Tomonoura – Ponyo Locations

This small fishing port in Fukuyama City was indeed brought to my attention thanks to its role in the sixth X-Men movie but whilst searching for the locations of those scenes I saw an article saying that Tomonoura was where the Wolverine and Ponyo crossed paths. That was in June last year when I had no idea who or what Ponyo was!

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Once I’d booked my ticket to Fukuyama for Golden Week the wheels were set in motion and I set about getting my hands on a copy of ‘Ponyo‘ (2008) which is sometimes also known as ‘Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea‘. I asked around a select few friends who are into animation and got lucky when my friend Ben quite literally delivered me the dvd of it as he just happened to move from my hometown to Tokyo at that time.

Having watched it, I think I even surprised myself as I was quite moved at times by the cute story (albeit a bit weird) of the fish-girl and the five-year-old boy from Oscar-winning animator and director Hayao Miyazaki who I’m ashamed to say I only knew about due to some tribute in ‘The Simpsons‘ (S25E10 – Married To The Blob) where Homer and a Japanese guy both drink habushu (snake rice wine) and then stumble home intoxicated, where Springfield turns into a wonderland based on some of his Studio Ghibli work.

Now it has to be noted that there are no exact filming location match-ups in Tomonoura for this port town was the inspiration and basis for Miyazaki’s story. He spent two months there in 2005 before production started on the movie and his experiences helped inspire and shape the animated town where Sōsuke lives. The house that it was modelled on is a private house on the cliff lying just beneath Ankokuji Temple which was founded during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333).

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The place where Sōsuke finds Ponyo is the rocky beach situated near to the ferry pier and Enpuku-ji temple.

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Sōsuke and his mothers commuter route takes them along the road seen below and his school is the building in the distance on the left. The exterior of the school even has a painted signboard featuring Ponyo on it.

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Sōsuke and his mother are determined to get home on the stormy day despite the horrendous conditions and the danger involved. They pass an intersection similar to the one below which is basically just looking back the opposite way to the aforementioned commuting route.

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The tunnel where Ponyo loses her human form is about 3km west and was too far away for me to reach within my time constraints sadly. However, Rila Fukushima did go there during a break in filming of ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013) in September 2012 and tweeted a picture of her in front of the tunnel where Ponyo reverts into a fish due to using too much magical power to help Sōsuke and others along the way.

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Just before I left Tomonoura I passed the ferry terminal and noticed a boat was about to depart for Sensuijima so I thought I may as well take a (very) quick trip to the island which is just five minutes away and costs only ¥240 (return). The fences in the screenshot and photo’s below are very similar and both lead to similar shaped cabins with the reality one being the ferry passenger terminal.

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The time I spent on Sensuijima was short to say the least as I had to take a ferry back 20 minutes later. I took a quick look round the island though which has a hotel, camp ground, observation decks, boardwalks, walking courses and some  coloured cliffs covering the rugged coastline.

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First port of call before all of those locales though should be the Tourist  Information Centre which stocks a good selection of Ponyo merchandise. It is the penultimate stop on the bus route from Fukuyama station to Tomonoura and they can print you off a Ponyo map of the area for free though sadly not the one like above. Wolverine maps are also available.

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As you walk around the main town there are other a fair few posters on shops and noticeboards showing how proud they are that Tomonoura was the inspiration for  the town depicted in this visually stunning fairy tale.

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How to get there: Take a bus from stop #5 on the south side of JR Fukuyama station. It takes approximately 25 minutes to reach the tourism information centre or you can get off a few minutes later at Tomokou bus stop; the final stop down the road from there.

Want more Japanese anime locations? Click here to see the Fukuyama locations faithfully depicted in ‘Kamichu!‘ (2005)

You can see The Wolverine locations in Tomonoura here

Tomonoura – The Wolverine Filming Locations

My main reason for only taking the Shinkansen as far as Fukuyama (rather than just going directly to my final destination of Hiroshima) was not only to see the station locales used in ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013) but also to continue the filming location theme by taking a trip to a place I have long wanted to visit.

This tiny fishing port of Tomonoura may no longer be a place for major cargo transportation trade but it has become a popular place for filming in recent years and is a short half hour bus ride south of Fukuyama. On screen, the viewer is made to think that they Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) are going to Nagasaki which is the ancestral hometown of the latter. As mentioned in ‘Hiroshima-ken 2015 Pt V‘ they leave the Shinkansen at Fukuyama Station and then take a bus to Tomonoura.

