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Transit firms offering themselves up as movie, TV locations

Chunichi Shimbun

Public transit firms in the Chubu region are getting stars in their eyes as they turn to a new strategy to attract customers.

There has been an increasing number of movies and TV shows that use scenes with train stations, trains and airports as backdrops. As it turns out, these places have been strongly promoting themselves to be used as film locations.

Airport scenes in Japanese movies and TV shows are likely to be set in Central Japan International Airport (Centrair).

“This is the best place to film airport scenes,” said Mitsuhiro Fukui, a director at the Nagoya branch of NHK, giving his stamp of approval.

He was looking for a location to film the drama “ROMES” in 2009 when he was working in Tokyo.

“They let us film in restricted areas, such as boarding gates and the departure lobby, which were not allowed at Haneda and Narita airports,” Fukui said.

Scenes from the current six-part drama “Koisuru Hae Onna” (“The Fly Woman In Love”) on NHK were also filmed in Centrair.

The airport started inviting film companies in for location shoots in 2007. Visitors had flocked to the airport when it opened in 2005, considering it the area’s newest sightseeing spot. Eventually, however, the novelty factor started to wear off.

The company sought a new way “to increase exposure to gather more regular visitors, and not just passengers,” a Centrair official said. The airport has fewer flights and passengers than Narita and Kansai airports, but it turned that into an advantage. Through careful coordination and liaison, the company cleared all security issues to make filming in restricted areas possible.

It is difficult to tell, but scenes in the popular mystery film “Team Batista no Eiko” (“The Glorious Team Batista”) set in Haneda and Narita airports were actually shot in Centrair.

“I hope somebody will make a film based in Centrair someday,” an airport official said.

Centrair charges ¥50,000 to film up to five hours. Last year, the airport was used as a location more than 20 times.

Railways are also actively promoting their facilities as film locations.

Tokyu Corp. added renting out its property for film locations as one of its businesses in 2003. After the successful release of the movie “Hankyu Densha Katamichi 15-fun no Kiseki” (“Hankyu Train: Miracle of a 15-Minute One-Way Trip”), last year, Kintetsu Corp. and Hanshin Electric Railway have recently followed suit and adopted the business model.

One factor behind this move is that the number of passengers on these companies’ trains has stopped growing at 55 million a day.

Nagoya Railroad Co. started providing space in its stations and trains in September. It charges ¥30,000 per hour of filming.

Staff at Nagoya Railroad recommend locations and guide film crews when they come to inspect potential sites. They also offer accommodations and catering services provided by the group’s firms.

“We can use existing facilities to generate new income without additional costs for us,” a PR official at Nagoya Railroad said. “This can also have a positive impact on how customers view our stations and railroad lines. I hope that we can attract customers who are interested in touring film location sites.”

The department is aiming for 25 bookings per half year, and the staff are already making good progress. In the last two months or so since the operation was launched, they have received more than 10 bookings, including one from a popular TBS variety show.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Nov. 26.