Written by Shona Smith on Oct 8, 2019. Posted in On Location

BBC’s Giri/Haji spent ten weeks on location in Tokyo

Giri/Haji, or Duty / Shame in English explores the butterfly effect of a murder on two very different cities. The thriller split action between London and Tokyo.

A BBC Two / Netflix co-production from Sister Pictures, the series stars celebrated Japanese actors Takehiro Hira (The Fighter Pilot, Lost Girls and Love Hotels) who plays Kenzo, a Tokyo detective who is dispatched to London by his superiors to search for his younger brother Yuto, played by Yosuke Kubozuka (Silence, Go) (pictured).

Writer Joe Barton notes that “Although ostensibly a crime drama, I wanted Giri/Haji to really be a show about misfits – broken people lost in a big city, trying to put themselves back together again”.

Jane Featherstone, executive producer at Sister Pictures notes “we did not want it too look like the clichéd version of Japan or London, so ‘anti cliché’ was our guiding principle. We went for a slightly more muted palette: browns and greys and golds, rather than what you might expect, which is neon and harsh.

Filming for the eight, sixty minute episodes took place in both London and Tokyo. While there are similarities between shooting in large busy capitals, a different filming cultures exists between the in London and Tokyo.

Lead Director Julian Farino comments “it was kind of a monster shoot: 104 days of filing for me, across eight months. It was a biggie. But it was enjoyable. Partly the pleasure of working with the Japanese crew and actors. They were fantastic, just a completely different sensibility, and it was a fresh experience for them, too".

"They weren’t used to filming the way that we film. We did about ten weeks in Tokyo and it was an enormous challenge. Because in Japanese culture you don’t ever want to intrude, or impinge on people's space. It is really hard to get permission to do anything - you’re never sure that you can park a car here, or put a light there, because there’s quite a lot of people that you’re going to have to try and communicate with. It was all quite improvised. You had to stay flexible" he adds.

Featherstone notes that “we don’t overplay the culture clash. That’s not really what it’s about. It’s about human beings who actually share a lot in common. It is a culture blend. It’s connecting humans who may have a different language and a different sensibility, but who share the same desires, loves, needs and hopes”.

The series is broadcast on BBC Two in the UK, and will premiere globally on Netflix in 2020.

Japan does not currently have a filming incentive, however, a pilot scheme aimed at large-scale overseas TV and film projects was announced in May 2019.

The UK 25% high-end TV tax rebate is available to national and co-productions for scripted television with a minimum core expenditure of GBP1 million per broadcast hour.

Image Credits: Sister Pictures - Photographer: Luke Varley / Robert Viglasky

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