I got off the bus at the tourist information centre which is highly recommended. There was a very nice and helpful guy working there who was able to help me with my extra-nerdy questions relating to the whereabouts of the screenshots I had on my iPad. He printed off a couple of very interesting maps detailing the locations and inspirations for ‘The Wolverine‘ and ‘Ponyo‘ (2008) too.

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The Wolverine map specifically focuses on when and where filming took place, what Hugh Jackman did on his days off, Tomonoura-related tweets from the directors and stars and short reports detailing behind-the-scenes information of shooting and how the area was decorated and dressed to appear more Nagasaki-like.

First stop was the Tomokou bus stop five minutes away by foot where Mariko and Logan disembark from the bus on 52 mins. This is the final stop on the route from Fukuyama station and where the bus turns around and heads back that way.

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They are next seen on the other side of the road next to the harbour with the mountains standing in the distance and Logan asks “Where are we?” to which Mariko replies that they’re just outside Nagasaki. Well if being 530km from Nagasaki is “just outside” it then I guess she’s right!!

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Tomonoura scenes are then blended in with other ones shot on Omi-shima island in Ehime-ken which is about 65km west in the Inland Sea just south of Okunoshima a.k.a. Rabbit Island. The one where Logan chops up the tree that’s fallen across the road is Omi-shima but Mariko’s house is in Tomonoura.

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It’s a private house located on the hill next to Enpuku-ji temple which can only be accessed by a couple of paths leading up there.

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The private house appears again later on 69 minutes when Logan wonders where  Mariko has gone.

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Realising she’s been taken he gives chase to the yakuza and the scenes switch back and forth between Omi-shima and Tomonoura.

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Yukio (Rila Fukushima) pulls up in her car near the ferry pier as Logan hobbles towards her having been shot in the leg by one of the yakuza. They drive off with a roaring sound, go over a mountain and within seconds are back in Tokyo albeit one looking very much like a street in Sydney!

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The movie was actually titled ‘Wolverine Samurai‘ in Japan and there are various posters and signs around town alerting tourists to the fact that the movie was shot in the area.

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Above is a tweet from main star Jackman (@RealHughJackman) when he was in Tomonoura in September 2012 for shooting which took place between the 5th and the 11th following a day in Fukuyama on the 4th and two days in Omi-shima on the 6th and 7th. I guess I need to visit Omi-shima now to complete the Japanese locations for this movie.

How to get there: Take a bus from stop #5 on the south side of JR Fukuyama station. It takes approximately 25 minutes to reach the tourism information centre or you can get off a few minutes later at Tomokou bus stop; the final stop down the road from there.

You can read ‘Cycling The Wolverine Tokyo Trail…In One Day’ here

The Tokyo Fox review of ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013) can be seen here

Fukuyama – The Wolverine Filming Locations

The sixth film in the X-Men franchise paid little respect for distance and time as the movie zig-zagged its way across Tokyo and then south to Nagasaki. However, no filming actually took place in the city which will always be remembered for the atomic bomb that was dropped on the place on the 9th of August in 1945. In fact, one can’t even go south from Ueno station where they board, as the Shinkansen (bullet train) only heads north from that station.

Anyhow, on 52 minutes Logan (a.k.a. Wolverine) and Mariko disembark at what is actually JR Fukuyama station in the east of Hiroshima prefecture. All the action (well all 17 seconds!) takes place on the South gate side (the opposite side to where Fukuyama-jo castle sits) as the two take one of the exits. The blue signed Nippon Travel Agency can be seen in the background although that style of sign is no longer on display.

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The crew filmed in Fukuyama for just one day on the 4th of September 2012 and Sun Station Terrace (or Sansute as its abbreviated to in Japanese) is in the background of Logan and Mariko with the bus station on the right and the red JTB is noticeable in the distance.

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Whilst reinforcing their need to find some place safe and get off the streets away from the trailing yakuza they walk by a statue and decide which direction to go in. The station has been renovated a bit since filming took place in 2012 with a new building in front of the statue….or behind it as one views it on screen! This statue is called Izurachojin (basically five cove fisherman) and was made by Denchu Hirafushi and could also be seen in episode 11 (Koi wa Yukue Fumei – Love is Missing) of the 2005 Japanese animated series ‘Kamichu!‘.

