December 28, 2001
is a charming, beautiful but hearing-impaired woman who lives a
peaceful life in a small Japanese town with her fireman husband,
Ryuichi and their precocious daughter, Ai.
One day Ai's classmate sees her and Asako using sign language and
scornfully tells everyone that Ai's mother looks stupid and ridiculous.
Asako is devastated to see her daughter being bullied because of
her disability. How can she stop this?
Asako decides to join a deaf theatrical troupe "Hands",
which uses mime and sign language interpretation, entertains both
their fellows and the hearing community. Asako finds that even the
deaf-mutes can act out their fantasies on stage! She also hopes
that this new activity will help Ai become sympathetic to her way
Asako's first job is to recruit new talents. Morita, a pantomime
artist who is not deaf, and a deaf young girl, Natsumi, join the
troupe. Various family members of the core group also contribute,
even Ai helps out by interpreting between mime artist Morita and
the other cast members.
After much work, "Hands" is invited by the government
to play "Beauty and the Beast" in a festival. Vigorous
rehearsals begin. Lots of problems arise, mostly communication difficulties
and cultural contrasts between the deaf and the hearing. But one
by one these problems are overcome and everyone learns to work together
A young cast member, Takashi, is very attracted to the beautiful
new recruit Natsumi. On the day of their public performance, Takashi
proposes to Natsumi but her hearing parents refuse to give their
consent. They claim that marriage between deaf people will produce
hearing-impaired babies, and is doomed to incomplete lives marred
To persuade the unyielding parents, Asako reveals that she did have
some hearing before, but when she became pregnant, she was advised
that she could become totally deaf. Despite the risk, Asako and
Ryuichi decided to have the baby. Their healthy daughter and happy
marriage are offered as proof that love and determination can overcome
Unfortunately, Ai overhears the exchange about Asako losing her
hearing when she gave birth. Profoundly shocked, the little girl
runs away in tears, the burden of blame and responsibility weighing
heavily on her tiny frame. When Asako finally catches up with Ai,
she explains that despite losing her hearing, "I'm the happiest
mother in the whole world. I still remember the joy of hearing and
feeling your first cries when you were born." Ai, profoundly
moved, offers her most precious gift to her mother, "I give
you my ears. I will be your ears and your voice."
the Director - Yutaka Osawa
10 years ago I made a film about a deaf baseball team, my first
real interaction with the deaf and hearing-impaired. I was surprised
by the amount of interest it generated here in Japan and one of
the main questions the deaf kept putting to me, was why I didn't
use a hearing-impaired cast. They pointed out that it just doesn't
look natural; it is a hearing-impaired environment that hearing
people presume it to be. When this film came up, I wondered how
to overcome the mistakes I'd made in the past. I decided to ask
Yonaiyama, the sign-language coach on the set of my previous film,
to join me as co-director.
It took us over a year and many trials and tribulations to arrive
at a script that appeals to both the hearing and the hearing-impaired.
I was determined to rectify my previous casting error by ensuing
that all the actors and actresses portraying the deaf people in
the film were hearing-impaired or totally deaf. Where possible we
also employed the hearing-impaired in the crew. There are no working
professional deaf actors in Japan, so it was necessary to hold auditions.
I was very pleased and excited to find the beautiful, talented and
lovely Akiko Oshidari to play the leading role. Akiko has a talent
that goes beyond being deaf and I'm sure that with work on her part
she could become a regular on Japanese screens.
The cast and crew spent two solid months working together and soon
there was no distinction between the deaf and the hearing as we
labored to finish the film within the allocated budget and schedule.
It is my sincere wish that this film will overcome the barrier that
separates the deaf and the hearing and bring them closer together.