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Located in Matsuyama, Dōgo Onsen is the oldest bath house in Japan. It was built in 1894 and celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. The bath house was built on the site of a hot spring with a history stretching back over 1,000 years. While Dōgo is largely engulfed in the suburban sprawl of modern-day Matsuyama, the area around Dōgo retains the feeling of a resort town, with guests from all over the country wandering the streets in yukata robes after their bath.

The building of Dōgo Onsen was the main inspiration for the bath house in the critically acclaimed film “Spirited Away” (千と千尋の神隠し)by director Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away won Best Animated Feature at the 2002 Academy Awards and Best Film at the 2002 Japan Academy Awards.

Having been to Dōgo Onsen many times I was honored to be asked to make a film celebrating its 120 year anniversary. I wanted to make a film that represented its great history and legend that surrounds Dōgo Onsen while keeping it upbeat and exciting. The mixture of animation, time lapse, and real time footage was used to accomplish this. We drew inspiration from Japanese Woodblock prints for the intro which tells the story of The Legend of Egret.

You can view the English subtitled version here: vimeo.com/91547432

Credits
Director: Brad Kremer
Production Company: Tytan Creates
Producer: Shinya Fukuoka
Executive Producers: Jim Stone & Scott Jacobs
Animation/Illustrations: Jessica Weiss
Primary Illustrator: Madie Gables
Post production: Mark Nguyen
Coordination: Rod Walters – natora.jp
Translation: Mayumi Kremer – risingsuntranslations.com
Camera One/Time Lapse: Brad Kremer
Camera Two: Masahito Kawai
Camera Assistant: Mika Tadokoro
Calligrapher: Kouji Murotsu
Flute Composer: Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos
Sound Design: Emily Jackson

I first became aware of Michael Levin’s photographs in 2010. His photographs of everyday places and common subjects are transformed into something much more when he views them through his lens…absolutely stunning! Being that a large majority of Michael’s work is done in Japan, I instantly had a connection to it as I too have a bond with Japan and have traveled and documented the landscape extensively in my own way. After watching my film Hayaku (vimeo.com/​12112529) Michael contacted me regarding a project he was working on and felt it might be of interest to me. He told me that he really appreciated my work and recognized the dedication and effort that went into it. I agreed to go on a trip with him to Japan and work on his project. But for me, there was a greater opportunity at hand. We had several conversations and I gave him some ideas about expanding the project and he really took to it. A month later and we were in Japan having beers and sushi.

I wanted to document Michael at work, in Japan, in a way that hasn’t really been explored with photographers. I told Michael of my idea to make an artistic representation of his experiences in the Land of the Rising Sun – to show him in his working environment in a way that complimented his work. Not to explain it with words, but to feel it through the flow of the film. I wanted to show the process, the journey, the adventure in a way that would give the viewer an emotional connection to Michael and his photography.

The final result is something that I think is truly original… something that showcases who Michael is, and more importantly, what his work is all about. This film is a collaboration between Michael and I and our love for photography, film, Japan and adventure. This is a subject that Michael and I are continuing to explore as we plan more trips together, more films and more adventures.

I hope you enjoy!

Filmed with:
Canon 5DMKII
Dynamic Perceptions Dolly

Music:
Artist- Röyksopp
Song- Röyksopp Forever
*Please watch with good speakers or headphones*