Japan 2017 – Day 5 – March 22

Another full day in Japan. It was the day John Jack (by now, better known as “Jesus Jack”) had to head back to Los Angeles. We sooo enjoyed his company that we hated to see him leave. We have a tradition when we are in Japan that we go to Dennys for breakfast. Yep – I said “Dennys”. It’s a funny aberration of what we have here but is none the less a Dennys – logo and all. There are lots of things you can get at Dennys in Japan that just aren’t available at the Dennys here, so it makes it an adventure. Salmon and rice with natto (fermented soybeans – yum) is on the menu and quite delicious in my opinion. Google “natty” – it’ll bring a smile to your face.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer los angeles photographer
The Japanese never seem to offer decaf coffee in their restaurants, so those of us who drink it end up having to drink the regular “high test” and get a caffeine rush to start the day. So after breakfast, I was ready to run a marathon but it was time to take Jesus Jack to the hotel so he could hop a bus to Haneda airport.
We were about a week early for the cherry blossoms but we found one tree that was blooming and did a selfie with JJ in front of it for a good memory.  We got JJ on the bus at the Shinjuku Hilton and Squi did his now famous “Goodbye Dance” that he had invented especially for this trip. As bad as we felt seeing our dear friend leave, I think JJ felt even worse knowing there are so many adventures to be had in Japan and he didn’t have enough time to explore. Next time, JJ.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer One of the top things on our “To Do” list in Japan was to take Squi to the Doraemon Museum. Doraemon is a Japanese animated figure that has been around a long time. It was Kaz’s favorite character when she was a kid and now it is one of Squi’s favorites. The museum, I am sorry to say, was a HUGE disappointment. It WAS more of a historical museum than a place for children. Oddly there were large fiberglass castings of the characters in the Doraemon cartoons but they had signs on them not to touch them or climb on them. Some were available to touch and take photos with but most of them were off limits. It was like having kids in a candy shop and not letting them have most of it. While I did enjoy reading about the history of it, it was disappointing from the standpoint of a good time for Squi. He got bored and was wanting to touch all the “untouchable” so we cut our visit down a bit.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer Los Angeles Headshot Photographer Michael Helms Los Angeles Headshot Photographer

We jumped train and headed to Yokohama to nose around and visit, of all places, Chinatown. So weird to me to go to Japan and visit Chinatown but it was interesting and fun. We had some good food and walked our legs off. The ship “Nippon Meru” is in a dock there and is a beautiful old vessel. It was built in 1930 in Kobe and was a training vessel for the Japanese Merchant Marine. I’m not sure if it is the original ship or a replica but it is a lovely old thing if you are into ships.

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Our dear friend, Tamara, is into anything “Panda”, so we sent her a text message with a photo of a shop in Chinatown that is COMPLETELY dedicated to all things Panda! I’m sure she will have to buy a ticket to Japan just to shop in that store. I’m sure she would go crazy buying panda stuff and have to buy another suitcase for her trip home.

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We were exhausted again from a full day of walking, shopping, eating, and riding trains so we headed back to our room and had a nightcap of sake and beer. Nice way to end another terrific day in this gracious wonderful country.

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Japan 2017 – Day 4 – March 21

Day 4 was a long one for poor Squi. Kaz and John Jack were teaching and in meetings a lot of the day and into the evening. Some of the time I was able to take him out and walk around and try not to get lost. We came up with a game where we would walk and every block or so I would take a photo of where we came from so we could find our way back. Much better than bread crumbs. I still am not sure how to do it in a way that shows me where to turn left or right unless I make notes. I’m working on it.
Squi enjoyed this game and wanted to play it everywhere we went in Japan but it doesn’t work so well on a bullet train!

It was mostly a day of sitting and trying to behave while Kaz and John Jack lectured but since Squi is only 4 and I have such a juvenile sense of humor, we are dangerous to have around for any length of time.

Los Angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms in Japan

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Squi got so bored he fell asleep, which is not a good thing to do around us. We have a tradition of, when he goes to sleep in a public place, we stack things on his forehead and take a photo. We have tons of photos of the poor little guy passed out with various things stacked up. I’m not sure what these things are – maybe mochi or rice cakes or some kind of cookie. The stack fell over twice and hit him in the face before we got it to stand but he never woke up.

