November  28 & 29 | 30  December  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
November 28th & 29th Click the tumbnails to open the pics
When Giacomo called me months ago to propose me this adventure, I was partially disoriented on what could wait me in Japan, because I had to play a role, behind a camera, not simply pic shots as I was normally used to do. I decided to accept this challenge and on 28th, at 10am, I left from Florence airport togheter with the staff of the project: Giacomo (director, creator of the project and main character, of Beeblet snc), Cosimo (cameraman and director of Bonnie & Clide Pixproduction), Andrea (co-author and director) and Hiromi-san, an energic Japanese woman of Lailac Florence, a Japan Cultural Association.
Useless to say how much bowring a 14 hours travel on an airplane could be, just tell that books cannot help: you became quickly sleepy while reading but you cannot sleep because aiplane sits are unconfortable. Lunches aren't very good, you can just go on with drinks, try to watch films even if your lcd screen is too far from your place. We try to talk, sure, I had the opportunity to know a little the guys, for I only knew Giacomo for long time, or watching some GTO episodes on Andrea's notebook but at the end all these hours overcame us..
But on my seat I was really excited thinking I was returning to Japan one more time, god I was going to Japan! The country I loved the most! I couldn't believe before we left, but in that moment, hearing the rumble of the engine, the airplane flying above the clouds, so high, I realized the great opportunity they gave me, what gift they have done to me. Couldn't stop to smile, my face turned towards the small window.
The morning after we finally lended in Japan!! It was the 29th, we get off the airplane at about 10 am.
Inside the Kansai International Airport of Ōsaka, we immediately begun to work on the scenes about the arrival of "Hitomi" (my character) to Japan. I changed dress and the shoots begun inside the transparent elevator of the 4th floor. Cosimo from above was shoting my descent. Japanese airport employers were very nice to let us shoot there, equipping us with staff arm bands to wear during the work. They love this kind of neat things, because we always had arm bands, shooting in temples, schools, everywhere!
When we finished we moved to the Toyoko Inn Hotel, in a central area of the town, with shops near it. Time for changing, having lunch and leave again. Our work must go on, a couple of kind Hiromi's friends drove us to the Italian Restaurant "La Latini". The owner, Yamamoto san, permitted us to shoot inside his local. The scene was Yago's, I wasn't involved, and we were very lucky to find two nice monks, who consented to help us. They acted the role of two customers unsatisfied on Yago's service, hopeless waiter of the restaurant. Mr. Yamamoto was great too, acting the angry owner, very old Japanese style man, indeed! (do you remember Shige from Ai Shite Night??)
We spent there a lot of time and when we finished we were very tired. We had a very long day, without sleeping, but we cannot loose the opportunity to see Ōsaka by night. First Hiromi showed us the Himeji castle.
We stayed there for a brief time, just to take some pics, because the day after we should have visit it inside during the morning, then we returned to the hotel and after having a shower and changing dress, me and the guys decided to find a typical place where drink something. We headed by foot for an area with many sobaya and other small restaurants. A strange, crazy little girl understood us when we asked for a nice place where drink something and addressed us in a tiny izakaya not far from our hotel. I didn't have sake, I don 't like, but asked fo a good umeshu, the plum wine. The others took hot sake, japanese beer and tried some dishes. I also wanted to go to the toilet, but the place wasn't provide for girl bathrooms.. ok, ok, never mind.. but thinking better and looking around.. I was the only girl inside!! :D Aaaahhh.... gaijin!!!
November 30th
Morning breakfast at the hotel, with rice rolls, miso soup, green hot tea and other Japanese traditional dishes! I really love Japanese style kitchen!! ^^
Then our program forsaw the visit to Himeji castle, where we had to shoot some movies. This time I was the actress for those scenes.
Himeji castle is spectacular. Built according to occidental techniques, made by wood, was completed in 1609 and never destroyed. His white colour of walls and roof as in origin, gave it the ancient name of White Heron (Shirasagi-jo). Around it there's a real ancient town, with its wonderful quarters surrounded by a moat as strong defence.
