Only Yesterday
Directed By
Produced By
Toshio Suzuki
Written By
Isao Takahata
Based on
Omoide Poro Poro
by Hotaru Okamoto Yuko Tone
Miki Imai (original version)
Toshirō Yanagiba (original version)
Yōko Honna (original version)
Daisy Ridley (English version)
Ashley Eckstein (English version)
Dev Patel (English version)
Edited By
Takeshi Seyama
Hisao Shiraishi
Music By
Katz Hoshi
Tokuma Shoten
Nippon Television Network
Studio Ghibli
Distributed By
Japanese (original release)
English (re-release)
Release Date
July 20, 1991 (original version)
February 26, 2016 (English version)
118 minutes
Rating PG

Only Yesterday is a Japanese animated drama film directed by Isao Takahata, and has the voice cast of Miki Imai, Toshirō Yanagiba, and Yōko Honna. The film was released on July 20, 1991.

On February 26, 2016, the film was released in the English language, and contained the voice cast of Daisy Ridley, Ashley Eckstein, and Dev Patel.

Plot Edit

In 1982, Taeko is 27 years old, unmarried, has lived her whole life in Tokyo and now works at a company there. She decides to take another trip to visit the family of the elder brother of her brother-in-law in the rural countryside to help with the safflower harvest and get away from city life. While traveling at night on a sleeper train to Yamagata, she begins to recall memories of herself as a schoolgirl in 1966, and her intense desire to go on holiday like her classmates, all of whom have family outside of the big city.

At the arrival train station, she is surprised to find out that her brother in law's second cousin Toshio, whom she barely knows, is the one who came to pick her up. During her stay in Yamagata, she finds herself increasingly nostalgic and wistful for her childhood self, while simultaneously wrestling with adult issues of career and love. The trip dredges up forgotten memories (not all of them good ones) — the first stirrings of childish romance, puberty and growing up, the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self. In doing so, she begins to realize that Toshio has helped her along the way. Finally, Taeko faces her own true self, how she views the world and the people around her. Taeko chooses to stay in the countryside instead of returning to Tokyo. It is implied that she and Toshio begin a relationship. Film notes

The story takes place within the Takase district of Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture. The Takase Station (and also Yamadera Station) of the JNR (currently JR East) Senzan Line is featured prominently; though it has since been rebuilt, the scenery remains mostly unchanged. During the course of the film, characters visit prominent locales, including the resort destination of Mount Zaō.

Unlike the typical Japanese character animation style, the characters have more realistic facial muscles and expressions due to the dialogue being recorded first (the tradition in Japan is to record it after the animation is completed) and the animators fit the animation to the spoken dialogue. Only Taeko's childhood past (which has a more typical anime style) was animated before the voices were recorded.

Those scenes set in 1966 with the 10-year-old Taeko are taken from the source material. Takahata had difficulty adapting the episodic manga into a feature film, and he, therefore, invented the framing narrative wherein the adult Taeko journeys to the countryside and falls in love with Toshio.

There is a repetitive Eastern European theme in the film, particularly in the soundtrack reflecting the peasant lifestyle still present in the area and the parallels this draws with Japanese rural life. Folk songs from the area repeatedly occur in the film. For example, "Frunzuliță Lemn Adus Cântec De Nuntă" (Fluttering Green Leaves Wedding Song) is a Romanian folk song written by Gheorghe Zamfir and occurs in the film repeatedly during the landscape shots, for example arriving at the farm. Instruments used include the prominent nai played by Zamfir himself, cimbalom and violins. There is also Hungarian music in the film, using pieces of music such as Brahms "Hungarian Dance No. 5" in a scene where Taeko is eating lunch, and making references to Hungarian musicians when she is in the car with Toshio ("Teremtés" performed by Sebestyén Márta & Muzsikás. Adaptation from a Hungarian traditional folk song). The music of Márta Sebestyén with Muzsikás is used in several scenes as well. Bulgarian folklore music is also used in the soundtrack. When Taeko is on the field, one can first hear Dilmano, Dilbero, followed by Malka Moma Dvori Mete. These are typical Bulgarian folklore songs and the lyrics of both are connected to topics mentioned in the film – the life of farmers and marriage.

The TV character Machine Gun Dandy looks like Daisuke Jigen of Lupin III fame. The character is seen when Taeko recalls her childhood favorite puppet show Hyokkori Hyotan Jima (ひょっこりひょうたん島 "Floating Gourd Island") that aired every weekday on NHK from 1964 to 1969.

Voice CastEdit

Main castEdit

Character Japanese English
Taeko Okajima Miki Imai
Yoko Honna (fifth grade)

Daisy Ridley
Alison Fernandez (fifth grade)

Toshio Toshiro Yanagiba Dev Patel

Young Taeko's classmatesEdit

Character Japanese English
Tsuneko Mayumi Iizuka Hope Levy
Aiko Mei Oshitani Stephanie Sheh
Toko Megumi Komine Ava Acres
Rie Yukiyo Takizawa Madeleine Rose Yen
Suzuki ("Soo") Masashi Ishikawa Jaden Betts
Shuji Hirota Yūki Masuda Gianella Thielmann

Taeko's family in TokyoEdit

Character Japanese English
Mrs. Okajima Michie Terada Grey Griffin
Mr. Okajima Masahiro Itō Matt Yang King
Nanako Okajima Yorie Yamashita Laura Bailey
Yaeko Okajima Yuki Minowa Ashley Eckstein
Grandmother Okajima Chie Kitagawa Mona Marshall

Taeko's farm relatives in YamagataEdit

Character Japanese English
Kazuo Koji Goto Matt Yang King
Kiyoko Sachiko Ishikawa Sumalee Montano
Naoko Masako Watanabe Tara Strong
Grandmother Okajima Nika Futterman

Other CharactersEdit

Character Japanese English
Abe Hirozumi Sato Jacob Guenther


Character Japanese English
Torahige Ichiro Nagai Greg Grunberg


To be added

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