In the spirit of award-winning indie romantic comedy/dramas from the early 2000’s, From Chicago to Osaka is a screenplay written for the modern era. With fast-paced ping pong comedic dialogue in both English and Japanese, From Chicago to Osaka is the quintessential date movie for adults looking for something smart, sophisticated, and highly entertaining.

What’s it about?

Dylan Davis, an artist with PTSD from a recent trauma, heads to Osaka for an upcoming art show where he falls in love with a spirited Japanese woman with an unfaithful fiancé.

Sometimes you find love 6,437 miles away

The screenplay, written by Michael William Foster, is a two-hour small-to-low budget independent film that highlights the locations and people of Osaka, in the same way Ferris Bueller’s Day Off did for Chicago.

Chicago and Osaka are real-life sister cities with many cultural similarities. As Chicago and Osaka also share a “second city” status, it seemed like a wonderful idea to give Osaka a chance to shine in the spotlight, especially since the residents of Chicago and Osaka have deep compassion for where they live.

The Story

Still traumatized after a mass shooting, Chicago artist and designer Dylan Davis flies to Osaka as one of five guests for an upcoming group art show at the Midori Art Gallery.

An old work associate, Skip Mitchell, who’s covering the story for the ad agency Dylan currently works at, tags along for the free ride. Dylan reconnects with an old college buddy, Kaito Kaneda, now a family man, who longs for his more carefree days with Dylan at Northwestern University in Chicago eight years ago. Secretly, Kaneda is working on a plan to get Dylan a job at his Japanese robotics company.

After overhearing a hilariously harsh critique of his paintings, Dylan introduces himself to Haru Nomura, the assistant director at the gallery. Just prior to their introduction, Haru caught her fiance cheating on her with the female drummer of his struggling rock band. Haru’s aunt, Futaba Fujisawa, owns the gallery.

For the next few days, Haru and Dylan unpack the emotional toll recent events have taken on their lives while visiting many landmarks and tourist destinations in the Osaka region. Dylan has lost faith in his home, and Haru has lost faith in her love life. Together, they just might find the solace they’ve been searching for.

Cast of Characters

In the past, most films set in Japan focused on the differences between cultures. In From Chicago to Osaka, the focus is on the many similarities between the two cities.

It’s easy to play on worn out stereotypes. In this story, we flip what we typically associate with American (loud, brash) and Japanese (quiet, passive) personalities. Osaka is known for having citizens that are a little more friendly, outspoken, and talkative. As the Japanese characters in this screenplay have these same traits, it seemed logical to set the film there.

Dylan Davis

Dylan, a developing abstract painter, is one of five honored guests for a group art show at the Midori Art Gallery in Osaka. Ever since he was a kid growing up in the far southwest suburbs of Chicago, Dylan Davis has longed to visit Japan. After nearly being killed in a mass shooting two years ago, he’s had enough of life in America.

Haru Nomura

Haru, former gravure idol and the spirited niece of Futaba Fujisawa, is the current assistant director of the Midori Art Gallery in Osaka, which is hosting the international group show featuring Dylan. After catching her fiancee, Ryuji, in bed with another woman, she finds herself torn between her attachment to the past and the possibilities of a new future.

Kaito Kaneda

Dylan’s good friend and former college roommate, Kaito Kaneda, living in Osaka, is a good-natured family man that longs for his more carefree days back in Chicago at Northwestern University. Secretly, Kaneda is working on a plan to get Dylan an art director job at his Japanese robotics company.

Futaba Fujisawa

Futaba is the smart and sophisticated owner of the Midori Art Gallery. Now in her mid-50s, she’s the definition of effortless elegance. Futaba does her best to mentor and guide her niece Haru, with mixed results. After the passing of her husband many years ago, Futaba has remained single ever since.

Skip Mitchell

Based in New York, Skip is hired by Dylan’s ad agency to write a story about the art show, as Skip met Dylan through a Brooklyn business networking event several years ago. In appearance, Skip looks like he just crawled out of a documentary on New York’s CBGB’s. If pumpernickel bread took human form, it would be this man.

Ryuji Watanabe

Ryuji is ridiculously handsome, goatee, dyed disheveled hair, the man is the essence of pure rock and roll. Engaged for several years to Haru, Ryuji finds himself torn between the demands of Japanese society to finally grow up and get a job, while continuing to develop his hapless heavy metal band, Drooling Sidewinder.

Locations

There is a wonderful sub-genre in romantic comedies where the location becomes a crucial element of the film. Sideways was set in California wine country, Lost in Translation was set in Tokyo, Departures was set in Sakata. The last major American film set in Osaka was Ridley Scott’s Black Rain, filmed over thirty years ago. As Osaka has been sorely underutilized as a location for Western films, American audiences would find modern-day Osaka fascinating.

Although we still need to get permission to shoot at these locations, the following provides some ideas on the kinds of areas in Osaka we can highlight in this film.

Umeda Sky Building

The Umeda Sky Building is the nineteenth-tallest building in Osaka Prefecture, Japan, and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. It consists of two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the center. It is located in Umeda district of Kita-ku, Osaka. (Wikipedia)

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Koshien Stadium

A baseball park located near Kobe in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan is home to the Hanshin Tigers, a Nippon Professional Baseball team. The Hanshin Tigers are one of the oldest professional clubs in Japan. They played their first season in 1936 as the Osaka Tigers and assumed their current team name in 1961. (Wikipedia)

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The National Museum of Art, Osaka

When it opened on October 15, 1977, the museum became Japan’s fourth national museum. The building was partially renovated after originally serving as the Expo Museum of Fine Arts at Expo ’70, but unlike the other pavilions, it was originally designed to be a permanent structure. As of March 2011, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, boasted a total of 6,109 works. (From the website)

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Dōtonbori

Dōtonbori is one of the principal tourist destinations in Osaka, Japan, running along the Dōtonbori canal from Dōtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba district of the city’s Chuo ward. Historically a theater district, it is now a popular nightlife and entertainment area characterized by its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards. (Wikipedia)

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Namba Yasaka Shrine

The Yasaka Shrine, once called the Gion Shrine, is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan. Situated at the east end of Shijō-dōri (Fourth Avenue), the shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage. Its enormous lion head-shape building and cherry blossom trees dotted around the shrine grounds make it one of Osaka’s most distinctive places of worship. (Wikipedia)

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Nagai Park

Nagai Park is a large sports complex located in Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka. Its facilities include three multipurpose sports stadia, including 50,000-seat Nagai Stadium, a baseball field, Nagai Botanical Garden, which boasts over 1,000 species of trees and flowers, a swimming pool and gymnasium, and a tract of preserved local forest. It also hosts a large number of cherry trees, and is a popular area for picnics during cherry blossom (Sakura) season in early spring. (Wikipedia)

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Minoh Park

The park is located on Mt Minō in Ōsaka Prefecture. Its grounds encompass 963 ha of lower mountain slope and forest and reside at relatively low altitudes of 100 m to 600m. The park’s main attraction is the eponymous Minō Falls, a waterfall that was named because it is said to look like a farmer winnowing grain with a winnowing basket. (Wikipedia)

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Royal Park Hotel

One of the newest hotels to be built in the Japanese city of Osaka, The Royal Park Hotel Iconic Osaka Midosuji offers solo travelers, business travelers, families, and everyone between the perfect base for exploring this Japanese region rich in vibrant food and culture scenes. (From the website)

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