Speeding through tunnels, catching glimpses of landscape between the hills, shades of green, a small river reflecting the dusk....sipping on cold, canned plum wine from the mini mart on the train platform after a long day of travel and promotion. Tiny lights twinkle and we have arrived in Hiroshima.
This past week has been a touch on the busy side.... traveling to Fukuoka, Osaka, and Nagoya, gearing up for the movie's release date TOMORROW! I am soooooooooooooooo excited about this!!!
This film, "When Marnie Was There", is definitely one of my new favorite Ghibli films, and not just because my song is in it. Don't get me wrong.... I love ALL Ghibli movies, but this one is in the tops. It truly is a film about love. Not the romantic kind. But the pure kind, that we are all born with. That lives inside of us, even when we forget. The Director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, said in his Director's memo that he's not trying to change the world with this film, or top any other Ghibli movie before it. He simply hopes this movie can be a friend to the young person who may be going through what Anna and Marnie go through. And when we are at our loneliest, may this movie be a reminder of the love we have inside and all around us. I love this message. And I feel like he could go one step further by saying this film could be a friend to anyone of any age. This is how I truly feel. I've seen grown men cry after watching this movie.
As someone who grew up quite lonely at times, I personally looked to books, or movies, or music to be my "friend" through those times. I also looked to my guitar, and the moon, which is what lead me to write the song "Fine On The Outside", 9 years ago. I was thinking about my time as a teenager, and how lonely and difficult it was at times. I would literally sit on my bed and look out the window at night at the moon, and wonder if I was loved... if anyone would miss me if I was gone. Somewhere in my heart I knew the answer... but sometimes I really needed this reminder. "Fine On The Outside" is tremendously personal to me, and the lyrics are quite vulnerable and open... so I was actually afraid to put it on any album. I didn't want to have to change it in any way to make it "fit" on any of my previous albums. When I read the book, "When Marnie Was There" by Joan G. Robinson (I love this book!), I immediately saw myself in Anna, and thought of this old song I wrote. Of course I tried writing new theme songs for the movie... but still I kept thinking of this song. Finally I gathered the courage to submit this song. I was immediately messaged via Line, by the Producer Yoshiaki Nishimura of how much he loved this song. After much thought amongst the Ghibli team, this song was chosen. I could not have imagined a better way for it to be debuted to the world.
So... I hope when you see the film, you can watch it with an open heart. And when you hear the song, I hope both the film and the song can be a friend to you too... I feel like they go hand-in-hand.
All this being said, the movie comes out tomorrow (actually today by the time I post this) in Japan. And then coming to Korea and elsewhere in the Fall, with more countries around the world following suit. My Song Book album, "Just Know That I Love You" ("Anata no koto ga daisuki") is now available on iTunes in 113 countries! The actual physical album can be purchased in record stores in Japan. The songs on this album are all written for and inspired by the film. I hope you like them!
With so much love,
P.S. To get more updates on my campaign tour in Japanese and English, please go Here.
I had so much fun today! After starting my day off with a walk/run/mostly-walk around the city in the morning... scoping out batting cages and tennis courts for future exercise dates, I showered and hopped on the shinkansen to Shizuoka.
After the typhoon, it was a clear (and super hot) day. We could see Mt. Fuji so clearly in the not-so-distant distance.
First stop was Shizuoka Johoku High school, to meet the students in the "International Club". This was my first ever experience in a Japanese high school, and I was really looking forward to it! First thing I learned at the entrance, was that everyone takes their shoes OFF! :-O You have no idea how happy this made me! I'm a big advocate for removing shoes before entering homes, or even work places. It's so much more comfortable (and clean) to me. So, this was pretty amazing. This school was spotless by the way.
As we walked to the classroom, we admired the stunning calligraphy and artwork hanging on the walls.
