September 28, 1997
Up at six a.m., the rotten grip of Jet lag permeated my brain. To be honest, I like getting up early. Thing is, I don't do it often because I also like staying up late. Jet lag bites, but it does offer the rare privilege of forcing one into keeping fisherman like hours. After a shower I strolled into the hotel's lobby and raided their well stocked buffet. Man! They had bagels! Or, at least ones close enough to the real thing (I'm from New York, after all). Bagels in Japan are bagels in shape only, with a taste reminiscent of week old Wonder bread.
At eleven, the group drove to inspect the location, a one-time prison built in 1927 and opened in 1931. According to the present day manager of the prison, it housed hard-core criminals until closing in 1965 and was briefly reopened to accommodate the Watts riot in 1967. The prison today is a popular location for film and video locations. A few days earlier Madonna shot a music video here, and we noticed the remnants of a private party from the night before (guests were given their own cell, with their names on welcome mats in front of each cage -- Ah, those wacky Hollywood types!). (Note: A few years after this shoot I got a laugh from the film American History X when seeing actor Edward Norton incarcerated in this same prison block, making it difficult to believe this section of an otherwise good film.)
As a prison it was not at all what I imagined. I was expecting the kind with a single huge room around which floors of cellblocks reach to the ceiling. This place was more like one from an old gangster film: tight halls of small, concrete, side by side cells each equipped with only a single bed supported to a wall by chains. The cells' only other accouterment were porcelain toilets stained a deep yellow. The rooms had no windows either. These were on the opposite side of the hall, kept out of reach by a wall of metal bars a few feet in front of the frosted panes. The windows themselves were greasy and many of them cracked, some were even missing.
The set dressers were due the next day when they would turn this into the headquarters of the 'Raccoon Police Department', the fictional police department from 'Biohazard 2'. Now, it was simply a stinky abandoned jail. After the visit here I was more eager than ever to see George Romero romp around this dump giving direction to a legion of zombies.
Later in the afternoon, we had a meeting at the Size Inc. office detailing the production of the 'making of' video. Here, the Capcom people announced plans to make these available to video rental stores throughout Japan as a free, complimentary rental. Though the meeting was long and in every way boring, I sat attentive. No matter how monotonous, I wanted to be with the production every step of the way.