Time for a swim. I ease myself down from the rocks into the chilly water, feeling the mud between my toes. I stand for a minute, aware of the line on my calves between the cold of water and warmth of sun, and then dive in a taut stretch. I can feel the water rushing past my head, smoothing back my hair. As I stroke out to the middle, I'm conscious of the strength and pull of my shoulder blades. I haul myself out onto a rock in the middle of the pond, and sit there dripping. A breeze comes up, and lifts the hairs on my back, each one giving a nearly imperceptible tug at my skin. Under hand and thigh I can feel the roughness and the hardness of the rock. If I listen, I can hear the birds singing from several trees around the shore, and a frog now and again, and from the outlet stream a few hundred yards away a faint burbling - always changing and always the same. If I listen without concentrating, it's mainly the wind that I hear, a steady slight pressure on the leaves. I can see a hundred things - the sun reflects off the ripples from my passage and casts a moving line of shadow and sparkle on the rocks that rise up at the water's edge. I can smell the water. I can taste the water too - not the neutral beverage you drink because there's nothing in the fridge, but wet, rich, complete. As it drops into the corner of my mouth there's the slightest tang of salt from the trail sweat in the afternoon. I can feel my weight - feel it disappear as I slip into the water, feel it cling to me again as I drag myself back onto the rock.
Although the long and distinguished film career of the late Japanese director Kon Ichikawa dated back to the 1930s and included many award winning films in Japan, he gained international attention in the 1950s and 1960s for a series of anti-war films, including 'The Burmese Harp' (nominated for an Academy Award in 1957) and 'Fires on the Plain' (winner of the Golden Sail at Locarno in 1961). It was during this period that a short symposium on his work was published in Japanese, which was subsequently translated into English for publication in the now defunct journal Cinema. Although Ichikawa began by saying that, 'I really don't know myself, so I'll just smile,' the symposium provides an early insight into the mind of the director and how he feels about his own work. Part of a series of symposia designed to reveal unknown aspects of films by Japanese directors, the following interview was conducted by two other Japanese film directors, Kyushiro Kusakabe and Akira Iwasaki.