The students welcomed us (US, being Takatsugu Muramatsu (film composer extraordanaire, who scored "When Marnie Was There") in English and Japanese, and then 3 students did a beautiful demonstration of writing 3 things in calligraphy for us. It was soooo cool! One of them even wrote my name in Kanji! I was asked not to post any photos that included the children's faces, and I feel wrong blotting their faces out.... so unfortunately I can't include the calligraphy photos here. But they're truly amazing!
The class then sang us their school song, which was wonderful!
Then Muramatsu-san and I performed our songs together and separately. It was such a treat to hear Muramatsu-san play one of his own compositions from the film on the piano, solo. I'm a big fan!
Afterwards, the girls (90% of the class was girls) hung out and asked me questions. This was so much fun for me ~ they were all so sweet and so kawaii ~ I wish we could have had more time to hang out together. They all spoke great English, and I could tell they were all so talented in their own way! This definitely seemed like a one-of-a-kind, special school.
Muramatsu-san and I, posing after an interview.
Then we raced off to the Cinema for another pre-screening of the film, where we did a Q&A, and I performed my theme song.
Then off to the train station to head back to Tokyo.
Niigata is yet another beautiful new place we visited yesterday, famous for their delicious tasting rice and sake!
We started the day at the Cave D'Occi winery, which is an absolutely gorgeous place. I felt like I was in Napa Valley.
The air smelled of lavender. I bent down low to take a photo and discovered a few of these pretty guys hanging out in there. They were about 3/4 of the size of an iphone (legs included). They were a pretty shocking discovery.
We did a TV interview inside a chapel on the winery grounds.
Here are the adorable Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Director) and Sara Takatsuki (Voice of Anna).
Ajisai Season ~~ these were especially beautiful.
I had 1.5 hour break (!!!), so naturally I partook of a wine tasting.
I found a few bottles of white to take home with me!
My dressing room (!!!)
Drawing and painting with my new "Marnie" themed watercolor pencils.
I'm sure you'll be able to find these at the Ghibli Museum soon.
Misty mountains and vineyards
It was a misty, rainy, grey day, but with so much beauty all around.
I didn't realize what I was in for today. I knew we were going to a place called TOHO Studios to record a video of me singing "Fine On The Outside" in a set from "When Marnie Was There". But...I just didn't quite get it.
Until I got it.
My first hint was this...
You know you're a badass when the entrance to your company is a humongous mural from "Seven Samurai"
...enter Marnie's world.
The set was an exact replica of the Marsh House dock
and the inside of Marnie's cozy bedroom.
Here, I got to sit and sing in Marnie's chair. This set will be on exhibit at the Yohei Taneda exhibition later this month. It is truly a 3-D, real life replica of Marnie's world. I can't wait to see it again! I didn't want to leave. I felt like I was living in a story book.
The AMAZING team who put this all together and made this music video, which will air on NHK, on July 28th.
My first 2 weeks here have blown by so fast! I just have a little over 4 more weeks left...I'm trying to relish every second of all these incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences so I can remember them forever and never take them for granted!
P.S. Here is the link to my new Japanese blog, updated by my friend and colleague who's on the Campaign Tour with me. There are lots more dates and details here! http://ameblo.jp/priscillaahn/
If I had to choose between living by mountains or by the sea... I think I would choose the mountains. Traveling, again by bullet train, my heart rang out whenever I got a view of the beautiful mountain line around us.
When we arrived in Nagano, it seemed the whole city was surrounded by them, and it made me so happy.
The first thing we did here was eat a big, beautiful vegetarian meal, in true Buddhist style.
Every dish was beautifully prepared, and each included a locally grown ingredient.
Next we walked up to Zenkō-ji Temple.
During one of our breaks, we were treated to some Oyaki.
It was soooooo good!
We did a live TV program. Their mascot is so adorable ~ Mai-chan!
The sweet Sara Takatsuki (voice actress of Anna) and I posed as Anna and Marnie!
She really looks like Anna!
30 minutes later, we were back on the train, Tokyo bound.