After checking out of the ‘Royal I headed off to Kaikouen, this time much better lit, but still snowing. I haven’t seen the NatsuMachi screenshots and photos plotted on a map so I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but I think I’ll manage.
Most of the identifiable locations in Komoro are in and around Kaikouen, the park adjacent to the castle ruins. In the context of NatsuMachi this makes sense - all the locations they use for filming are convenient spots around the park. Entry to the park is a few hundred yen.
Caption: Just past the entrance to the park.
Caption: Same again, with a typo.
I spot some comrades as soon as I enter the park - there’s two guys taking photos in front of the sign next to Sannomon. One of them has a Rinon plushie that he’s holding up to the sign. Unfortunately they don’t speak English, but we wish each other well and continue on our ways.
Caption: The straw-roofed hut where Ichika changed out of her alien outfit while talking to Kanna.
Caption: The hut in summer.
So far while walking through the park, I’ve noticed two or three other groups of visitors doing the same thing. I know I’m not alone because one of them has a big green plastic folder with what I’m certain are screenshots from the anime. There’s an awkward shiftiness as we eye each other off, probably both thinking “I bet this guy is here for NatsuMachi… does he know what I’m here for though?”. Now extrapolate that a few levels deeper, like Death Note.
I’m openly carrying the film camera now, there’s no way they can fail to recognise it. I keep walking around and shooting, but the park just isn’t that big, and we keep awkwardly running into each other. God I’m hopeless.
Eventually we find ourselves standing around a vending machine, the same one that Tetsurou and Kanna are next to in episode 05 as they chat. It’s actually a very small area, which the anime is misleading about. While finding comfort in a hot can of coffee I resolve to at least say something to them, just saying Hi or something.
As expected, they don’t speak any English either, so I make do with a nod to the pilgrimage that we’re all so obviously on, then head off back towards the entrance.
Caption: Ready to go with a fresh cartridge of R25N.
While I was filming my approach to the hut the camera stuttered and made a whirring sound, then stopped. Pushing the trigger again would induce another short fit of whirring, then a stop. I couldn’t tell if it was seizing up due to a termperature shock, or perhaps some other problem. The gauge indicated I was about 15ft into the 40ft roll, so it wasn’t exhausted just yet. Tapping and knocking things around wasn’t helping at all, so I resigned to giving up on the roll.
Standing in the hut where Ichika-senpai would’ve stripped off, I tore the seal on the Fuji packet and dropped the replacement cartridge in. The simplicity of the whole system is genius, flip the door closed and I’m ready to shoot again. A quick check of the light meter indicates that the ASA 25 is perfect for these conditions, there’s an abundance of light thanks to all the snow.
Caption: One of the restored castle gates right near the main entrance to the park.
After wandering around the park for a while I headed back into town. Walking up the main district, Aioicho, I spotted a lot of posters for NatsuMachi inside shop windows. I guess I’d want to show it off a bit, too. I wish I had enough Japanese skill to chat to the ladies in the souvenir shop, as it would’ve been a good talking point, and I really wanted to let them know what I was there for.
Caption: Advertising the TV broadcast and theme singles. Not sure who did this art, but I don’t mind the alternate style at all.
Caption: Ad for the blu-rays and DVDs, anime-style designs and art. This was in the window of the souvenir shop just near the station.
Caption: Blu-ray and DVD again, with alternate-style senpai. This was somewhere up the main street in a shop window.
Karuizawa could wait for a bit, I was very cold and very hungry by now. The trains aren’t that frequent anyway, so I picked a restaurant that was doing lunch and headed inside. While in no way competent, I was happy to find that the waitress knew a few words of English, which made ordering (tempura udon) somewhat easier. The original plan was to skulk around the station after lunch, but it was much easier to just stay put in the nice warm restaurant and let my body recover.
Caption: Speaking of recharging my batteries, this is… a dedicated battery vending machine. I didn’t try it out, but I bet it’d be a real lifesaver sometimes. It’s obviously a really old machine, but I can see no reason why it shouldn’t be in use today.
Caption: The fruit and vegetable shop! I think it appeared in the first episode, where Kanna runs into Kaito’s sister. It’s kinda weird weird when you recognise the location from the anime, and then you really recognise the location in terms of how it fits into the real world. This shop is right on the main drag, which is a major shopping district, but you wouldn’t know that just from watching the anime.
Caption: On the way back to the station I passed a design company on the south side of Aioicho, and this is one of the things they had on display in the window. It seems like a fine idea, during times of the year when you can get some good sun…
It’s getting a bit late in the afternoon so I decide to skip Karuizawa and make a break for Tokyo. It’s not critical, but I wouldn’t mind getting some more shopping done this evening before tomorrow, which is going to be hectic. By leaving now, I can make it back in time for a good dinner and a couple hours of shopping in Toranoana before they kick us out.
Caption: JR Otome, what a fantastic station name. If I had time I would’ve visited this station for a few more location photos. It’s walkable from Komoro, but you’d have difficulty convincing me to burn a lot of precious time walking a few km on snowy ground.
Caption: The place where I confessed to senpai on that day.
Caption: 「じゃ～ もしかして私だったり？」