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Love Letter

Japan In-depth

Love Letter is a masterpiece of Japanese movie released in 1995. The story starts with a love letter delivered by mistake. It is a love story set in snowy Otaru and Kobe. It was nominated for the 19th Japanese Academy Award for the Picture of the Year in 1996. The movie was released around the world including Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States, Canada and Singapore and enjoyed great popularity everywhere. Many tourists from abroad rushed to Otaru, and the Japanese line in the film “Ogenkidesuka? (How are you?)” became a vogue word in South Korea. Soak in the world of this masterpiece of romantic love story once more.
 

Hiroko Watanabe who lives in Kobe sent a letter to the address of her deceased fiancé without expecting anything. The letter was delivered to the lady by mistake who has the same name as her fiancé, Itsuki Fujii. She was her fiancé’s ex-classmate. And the strange exchange of letters between the two ladies starts. In this way, the story of Love Letter begins to unfold. Many locations for the film are found in Otaru, the town of the two Itsuki, Hiroko’s fiancé and his ex-classmate. Make a pilgrimage to the locations for Love Letter walking in the beautiful town of Otaru.
 

The place where Hiroko was running on the snow at the beginning of the film was Tenguyama Ski Resort in Mogami 2-chome, Otaru City. In the film, it was in Kobe, but it was actually filmed in Otaru. The ski resort has a magnificent view of Otaru Port. How about getting lost in thought lying down on the snow like Hiroko?
 
The place called Funamizaka near Otaru Station is the slope that the postman came up on his bike making the cute sound of the engine. This place is used as a location for many movies and television dramas. It is the slope that represents Otaru and the second steepest slope in Otaru.

The Otaru Branch of Sapporo District Court and the Otaru Koen Undojo (lit. Otaru Park Ground) is located in the southeast of Otaru Station and the east of Funamizaka. This is the place where the scene in which Hiroko and Shigeru Akiba took a taxi to go back to the center of the city from Itsuki’s house in Zenibako was filmed. The building seen through the rear window of the taxi was the Otaru Branch of Sapporo District Court. The Otaru Koen Undojo appeared in the film right after that.
 
There are several main settings for the movie near Otaru Port in the north of Otaru Station. The former Otaru Branch of NYK Line near Otaru Canal was used as a private library that Itsuki worked in the film. The building of the former Otaru Branch of NYK Line which was the location for the film is now designated as a national cultural asset. Since when it was built, it had been called “the greatest architecture in north of Tokyo” because of its high-grade appearance. It is a famous sightseeing attraction in Otaru along with Otaru Canal.
 
It was at the Ironai crossing located in the southeast of Otaru Canal between the canal and Otaru Station that the scene in which Hiroko and Itsuki met was filmed. It is a crossing in front of Otaru Post Office. The filming was done stopping the cars and pedestrians. It was a long take and filmed Miho Nakayama who played two roles, Hiroko and Itsuki, tactfully. Most of the fans cannot see where the shots were switched even if they are at the location site. If you claim you are a great fan of the film, please go to the location site and find where shots of the two were switched. Many buildings in the Meiji Period are found in this area. As it has classical atmosphere, it is enjoyable just to take a walk nonchalantly.
 
There are many more locations for Love Letter in Otaru City: the interior of Fujii’s residence (the former Kotobukihara residence in Shinonome-cho, Otaru City), the place where Hiroko and Shigeru Akiba were looking for the glass studio (the sidewalk in front of the Canal Plaza in Ironai 2-chome, Otaru City), the Otaru Glass Studio (Otaru Canal Glass Factory in Ironai 2-chome, Otaru City), Otaru Welfare Hospital that Hiroko went to (the main building of Otaru City Hall in Hanazono 2-chome, Otaru City), the ground of Otaru City Ironai Junior High School (Otaru City Asari Junior High School in Shinko 3-chome, Otaru City), the place where Itsuki’s head was covered in a paper bag while she was riding on the bicycle (Temiya Park, 2-chome Temiya, Otaru City), the site where a track and field game was held (the athletics stadium in Temiya Park), the observation deck which Shigeru Akiba was looking at (the Asahi Observation Deck in Tomioka 2-chome in Otaru City) and more. Please explore Otaru to go back over the memories of the masterpiece.
 

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