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The Nippon Travel Agency can be seen in the background again as Logan asks where downtown is. She replies that it’s straight ahead and it may well have been in that same direction albeit some 700+ km away!!

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The love hotel which they subsequently check into is actually back in Tokyo. It’s the Nakagin Capsule Tower (8-10-6 Ginza) which in reality is not a place for couples to get it on but is home to many unmarried salarymen wanting to stay in a small place. The interior of these tiny apartments could be seen in episode four of the BBC documentary ‘Journeys Into The Ring Of Fire‘ (2006). The building is a fine example of Tokyo modern architecture and now you can actually stay there thanks to airbnb website.

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The “Nagasaki” journey then continues on to Omi-shima and Tomonoura and you can see the Wolverine locations in the latter here.

You can read ‘Cycling The Wolverine Tokyo Trail…In One Day’ here

The Tokyo Fox review of ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013) can be seen here

Fukuyama – Kamichu! Locations

Whilst doing my research on Fukuyama I came across the 2005 Japanese animation ‘Kamichu!’ which, though mainly based on real-life locations in Onomichi, also briefly featured an episode in Fukuyama. The actual name wasn’t referenced for it was just “a nearby town” where Miko and Shoukichi run away to for mysterious reasons. This can be seen in episode 11 (though advertised as episode 10 in this YouTube link) which is titled Koi wa Yukue Fumei (Love is Missing).

No sooner had the Golden Week holidays began and I was departing Tokyo on a 7:10 am Shinkansen train to Fukuyama where I would spend the day in the area before moving on in the evening to Hiroshima to spend time with my parents-in-law before my wife joined us a day later.

At just after 11am I arrived at Fukuyama station and immediately set off in search of the Izurachojin (basically five cove fisherman) statue standing beside the south exit. Playing truant from school, Miko and Shoukichi are stood in front of it on 5 minutes trying to decide where to go exactly having arrived by train from Onomichi. Miko even suggests going home maybe but as it is they leave their school stuff in a locker before going for a burger at the fictional (presumably!) Nichibatsu Burger (NB) restaurant.

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Fukuyama-jo Castle is a stones throw from the north exit of the station and it can be seen on 20 minutes. The pair of them eat taikyaki (a kind of fish-shaped cake) from a vendor in the castle grounds. I took a brief wander around the castle grounds amid a sizeable crowd of families enjoying the holiday sun but I decided against going in the castle (¥200) as I wanted to move on to my main destination in the area of Tomonoura.

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As it gets darker, Miko and Shoukichi are sat on the swings talking in the Fukuyama-jo castle park which is a small park on the lower lot of the castle grounds. They debate the idea of going home before Yurie and friends eventually find them. I’d make fun of the pair for not doing too much in Fukuyama if it wasn’t for the fact that I did just as little whilst I was there!!

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Sadly I didn’t have enough time on this trip to get to Onomichi once again but this was a nice taster and naturally the next mission is to hunt down the many locales used in the TV series. In the meantime I will just have to settle for enjoying the following blogs which give some fantastic detailed information on the real locations in and around the city which have been faithfully depicted.

Punynari’s Island Aventures          Cardcaptor’ Blog

You can watch all 16 episodes (English dubbed) of ‘Kamichu!‘ here

Tokyo Filming Locations: Pt XIV – House Of Bamboo (1955)

This Sam Fuller directed film was released a decade after the end of WWII and Japan has of course transformed itself quite a bit since then. ‘House Of Bamboo‘ was the first post-war American movie to be filmed in Japan and as you can imagine most of the Tokyo locations (including Ginza and Asakusa) now look nothing like what’s seen on screen. However, there are a couple of locations which have remained relatively unchanged in the six decades that have passed since filming wrapped and the reason for that is that they are places of worship in the form of a temple and shrine respectively. Continue reading

Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2014

Another year has passed and despite my reservations about the future of such ‘top 10……filming locations’ this time last year, I have managed to do enough locations to warrant another list. It’s quite 007-centric and has in the main included just topping up pre-existing entries. Here then, in no particular order, is the Top 10……filming location trips for 2014…

1) Entrapment, 1999 (Click here)

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2) The Hangover Part II, 2011 (Click here)

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3) The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 (Click here)

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4) Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 (Click here)

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5) The Wolverine, 2013 (Click here)

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6) Godzilla, 1954 (Click here)

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7) Notting Hill, 1999 (Click here)

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8) The World Is Not Enough, 1999 (Click here)

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9) Skyfall, 2012 (Click here)

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10) Quantum Of Solace, 2008 (Click here)

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For the best filming locations for other years please click on the links below:

2009     2010     2011     2012     2013

Top 5……Tokyo Bridges In Cinema!

