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Website showing Showa-era home videos gives glimpse of Japanese lives before and after WWII

The website, "Setagaya Chronicle 1936-1983," is seen in this image provided by the Lifestyle Design Center.

TOKYO -- A collection of private home movies shot by people in Japan during the Showa era (1926-1989) has been unveiled on a website launched in the capital's Setagaya Ward, arousing nostalgia of the "good old days" among viewers.

    The 84 rolls of videos showcased on the site, "Setagaya Chronicle 1936-1983" (, were shot with 8-millimeter film at home and abroad before and after World War II, with the oldest one dating back to 1936. The length of the footage totals about 15 hours.

    The subjects captured in the movies include Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo before World War II, and the last Tokyo Olympics held in 1964. People who watched the footage online praised their "retro feel," and said it made them reminisce about the days gone by.

    The project was organized by the Lifestyle Design Center, a public interest incorporated foundation based in Setagaya Ward, and the Osaka-based nonprofit organization "Record, expression and medium - organization" (Remo). Together they called on Setagaya Ward residents to provide 8-millimeter film videos from 2015 through the ward's public relations magazines and flyers, with the aim of learning about "the development of Setagaya Ward and changes in residents' lifestyles." Over the course of three years, about 300 rolls of footage were collected, and films provided by 28 people have been shown on the website since 2019.

    "Eight-millimeter videos are the origin of individual filming, like smartphone movies today. I hope people will enjoy slipping back in time by watching footage from the Showa era at home, as they refrain from going outside due to the coronavirus pandemic," said an employee at the Lifestyle Design Center.

    The footage will also be screened at a gallery of the Lifestyle Design Center after the state of emergency declaration over the coronavirus is lifted for Tokyo. Admission will be free. The films are also provided to universities for use in classes and research.

    (Japanese original by Shohei Kato, Tokyo Bureau)

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