The weather was beautiful, the sky clear and the view magic. We shot for some hours outside and then we went inside to visit it and shoot other movies on the sixth and last floor of the castle, where a small shinto sanctuary layed in the middle of the room. Hiromi stopped to pray, shaking the big rope with the bell on the bottom. In 2004, during my first visit to Japan I didn't have the opportunity to appreciate such simple signs, but going around with Hiromi I could learn lots of things about traditions, rituals and curiousities. I really thank her for showing me this side of ancient Japan!
Our tour around Ōsaka wasn't finished yet. We had only a few hours before leaving and decided to go to Mt. Shosha, a place rich of Buddhist temples, where legend says the famous soldier Benkei spent his early days. A ropeway helped us to reach the summit and there we could visited the Kaizando, followed by the three temples Daikodo, Jikido, Jogyodo, built during Muromachi Era. Those three structures were also used as set for "The Last Samurai" movie and the monk who take us around was filmed during his prays too. We were wery lucky: he showned us restricted rooms not allowed to public for their holiness.
All temples were in dark wood, you could enter only removing your shoes and all around the nature had fantastic colours. The leaf on the trees changed from green, to yellow to a strong purple. Such colours are unimaginable in Italy during fall season.
The monk was very very kind and friendly with us, we also took pictures togheter.
At the main temple we all bought a special book with white pages, where every monk, ouside Japanese temple or castles, would have imprinted its simble and sometimes written by hand a pray.
As the day passed by, the weather became colder and colder, so after the tour we took shelter in a cute restaurant where the monk offered us the nigorizake, a sweet hot sake.
Then we thanked the monk and take for the second time the ropeway, heading to our hotel, for the check out before the departure for Kyōto.
We reached Kyōto thanks to shinkansen. Inside the famous fastest train of Japan, we took the opportunity to shoot other scenes.
We arrived in 1 hour 40. Kyōto is a very big ancient town, the cultural capital of Japan. Without enormous skyscraper, it shows itself like a perfect enseble of old and new, with its temples and ancient streets, with its maiko walking on the streets on evenings; as well as its commercial center, full of shops, colours, neons and japanese street fashion girls.
Our day went on with some shoots around the city, but the town was quite desert. Then we found a bar were stay a little and then returned for a deserved rest in our Kyōto Traveler's Inn.
December 1st
Another full day wait for us. In the morning we went to shoot outside a middle-superior school. Crowds of cute students in blue uniform entered the gate, the headmaster in front of it greeted everyone, the gym teacher controlled the dresses. A very charming scene typical of anime and manga, I remained there in a corner, saying hello to some shy students, enchanted on such order performance, unthinkable in Italy!
Our next step was a survey to a real Japanese house, now used for conventions and meetings. One of Hiromi's friend drove us to this wanterful place, a big mansion surrounded by a wook gate, a big garden in front ot the entrance, two courtyards inside, one in Japanese style and the second according to Occidental tastes. Large rooms were divided by shōji, big wood rafters supported the roofs and servants worked all around. Giacomo had a scene here, a very fun one, involving the nice old gardener.
Third stop, Kyōto Studio Park Eigamura. Coming back with time, we were transported to an ancient Edo village, with pleasure quarters, courtesans and geisha in traditional costumes, samurai, old style houses, traditional shops, theatre and location for historical movies. Toei Kyōto Studio is specialized in samurai dramas and historical series. There we met one of the head of the Studio, Mr. Kameoka Masato. We talked togheter inside his office, drinking hot tea, Hiromi was translating for Giacomo and the others, and after that he gave them the opportunity to choose two actors from the staff and film their scenes inside the village two days later. He also let me and Giacomo dress as princess and samurai, a 5 second dressing a photo studio provided for all the costumers who wanted to have a picture in their favourite ancient dresses.
Before leaving, inside the theatre, we assisted on a funny scetch about a street vendor who tried to sell frog oil capable to heal any wound. As good actor, he had great facial expressions and involved an afraid woman from the public, to show the efficacy of his miracolous ointment.
The late evening we decided to have some shopping in the central area of the town, and shoot some scenes there. Covered streets full of shops, like Shinkyogoku or Kiyamachi waited for us! I bought some books for friend and gifts, I had a full sheet written of commissions! Then I chose for me an electronic dictionary I was searching for long time.
