Yasahii Jikan (優しい時間)

優しい時間 or Yasahii Jikan is a story about a small cafe called Forest Clock located in Furano, a small town in the northern island of Hokkaido.

The owner is Yukichi Wakui, a successful corporate executive who lost his wife Megumi to a car accident. He traded his corporate suit for an apron when he moved to his wife’s hometown to open the cafe.

Yukichi’s only son Takuro was at the wheel when the car crashed and killed Megumi. This caused a rift between father and son because Yukichi thought Takuro was unrepentant while Takuro, reeling from guilt, lashed out at his father for neglecting him. Yukichi left for Hokkaido alone leaving Takuro in Tokyo.

The drama starts 3 years after the accident. Forest Clock is now a center of activity where the locals and tourists alike congregate to grind their own coffee beans and gossip. Yukichi lived a simple life making coffee and conduct small talk with his patrons.

Takuro came to visit Yukichi about a year ago and was received coldly. In order to stay close to his father, he became an apprentice for a pottery master in Biei (about 50 km away from Furano). Yukichi was kept in the dark.

The drama unfolds with Yukichi meeting people in Takuro’s life and slowly learned how little he knew about his son which had led to many misunderstandings and unforgiveness. The ending is fairly predictable, I just want to know how the 2 mend their relationship. I actually prefer happy endings.

If the drama is all about grief it would have been too much to bear. The writers knew that well so the comic relief is introduced via the cafe patrons. They are a cute bunch. There is the cheating husband, the police inspector who keep losing his cell phone, the mountain rescue team, the hibernating couple and the choir. As a knitter, I am happy to see one of the male patrons knitting away.

There is also the budding romance between Takuro and Azu, a young girl working at the Forest Clock.

The pace of the ending was a little too slow IMHO. Takuro seemed to be doing most of the reconciliatory work although Yukichi’s change of heart was not due to his efforts. I wish Yukichi was more pro-active and demonstrate more passion during the reconciliation scene. But it might be too drastic for a 60-year old Japanese man.

This is a fairly slow storytelling. Drama dealing with grief suits a slower pace because to people who are grieving, time do seem to crawl for some reason.

To borrow a phrase from Yukichi, this story is about “the smaller world“. It deals with the lives of individuals. There are no lofting aspirations or visions. It is about family ties and friendships. Not every situation turns out well. One of the patrons committed suicide because his business failed. It is also a sort of micro treatment. Of emotions such as guilt, failure and fear. There are no heroes, only small characters.

This drama feeds my soul because it caused me to reflect upon family relationship and the importance of communication.

See the drama at http://www.mysoju.com/yasashii-jikan/