Hollywood, Let's Fix This Small Mistake In The Wolverine Movie

Hollywood movies usually get Japan wrong. There are exceptions, sure, but generally speaking, they fail miserably. It's either hiring non-Japanese actors to play Japanese characters or doing a bad job of recreating the country.

The Wolverine, which takes its titular hero to Japan, seems to be doing a solid job of avoiding those pratfalls. There are several Japanese actors in lead roles, such as the brilliant Hiroyuki Sanada. And the crew came to Japan to film several scenes — which is a big deal, considering how expensive it is to work and film here (especially with the strong yen). But there's one small problem — and fingers crossed, we can fix it before this weekend.

As News.com.au points out, the crew has returned to Australia and is attempting to turn Parramatta into downtown Tokyo. Movie magic, right? Maybe! I imagine the scenes in Parramatta will be the ones in which the background isn't so important (so they probably won't really matter all that much). Good thing, because it looks the like the filmmakers are getting Tokyo wrong.

Here's a photo from the intersection of George and Smith in Parramatta. If you've been to Tokyo, you'll know that this doesn't really look like Tokyo.

This is what Tokyo looks like... at night. But like I said, having Australia double for Japan is probably for scenes in which the background isn't so important and maybe it will be done under a cloak of darkness (thanks Luke for the photo!).

But let's say that movie-goers can see Parramatta's Tokyo. Well, if they're Japanese moviegoers, they'll probably look at the signs in the windows and scratch their heads.

Since big movies like The Wolverine are aimed at worldwide audiences, and Japan makes up a big part of that audience, movie companies might want to be as accurate as possible. For example, why is there a money exchanger (両替) on the third floor? Wouldn't it be on the first floor in a bank?

Yes, I see there's a financial service (金融サービス) below that in red. But financial services are usually for doing loans or giving credit — slightly different. And then there's the Japanese for the Milky Way (天の川 or "Tennogawa") right next to it and then somebody's last name (桑島 or "Kuwajima") for the 2F. It's mishmash of Japanese words.

But Tokyo is a mishmash! You're right. It is. But what Westerners often forget is that it's a mishmash of English and Japanese words and when depicting Japan, they tend to go all out in nothing but Japanese in order to portray something more authentic. Japan, however, can't seem to stop using English, often using words everybody knows or giving stores names with English lettering. See below.

Yes, there are some English letters in the Parramatta set, but all the signs on the flatbed are entirely in Japanese. However, none of these, including my silly money-changing hang up, are truly the big mistake on how these filmmakers are getting Japan wrong. They seem to be making the extra effort to try and get things right. And that's great, because you know what, Japanese filmmakers often get the West wrong when they film it.

So what's the big mistake? What do they need to fix? What's your beef, Ashcraft? Like I said, it's a small mistake, and one that can be fixed: In the corner, the character for "yo" in katakana (ヨ) is flipped around. So instead of it saying "yoga" (ヨガ), which would be correct, it says, well, nothing that makes any sense whatsoever.

Hey, we're human. We screw up! When I screw up, I appreciate it when lovely readers send along corrections, because then I'm able to be as accurate as possible. I bet the folks behind The Wolverine feel the same way. The filmmakers are shooting this weekend, so hopefully they'll fix it on the off chance that the sign makes its way on camera. It's not too late! Let's help them out.

The Wolverine comes out next winter. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are, too.


    No one cares about this trivial shit

      anyone who watches this movie and can read japanese will at least notice it.

        It is kinda funny.

        I didn't notice until it was pointed out. Just like how in English it's easy to miss errors that your brain corrects for you as you read.

        It is just trivial shit. Hollywood has never made much sense, but neither has Japanese anime.

    Only the most anal of pedants would care about something like this.

      A mistake as stupid as upside down writing in a multi-million dollar budget movie that will DEFINITELY see a wide and popular release in Japan. That's anal? That's pedantic?

      Wow, man. Tell me do you give a fuck when every American movie has an American doing an awful Australian accent? Because to the audience who will notice, it's pretty big.

        Have a think about every Japanese film you've seen, or anime even. Do you dismiss it because they have poorly written English in the movie? How about the many video games with terrible translations? One backwards character is nothing to cause alarm.

        American's take on the Australian accent is pretty accurate for Far North Queensland, not accurate for Melbourne or Sydney

      Pedantic was the people who were complaining that the gun in the Avatar trailer clipped through the arm of the mech.

    It's a movie, not a documentary. And it's based on a comic book. Just enjoy the film. When I hear dodgy Aussie accents and laughable depictions of Australia it doesn't bother me.

    rofl, it is backwards. Someone effed up in the set department.

    These things matter. If they had a scene based on a city you're from and they fucked it up, you would find it distracting.

      Had that issue with Daybreakers when they showed Brisbane City in it XD

      Yep because people actually live in Marvel comics.

        It may surprise you to learn that Tokyo is actually a real place that exists in the real world, not just in Marvel comics. And real people - lots of them! - actually live there.

