With its flawless combination of tradition and modernity, Japan has always ranked high on tourists’ must-visit destinations. In fact, in 2019, Tokyo set a new tourism record when more than 15 million people visited the city.
One reason why many tourists visit Japan is to relive some of the most iconic Hollywood scenes filmed in the area. In fact, here are four locations that you definitely need to visit when in Japan.
Located on top of Mount Shosha (the ‘Mountain of Prayer’) in Hyogo, the Engyoji Temple was a major filming location in The Last Samurai. As a haven of peace and meditation for centuries, the Engyoji Temple later became one of the Three Tendai Buddhist Centers in the country. It’s also a stopping point for priests on the Kannon Pilgrimage.
It has three major halls, in which many of the scenes in The Last Samurai were shot. That part where Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe discuss Custer’s Last Stand was taken in Jogyodo — one of the mentioned halls.
Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu I
Just a few months before The Last Samurai was released, the iconic martial arts film Kill Bill: Volume 1 dominated the silver screen. And although the film was mostly shot in California and Beijing, several scenes, especially those near the end, were filmed in Tokyo.
That major part where Uma Thurman’s character got into a fight with a yakuza gang was taken in Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu, a kushiyaki restaurant near Roppongi station. The restaurant even has a glass display case containing Kill Bill memorabilia, including a photo of director Quentin Tarantino’s visit, as proof of the filming.
As a country with many volcanoes, Japan is known for its hot springs, locally called ‘onsens’. In fact, according to Expat Bet’s list of things to do in Japan, onsens are a must-try while you’re in the area, as it’s an experience unique to Japan. And while every Japanese region has at least one town with hot springs, Unzen Onsen is one of the best locations to visit.
Unzen Onsen is no ordinary resort town. It’s also a place with deep historic roots in Christianity, which was depicted in the 2016 film Silence. The town’s proximity to Mt. Unzen has made the spring’s temperature extremely hot, and this was used to punish the Jesuit priests in the film, as Ferreira helplessly watched in from the distance.
To pay respects to the victims, the filming of Silence wasn’t done in Unzen Onsen itself, but in a convincing replica in Taiwan. A cross marker can be found in Unzen Onsen in memory of those who were tortured.
Critically acclaimed psychological film Babel depicts an accident connecting four storylines set in Morocco, Mexico, Japan, and the US. Although the film stars an ensemble cast, including Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Elle Fanning, the show-stealer is the character played by Rinko Kikuchi; a teenage girl with a hearing impairment.
One of her standout scenes is her “partying” in the Womb, a laser-lit nightclub in Tokyo. The film would go completely silent every time the camera switched to Rinko, despite the loud sounds.
The club is located in one of the back alleys in the Dogenzaka area and boasts the largest mirrorball in Asia.
Japan is home to many iconic Hollywood film locations, so be sure to check them out while you’re in the area. Many of them, like Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu, will even have traces of the time they welcomed these Western actors
. For more Hollywood features, don’t forget to check out our articles here on Indie Mac User!