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IRIS

Japan In-depth

IRIS is a South Korean television drama starring the popular South Korean actor Lee Byunghun. The filming was done in Akita Prefecture for three weeks in March, 2009. And Akita Prefecture appears in the drama as one of the main settings. After October of the same year when the drama was aired, many tourists from South Korea came to Akita Prefecture to visit the filming locations. Because of this, the aircraft for the flight between Akita and Seoul (Incheon) was changed in November, 2009 to increase the seating capacity. The number of passengers had kept breaking its own record since December of the same year. Visit the beautiful setting for IRIS, the drama that dominated South Korea.
 

The locations for IRIS are found across Akita Prefecture. At each place, there are official signboards and picture panels indicating it is the filming location, and also the pilgrimage map is available. If you first go to the filming location which is easily accessible, you can obtain information about other locations. Allow sufficient time in order to tour around without rushing.

The best pilgrimage site for IRIS is the Statue of Tatsuko of Lake Tazawa. It was at this location that the scene in which the main heroine Choi Seunghee and the hero Kim Hyuenjun embraced each other was filmed. The scene in which the second heroine Kim Seonhwa and Hyuenjun had a conversation in front of Ukiki Shrine was also filmed there. Lake Tazawa is the deepest lake in Japan and has a legend of “Princess Tatsuko.” The public bathroom on the lakeshore appeared in the TV drama as the changing room of a hot spring.
 
The Tazawako Ski Resort is also a major setting for the drama. The scene in which Hyuenjun had a date with Seunghee was filmed at this resort. The Shirakaba Course that appeared in the film was renamed to “IRIS Piste.” Near the ski resort, on the Prefectural Road 127, there is the public telephone at which the scene that Hyuenjun had a conversation with a person with a mysterious voice was filmed.
 
Hotel Ischia on the shore of Lake Tazawa is a fancy resort hotel and it is the location for the scene in which Seunghee and Hyuenjun had a romantic time while traveling in Akita. The room Lee Byunghun(Kim Hyuenjun)had stayed is treasured and open to hotel guests. The signatures of the casts and the director are left at the restaurant. The scene in which Seunghee and Hyuenjun had a drink was filmed at Restaurant ORAE, and the scene in which they threw snow balls at each other was filmed at Lake Tazawa Auto-camping Area.
 
The scene in which Hyuenjun went to a hot spring for a date with Seunghee was filmed at Tsurunoyu Onsen in Nyuto Onsen-kyo (hot spring village). And it is the inn that Hyuenjun hided having escaped from Hungary. Tsurunoyu Onsen is an old ryokan (Japanese-style inn) which has 300 years of history.
 
At Tamagawa Dam, the scene in which Hyuenjun saved a Japanese girl, Yuki, from the killer Vick and slid down the slope of the dam was filmed. The scene in which Seonhwa came to Seunghee and Hyuenjun when they were hiding themselves while watching Yuki’s funeral and the scene in which Hyuenjun found a cross necklace at the charnel house were filmed at Unganji Temple which was built in 1450.

At the Ani Ski Resort, the scene in which Seonhwa went after Hyuenjun in the mountain with snow monsters (rime-covered trees) was filmed. The scene in which Seunghee chased after Seonhwa and then Jin Sawoo chased after them was filmed at Kakunodate Station and Aniai Station of Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway. The scene in which Seunghee and Hyuenjun had Inaniwa Udon (specialty noodle of Akita) on a date was filmed at the Urushigura Museum in Yokotemachi, Yokote City. At the Yokote Castle site in the same city, the scene Hyuenjun had a date with Seunghee at the fantastic kamakura (snow huts) and castle was filmed. The Yokote yakisoba (fried noodle) which is sold at the Yokote Castle site also appeared in the film.
 
Another dating scene of Seunghee and Hyuenjun was filmed in front of the “Oga no Umi Dai-suisou” (lit. the Great Tank of the Sea of Oga) of Oga Aquarium GAO. At the banquet hall of Hotel Teisui which is close to the aquarium, the scene in which Hyuenjun assassinated the politician during the commotion of Namahage Taiko performance was filmed. The Namahage (ogre) costume and the mask worn by Lee Byunghun at the time of filming are displayed at the Namahage Museum in Oga City. The Kanpuzan Observation Deck is also in Oga City. It is the location for a dating scene in which Seunghee and Hyuenjun ran up playfully to the observation deck.
 
Many locations for IRIS are found around the west exit of JR Akita Station. Seunghee chased after Seonhwa in front of the station’s west exit and in the Akita Civic Market which is found going toward the south from the west exit. The shopping scene of Yuki and Seonhwa was also filmed at the Akita Civic Market. At the south of the market, there is a izakaya (Japanese-style pub) “Yoneshiro.” It was the location for the dating scene of Seunghee and Hyuenjun and for other scenes. At the Folk Music Hall (Minyo-kaikan) which is close to the pub, the scene in which Hyuenjun traded arms was filmed. Going toward the west from the station’s west exit crossing the Asahikawa River, there is Suzuran-dori Street. The scene in which Seunghee and Hyuenjun walked on the street on a date was filmed on this street.
 
The last location for IRIS to be introduced is Akita Port. The scene in which Hyuenjun tried to stow away to South Korea was filmed at the port. At Port Tower Selion which is very close to the port, the scene in which the leader of the North Korea escort force team, Park Cheolyeong, looked down at the town of Akita from the observation room was filmed.

Standing at the filming locations in Akita, the great scenes of the drama like sweet and wistful love and action scenes left in the heart are brought back to mind one after another with new excitement. Visit Akita and get caught up in the storm of excitement occurred around the world.
 

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