Japanese Locations Made Famous in Films
Relive memorable movie moments at these iconic Japanese places.
Japan features sprawling landscapes, metropolitan areas, and historical landmarks that are aesthetically pleasing at every angle, resulting in like-worthy snaps. Numerous filmmakers over the decades have also taken notice of the country’s beauty, as Japan serves a frequent backdrop in cinematic storytelling. Should you embark on a tour of places featured onscreen, then you’d already have a full itinerary. In fact, we’ve already rounded up locations to get you started! Now, you can step up your social media game and reenact actual scenes in the very same spot they were filmed. Ready? Lights, camera, action!
Kita Kita (2017)
We start off the list with a proudly Pinoy movie, the hit romantic comedy Kita Kita. The film shows us the best of what Sapporo, Hokkaido has to offer such as Odori Park, Otaru Music Box Museum, Hidamari Glass Pyramid, and of course, Zerubu Hill (those postcard-perfect row of flowers gets us every time). However, the scene at Mt. Moiwa’s observation deck not only gives us a 360-degree look of Sapporo but also provides an initial glimpse into Lea’s view of the world. This is also where Lea and Tonyo rang the Fortune Bell dressed as a heart and banana respectively.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
That long take of the camera sweeping over the bright orange Torii gates before panning down to Chiyo excitedly running home after meeting the Chairman, was one of the best parts of the film. The wonderfully shot scene spawned many reenactments on social media. Built in the 8th century, the shrine was dedicated to the god of rice and sake and has over 5,000 gates. Live out your Geisha goals in Kyoto.
Kimi No Na Wa (2016)
Makoto Shinkai certainly has a way with animation that never fails to tug at your heartstrings. Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the animated film: That final moment where an older Taki encounters Mitsuha by the stairs and both break down in tears as they finally recognize each other gives us all the feels. You can get some cardio by hiking up the steps and getting an awesome couple pic with your significant other or if you’re rocking the single life then it’s a great #OOTD moment. (BRB looking for our own fantasy romance!)
Mount Shosha Engyoji Temple
The Last Samurai (2003)
Katsumoto lecturing Nathan on manners is a big mood and we’re totally here for it. And to quote, “Not to introduce yourself is considered extremely rude even among enemies.” The amusing encounter and many more mountainside scenes took place in this temple that’s been around for more than a thousand years. You can enjoy tranquility as you bask in the beautiful scenery and fresh air in this location.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Lost in Translation (2003)
If you would like to channel Charlotte and get in touch with your emotions while dramatically staring out the window overlooking Tokyo, then this is the place to do it. However, keep in mind that this is a five-star hotel with sky-high prices. If you’re on a budget, perhaps a casual visit would suffice. We also credit the film for giving audiences a glimpse into the bustling Tokyo life and its scenic spots such as the Shinjuku district and the Shibuya Scramble. This also brought the brand Suntory into foreign public consciousness.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
This UNESCO World Heritage site inspired the classic Hayao Miyazaki film’s setting with its lush greenery, towering cedars, and moss-covered rocks. This enchanted place is where Ashitaka meets San, a human girl raised by wolves, and the forest spirits (Kodama). Upon visiting the real-life forest, you will be greeted by a special Princess Mononoke signboard. You can travel to Yakushima Forest from Kagoshima City via hopping on an airplane or riding a ferry. It’s the ideal place for anime fans and intrepid hikers alike!
The Wolverine (2013)
What was supposed to be a somber funeral procession turned into an action-packed brawl with Logan being outnumbered but never outmatched. We were definitely cheering on Wolverine as jumped across the pond while leaping from one rock to another just to kick bad guy butt. This sacred temple’s main gate is one of the oldest structures in the country, dating back to the 1600s. You won’t have trouble finding the Zojoji Temple since it’s near another famous landmark, the Tokyo Tower.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Who could forget the scene where The Bride faced off against Gogo Yubari and the Crazy 88 before having a sword showdown with O-Ren Ishii? That swanky restaurant where said battle royale took place actually exists! Located in Roppongi, Gonpachi has attracted gaijin tourists who want to see where all the action went down while indulging in fine Japanese dining.
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
Akira Kurosawa’s samurai epic is known for being George Lucas’ inspiration behind the Star Wars saga. The valley is where most of the sword-slashing action took place in the ‘50s adventure film. The area features several hot springs (onsen) and waterfalls that offer a relaxing experience.
Nothing screams “I’m the bad guy. Duh!” quite like an evil lair floating in the middle of the ocean. When Raoul Silva captured James Bond, the Bond villain was “kind” enough to welcome him into his base of operations. We’re used to seeing abandoned factories or underground HQs but a whole city at your disposal? That’s what we call a major upgrade! For safety reasons, they couldn’t film on the actual Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) so they did a replica of certain parts on the set. But you can see the real deal because there are scheduled tours to Hashima Island.
Main photo artwork by Marlo Adriatico.