Los Angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms in Japan

Kaz and John Jack spoke to some students at Digital Hollywood and it went so well, they were invited back to have a meeting with the head honcho for future projects. I think it will be a great connection and students from there are going to come take some cases at the Stella Adler Acting Academy here in Hollywood. John Jack is quite the statesman. Stella Adler couldn’t ask for a better PR person than him, especially if Kaz is along also…quite the team. Although I will say, John Jack in his tireless ambition is happy to hang out and answer all the myriad questions that actors throw at him. Being from the South, he answers in a way I would call “thorough”. Sometimes this thoroughness goes on for a while, at which point some of us who shall remain unnamed would remark,”Jesus Jack!”. After a few days of teaching and meetings, he became known as “Jesus Jack” and now owns a special pair of chopsticks with his new name on them. Well earned, my dear friend!

The best tour advice always comes from the cab driver.   So after the workshop, we hopped on to a cab, and asked him “Take us to the best steakhouse that is open this late!”

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Back at our Air BnB, we chatted more about future plans and went to bed happy and full of amazing Japanese food and sake!

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Japan 2017 – Day 3 March 20

Today we got up early due to the time difference, even though we are NOT morning people. By 8:30AM, Kaz, Rick, and John Jack had gone off to teach acting class.Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer

After poking about and having morning coffee, checking email, and reading a bit of the ever depressing news from the States, our friend, Seri came by and we nosed about Shinjuku a bit before going to hang out with Kaz and gang.

There were a few actors who had signed up to get head shots done, so I was busy doing that while Kaz translated. We were in a hallway of a building and I was checking out the light there but had decided against shooting there. As we were leaving the area, I looked down and there on the floor was a very special necklace that I had given Kaz years ago. Somehow it had simply fallen off and I found it. Weird.

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After a LONG day of waiting for the teachers to stop chatting with actors, we headed off to the “Robot Restaurant”. It’s a huge production with robots “fighting” dragons, and other robots, and dancing ninjas, and crazy mad costumes of all sorts. It was a formidable costume and light show with lots of loud music. First of all, allow me to clarify…it is NOT a restaurant in any way, shape, or form. It is an amazing, wonderful, colorful, fantastic show….if you are 8-10 years old. Otherwise you will feel completely ripped off. Maybe we’re jaded because we are from LA LA Land, but it takes more that costumes, lasers, and jumping around for me to be drawn in.

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We got a kick out of that and wound our way out of Robot hell to try and find a bar. Dan, Rick’s brother, mentioned there was a fairly famous bar nearby. It’s the Albatros Bar and was visited and recommended by Anthony Bourdain when he was in Tokyo.

When we got there we were informed there wasn’t much room left except a bit in the upstairs loft overlooking a small part of the city. That was great for us, so we headed up the stairs.   The group of Californias asked us “Did you take JAL from LA on Friday?   We were sitting in front of you guys.”   We found out they were at the same show at the Robot Restaurant.  AND one of them were living in SF – where Dan works, and his cousin lives in Little Tokyo in LA.    What are the odds, eh? In all of Tokyo, we ran into them 3 times.

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We had a good laugh, tried to join them for drinks but there wasn’t enough room where they were or where we were the next floor up….so who knows, maybe we’ll run into them again in LA.

When in Tokyo, it’s hard to keep track of time because everything is lit and even at 2 or 3AM people will be scurrying about the city, so at some point we made it back to our house just a little worse for wear.

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Acting Class in Vegas

This would be exciting.

On Monday, April 29th, Michael Helms will be in Vegas to help his good friend, Charlie Schlatter’s on-camera class, so their students will have great lookin’ footage!

Come meet us – and Squicken “may be” there.

Classes:
How did you hear about us?

 

Acting Class in Las Vegas

This is the first time for us to be teaching in Las Vegas.

Happy Easter!

