Yoyogi Park in Tokyo is famous here for many reasons (it hosted the Olympics back in 1964), but the reason we found ourselves there today was that we’d had a song written about the place. It’s evolved into a space where people can let their hair down in all sorts of creative ways (and probably pick up a Yen or two from passing tourists). In amongst Tokyo residents practising their Tai Chi are Elvis impersonators, Samurai display teams, ‘Cosplay’ girls (who dress up as their favourite Japanese super-hero and cartoon characters), street musicians and artists. Sunday is the day when they are out in force, but our researcher Kirsty had used her powers of persuasion to entice some to come along and play with us on a Saturday instead. Vic dressed up as a garishly attired Cosplay girl and I was dressed as a “Greaser” (a 50s rock n roller. They have a gang of them in the park, but they’re so used to being filmed they asked for too much money!).
As the sun beat down, our enthusiastic Japanese extras strutted their stuff alongside us, and we all worked up quite a sweat pretending to be Justin Timberlake (the song is a parody of ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’). Our new director Emma did a great job co-ordinating it all and by the time we left the park in our Japanese production bus bound for the seaside town of Ito we were all feeling quite pleased with ourselves. And sweaty. Did I mention it was sweaty?
It was an incredible 3 hour drive along the coastal road that hugs the cliffs. Our fixer Dai said that pretty much the whole coast of Japan is like it. You drive around the edge of dark rocky cliffs that jut out into the sea, covered in vegetation, and each valley contains a fishing town (although there is a lot more going on in them than that, and the standard of living seems quite high). The towns continued a theme that I noticed in Tokyo – that everything feels like a 1980s version of what the future was going to be like. It seems like they strove ahead to the end of that decade and thought “That’ll do us”. The buildings, vending machines, taxis – all of them would have blown your mind in the early 90s but seem charmingly peculiar now.
Once we got to our hotel our fixer rather sniffly described it as too “countryside” for his taste, but we were all very excited to find it ticked just about every Japanese stereotype you could think of. It was full of sliding panels, beds on the floor, shin high tables – the works. Crouching down into bed I thought to myself that it was by far the most unusual room I had ever slept in.