These structures built to span such physical obstacles like water or roads come in many different designs and so often they don’t get the recognition they deserve. When you think about it, hardly ever does a character cross a bridge without something happening  whether it be a deadly battle, a car crashing through the railings, something being dropped or tossed away, a heart to heart discussion or a monster destroying a landmark one.

Bridges have always had a part to play in cinema and they have served well in transporting characters into a new phase of life and I am on hand to acknowledge the role five Tokyo-based ones (as well as a bonus Saitama one!) have played in films over the years.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is the top 5…….Tokyo bridges in cinema!

1. Yanagibashi Bridge, Taito-ku: The Grudge (2004) – This green bridge opens up this American re-make of the Japanese horror movie ‘Ju-on‘ (2002) and just a stones throw away is the apartment of Peter who for some reason walks over to his balcony and then rolls over it and plummets to his death below. Now, as that’s in the first minute of the film I don’t really consider it a spoiler!! More details here

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2. Tsukuda-bashi Bridge, Chuo-ku: The Toxic Avenger Part II (1989) – This striking red bridge first appears on the hour mark as the Toxic Avenger is re-united with his long lost Japanese father. Five minutes later and a very silly fight ensues between Toxie and his fathers team of henchmen which continues on back to the bridge in question. More details here

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3. Yasakuni-dori Bridge, Shinjuku-ku: The Wolverine (2013) – Appearing on 19 minutes is  the usual shot of Yasukuni dori in Shinjuku which has featured in so many movies and TV programmes over the years and I guess it’s become the classic shot (alongside Shibuya crossing) of the neon lights of Tokyo really hitting the foreigner visiting these shores.  More details here

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It can be seen more recently in ‘Godzilla‘ (2014) as well as the Steven Seagal classic ‘Into The Sun‘ (2005). More details here

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4. Kachidoki Bridge, Chuo-ku: Godzilla (1954) – In his 15 minutes of terror, the final place to be destroyed by Gojira before returning to the ocean was this bridge (63 mins) which stretches across Sumidagawa River. More details here

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5. Hamarikyu Gardens Bridge, Chuo-ku: Into The Sun (2005) – A reflective Seagal cuts a lonesome figure on one of the gardens bridges amid the cherry blossoms in the films final moments (91 mins). More details here

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Bonus: Tokorozawa Bridge, Tokorozawa: Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2006) – A bridge too far? Certainly not! Every good  Tokyo Fox listings feature needs an extra one and this one is technically not in Tokyo but as it’s just over the border in Saitama it can qualify as the bonus bridge. It features in the films dramatic final chapter on 82 minutes and that’s all I can really say! The match-up photo’s below though do give some hint as to what happens as the film comes to a climax! More details here

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Honorary Mention: Rainbow bridge is of course the most famous and picturesque bridge in Tokyo and is seen in both ‘Kill Bill: Volume I‘ (2003) and ‘Lost In Translation‘ (2003) but rightly or wrongly that one didn’t quite make this list.

Top 5……Tokyo Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Whilst its probably possible to spend the night at the Wolverine temple or outside the Grudge house, I certainly doesn’t recommend it!! There are far more appropriate and more conventional ways to absorb the atmosphere of a handful of films which have been shot at various places in Tokyo. Last month featured the top 10 movie locations where you can stay and earlier in the year there was the top (double oh) 7 Hotels featured in James Bond films. Now, its time to bring you a list of movie-related places where you can stay in Japan’s capital city.

