Breathtaking views from KanZeOn

Find out more about the film and filming locations

KanZeOn is a cinematic journey that blurs the lines between documentary and sensory exploration of sound. Predominantly shot on the island of Kyushu, a world away from Tokyo's dazzling neon, it offers a glimpse into Japanese culture rarely observed by outsiders through its religious rituals and mesmerising musical performances, inviting viewers into a unique and transformative realm. The film focuses on three exceptional musicians to delve into the significance of sound in Japanese spirituality. They are:

  • Tatsumi Akinobu: a youthful Buddhist monk who tends to a temple near Kumamoto City, and in his spare time, doubles as a hip-hop DJ, practising beatboxing in secluded forests.
  • Fujii Eri: a dedicated player of the Sho, a scarce and ancient Chinese bamboo wind instrument, which she likens to the mythical cry of the phoenix.
  • Iitomi Akihiro: a kotsuzumi (shoulder drum) performer and instructor in the Noh theatre tradition, whose love for jazz rivals his commitment to the preservation of classical Japanese performing arts.

To view the film's trailer, visit IMDB.

The film's directors, Neil Cantwell and Tim Grabham, have curated a list of the remarkable yet elusive locations featured in the film, complete with map links for those interested in visiting - the full list can be viewed here. Below are three highlights for a taste of what to expect.

Hinokuni Bridge in Kyushu, Japan

Hinokuni Bashi, or 'Fire Country Bridge', is a rope bridge where the young monk Tatsumi enjoys performing beatbox sessions in the open air, equipped with a microphone and speaker.

Anamori-jinja Shrine in Kyushu, Japan

Anamori-jinja is an extraordinary Shinto shrine at the entrance to a cave, reputed to be the mythical dwelling of a serpent that transformed into a human to meet a local princess. A climactic moment in the film features Fujii Eri and her partner performing spectacularly inside the cave.

The garden at Komyozen-ji Temple in Japan

Regarded as one of Japan's top three gardens, Komyozen-ji provided a serene backdrop for an interview with Iitomi Akihiro, who discussed the connection between Zen Buddhism and Japanese performing arts.

Following its London debut at the ICA during the opening of Zipangu Fest in 2011, KanZeOn has been screened across four continents, continuing to captivate global audiences. The film is now available for purchase as a limited edition double disc DVD/CD, which includes music from the soundtrack alongside the KanZeOn ReIndications project - a collection of remixes produced from audio recordings captured over the five-week filming period in Japan.