The Last Samurai, 2003

Director

Edward Zwick

Cast

visit the film locations

Japan: Visit: Japan

Flights: Kansai International Airport (75 minutes by train to Kyoto)

Kobe Airport

Visit: Kyoto Travel Guide

Visit: Shoshazan Engyoji Temple, 2968 Shosha, Himeji (tel: 079.266.3327)

New Zealand: Visit: New Zealand

Visit: New Plymouth

Los Angeles: Flights: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)


Trivia

In Himeji, visit Himeji Castle itself, seen in You Only Live Twice and Akira Kurosawa’s epics Kagemusha and Ran.

Castle Green is featured in many films, including The Sting, Bugsy, Steve Martin’s The Man With Two Brains, Wild At Heart, The Prestige and We Were Soldiers.

The Last Samurai location: Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City, Japan

The Last Samurai location: Katsumoto’s temple: Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City, Japan

Photgraph: Japan National Tourist Organisation

Edward Zwick’s account of the passing of the Bushido code with the Western opening-up of Japan is predictable, but he brings the emotional epic sweep of his previous Glory to this blending of Kagemusha and The Wild Bunch.

Katsumoto’s temple is Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City, about 30 miles west of Kobe. The temple is atop Mount Shosa. There’s a 20-minute bus ride from Himeji, a short cable car ride and a 15-minute walk.

The Last Samurai location: Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City, Japan

The Last Samurai location: The ‘Imperial Palace’ of the emperor Meiji in ‘Tokyo’: Chion-In Temple, Kyoto Japan

Photgraph: Japan National Tourist Organisation

The ‘Imperial Palace’ of the emperor Meiji in ‘Tokyo’ is the 400-year-old Chion-In Temple, Kyoto, where you can see the imposing flight of steps.

Much of the filming was in New Zealand, on the hillsides of the Uruti Valley, where the Japanese village was constructed, with Mount Taranaki standing in for ‘Mount Fuji‘.

The port where the dissipated Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) arrives in ‘Japan’ is a set built at New Plymouth, and the parade ground, where the Japanese troops are trained, and where Algren invites a young recruit to shoot him, is the Pukekura Sports Ground, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth. The ’battle in the fog’ filmed in Mangamahoe Forest, outside the town.

The Last Samurai location: Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City, Japan

The Last Samurai location: Katsumoto’s temple: the restaurant: the Moorish Room, Castle Green, South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena

Photograph:Castle Green, Pasadena

The restaurant, in which Nathan Algren is introduced to the Japanese gentlemen is closer to Hollywood. It’s the Moorish Room of the amazing Castle Green, 99 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. Check for times of guided tours. For morel details, see The Sting.

There was more filming on the Warner Bros backlot in Burbank. If you want to see how the sophistication of CGI is making locaion spotting difficult, look at the scene set in ‘San Francisco’ at the opening, when Algren walks past the cable cars. This was filmed on the ‘New York Street’ of the Warner Bros Burbank lot., with the view of the Bay added digitally.




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