So here, in no particular order is the Tokyo Fox top 5……Tokyo movie locations where you can stay

1. Hotel New Otani (from $217 per night), 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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You Only Live Twice (1967) – This hotel plays the part of Osato Chemicals exterior for a few brief moments on 24, 28, 36 and 41 minutes respectively. The nearest station is Akasaka-Mitsuke. Its small, but peaceful gardens round the back are worth a visit for anyone wishing to take a break from the concrete jungle. More details here

2. The Park Hyatt Hotel (from $507 per night), 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Featuring throughout the films 97 minute entirety, this is where the characters Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johanson) stay and the 52nd floor is the New York Grill & Bar where a fair few scenes were filmed including when they meet for the first time on 23 mins. This place is a great one for the lunch set menu (5000 yen) with the salad and dessert buffet spread being sufficient enough in itself! A delicious main course of grilled Australian beef or lamb is also part of the deal and the aforementioned buffet is laid out on the table where Bob and Charlotte first meet. More details here

3. Hotel Okura (from $237 per night), 2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku.

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Walk, Don’t Run (1966) – Cary Grant’s swan-song was mostly set in and around Toranomon during the 1964 Olympic Games. On his arrival in Tokyo on business, he turns up at Hotel Okura in the first minute but is unable to get a room there so goes to the British Embassy where he sees an advert for an apartment which he soon fast-talks his way into sharing with Samantha Eggar. More details here

4. Imperial Hotel (from $337 per night),  1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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Wasabi (2000) – Appearing on 47 mins this is where Hubert (Jean Reno) books into ‘pretending’ that the young under-age Japanese girl is his daughter with the irony being that she actually is, not that she knows it! More details here

5. Nakagin Capsule Tower (from $51 per night), 8-10-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku.

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The Wolverine (2013) – Logan and Mariko disembark (52 minutes) from the Shinkansen in “Nagasaki” though in reality it’s a combination of Fukuyama and  Ginza where the Nakagin Capsule Tower appears as a love hotel which they check into. The interior of these tiny apartments could be seen in episode four of the BBC documentary ‘Journeys Into The Ring Of Fire‘ (2006). The building is a fine example of Tokyo modern architecture and now you can actually stay there thanks to airbnb website. More details here

Bonus: Karaoke-Kan (from $17 per night), 30-8 Utagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Those wanting to experience a night at a movie location on a shoestring budget should get themselves into rooms 601 and 602, which featured on 46 minutes, and is where Bob sings ‘More than this’ by Roxy Music. You’ll have to check out at 6am though as that’s when it closes each night…or morning if you prefer! This particular idea for a cheap nights stay in Tokyo actually featured on the ‘The Travel Show‘ (Episode 31) on BBC2 last Friday (19th Sept). More details here

Top 10……Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Hot on the tail of the top (double oh) 7 hotels featured in James Bond films here are the top 10 recommendations for other places where you can spend a night amidst movie history. Just to get things clear you have to pay to stay in all of the listed accommodation rather than just rocking up and pitching a tent outside the filming location!! This list, which is in no particular order, will take you around the globe and offers the full spectrum of price range.

1. Sidi Driss, (from $9 per night) Matmatat-Al-Qadimal, Matmata (Tunisia): Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – No surprise that this one is featured. Coach loads of tourists stop off here every day yet very few of them actually stay the night! That’s probably because it’s very dirty with poor service! I was the only guest when I stayed there…..but it was a privilege to spend the night at Luke Skywalker’s home! Cheap too!More details here.

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2. On On Hotel (from $3 per night), 19 Phang-Nga Road, Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket  (Thailand): The Beach (2000) – Another ridiculously cheap place to stay. Leonard DiCaprio checks in to this rundown “Kao San Road” backpacker place but its nowhere near the legendary Bangkok spot where western travellers congregate. It is in fact way, way down south in Phuket town. More details here.

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3. Imperial Palace (from $49 per night), 3535 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109  (USA): Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery (1997) – This Nevada state city has been used in many movies over the years and could probably have it’s very own top 10 list (now there’s an idea!) but just the single hotel for this entry and that’s Alotta Fagina’s penthouse suite where Austin shagged her rotten to use his exact words!! It’s since been re-named as The Quad Resort & Hotel. More details here.

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4. Tiki Motel (from $?? per night), 7301 Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park, Los Angeles (USA): The Terminator (1984) – John Connor was conceived at this very run-down in what is perhaps the most pivotal point in the whole Terminator franchise. You could stay in the same room where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese did the deed but in all honesty you probably wouldn’t want to! More details here.

