Garden of Words film – Finding Comfort in a Stranger.

The Garden of Words is a short film, but the beauty and serenity definitely make it worth the watch. The director of the film is the famous Makoto Shinkai who made other notable works like Weathering with you, Children Who Chase Lost Voices and many great titles.

Garden of Words Film main poster
The Garden of Words film poster (c) Makoto Shinkai

If nature, rain, calmness, and beautiful artwork spark interest in you, this film should be on your list. As a nature lover, its beauty continually amazes me. The beauty of Shinjuku Garden captivates me whole and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. 

The Garden of Words film is a romantic movie, not in a typical fashion, but with a little twist. A high school boy cannot help but be charmed by an older woman he meets in the garden. It is bittersweet, slow, poetic, and rightly fits in the category of simplicity and elegance. 

The story revolves around Takao Akizuki, a 15-year-old schoolboy, and Yukari Yukino, a 27-year-old woman he often meets at Shinjuku Garden on rainy days. Takao Akizuki dreams of becoming a shoemaker and skips classes to go to the park, to sketch shoes. In contrast, Yukari Yukino skips work because of problems in her professional life. And slowly, a strong bond develops between the two. Most people describe The Garden of Words as “forbidden love” because of the age gap between the two. But I think it is much deeper, and there’s more to it despite the difference between their age.

Garden of Words Film Student and teacher
Visuals from the movie (c) Makoto Shinkai

This film tells us about two lonely people who find each other in solitude and help each other grow. Going to the park is usually about spending quality time with loved ones. But here in the film, it is different. Both the protagonist goes to the park to escape from reality to a place where they can be at peace.

The Garden of Words is a simple film, and it is beautiful. While we often associate rain with sadness or gloomy, they portray beautifully it in the film. Rainfall is mainly seen, and each time it rains, we can see the two main characters meeting in the garden. The garden is their happy place where they can be at peace and find comfort in each other. And gradually, through their brief encounter, they slowly but surely open up to each other. Takao shares his passion for making shoes and making it his career one day, which he has told no one about. And Yukari talks about skipping work to avoid problems and that she’s finding her steps to walk again. This made Takao realize he knew nothing about her. Takao then decides to make a shoe that’ll help her get up on her feet again.

Garden of Words Film scene when they met.
Visuals from the movie (c) Makoto Shinkai

Shortly after a summer break upon returning to school, Takao realizes Yukino is a classic literature teacher at his school. Apparently she has fallen prey to rumors spread by some students, which is the reason she is avoiding work. She could’ve confronted it but chooses to simply quit her job and leave the school instead. As soon as he hears that, he wanted to confront her before she leaves and went to her apartment. Takao confesses his love for her but Yukino reminds him she’s a teacher and will move back to her hometown. Takao turns his back in disappointment and was going to leave, but Yukino runs back to him and hugs him. She tells him that the time they spent together saved her.  

One feature that makes The Garden of words unique is the dialogue, which is minimal yet has an impact, and it allows us to understand the characters and their emotions. In addition, the artwork is impressive. It perfectly shows us the realistic images of the garden scenery and the rain. Half of the background in the film, Shinkai used his photography from the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden with a drawing over the top. He wanted to showcase the garden in the film to encourage people to visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo, and it is indeed a lovely garden. 

Garden of Words Film scene in the rain
Visuals from the movie (c) Makoto Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai took inspiration from the Man’yōshū poetry, which describes love as “koi” or “lonely sadness,” meaning “longing for someone in solitude” and set the central theme of the film as “loneliness.” 

The lines are from the Man’yōshū book, which Shinkai has used in the film.

“A faint clap of thunder. Clouded skies. Perhaps rain comes. If so, will you stay with me?”

“A faint clap of thunder. Even if rain comes not, I will stay here. Together with you.”

And I must say, the lines are so simple yet have a wonderful meaning, and Shinkai has creatively used them at the beginning and in the end. As a person who finds a deep connection in poetry, I was no less inspired/impressed by Shinkai’s idea to use the Man’yōshū poetry in the film. Luckily, the Man’yōshū book is available online. Yatta!!!

In the Garden of Words, although simple with a runtime of 46 minutes, it is heartwarming to see two lonely people finding happiness and comfort in each other. In the film, they used shoes as a metaphor for life, which helped Yukari walk again. The fact that Takao loves designing shoes adds more meaning to it. The story leaves an impression on how age is not a barrier between lovers, how difficult it is growing up, and most importantly, how two lonely souls connect. They both play a significant role in each other’s lives, helping one another walk. Takao realizes he was learning to walk and Yukino was learning how to walk again.

The rain in the film is pretty realistic, and I had to watch it at full volume to enjoy the rain’s soothing sound and the sound of nature in the garden, and the lovely music. But unlike the characters, I’d rather stay at home on a rainy day and watch the rainfall through the window, but I agree with Shinkai for using rain as a motif where the two characters meet. And of course, it was for a reason; he used it to show the similarity between love and rain, which cannot be stopped or controlled. Genius! 

Garden of Words Film scene in the rain
Visuals from the movie (c) Makoto Shinkai

The film’s ending of what lies ahead between their relationship is entirely up to the viewers to imagine. Shinkai has left us with the freedom to envision the film’s final scene of whether you want it to be sunny or stormy. The animation in this film is excellent, and if you enjoy vivid images of nature or places in anime, you will love it!

Also, you can always get the hardcover book from this film by following the link for a special offer: The Garden Of Words Hardcover

Featured image: Visuals from the movie (c) Makoto Shinkai

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