In this post, The Gaijin Ghost takes a step back, photo-wise, and joins the reader in living vicariously through the experiences of TDR Explorer contributor John Himpe, fellow travel blogger and Star Wars fan Tokyo Fox, and Walt Disney World Annual Pass holder Marcus Meyer, the far-flung Florida correspondent for this site.
Incidentally, May 25, 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the date the original Star Wars movie first hit theaters. To help celebrate the occasion, The Gaijin Ghost had an article go up on TDR Explorer, essentially giving readers a Star Wars tour of Japan.
(Keep in mind, Star Wars is now owned by Disney. Perhaps the future of all things is to be owned by Disney. But at any rate, that is why an article like this would be ripe for publication on a site dedicated to Tokyo Disney Resort, which is what TDR Explorer is.)
Please check out the article and share it with others if you use social media.
Snow Star Wars
In the process of putting this feature together, however, The Gaijin Ghost stumbled upon an old back entry on TDR Explorer, in which fellow contributor John Himpe posted some photos of the now-legendary Snow Star Wars sculpture. This was the one that ran at the 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival during Japan’s first big “Star Wars Year” of promotions.
Here on this blog, we only had the opportunity to see the sculpture’s “sequel,” as it were. At the 2017 Sapporo Snow Festival, you see, a second snow sculpture went up on display: namely, the so-called White Star Wars, in which Kylo Ren replaced Darth Vader as the central figure.
Thanks to John Himpe and TDR Explorer, you can now bask in the glory of Snow Star Wars, too. In a way, this completes the circle that started two years ago, when news of Star Wars snow sculptures in Sapporo first came across your humble blog administrator’s desk—too late, alas, for him to fly to Sapporo and see the sculptures himself, let alone snap pictures of them.
Speaking of events and places out of reach, very few people probably possess the wherewithal to seek out a bunch of the real-life filming locations for the Star Wars saga. Only an elite group of the most dedicated fans will ever probably be able to check “Visit the Lars Homestead in Tunisia” off their bucket list.
One such fan is Tokyo Fox, a fellow Star-Wars-obsessed traveller whose site is a good resource for info on movie locations around the world (not only Star Wars, but also the James Bond series and most major Hollywood films set in Japan.)
Tokyo Fox is informative in a lot of ways. Who knew, for instance, that there was a Tokyo Comic Con? Yet not only does this event exist: it apparently plays host to a vast, thriving subculture of Star Wars cosplayers.
ANA Star Wars Jets / Droids Rice Paddy in Aomori
For the TDR Explorer feature, Tokyo Fox was kind enough to allow his picture of the ANA C-3PO jet—taken while plane-spotting at Haneda Airport—to be used.
Back in 2015, it was actually ANA’s R2-D2 jet, the first of its growing fleet of Star Wars planes, that ignited this blog’s interest in the whole Star Wars in Japan angle.
News of the airline’s plans for an R2-D2-themed Dreamliner first came to this blog’s attention via a Japan Times article dated April 17, 2015, exactly one week after the release of the Star Wars movies in the iTunes Store (a major event in the life of fans like yours truly, who eschew physical media in favor of an HD movie collection on iTunes.)
A few months later, the village of Inakadate in Aomori Prefecture would be making headlines for its rice paddy themed to Star Wars. The design stretched out over a huge field and featured the droids BB-8, C-3PO, and R2-D2.
One of the routes the R2-D2 plane currently flies is from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Singapore. The Gaijin Ghost is no stranger to Singapore, having visited the country once over Golden Week, back in the spring of 2013.
Besides the obligatory tourist spots like the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands Hotel, one of the cooler places the Ghost had a chance to visit on that trip was the Supertree Grove in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.
In 2017, the Supertree Grove hosted a huge Star Wars Day celebration, where there was even a life-size AT-ST, or “Chicken Walker,” on display.
Regrettably, the aforementioned Golden Week trip came months before Lucasfilm opened its new regional headquarters in Singapore. Christened the “Sandcrawler Building,” the headquarters is a glass edifice shaped like the Sandcrawler vehicle, which the Jawas used for their droid-peddling operation in Star Wars: A New Hope.
It would have been nice to see that building in person. It would have also been nice to see the life-size X-Wing Fighter at Singapore Changi Airport in person. Tokyo Fox was on the scene there in 2015, so again, the next best thing in this instance is just being able to live vicariously through his pictures.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Florida’s Walt Disney World is another thing it would be nice to see again in person someday. In the meantime, Floridian Marcus Meyer, an Annual Passport holder for WDW, has graciously provided a few pictures of some of the Star-Wars-related goings-on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In a few years, of course, Star Wars Land will be opening up at Hollywood Studios. The development project is already underway right now, with some Disney and movie news sites posting regular updates with new and ever more mundane construction photos.
Until it opens, fans will have to content themselves with things like the live show Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, which debuted at Hollywood Studios last summer and which sees Chewbacca and other characters take the stage daily.
Meanwhile, over in Star Wars Launch Bay, there is a wealth of costumes and props, similar to what a Tokyoite might have seen at one of Nittele Tower’s Star Wars exhibitions over the past couple years. Only in this case, it is not just Rey’s scavenger costume they have on display, but rather, a full-blown replica of her speeder bike from The Force Awakens.
Finally, in the March of the First Order, fans can see Captain Phasma leading a detachment of Stormtroopers down Hollywood Boulevard, the street that serves as the main entrance to Hollywood Studios.
Again, thanks go out to Marcus Meyer for providing these pictures.
May the Force be with you!