It was Friday and on the streets there were a lot of persons, joung fashion girls and boys, salarymen, students, old woman in kimono.. In particular we stood astonished seeing that girls didn't wear nylon stockings under their short skirt, even if the weather was terrible cold!!
Outside a kimono shop we shot for some hours, then at 8pm we decided to eat something. Japanese are used to have dinner at 6.30pm, but we aren't, so at 9pm we reached our hotel to have a piping hot bowl of soba.

December 2nd

Fushimi Inari shrine take his name by the shinto god of rice and foxes are his messengers. In this great complex, the red prevale on every other colour. The vision is spectacular: themore than 2 kilometres fully covered by tori, the typical red portals. We went to visit this temple in the morning, to shoot some scenes around. The weather was beautiful but cold as always. We didn't reach the summit of Mt. Inari, but walked through the red way for small distance for our work. We spent the full morning in this beautiful place. From time to time the tori left a opening and there you can find yourself in front of a bridge, or a lake, or in front of some old stone shrine dedicated to the sacred fox. We also bought some omamori (talisman) and we all took a miniature of a tori, where a kind friend of Hiromi, a great woman capable to create fantastic masks, wrote for us our wishes on it, performing the ritual against evil spirits, scratching two flint stones.
All the streets leading to the shrine were surrounded by small shops selling fresh and cooked food, souvenirs like luckycats (manekineko), fox statuettes or other lucky animals reproductions; fabrics, small bags and all kind of gadjets. This city area was so typical and ancient that you can find also monks along the road, totally absorbed in their prays.
The guys went to take Cindy (C-chan) at the railstation that evening, I couldn't wait to meet her, because we didn't know each other very well and have talked only by internet, as occours for many friends inside my cosplay world. She's a brilliant and brave German girl who lives in Japan since last year, working as English and German teacher and as a model too. She's very tiny and beautiful. We get on well from the first time we met and now she misses me a lot!
The program forsight a movie inside the Toei Village, the scene of Hitomi princess kidnapping and Yago, as Shinsengumi, who should have been tried to set her free from two sinister samurai (two real Toei actors).
We really enjoyed shooting this scene, I unfortunatelly haven't pics from that moment but you will sure find something on the backstage in the official site of the project, because our Andrea took a lot of pics during our work!
It took one hour to dress and make up as Edo princess, the girls on makeup room were very fast and professional, but the big black wig was a real torture on my head!! +_+
We shot along the streets of the old village and it was really cold, so after finished I was very glad to undressed. But some scenes were still needed, so the staff moved inside the offices of Toei and we used some rooms to shoot a movie where Tsuyoshi (my suitor in the trailer) tried to donate me some gifts. Tsuyoshi kun and Hiroko san are two very good and nice Toei actors who joined us, as active roles on the trailer.
When we finished we returned to the hotel and then went out to relax a little. We stopped inside a coffee along Shinkyogoku, one of the commercial streets of the town center.
Then we returned to the Hotel where Cindy got a room too.
December 3rd
In the morning we left for visiting the Sanzen in, a temple where in origin lived Emperor's sisters and brothers, built arount 1100. It's very famous for its gardens. Inside and outside the building everything is even too much perfect that is seems unreal: very old paintings, beautiful shōji, the well-kept gardens with his two sacred trees, decorate wood trusses, streamlet with big carps, scarlet marples.. Every particular left in immutate state.
In the evening our tour went on visiting a smaller temple where we shot some scenes. The owner of the shrine was a very kind and sweet nun, who embraced buddhism teachings 5 years ago. While Cosimo, Andrea and Giacomo worked ouside the shrine, she invited us inside and offered apples and greet hot tea, perfect for the freezing weather outside!
That evening we also worked inside a club. Our friend Jun, the young guitarist and singer of the rock band called "The Lookbacks", was awaiting for us in the commercial area. He found for us a club to use for our scenes. In the club we were togheter with the 3 guys of the group Jun, Hiroki e Tsukuru, but there were also Tsuyoshi and Hiroko from Toei and C-chan.
Later we moved to the Jumbo Karaoke building, not far from there. With us was also the beautiful Hiromi's nephew, Mayu, who played a role too during the shoots.
