Production Blog #8: Updates

Happy Easter!

So if you’ve been following my posts, you know that I’ve been showing my pics from a recent trip to Japan. If you haven’t been following my posts, I’ve been showing some pics from a recent trip to Japan.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly but steadily pulling together elements to make this short film, “American Hikikomori.”

The sun setting in Venice Beach, California.
The sun setting in Venice Beach, California.

We’ve been working on the budgeting, casting, fund raising gifts, and even learning basic html to get the website up and running. In trying to make this film, I’ve almost turned myself into a hikikomori as well. Everyone has felt alone at some point in his or her life and everyone has a story to tell. I’d like to tell mine.

And we’re getting closer…

Stay tuned!

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.10

You have to see Mount Fuji when you visit Japan.

You don’t have to go there but you have to see it. Somewhere between Yokosuka and Kamakura, along the coast, there is a place to pull over and view Fuji-san in the distance.

View of Fuji-san near Kamakura

Fyi- I zoomed in all the way in on a 200mm dslr lens to get this photo. It’s a good ways away.

Still amazing.

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.9

We’ve got another treat for you if you head into downtown Yokosuka!

Once you’ve had some 焼き鳥 at our favorite skewer stand (see blog) get back on the main road and walk towards the base. On the right you’ll see another favorite from my wife’s childhood… いまがわやき (pronounced e-mah-gah-wah-yah-key / Imagawayaki) although the owner calls it みかさやき (pronounced me-kah-sah-yah-key / mikasayaki).

Imagawayaki exterior
A humble shop on the main road…

“Imagawayaki (今川焼き?) is a Japanese dessert often found at festivals, also eaten in Taiwan (where it is called chēlún bǐng 車輪餅 or hóngdòu bǐng 紅豆餅). It is made of batter in a special pan (similar to a waffle iron but without the honeycomb pattern), and filled with sweet azuki bean paste, although it is becoming increasingly popular to use a wider variety of fillings such as vanilla custard, different fruit custards and preserves, curry, different meat and vegetable fillings, potato and mayonnaise.[1][2] Imagawayaki are similar to Dorayaki, but the latter are two separate pancakes sandwiched around the filling after cooking, and are often served cold.
Imagawayaki began to be sold near the Kanda Imagawabashi bridge during An’ei years (1772 – 1781) in the Edo period. The name of Imagawayaki originates from this time.” – Wikipedia

Imagawayaki interior
He actually gaves us permission to snap a few photos inside…

Despite the wiki definition, my wife says the filing has been typically red bean. We came back to this shop about three times. It’s so good. Every time we seemed to attract a few foreigners who would have normally walked by, which was awesome.

Imagawayaki cooking
White bean and red bean both sweet and delicious.

The business is family owned and apparently the same cook/owner has been doing this for more than thirty years.

Imagawayaki flip
An artisan at work…

International magazines and multiple tv shows have covered this humble snack place so the owner is not shy in the least but don’t talk his ear off because (like most Japanese) he’s a dedicated pro and is running a business, so there’s not much time for small talk (in the native tongue of course).

Eaten imagawayaki
Eat it hot! Love the red bean filling…

Next to dorayaki, this is by far one of my favorite Japanese deserts.

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.8

So it turns out that most cities and towns in Japan have a mascot and regional dish. Yokosuka’s mascot is a duck and the regional dish is curry. Obviously the duck has something to do with regional naval history but I’m not sure about the curry.

The city’s mascot holding the regional dish.

One our friends is from Kumamoto and their town mascot is a bear. I forget what the regional dish is.

Do you have a regional mascot and dish?

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland our regional dish is steamed blue crab or crab cakes. Our official state bird is the Oriole and unofficial the Raven.

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.7

On our way to get lunch, we came across some street performers in front of the subway station.

Street performer 01
Street performers! Act 1

We stuck around for the first and second acts but couldn’t hang when a really cold wind came blowing through.

Street performer 02
Street performers! Act 2

According to the misses, the performance had something to do with celebrating the New Year. I tried to follow up but she was already booking it for the door. I followed and forgot about when I saw… lunch.


Maybe some one out there could fill me in on the New Years celebrations?

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.6

We’re not going to make it too easy for you to find but if you can find this sign in downtown Yokosuka, you’ve found a treat indeed.


This 焼き鳥 (yak-key-tor-ry/grilled chicken) stand has been here since my wife has been a child and it is at the top of our list whenever we return to Yokosuka. For her, its sentimental value is priceless.  For me, it’s enjoying something that is precious to her.

Wide shot
This chicken skewer stand is always busy when we visit.

There are no seats and if it’s busy you just wait your turn. You can order a to go box or eat them right there (our preference). It’s a snack stand.

