Sentai Locations 2018: Sumida River

10 Jun

On March 27, 2018, as the bus headed from Haneda Airport to the Tokyo City Air Terminal near my hotel not long after my arrival, we crossed the Sumida River and I looked to the left and even though night had fallen, I clearly saw a waterfront location that had been used in KAMEN RIDER ICHIGO, the 2016 Kamen Rider movie that I’d seen in a theater in Osaka during my 2016 trip to Japan, and which I now owned on DVD. As it turned out, it was only minutes from my hotel, so I resolved to make that my first stop the next day.

The next morning after breakfast, my first full day in Tokyo, I began my location hunting in earnest, having charted a walking trip on both sides of the Sumida River that would take me, theoretically, to seven different locations used in sentai and Kamen Rider shows. (I chronicled later location hunting sessions during this year’s visit in my first three entries in this series.) I had plotted it out on various maps of Tokyo, no two of which mapped their urban terrain quite the same, and it all looked achievable by walking. Little did I know. It turned out to be a very hot and sunny day, weather that takes its toll on me rather quickly, and the distances between two points turned out to be a lot longer than they look on a map. Also, to get from one point to another, even if the second point was quite visible, I would have to walk around great distances, since there was no direct path from point A to point B.

The first location was Shinkawa Park, the one I’d spotted from the bus. A major dramatic scene in KAMEN RIDER ICHIGO was shot there and involved the reconciliation between Takeshi Hongo (Hiroshi Fujioka), the original Kamen Rider, and Mayu (Natsumi Okamoto), the high school-age granddaughter of his onetime racing mentor, Tobei Tachibana. Two of her teachers are on hand also, although they’re secretly Kamen Rider Ghost (Shun Nishime) and his associate Akari (Hikaru Ohsawa). (I wrote about Kamen Rider movies here on March 25, 2018.)

And here are my pictures of the site:

This location also turned up in several sentai shows. I only have a screen grab from one, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger #2:

The Neo Kerberos Universe site, aka “The Real Tokusatsu and Sentai Universe,” which is devoted to sentai and Kamen Rider locations, offers shots from GoGo Sentai Boukenger #43, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger #48 and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger #36, none of which I have access to. Here’s the link to the home page for that site. To find this particular page, click on “Tokyo” and then “Sumida”:

Across the river, on the eastern side of the Sumida and maybe a quarter of a mile down, was a spot used in TOKUMEI SENTAI GO-BUSTERS THE MOVIE: PROTECT THE TOKYO ENETOWER! (2012), the movie spin-off of the 2012 sentai season, Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. In the scene, the Go-Busters are dropped off after being rescued from a particularly grueling battle. The three Go-Busters (Red, Blue and Yellow), along with their robots, are all injured or damaged in some way and plot their next move.

The spot doesn’t have a name, as far as I can tell, but it’s south of the Kachidoki Bridge and near the Chuo Kachidoki Post Office. Here are shots I took:

When I tried to match this shot, from which you can see Tokyo Tower across the river…

…I found something blocking my way. They’d built a bridge since the film was shot in 2012!

Tokyo Tower is not even visible in the above shot. I zoomed in for the next shot and you can barely make it out:

And when I checked my pictures from the Sumida River sight-seeing cruise I took in 2016, the bridge was already there. However, it’s not on the maps I used for that trip.

This spot was also used as the site of a robot chase in a later scene in the Go-Busters movie:

My next stop was the New Pier Takeshiba South building, which offered various spaces and structures used in an episode of Gekisou Sentai Carranger (1996). In order to reach it, I wanted to cross the new bridge to get back on the other side of the Sumida, but I could tell there was no traffic, pedestrian or automotive, on the bridge, so I had to head back up to the bridge I’d used to get here and then head south from there.

I didn’t take a picture of it from that vantage point, but I could see the building I wanted to go to. It looked like it was in walking distance, provided there was a direct path. Here’s a shot of that building from my 2016 river cruise. It’s the second from the left, with the slight dome shape on top:

The building is also visible from the air in a shot from the aforementioned robot chase in the Go-Busters movie. It’s the one right behind the splash of water in the central portion of the frame:

It turns out that I would have to walk around the grounds of the old Tsukiji Fish Market as well as the Hamarikyu Gardens, which would be like walking the long way around half of Central Park—and then some. There was no straight line from where I was to where I wanted to go. It was a long walk. I passed a temple and a tourist street:

As I walked along the western border of the park (think Fifth Avenue where it borders Central Park for at least a mile), I had the garden on one side of me and on the other, a mass of highways and construction.

I probably should have taken the subway, but I was alarmed to learn that I’d left the subway map back at the hotel. Besides, it probably would have been just as long a distance to find a subway to take me to where I was going and then walk from it to the site. Still, I had passed a subway station near the Tsukiji Market. If only I’d thought to consult a map there. But at that point I still had no idea how long the walk would be.