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5. Royal Eagle Hotel (from $627 per night), 26-30 Craven Rd, London W2 3QB (UK): Trainspotting (1996) – The boys take a break from Scotland and head down south to London to do a drug deal. Sick Boy leads the guys out of Smallbrook Mews, across Craven Road in a parody of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. The “small-time wasters” then wander into the Royal Eagle Hotel. More details here.

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6. Grand Hotel Evropa (from $30 per night), Vaclavske namesti 25, Prague (Czech Republic): Mission: Impossible (1996) – This was the headquarters of mysterious arms dealer Max (Vanessa Redgrave) in the first of this action spy film series based on the TV series from the 60’s and 70’s. More details here.

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7. Westin Grand (from $274 per night), Friedrichstrasse 158 – 164, 10117 Berlin  (Germany): The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – The luxury hotel where Landy stays. Bourne cleverly finds out at reception that she is staying in room 235. He then watches her leave from his position on the 4th floor and then takes the stairs down and goes through the hotels revolving doors where he gets in a taxi and follows her to the CIA hub. More details here.

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8. Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel (from $216 per night), Wollestraat 41-47, Bruges (Belgium): In Bruges (2008) – Dark, comedy thriller featuring Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken) and Ralph Fiennes (Harry) with the former two Irish hit-men lying low in the Belgian city at this canal-side hotel. More details here.

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9. Four Season’s Hotel (from $750 per night), Teyfikhane Sok No 1 SultanahmetIstanbul 34110 (Turkey): Midnight Express (1978) – This used to be the infamous Sultanahmet jail depicted in this biographical crime drama. More details here.

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10. Plaza Hotel (from $550 per night), 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019 (USA): Crocodile Dundee (1986) – What could be better than washing your backside in the same bidet that Mick Dundee (presumably) washed his posterior in? Well sadly that can’t be done here as the facilities don’t have bidets! The interior scenes were shot in the studio but you could still pretend and shout it from the window down to pedestrians on the street below!  More details here.

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Cycling The Godzilla Tokyo Trail…In One Day!

Following on from my Wolverine cycling trip, and with not too many other themed cycling ideas coming forth, I began to think about other filming location based rides. There was a clear winner which stamped all over the rest like no other and with the 2014 incarnation (directed by Gareth Edwards) finally getting released over here, it seemed like the timing was ideal for a Godzilla tour of Tokyo.

On the day of it’s long awaited release in Japan (July 25th); two months after the rest of the world got to see it, I decided to cycle round a mix of Gojira-themed statues, shops and filming locations amid scorching temperatures that reached 34 degrees celsius! Having left the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Shinjuku-ku at 6:45 am the first destination was the National Diet Building (1-7-1 Nagata-cho) but it took me longer than expected to get there as I missed the turn-off and ended up in Akihabara! It wouldn’t be the last time I got lost and this was mainly due to a mix of having poor sense of direction and not wanting to use my phone as the Runkeeper App drains the battery enough on its own without me checking other things on it! Even though it was only 7:30 am the heat was pretty intense and I was dripping with sweat as I lined up the camera for the first shot of the day at the home of the national parliament of Japan.

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The next few locations were ticked off pretty quickly but not quite as fast as Godzilla ripped through them all in the 1954 original! The tiny Godzilla statue (1-2-2 Yurakucho) has been no stranger to my cycling tours over the years and it didn’t take too long to find it next to First Kitchen and in front of the Toho Hibiya Building, a 77-metre highrise built in 1987 that has served as the headquarters of Toho Co., Ltd since 2005.

Round the corner from there is New Marion Building (2-5-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku).  This building houses some movie theatres inside and it gets smashed up on 61 minutes.

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Wako Department store (4-5-11 Ginza) is not too much further on down the road and its clock was ripped off by Godzilla on 59 minutes during his nighttime rampage.

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On 59 minutes Matsuzukaya Department Store (6-10-1 Ginza) is torched and it appears that the monster lizard might have done likewise yet again as in its place is just a load of rubble which was a big shame and confused me for a while as I wasn’t certain that it was the correct address. The store first opened in 1924 but it seems that it closed a year ago to undergo a four-year modernisation. Below are the pictures showing it then and now.

