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Monday, December 10, 2018

Shenmue Documentary Filming in Yokosuka | Photo Report

Shenmue Documentary Filming in Yokosuka | Photo Report

The documentary project "A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue" was successfully funded on Kickstarter in August, and its creators have spent the past week in Japan, carrying out numerous interviews and filming footage for the documentary.

Switch recently accompanied the project originator, Adam Sipione, and his crew on a filming trip down in Yokosuka. This post is a photo report of the day.

Travelling Down to Yokosuka


It was a cool early-December morning when I joined the documentary crew in boarding a southbound limited-express train down to Ryo Hazuki's hometown of Yokosuka. The purpose of the visit was to gather "b-roll" (supplemental) footage of the area, capturing on film snippets of Shenmue's vibe that can still be felt there today.

Just under an hour later we stepped out onto the platform at Yokosuka-chuo station and, passing through the ticket gates, made a bee-line for the tourist information center conveniently located in the building opposite. Pleasingly, there was a large Shenmue I & II poster* displayed prominently at the front of the information desk.
* Currently there is a Shenmue promotion running whereby a minimum purchase made at participating shops around Dobuita qualifies for one of several Shenmue-themed coasters. Details: Shenmue Coaster Collectibles & Dec 24th Fan Meeting in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign

Now armed with Shenmue "Sacred Spot" maps, the crew primed themselves with burgers & fries at the HONEY BEE. This burger restaurant, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, was the inspiration for the Funny Bear Burger stand in the game. (In real life it's actually a sit-in diner-style restaurant, and is located near Dobuita Street but not directly on it).
The HONEY BEE burger restaurant
The HONEY BEE burger restaurant


Commencing Filming


A short walk later and we were on Dobuita Street, where the gear was unpacked (to the great interest of the passers-by) to start capturing it on film.


The street was bustling, with pedestrians, cyclists, cars and the occasional street stall creating a lively atmosphere. Some of the shops had Christmas decorations up, and cheery festive music played through the overhead speakers on the lamp posts along the street.


On occasion, cameras and tripods had to be swiftly moved out of the way as a vehicle approached, but the crew handled these QTEs adeptly.

Kakita, the military surplus store instantly-recognizable to Shenmue fans with its yellow awning, had a life-size stand-up of Kurita-san standing outside. It was fantastic to see the Shenmue I & II promotion being embraced by the local businesses.

Kurita-san on duty (image via the project's Twitter account)
Kurita-san on duty (image via the project's Twitter account

Filming outside the military surplus shop Kakita
Filming outside the military surplus shop Kakita
The main carpark on Dobuita Street - unlike the game, not empty.
The main carpark on Dobuita Street - unlike the game, not empty.
The Shenmue-esque slope leading to Suwadai Shrine.
The Shenmue-esque slope leading to Suwadai Shrine.
By comparison to the busy Dobuita Street, Suwadai Shrine was an oasis of tranquility.

The grounds of Suwadai Shrine. The banner advertises the position of the souvenir stamp table.
The grounds of Suwadai Shrine. The banner advertises the position of the souvenir stamp table.

The Shenmue campaign map complete with the souvenir forklift stamp at the lower right.
The Shenmue campaign map complete with the souvenir forklift stamp at the lower right.
The purification fountain, where we followed the Shinto ritual of rinsing our hands and mouths.
The purification fountain, where we followed the Shinto ritual of rinsing our hands and mouths.
Other areas where footage was filmed included some of the narrow back-streets around Dobuita, as well as the suburbs on the hillside above where residential houses and low-rise apartments line the steep, narrow streets.

Stairs leading to the suburb of Midorigaoka.
Stairs leading to the suburb of Midorigaoka.
The playground equipment at Odakicho Park.
The playground equipment at Odakicho Park.
Our final stop was "Nozomi's" flower shop:
Ryo being typically awkward around Nozomi! Taken outside Hanamatsu florist (image via the project's Twitter account).
Ryo being typically awkward around Nozomi! Taken outside Hanamatsu florist (image via the project's Twitter account).
Drinks and a meal at a local Japanese eatery wrapped up the day's filming before the journey back to Tokyo.

Follow the Documentary's Progress


Many thanks to Adam and his team for the chance to accompany them on the day's filming. I'm very excited that this documentary is being made, and after observing the work in action it's clear that we fans will be able to look forward to something very special.

To stay up to date with the documentary's progress, and to help share updates with other Shenmue fans, don't forget to follow / bookmark these official pages on social media:
  • A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue on Facebook
  • A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue on Twitter
  • A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue: Kickstarter Updates

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2 comments:

  1. Absolutely fantastic, Switch!

    I wish all the Shenmue stuff was going on when I went in 2016; everything was so Americanised, it really turned me off (and I only made it halfway down the street, as we ran short on time).

    The Military Surplus Store was awesome and I indeed remember it, but I had no need to stop in lol.

    Great to see my fellow Ontarians hard at work and kicking ass!

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    Replies
    1. They're certainly doing a fine job!

      Yes, as a Shenmue fan it really gave me a warm feeling to see the way Shenmue is being promoted around Dobuita now, compared to no trace a few years ago such as when you were there. One restaurant owner I spoke to said she had seen a steady stream of Shenmue fans stopping by since the latest campaign started.

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