I finally got to the general area where the building was, but I had to stop at an office plaza to sit on one of those marble slabs that some building designers think are somehow better than benches and eat a bean cake (dorayaki) to tide me over. There are not a lot of benches for pedestrians in Tokyo and, depending on where you’re walking, not a lot of shade, so I had to make do with what I had.

In any event, I finally spotted the New Pier Takeshiba South building. I’m not sure what purpose it serves, but there was a big plaza, a big boardwalk, a waterfront patio and a pier for boats. For me, it was simply a location used in Carranger.

I don’t remember exactly why the Carrangers wound up here, but they were pursuing a big-faced monster who even offered them wine and snacks before the battle started. (It’s the only outright comedy series I’ve seen in the sentai franchise.)

Shots from the scene:

Notice the Harumi Island Passenger Terminal across the river in this shot, a site I covered in a previous entry:

And my shots of the area:

All these sites were part of the building grounds. I imagine the production crew was able to get all the shots completed in a single day’s shoot.

Within walking distance from this site further south was something called Shibaura Canal Green Space, aka Tokyo Seavans, an office building with a plaza and some kind of picturesque space whose purpose I couldn’t quite figure out other than as a backdrop for my shows. It’s in the Minato district near the Hinode Station, north of Shinagawa.

These shots are taken from Ressha Sentai Toqger #20. In the scene the Toqgers (or Train Rangers as I like to call them) battle the Jack-in-the-Box Shadow monster and his entourage, trying to resist its attempts to seek control of and vanquish opponents by making them laugh. Their big confrontation was shot in this plaza:

And the shots I took:

Other sentai episodes made use of this location, but none are in my collection.

Again, the Neo Kerberos site offers a page of these shots. Click on “Tokyo” and then click on “Sea Vans”:

Here’s one of his shots, matched with a scene from Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger #19:

My next stop was supposed to be Shinagawa and Tennozu Isle, which had a park and boardwalk that have been used in different shows, but at this point I figured I’d have to take a train to get there and upon finding a spot with free Wi-Fi and checking Google Maps, I found that there wasn’t a straight train ride to Shinagawa, so I opted to get on the nearby monorail and head to Odaiba, which was an easier trip and one which I recounted in my second 2018 Japan entry, Adventures on Odaiba.

So I opted to go to Shinagawa the next day. Shinagawa is a district in southern Tokyo that seems to be a collection of islands, some on reclaimed land. One of those islands is Tennozu Isle, which boasts two distinct bridges that I’ve seen in the backgrounds of shots from sentai shows. I had to research those damned bridges extensively before I could identify the location. It was one of the toughest research jobs I had for this trip, but it yielded three unique locations within a few blocks of each other.

Here are the bridges:

In Shuriken Sentai Ninninger #1, the Ninningers (Ninja Rangers) go to Higashi-Shinagawa Kaijo Park on Tennozu Isle to pursue some kind of human-insect monster (an actor in a rubber suit, of course) and fight him there. This is what the scene looks like:

And shots I took:

Parts of the park look quite different from when they shot the show in late 2014. The slide seen in the 5th shot from Ninninger above seems to be gone now. And this whale playground structure seems to be new:

But the park itself was a pleasant sight in sakura season:

Later in the same episode, two of the Ninningers, Blue and Pink, go to a patio on the water to discuss something. I had to do a lot of digging before I determined that it was connected to the Daiichi Hotel Tokyo Seafort, which is also on Tennozu Isle, so it wasn’t too far to walk. Here’s how the scene looked in the show:

And the shots I took:

This Ninninger episode is the only one I’ve yet seen which uses these two locations on Tennozu Isle.

A short distance from this patio was the Tennozu Isle Bridge and the boardwalk leading to it. There are restaurants along the boardwalk, plus a pier for tour boats.

I’ve seen this location used in multiple shows, including Samurai Sentai Shinkenger #1 (2009) and the Toqger movie, THEY WENT AND CAME BACK AGAIN: RESSHA SENTAI TOQGER: SUPER TOQ 7GOU OF DREAMS, the post-season 2015 sequel to the 2014 sentai series.

From Shinkenger:

In this scene from the Toqger movie, the five rangers, in civilian garb, are out doing some shopping when they encounter some Shadow Line baddies who go on the attack. Somewhat out of practice, they have to transform and fight back:

And shots I took:

The Neo Kerberos site has identified four other episodes that have used this location. Again, click on “Tokyo” and then “Tennozu” to find the page:

I went to other locations and encountered many interesting sights, non-sentai-related, during my trip, but I’ll save those for a future entry. For now, I’ll leave you with this shot of the monorail I rode to get to Shinagawa:



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