Born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at T.V. Man Union. Snuck off set to film Lessons from a Calf (1991). His first feature, Maborosi (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn from his own experiences while filming August Without Him (1994), won jury prizes at Venice and Chicago. The main themes of his oeuvre include memory, loss, death and the intersection of documentary and fictive narratives.