          It may suprise you to learn that I live in Manhattan and I awake to see Stark tower, the Baxter building and the Avengers mansion everyday .Further, it may suprise you that a fictional depiction of Tokyo is what is contained within the pages of Marvel comics. Now you may not believe me BUT did you know that the Wolverine is not an actual living being. True!!! a child told me.

            We aren't talking about additional buildings, we are talking about mistakes. If I were Japanese I would be pissed.

              Then I think you are an idiot. Not a fictional idiot but a real idiot. An irradiated countryside with a volcano about to erupt. Sounds like a comic!!

                I live in Sydney. If I saw a movie that was based here and I saw in the background various signs that were supposedly English, but were jibberish I would find it annoying.

                I'll also point out that I think you are a pretty rude person.

    Should be asking why Wolverine is even in Japan in the first place.

      Ahh, because it's a large part of the source material?

      Epic fail on Wolverine knowledge. LOL

      why comment if you have no clue? seriously?

    Promoting the idea that the iconic Kabukicho warren of neon-lit streets encompasses Tokyo as a whole is just as guilty of Western misrepresentation as anything these film-makers are doing. Much of the south-eastern quarter of Tokyo (Nihombashi, Hatchobori etc) is not dissimilar from what you'll see in Australian CBDs.

    The film and telivision crews of Autralia say -You Mr Ashcraft are a f-ing idiot. I can assure you no one unless told will notice this. It seems the only reason you have posted this is that ONCE AGAIN we can now that you are the western authority on asia. This article seems to be more about your knowledge than anything.

      My next question is how the f did you come up with the statement that a BIG part of the worldwide audience is from Japan. What percentage do you deem as big?

        I can kind of help you with that. I have been a school teacher in Japan for 4 years. You know how many teenagers saw the first Wolverine movie? All of them. A lot of adults, too. Let's say that only 10% of Japan's population saw the movie. I'm pretty damn certain it's bigger than that, but that's fine.

        128000000 / 10 = 12800000 - 12.8 million people. That's a lot of money in either movie ticket sales or DVD purchases. Potentially annoying 12 million people because someone was careless enough to not make sure they were actually writing a word.

          What, 12.8 million people are going to notice, be so offended by it, and walk out?

            No but people will talk about negative shit more and for longer than the positives, human nature, and its nerd nature to point out mistakes in everything regardless of large or small scale.

              Noone gives a shit and this article is nothing but ego-projection.

          Or you could look up the sales of wolverine in Japan and compare them to worldwide sales - instead of guessing. Thanks for telling me you are a teacher in Japan!!! That is very useful knowledge!! LOL !!! Is your last name ashcraft?

            I laughed at 10%. You say 1 in 10 Japanese people have seen Wolverine. That kind of market penetration is just absolutely ridiculous. Commonsense says 'NO'.
            According to boxoffice mojo Wolverine grossed $179,883,157 domestically and $193,179,707 in foreign markets that means 48% was made in US.
            Japans total = $9,303,728. So no it didnt even take in 12 million.
            Australias total =$14,924,362.
            So what the f are people going on about. Australia comparitavely (YES I KNOW IT IS GROSS and these are not equitable ticket sales) is A BIGGER MARKET FOR WOLVERINE THAN JAPAN-

              When you include the fact that Japan has an incredibly robust market in DVD sales and rentals and that online purchasing is growing very quickly, i can pretty safely say 10% of the population has seen the movie.

            English teachers in Japan = Instant experts on everything Japanese

              No, but living and working here for four years gives me some sort of insight into how things are. I mentioned my job because the movie was most popular with teenagers. I spend 8 hours a day with teenagers.

              But please do tell me all you know about the topic!

      How can you assure us that no one will notice this, when someone already did?

    These mistakes are similar to the grammatical mistakes kotaku has in every 2nd article, we notice them but they don't stop the story / fluff from being conveyed

      Boom! Boom! Double tap to bashcraft

    note: when i was in osaka, i was looking to the closest money exchange place to my hotel.
    and it was in a nearby building on the 3rd floor in the most inconvinent place
    (due to incorrect english, they had me looking around the "basement level")

    So this entire article is just Ashcraft being a giant weeaboo.

    Noticing something like this won't necessarily lead to dismissing the whole movie, but it will lead to people judging it. You'd certainly notice if a Japanese movie showed a sign proclaiming the virtues of ∀ustralia... And you'd put it down to laziness or lack of knowledge or something like that... But this is being done by one of the biggest film studios in the world, so you'd expect a certain attention to detail...

    Reminds me of "Knowing", that godawful Nic Cage film they shot in Melbourne as a substitute for an American city (New York? Philly? I can't remember). Nobody bothered to CG out any of the MX magazine boxes on street corners, so Cage is running around yelling "we need to save (new york?)!" and the audience is like "nope. melbourne. i picked up a paper from right there just before..."

    There's a little problem though, this will be set in the 70's, so that comparison picture you have up there is a little flawed. Things would have been a lot simpler back then.

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