Kaiten Zushi, Munakata, Fukuoka

The moving Sushi bars have now been around for a long time and is not longer a novelty. Still, I thought this one, called Sushi Roo, was interesting. Next to our Chisun Inn, in Munakata, it was always full of people for three nights in a row. Close to the sea, the fish was amazingly fresh and cheap: 105 yens per plate. A real feast for little money, even though we had to wait very late in order to get in.


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Climbing Dragon Waterfall, Oita

Since the beginning of the trip, I have been trying to take the smaller mountain roads as often as I could, and not often enough to my taste. Those smaller roads can hide so many beautiful natural spots. On the way back from Oita to Fukuoka, we stopped at a lovely fall where there was the traditional Shinto Shrine. By the river, there was a funny looking Kappa, a legendary sprite for which you can find more information on Wikipedia.

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Yuri and I next to the funny looking Kappa that can be dangerous, according to legends, but also very useful if we learn how to handle it.

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But the real fun part of the place was the Climbing Dragon Waterfall. According to the Shinto suggestion, it brings you luck if you go all the way around the fall. We did and I wonder if it might not be the reason why we have been so lucky this far during the trip… Hihihhihi… I suggest that you try making the short tour with us…



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Cinema 5, Oita

Today is the thirty third day of our trip around Japan and I didn’t show too many cinemas so far, despite the fact that we did see quite a few of them. The original plan was to visit at least one cinema per Prefecture and try to make a deal: the objective was to play in a minimum of one key city in each one of the 47 Prefectures, and ideally in two or three cities if possible. We don’t mind the commercial Multiplexes, Art House Theaters or even community Halls, as long as we can show our movie.

In some places, like the Ciema Cinema in Saga, we played already in January. After visiting them during this trip, they agreed to play our film once more, which is part of the great thrill of this trip. The media as well as the movie theater people all want to get on board and play the game…

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In Oita, there is only one Art House Theater left in all the Prefecture, out of an original five: four of them have closed down over the last few years.

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Since he has only one screen, the owner, Tai San, is extremely careful about his selection of films. Just like Kubodera San of the Denkikan Theater in Kumamoto, Tai San, who was one of the co-writers of a book on Independent Movie Theaters in Japan, influences everyone with his choices of films. Needless to say that we wanted him to take our film.
Here is a short video that illustrates pretty well the way our meetings go in almost every place we visit:


The visit was nice and polite, but Tai San had not seen “Looking For Anne” and could obviously not commit. He just listen to our campaign approach and promised to screen the video. When we called him about a week later, he still hadn’t screened the film. This wasn’t a good sign. He promised to screened it in the next few days and when we call him five days later, he seemed a bit annoyed: the copy that we gave him had a defect and he could screen only the first ten minutes… That was bad news and we fell terrible.

One week later, he had screened the film and surprised us with a: “Well, this is a very good film, isn’t it?” He agreed to play it and make a media campaign with us on the way back from Hokkaido in July. As we suspected, Tai San was, at first, a bit turned off by the title of our movie: he expected a light, meaningless movie. He was nicely surprised by the quality and the content of our film. Needless to say that we were extremely pleased, especially after such a scare. One more great Cinema for our movie…

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Yame, old Japanese town

It’s always nice to find an old Japanese town which hasn’t been destroyed during the bombing of the Pacific War and has kept its old buildings. Yame means “Eight Women” and was named after an ancient goddess it seems. We were visiting that locality to meet some young people who want to organize a few special screenings of our film, Looking For Anne, in their community Hall.

To me, Yame looks like a perfect place to shoot a movie on another era. Just a few retouches and it would be perfect.

After the meeting, we were taking some pictures of an old Sake factory (three of them in the town) and in a lovely little street when a woman came out, asking what we were doing. When we explained that we love those old buildings and particularly the house next to hers, she offered for us to go inside and visit the place. It was her family store, selling rare wood, now turned into a space for tea ceremony. They were emptying it to make renovations in the traditional way.

I put a few iPhone shots together, for curiosity. It’s a bit corny with the music and all, but why not?


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Tentmushi truck

When we began to plan this “movie survival” trip across Japan, our first concern was with making a minimal foot print under the circumstances. We had to search for the smallest and most energy efficient vehicle that could be found for our specific needs. Our choice came upon the Tentmushi. We liked the name which is made from a play with the English word “tent” an obvious one for a camping car, and a Japanese one: tentomushi, in Japanese, means ladybug, a very great looking and valuable insect.

We needed a spectacular car that would attract attention. The Tentmushi, dressed with all the seals from our sponsors, was perfect for that purpose as it has proven over the last few weeks on the road. The Tentmushi is built on what they call in Japan a “Kei Truck” or “light truck” if you prefer.

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“Kei Cars” and “Kei Trucks” must have special yellow plates, since they are not as fast as usual vehicles on highways. The yellow plates also mean that it’s cheaper to drive the “Kei Sizes” on pay toll highways, bridges and that they have special parking places in most parking lots.

It’s always difficult to evaluate sizes, but on the picture we can have an idea from the white lines which are made for your standard car. The Tentmushi takes a lot less space.

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I really don’t know anything about cars. To show you how ignorant I am, I couldn’t find the engine when I opened the hood of our Tentmushi.

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As a matter of fact, it took me a while to find out that the engine was under the two seats.

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From what I can see, this engine is not much bigger than a motorcycle one, and it certainly doesn’t go as fast. On windy days, it’s not very safe to go faster than 90 kilos per hour, even though it can make it to about 110, if one doesn’t mind the rather loud noise that it makes. Up in the mountains, we are talking about a third gear, if not second at times, and around 30 to 60 kilometers per hour. Not that fast, but it gets you where you need to go. The comfort is more or less the comfort of a truck, and there is nothing wrong with that: if we were looking for comfort, we would have stayed home…

But all in all, it’s great fun to drive such a practical, ecological and great looking vehicle. We couldn’t have made a better choice.

Don’t ask me more… I’m only the driver…

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