Fun Fact Friday- I was an extra in a Japanese sci-fi movie! (Yes, really)

My dad found a review of a Japanese movie that I was an extra in while living on Yokota Air Base, Japan. It brought back some hilarious memories, which I thought I’d share because I have no humorous stories to write about as of late. If you read the linked review, you’ll see this movie makes Sonic the Hedgehog look like a Marvel movie.

Maybe put in your Netflix queue if you’ve lost your will to live.

A lot of American kids in Japan got into modeling and acting. During the 80’s the Japanese were really into using foreignors to advertise. Many Japanese movies were filmed in English and then subtitled in Japanese. My sister was a successful model in Japan. But I was a glasses-wearing, prepubescent girl whose only modeling job was when I happened to tag along to my sister’s shoot and fit into the clothes another American girl was too big for.

I had lived in Japan for maybe a month or so when our sponsor told us about the opportunity to be an extra in this movie. I think their child was supposed to be in it, but he/she got sick and so they asked my folks if I would be interested. For like $50, American kids on base were picked up by bus and taken to a Japanese school somewhere off-base where they were shooting this movie. They needed upper-elementary school children, and I was about to turn 11. Most of the kids were my age, maybe a little older. The only thing I remember about the trip was spending the entire bus ride finishing an awful book.

It was a dreary day. The only scene we shot the entire day was of all us kids getting off an American-style school bus, something they don’t use in Japan. I wonder now where they got one…

Anyway, we would all pile on the bus. The bus would drive to the front of the school and stop. We would get off the bus. We did this over and over again, and I’m all of 10 and have no patience for this crap. So I stop getting off the bus because, really, what’s the point? 

Some Japanese man comes onto the bus (I’m sitting in the back) and heads straight for me. I think I’m in serious trouble. He wants me to put on an ugly orange sweatshirt over my shirt. I tell him no. Him, being Japanese and assuming I simply can’t understand him, gets someone who speaks English to come onto the bus and tell me to wear it. I tell him no. But eventually they wear me down. I put it on. They leave. I take it off (I’m so screwed because this stubborn gene is already showing up in both of my kids).

We break for lunch, which is a Japanese bento box. I would kill for these kind of lunches today. But since I’m 10, I don’t appreciate the food and barely eat anything. I look over and see this American kid who must have been about 14 or so eating a McDonald’s hamburger. I covet. I also recognize him as being one of the kids with a speaking part. I covet even more.

After lunch I am taken to meet a very tall middle-aged American man with blond hair. He was wearing all black and had on sunglasses. I asked him for a speaking role. He said I should talk to the director. I thought he was the director. He turned out to be Troy Donahue. Oops. My dad’s sister almost had a heart attack when she found out I had met her idol. I was simply pissed that the McDonalds kid had a speaking role while I didn’t.

Back onto the bus I go to shoot more thrill-a-second passenger shots. A boy sitting across the aisle from me introduced himself. He was 12 and lived on Yokosuka, the naval base. I remember he had auburn hair and beautiful blue eyes. He tells me he wants to kiss me, and I’m just bored enough to be for this turn of events.

So the next shot when the kids are getting off the bus, this boy and I duck down and “kiss.” Which is to say, we tried to get our lips to touch but ended up laughing. But considering all the takes of this stupid bus stopping and starting, we may have actually kissed several times for all I remember.

Then it started to rain. Either that or the director simply gave up. We piled back on the regular Japanese bus to head home. I looked in my envelope and saw a 5,000 yen note. Sweet.

So if you ever happen to stumble across this movie, and watch a scene of young children filing off of a school bus, just remember why you can’t see a blond girl getting out of the bus in an orange sweatshirt. She was too busy laughing inside with her first attempt at romance.

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