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Next up was Kachidoki Bridge (63 mins) which stretches across Sumidagawa River and is destroyed by the beast during his 15 minutes of terror before returning to the ocean.

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Tokyo Tower (4-2-8 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku) has felt the brunt of many kaiju battles over the years. As for Gojira film appearances, it was the ‘Godzilla: Final Wars‘ (2004) movie where it somehow managed to survive a big explosion quite well while the rest of Tokyo was nothing but a sea of crumbling, burning ruins. For once I got lucky with my instincts in getting from A to B on this one.

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I made a brieft stop at Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi en-route to my next location, though not to eat! Whilst researching this project I surfed the net to see where there were King Kong statues in Tokyo and it came up with a few but I didn’t have too much luck as I couldn’t find the one I’ve seen in Ginza before and the one outside this American-style hamburger joint was no more! Still time for the colossal gorilla-like star of ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla‘ (1962) to make an appearance on this cycling adventure though!

Absolutely no-one was at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi when I got there which was nice and quite different to the previous week when I visited it on my return from Gojira-koen in Yokosuka though that was probably due to it being early (09:15) in the morning! There will be an evening light show every 30 minutes from 6 pm onwards until August 21st  featuring smoke and roaring noises coming from the 6.6 metre high model figure.

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Having come out of the water at Tokyo Bay Godzilla promptly destroyed Shinagawa Station on 43 mins. Quite incredible to think it was still only 10am when I arrived at this station following a three mile ride from the previous locale where sweat running into my eyes became something of a problem. I even had to stop a couple of times as the stinging sensation meant it was too dangerous to continue cycling.

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Monster Japan USA Toy shop in Ebisu is not exactly stocked with too many Godzilla products but there were a few amid the many, many Star Wars, Spiderman, Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goods. There were also a few posters for the new film on the stairs leading up to the shop and the fact that it’s called ‘Monster’ warrants its deserved place on this route! Eagle-eyed readers may notice that its closed in my picture (opening hours are 12:30 till 20:30) but I regularly visit the shop when I work in Ebisu which is when I took the picture of the product below.

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On to Shibuya after that to take the road leading to Sangenjaya where I made a brief stop in the Taishido 5-chome area to photography the giant King Kong which hangs above the Family Mart convenience store. King Kong featured in the aforementioned 1962 movie which saw the two legendary monster’s of Godzilla and King Kong face-off against each other in full-on colour action.

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After that it was the longest ride as I made my way down Setagaya-dori going past many stations I’ve never heard of on the Tokyu Setagaya and Keio lines! Once I’d found one station on the latter it was quite straight-forward (literally!) just following the tracks until I ended up at Seijogakuenmae. Since I first visited Toho Studios  back in November 2010 the Toho Studios (1-4-1 Seijo, Setagaya-ku) have added a huge Godzilla portrait on to the side of one of its buildings which was a most welcome bonus sight for me. There’s a six foot tall Godzilla statue just in front of the reception window at the studios.

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I guess I should mention that miniature sets were used to replicate Tokyo city whilst a man wore a rubber suit and stomped all over the three metre high set-pieces. That was of course all done in these studios which are Japan’s largest and most famous film studios famed for making TV programmes and films such as the ‘Seven Samurai‘ (1954); one of the greatest and most influential Japanese films ever!

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Seijo to Koenji pretty much rounded things off and was by far the worst part of the journey as I got lost once and was naturally very tired and just wanted it to all be over and done with! Shops don’t like to open too early in Tokyo (but they sure stay open till late!) so when I eventually got to my final destination I was a little disappointed to find that Gojira-ya (Koenji Minami 3-67-1) still wasn’t open at 1:15 pm! Luckily, I had been in Koenji the weekend before and had searched out the place. It’s on the opposite side of the tracks to the Star Wars shop meaning it’s on the south side where it can be found beneath the tracks.

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I still had to cycle another 3.5 miles from Koenji to get back home and recover. I was way too exhausted to actually go and see the new Godzilla film yesterday evening but I will go and see it very soon and a review will be slotted in here once I’ve done that!

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Distance: 82.8 km   Time: 6.43 hrs   Calories Burned: 2753

You can read my review of ‘Godzilla‘ (1954) here.

You can see my other themed cycling adventures by clicking here.