Sometimes it’s a good idea to think of plans that include sights other than temples and shrines, like the Toei Kyoto Movie Studio tour. Some of Japan’s best-loved films and dramas have been filmed using the sets on display here, including the upcoming movie, “Ōoku,” starring Ninomiya Kazunari, who’s making a name for himself in film (beyond his participation in the super popular band, Arashi).
The history of the studio goes back many years and the displays will be most meaningful to devotees of these films. (Most of the signage and information is strictly in Japanese.)
But that’s not to say that this is not fascinating for the more casual viewer of Japanese cinema and dramas. There were many sets that had this look of familiarity, and I was frequently thinking, “Waaaate a minute… wasn’t this the place where so-and-so went to see the courtesan?”
This fast glimpse of a striding figure hurrying on his way (above) reminded me of a scene from the drama “Jin.”
And of course, there were others in character who were happy to pose for photos, such as this young man.
And, if your pockets are deep, you can, for a price, get made up in period costume and feel like a member of the cast of your favorite movie. I passed on the privilege, as I was squishy wet from the rains and not in the mood to put on layers of clothing – not to mention not wishing to be the strangest looking samurai woman one would ever see. (I’m pretty sure pale blueish eyes are not indigenous to Japan!)
But in spite of the gloom, the few school groups that were there on an outing had a great time racing up and down the “streets” of old Japan. And so did I!
One final word though: Japanese studio tours like this and the one at the Fuji TV building in Tokyo have a LOT to learn about merchandising and what belongs in a souvenir shop. There were no classic movies for sale on DVD, few images of past stars, or other items that promoted the product. Instead there were the usual souvenirs of Kyoto and small trinkets. Disappointing, really. I would have loved a Toshiro Mifune movie poster or the movie image on a shirt… (but then, perhaps these things cannot be licensed in Japan). The only drawback to an interesting outing.