Perfect Days is the International Feature submission for Japan. The film follows Hirayama, a toilet cleaner on the outskirts of Tokyo, as he lives his quiet life one moment at a time and one day at a time. Everyday he wakes up before the sun rises to the sounds of a woman sweeping the leaves. He washes up, lovingly takes care of his plants and then jumps into his van to start his day at work cleaning toilets. He ends his day at the same restaurant every evening before reading a book just before his bedtime. He loves his routine and at this moment in his life he wouldn’t want it any other way.
Hirayama’s daily routine becomes the structural backbone of the entire film. Over the course of multiple days, the viewer follows him doing the same things over and over again with only slight deviations as people connected to him make appearances. When a co-worker needs help with a girl, he’s there to help. When a couple of drunk baseball fans get rowdy at a bar, he appreciates their passion. When his niece comes to visit, he reaffirms with her the importance of embracing who they both are today, and not in the past or what may happen in the future.
We are given almost nothing about Hirayama’s backstory. There are hints and suggestions that he may be estranged from his wealthy family or that he might be a widower, or that he is perhaps rebuilding a new life after a significant event shattered his previous life. But nothing about him is ever concretized. It’s yet another brilliant way the film maintains a sense of true presence within Hirayama's life without erasing the impact his past experiences have had on informing who he is today.
Perfect Days is a film about the power of being present. It’s a beautiful and moving depiction of how we can find clarity, acceptance, and joy by embracing the current moment and allowing our lives to unfold one day at a time. There are no flashbacks, no exposition dumps, no cutaways to another time or place. We never leave Hirayama’s side, and Hirayama himself never strays from being truly present in every single moment. The film offers a much more layered and realistic depiction of how presence can be the basis of a life with purpose, one where you have complete agency over who you are and how you move forward in life.
We need to recognize and give ourselves over to the invisible beauty of the present which makes each and every day perfect, as it’ll only exist here and now for this moment only.