Tanaka-san Will Not Do Calisthenics
In 1981, Tanaka Tetsuro, was sacked from his job for his refusal to accept being transferred to another town, far away from his wife and family. Before that he had become involved in a singular protest against the mandatory unpaid pre-work calisthenics program that many companies take for granted in Japan. Believing that his transfer was instituted in retaliation for his refusal to fit the unreasonable expectations of his company, he began what is now a 25-year long protest. Every day, he does a one-man picket at the company gate, playing guitar, handing out leaflets, making a small media show of it. Australian filmmaker Maree Delofski documented Tanaka-san’s Quixotic struggle. Tanaka-san Will Not Do Calisthenics follows our obsessed hero – along with a small cadre of supporters – through his daily protests, his self-employment as a guitar teacher, actions and protests at company meetings and his general coping through the strange turn and road that his life has taken. The film glides lightly over the deeper issues involved, but revels in Tanka’s quirkiness and compelling personality.
Originally published in EL Magazine, July 2011.