Close up
Cheap eats

Pick a skewer, eat it, place the stick in one of several cups (that are for your used sticks only), and once you’re done bring your cup or your sticks to the cashier to tally you out. It’s cash only and if you want a drink afterwards there’s a vending machine a few steps away.

What you see is what you get.

Love it.

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.5

It’s Downtown Yokosuka!

Downtown 1
A quick snap as I cross the street…

Yokosuka is a port city that sits in the Tokyo bay but is actually a ways south of Tokyo. Yokosuka is also host to a US Navy base and their civilian families. While most Americans, enlisted and civilian, live on the base or close to it, everyone ventures off to explore the downtown area. If you’re feeling a little homesick and want to see more people who look like you (a foreigner) go downtown.

Downtown 2
The other way, after crossing the street, again.

We’ve given directions or suggestions a few times to fellow travelers looking to get the inside scoop on local eats or… the mall.

It’s awesome.

Just don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home. Seems like common sense but unfortunately I’ve seen signs, in english, that read, “No Enlisted Men” in certain places. Personally, it’s embarrassing. I have two brothers who were enlisted sailors, so I know what goes on…

Oh well, let’s see what I can dig up for next week…

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Production Blog #7: Our 1st Casting Session!

So a week or so ago we had our first casting session!

Casting Flyer
With over 300 submissions we managed to schedule 22 actors for parts in our film.

Twenty-two actors and actresses were invited to our small audition in Hollywood and, overall, we were pleased with the turn out and performances. I was, at first, nervous but then immediately excited to watch certain scenes from our story come to life. To me, it’s always surreal listening and watching something I wrote come to life.

We think we may have to do a follow up session (also known as “Call Backs”) to see certain actors along with some fresh potentials but I really can’t complain so far. We’re already prepping for the next round and I can’t wait to see who we get the next time around!

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.4

Yup! We’re still prepping and don’t have any major announcements, yet.

So my Japan photo-blog continues…

Side street
Off the main roads are dozens of sides streets lined with shops.

I haven’t been to France, yet, and I couldn’t tell you if I’ve had genuine French Cuisine before or not but this restaurant was awesome.

French Restaurant
French Cuisine in Downtown Yokosuka, almost off the beaten track.

Again, I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures of the food. And I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself than I already had for being a 外人. Pronounced – guy-jin meaning foreigner.

We initially flew back to Japan because my wife’s Grandfather became really ill earlier in the year and everyone thought he wouldn’t make it to New Years. I’m happy to report that not only did he recover, but he’s become a lot stronger than doctors expected him to be.

To celebrate his recovery and our visit, he treated us to dinner here. I took this picture the next day when we were running errands nearby. We had a seven course meal that included beautiful dishes with names I couldn’t begin to pronounce correctly and it was all very tasty.

Grandpa discovered this place doing some of his own errands years ago and was drawn in by a busy lunch crowd. To this day, lunch is usually when this restaurant is packed.

If you’re ever looking to check it out just remember, it’s all gourmet French Cuisine but they only speak Japanese.

I only had to bow and eat.

Lucky me.

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Yokosuka, Japan – Kanagawa Prefecture Pt.3 (Actually it’s still TOKYO!!)

We’re still moving forward on our film prep but we don’t have any major announcements, yet.

My Japan photo-blog still continues…

About $20 US each for us to go climb the tower! I guess they have to pay for it somehow…

So I mentioned, last time, that we went to see the new Tokyo Skytree on our date night away from Yokosuka. Since it was cold, raining, and dark by the time we actually made it into Tokyo via the subway, I didn’t bother with any exterior photos. I have a few from the construction days a few years ago but I’m too lazy to look for them…

Inside the Skytree
We couldn’t figure out if these were for New Years or if they are regularly here.

The base of the Tokyo Skytree is a shopping mall filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, and a planetarium. What was also nice is that the subway stops right below the Tokyo Skytree as well. All you need to do is take the escalators up! There was a restaurant called the “World Beer Museum” that I wanted to try but the line was just way too long.

View 1
A view from the Tokyo Skytree

That’s when we decided to look for the Brazilian restaurant but not before making our way to the top and then the planetarium. Unfortunately…

View 2
Another view from the Tokyo Skytree

I’m no Carl Sagan but the planetarium left me feeling a little cheated. There were a barrage of advertisements before the actual show started. Then, when it actually did start most of it consisted of looking at constellations (which we did enjoy but also thought there would be more to it). Outside of the Japanese I could understand, you basically stare at some projected stars while they play music with lyrics about love and the night sky.

If you’re a teenager, bring your girl friend so you can hold hands and make out. Considering the admission fee, we were a little disappointed but can cross it off our list.

View 3
And yet, another view from the Tokyo Skytree

The view is truly amazing from the top floor of the Tokyo Skytree and I’d love to go back on a clear sunny day but not any time soon.

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