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Repost – Japan Trip 2011 – Day Two – 11/12/11

Los Angeles Photographer Michael Helms goes to JapanYesterday was eventful. I spent pretty much all day at a local studio. My gf, who does a lot of management, PR, scheduling, office duties, and a host of other things for my business, worked out a deal with the 3 owners of an art studio not too far from where we are staying at the Shinjuku Hilton.

We arrived at the studio, and the first thing the head dude said to me was he knew me from DA and was a fan. That seemed to me a good way to start but the next words out of his mouth were asking if I’d shoot some nudes of HIM! OK….awkward moment. I assumed the other two guys knew my work also (figured he told them) so I said,”Sure…no problem”.
I spent the entire day shooting the 3 guys and doing wacky images of them and of course, a nude of the leader of the pack. Part of the deal is, I had to shoot photos of their studio for the web. They moved into this new space just two weeks ago and were pretty excited to get the ball rolling on renting and doing their art thing. I was impressed at some of the paintings and sculpture around. There was a five foot long and 4 foot tall walking fish that was equally amusing and creepy.
Another deal that my lovely gf worked out was for me to shoot a few photos in exchange for my tour guide services and translator. So after spending the entire day shooting, I was ready to take a break.
BUT… a dinner was held here at the Hilton in honor of my friend Jim Beaver who is here with us. I mentioned in my last journal, he is one of the lead actors on “Supernatural”. I have never seen the show, so I had no idea of it’s popularity but I’ve been educated by the people mobbing him. Poor guy. He is ever so gracious to his fans.
Again, my gf did the event planning, so the dinner was wonderful. She had scheduled him time at every table, so not one fan was disappointed. Each fan got to ask him a couple of questions, have a photo op (guess who took those photos?), and be generally in the presence of someone they admired. I DO have to say that I never really understand the whole star struck thing though. Guess I’ve been living in LA and rubbing shoulders with enough celebs that I have a clear idea about them being just ordinary people with extraordinary jobs. Jim however, is an extraordinary guy.
He walked around Tokyo yesterday site seeing by himself. But it seems his iPhone GPS signal was bouncing off the buildings so was horribly inaccurate. He got lost. He was a bit frustrated but decided to sit, have a meal, and figure it out. Thing is, he had bought a rather expensive gift for his daughter and didn’t have enough money to pay for lunch! LOL His Japanese is sparse, so he struggled and struggled to try and tell the poor waitress his issue. He finally returned to his iPhone and a translation app, and was able to tell the story. The waitress was fairly upset because she said the owner would be upset at her. It was a tiny lil hole in the wall place (where the best food is always found), and so they didn’t take credit cards. He wandered around FOREVER (his words) to find an ATM, then went back and paid the balance. The waitress was ASTONISHED Los Angeles Photographer Michael Helms goes to Japanthat he returned. I’m not… it’s exactly what I would expect of him, and of course, exactly what I would do.
He got lost on his way back to the hotel, but finally made it in time to shower for dinner.
After dinner, I was surprised to find out one of the fans had GIFTED us all with a “nice” visit to the local KARAOKE bar!!!! Can I just state for the record, how much I detest even the IDEA of karaoke?? OMFG. SO…off we go, and I ordered copious amount of Asahi to survive. Self medication was MY approach to surviving karaoke. I could write 27 entire journals about the evils of karaoke, but the Japanese are freaks for it… well, that and panchinko….but that’s another story. So there we sat, Jim, my gf and I, and a bunch of Japanese fans of Supernatural, in a room with a HUGE video screen, two unfortunate microphones, lots of beer for me, and OMFG… (you really can’t make this stuff up)…TAMBORINES!!! I no longer have any fear of hell because I certainly have been there.
Los Angeles Photographer Michael Helms goes to JapanAfterwards, the three of us strolled (well, THEY strolled, I staggered)  back to the hotel, through streets of hookers, temples, BAD American fast food (yes – you CAN get a SPAM burger here at the local Burger King), and shop after shop of souvenirs.
How the tour guide/translator, one of our friends, Jim, my gf, and someone I still don’t know, all ended up back in our room drinking, I have no idea….but I fell asleep…content with another madhouse day in Japan.

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