So the reason for the nostalgia... Last time I was in Japan I finally got around to going to Ajinomoto Stadium.
I first came to know of Ajinomoto Stadium from Ultraman Moebius, as the location used for filming the exterior of the Phoenix Nest. Since then I've seen in frequently in various Kamen Rider series, (it shows up several times in the opening credits of Kamen Rider OOO) and even pops up every now and then in Super Sentai. Needless to say, it's been on my to-do list for some time now.
It's located near Tobitakyuu Station on the Odakyuu line, probably about half an hour away from Shinjuku Station, so it's not particularly difficult to get to. It's a short walk from the station, but it pretty obvious how to get there. Figuring out where was okay to go and where I should stay out of was more obscure. There were several signs that had vague directions along the lines of "don't come in here unless you're supposed to during certain hours." Er? It wasn't the clear-cut "authorized personnel only" that I'm used to. I figured I'd poke around a bit, then see if I couldn't Gaijin Smash! my way into the parking lot. It didn't look like I'd be able to see much unless I ventured into the vaguely labeled parking lot anyway.
As I wandered around I heard a plane engine near-by. Hrn? Maybe there was a military base near-by? I knew there was at least a US air base somewhere out this direction, and I think there's an JSDF base around too. But no, as I walked a bit around I realized that there is an airport right there. It's a small, municipal airport. Unexpected!
Even more unexpected... As I got closer I got this nagging feeling I'd seen the place before. My Filming Location Sense was tingling. Yes, it's very strange to have a Filming Location Sense. It regularly freaks me out when I end up somewhere in real life that I saw on TV somewhere, particularly when I wasn't expecting it. Like here. Had I really seen this place somewhere before...? On... Um,Moebius, I think? Yeah. Episode 45. There's a hillside that Mirai and George sit on while talking at night, which overlooks an airfield. It's one of my favorite scenes in the series. (Because of what's happening dramatically in the show; the airfield is irrelevant.) Is it possible that was shot here?! I should be able to tell. If this is the right location, if I walk along the fence here, down at the end overlooking the runway there should be a small hill. The hill they were sitting on.
I walk along, the stadium on my right and the airfield immediately on my left. A short ways along and -- say, is that a small hill down there? Why yes, it is. And it looks darn familiar as well. Whoa. Unexpected bonus.
I took a ton of photographs and in the end ran out of time to see if I could sneak inside the open gate to go look at the parking lot. Next time!
(Yes, there will be a next time. It's me. I'm obsessed with filming locations. This one will not escape me.)
So I didn't pull out my DVDs to check if I was right until today. And found out that I was right... and I was wrong. The airport is where they filmed that scene (and a shot earlier when Mirai was sitting on a hill waiting for the Phoenix Nest to fly home), but that hill is not the one they used for filming. The filming hill is actually at the opposite end of the runway. I have a lovely picture of it and everything -- from the wrong direction. D'oh!
Still... It was kind of cool to get an unexpected location find. These sorts of things make me happy.
I'm oddly amused. In series continuity this hill is supposed to be on the GUYS Japan base, not far from where the Phoenix Nest sits when parked. In reality, this hill is not far from where they filmed the shots where people are outside the Phoenix Nest.
Since I was pulling out DVDs I pulled out the last episode as well, to check a location. By that point I couldn't resist re-watching the last episode. Ahh, so good! And yeah, the bit at the end with everyone saying goodbye was filmed at Ajinomoto Stadium. I now have enough information to find the exact spot -- provided I can sneak in. It's in the parking area with the confusing signage. It's apparently called the "Blendy Plaza". You can see pics of it here