Only Yesterday (FAQ)

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Q: What does "Omohide Poroporo" mean?

"Omohide" is the old spelling of "Omoide" (Memories). It is still pronounced as "Omoide". "Poroporo" is a word to express the way something (like teardrops or beans) are falling off one by one or trickling down. In this case, Taeko's memories have been trickling down to her.

Q: Is it based on a manga or a book?

Book cover

It is based on a manga, "Omohide Poroporo", by Hotaru Okamoto (story) and Yūko Tone (pictures). It is published by Tokuma Shoten, as "Animage Wide Comics", in three volumes. ISBN: 4-19-770121-7 (vol.1).

The manga is solely about Taeko as an 11 year old. It's a compilation of short stories about Taeko's daily life. It is filled with nostalgic feelings, with many things such as songs, movies, TV programs, and idols which were in fashion at that time (1966). However, Takahata, the director, had a hard time making it into a movie, since the manga has no plot to hold a movie. Since the manga was told in the form of a memoir, Takahata had the idea of bringing the narrator of the story, adult Taeko, into the movie. So, the part in which Taeko goes to Yamagata and meets Toshio was Takahata's original idea.

Q: When did it take place?

In 1966 (child Taeko) and in 1982 (adult Taeko).

Q: Where did it take place?

Taeko (as a child and as an adult) lived in Tokyo. As an adult, she went to Yamagata, a rural prefecture about 180 miles north of Tokyo.

Q: Why was it such a big deal for Taeko to eat a pineapple?

At that time (1966), imported fruit was still rare and expensive (it was the $1=¥360 era). Pineapples were usually canned, and most Japanese had never seen a real one.

Q: Was Taeko's father abusive?

Though he looks cold and some viewers are shocked by his slapping Taeko, he was just a typical Japanese father of the 60s. He isn't an ideal father, but a realistic one. The manga is semi-autobiographical, and the author seems to have come to terms with what happened. Though she doesn't totally agree with her parents, she doesn't think that it was abuse.

Q: What is the arrow-like thing the children were carrying at the end of the movie?

Right: Taeko Okajima, Left: Shuji Hirota

This is called "Ai Ai Gasa" (Love Love Umbrella, or Together Umbrella), the Japanese equivalent of a heart with names in it. It symbolizes an umbrella, and under the triangle (umbrella), you would write the names of a boy and a girl on either side of the vertical line. Earlier in the movie, in one of her flashback scenes, you can see this symbol. Taeko was told that her name was written under an Ai Ai Gasa with Hirota's name. So the children carrying this symbol over the heads of Taeko and Toshio in the last scene implies that these two are now an "item".

Q: What is the puppet TV show Taeko was watching?

The show is called "Hyokkori Hyotanjima" (Popped-up Gourd Island). It was an immensely popular children's show at that time (1966). Several characters that appeared in the film were amazingly realistic. The theme song of the show was also very popular. We see Taeko getting over her disappointment, singing this song with the refrain "We don't want to cry, so let's laugh - Go ahead!" For other cultural aspects of this movie, see the script.

Q: Who did the ending song, "The Rose"?

The Japanese lyrics were written by Takahata. It was sung by a famous Japanese Enka (sort of Country & Western in Japan) singer, Harumi Miyako (都はるみ Miyako Harumi?). This rendition of The Rose was something of a comeback for her. Trivia note: In the film just before The Rose begins, Miyako-san can he heard on the old man's boombox singing her 1968 hit Suki ni Natta Hito (好きになった人 The One I Came to Love?).

Q: Are there any in-jokes in Only Yesterday?

In the 1966 scene where Taeko and her mother are walking through the local shoutengai (商店街 shopping street?) two of the building signs read Tokuma Shoten (徳間書店 Tokuma Books?) and Tokuma Bunkobon (徳間文庫本 Tokuma Paperback Books?). Tokuma Shoten was the parent company of Studio Ghibli at the time Only Yesterday was made.