edit]