Sunny: Where is the Apple TV+ Show Filmed?

Apple TV+’s ‘Sunny’ stars Rashida Jones as Suzie Sakamoto, whose life is turned upside down by losing her husband Masa (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and their son in a plane crash. Struggling to cope with her trauma and loneliness, Suzie receives a quirky, wobbling robot named Sunny (Joanna Sotomura) from one of Masa’s colleagues. Initially resistant to Sunny’s presence, Suzie gradually forms an unexpected bond with the AI-based companion.

Suzie and Sunny delve into the darker truths surrounding Masa’s past, discovering a hidden world where robots are used for evil purposes. The series, created by Katie Robbins and based on Colin O’Sullivan’s novel ‘The Dark Manual,’ combines suspense, dark humor, and drama as Suzie embraces her new reality with Sunny. The seamless blend of traditional and futuristic elements and the production’s preference for practical effects enhance the storyline of ‘Sunny.’

Sunny Filming Locations

‘Sunny’ is set 30 years into the future in Japan, where domestic robots known as homebots, have become common household items, performing tasks from running everyday errands to providing emotional support. Filming takes place in a number of real locations across Japan, including the two largest cities, Tokyo and Kyoto. Principal photography of season 1 began in July 2022 and lasted nearly seven months until early 2023.

Despite probable budget concerns, the production purposely chose to film on location to enhance the authenticity of the series and to capture the unique blend of old and new that Japan offers. The filming sites of ‘Sunny’ span various parts of the island country, including rural areas and traditional settings like bamboo forests, temples, and national parks. This combination makes the show’s sci-fi and dramatic side stand out smoothly, capturing the contrast between technological advancements and the nation’s rich cultural heritage.

Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

‘Sunny’ is primarily filmed in and around the Greater Kyoto region, located on Japan’s Honshu Island, one of the largest inhabited islands in the world. The series prominently features the country’s urban infrastructure, presented in a manner that resembles a futuristic setting with minimal editing and production efforts. This visual approach aligns with the show’s premise, authentically portraying a technologically advanced society.

The cultural richness of Kyoto Prefecture, part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area, provides an adequately varied backdrop for the story. The region is known for its urbanization and historical significance, making it an ideal location that fulfills most of the creators’ requirements. The show’s blend of high-tech gadgets and retro touches reflects a vision of the future inspired by the 1970 Osaka Expo.

One notable location that features in the show — and that plays a vital role in terms of plot — is the Kyoto International Conference Center, located at 422 Iwakura Osagicho, Sakyo Ward, in Takaraga-ike. This global facility, a rare surviving example of the postwar Metabolist architectural movement, was used to represent IMATECH, the fictional tech giant in the story that is involved in Masa’s past and the manufacturing of homebots. The center’s unique design perfectly captures the high-tech futuristic elements of the series.

Kyoto’s choice as a setting also sets ‘Sunny’ apart from many other depictions of futuristic Japan, which often focus on more well-known urban centers like Tokyo, popularly referred to as Neo Tokyo in various anime. Rashida Jones shared the benefits of filming on location, noting that real settings help ground the performances and make the story feel more authentic. “I’m not good at that green screen acting of like, ‘Oh no! Here comes the boulder!’” she added.

Tokyo, Japan

Outside Kyoto, ‘Sunny’ is filmed in and around Tokyo, Japan’s political as well as entertainment capital. One of the most spectacular sightings featured in the Apple TV+ show is the exterior of The Soho, a highly modernized complex building at 2-chōme-7-4 Aomi, Koto City. The production collaborated with Georgina Pope, founder of Tokyo-based production service provider Twenty First City, to handle the logistical challenges of shooting in the Asia-Pacific nation.

The show became the first major international production to be filmed in Japan after the country began reopening its borders amidst the final days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The absence of tourists and large crowds contributed to the show’s somber and introspective tone. Pope noted the appeal of Japan as a filming location, concluding that the world’s fascination with Japan’s culture and technology triumphs over such challenges.

Director Lucy Tcherniak described the world of ‘Sunny’ as one where technology is smoothly integrated into everyday life. She shared the vision of her creative team that was rooted in avoiding heavy CGI use, opting instead to create an animatronic version of Sunny. This decision allows the cast to interact with a tangible robot rather than relying on visual effects, making ‘Sunny’ all the more surreal.

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