December 4th
Our journey was finishing, but not our work yet. The morning, we woke up very early to get one of the hotel room ready as set for a scene involving C-chan and Giacomo. Later we moved towards the Kyōto University of Art and Design. In the story this is where I study, so we shot togheter with C-chan (my bestfriend in the movie) but we involved also some students, in particular the sweet Akane, a curly black hair girl we met there who accepted with other friends a little role in the scene.
But work apart, we were able to attend a Taiko lesson (do you know the game "Taiko Drum Master" or "Taiko no tatsujin"?? Well I adore this game, but watching those instruments for real is impressive!!). First the students played for an hour practicing, then the two teachers performed in our honour for some minutes. They were so energic, involving and powerful! Taiko music and rhythm is spectacular, as it can reach directly your soul. I really love this instrument.
When we came back it was about 5pm, Cindy had to leave and return to Nagoya. Giacomo and Andrea drove her to the railstation, I said her goodbye in front of the University. I was sad about her departure for I really enjoyed her company and complicity, the only two girls of the staff!
With Cosimo I took a taxi and decided to go to the center and having some shopping (we haven't had much time to do it since then and we had so many commissinons yet!). We had one hour before the meeting with others. At 7pm we reached the Japanese restaurant where the rest of us was, togheter with Tsuyoshi, Hiroko and Mayu. But I waited for someone else. Infact days before I had contacted Ed, a friend met during the 2004 World Cosplay Summit and our translater; and that night he should have came in Kyōto to spend some hours with us. I was really happy to meet him one more time, but I didn't know he drove for 3 hours that night coming from Nagoya! Poor Ed!
We planned a small party to celebrate the last day in Japan and the end of our shoots. First having dinner with okonomiyaki and other delicious dishes. Our Eigamura friends brought some gift for us, for me cute and pink princess socks, for Andrea the talisman of the shogun Mitsukuni Mito, for Cosimo a shinsengumi hairband and for Giacomo a shinsengumi cellular doll! ^^
Inside the Jumbo Karaoke, Ed finally reached us. We booked a big and coloured room and passed there some hours singing and laughing. We drank a lot, but nothing really alcoolic (it's impossible to get drunk with Japanese cocktails!). The atmosphere was really relaxing, without any more thoughts, finally free from work.
December 5th
Only in 6 days we were be able to visit so many places, having so many opportunities for our work. And for the most we done, we should thank Hiromi for all the persons she knew and having interceded for the staff. She's a great strong patient determined Japanese woman!
And there was the boys of the staff, in constant movement, able to solve every problem and able to adapt quickly, without panic, the scenes when they didn't follow the plans, always there for smiling me when I felt stressed.
There were all actors and friends joyned us during this adventure, always at disposal and calm even if the shoots went on for hours.
There were all the kind persons of temples, school, university, airport, Eigamura village, who let us shoot in every place, understanding our needed.
There was Kyōto with his colours, his people, his shops and his life.
For all those reasons it was so difficult to leave that morning. As a piece of us wanted to remain there, and our faces surely showed very well how we felt.
But was time to go, so from Kyōto to Ōsaka first, and then from Ōsaka to Frankfurt and Italy again, for a 14 hours trip, our journey ended, with the strong wish to come back as soon as possible!
Yours Hitomi sama
   Thanks to:
Giacomo & Andrea, for creating the project and working a lot on it, without them I couldn't have been there.
Our Panda Cosimo, great cameramen and director, for putting me always at ease during shoots.
Those three guys who represented my funny creeck during the trip.
Hiromi for her insuperable savoir-faire, for being my change money bank and having beared me sharing the hotel bedroom with me for three nights.
Cindy for her friendship and sweetness and for my socks she brought with her in Nagoya!! :D I really hope to meet her again!
All Japanese collaborators and friends: Tsuyoshi, Hiroko, Mayu, Jun, Hiroki, Tsukuru, the sweet nun, Yamamoto san, Akane and everybody helped us.
Mr. Kameoka and all Toei actors.
Cri for understanding how all this was important to me.
Ed for the very long trip had to coming visiting me.
All readers came till this poing, for bearing one more time all my words!
Kyōto, at least, just for being Kyōto.
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