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Top filming locations in Japan

The ancient country of Japan has a distinguished history of filmmaking, with its varied physical and cultural backdrops proving a draw for producers and directors.

Features such as Babel (2006), The Lost Samurai and Lost in Translation (2003) have raised the profile of the country to filmmakers and audiences.  

We spoke to Shin Kinoshita of Tokyo-based Fixers Japan about some of his favourite film locations in the country.
 

Tokyo

Tokyo     Shinjyuku Tokyso   Akiharaba                                                           Shinjuku         

The cosmopolitan capital, Tokyo, has a plethora of locations suited to films and TV productions. Shinjuku is a special ward within a major commercial and administrative centre – which is also one of the biggest red light and nightlife districts in Japan. Films to have been shot here include Lost in Translation in 2003, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

Also in Tokyo is Akihabara, a district now famous for its many electrical shops. The area is the origin of otaku culture, such as animé, manga, computer games etc. Akiharaba is also home to ‘maid’ cafes, providing a unique form of entertainment where the waitresses dress up and act like maids or popular animé characters.
 

Osaka

Dotonbori, Osaka Dotonbori

Japan’s second biggest city (by population), Osaka has a very different atmosphere from any other cities in the country. Everything here really stands out from the rest of Japan, including the regional dialect, the food and the people.

Dotonbori is both the principal street that runs along the canal and the most iconic area of Osaka. The district was featured in 1989’s Black Rain by Ridley Scott.
 

Kyoto

Gion, Kyoto Gion, Kyoto

Within the city of Kyoto is Gion, a very well known area where you can still experience the traditional Japan. It is surrounded by historic wooden machiya houses [traditional wooden townhouses] and local teahouses where geisha and their apprentices, maiko, entertain. 

This area has real appeal to filmmakers wishing to encapsulate authentic Japan.


Wakayama

Koyasan, Japan       Nachitaisya, Japan     Koyasan                                                           Kumano Nachi Taisha   

There are two locations that stand out in Wakayama.

 The first is Koyasan, also known as Mount Koya - the mountainous area of Wakayama to the south of Osaka. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots and national treasures in Japan.

It was ‘founded’ in 819 by the most revered person in Japan’s religious history, Kouboudaishi Kukai. It is the home of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect. Koyasan is a very peaceful location with beautiful coloured trees and leaves in the autumn.

Also in Wakayama is the shrine of Kumano Nachi Taisha, located near the coastal hot spring resort of Katsuura. The site also boasts the tallest waterfall in Japan. 

Chirihama beach driveway – Ishikawa

Chirihama Beach Japan  Chirihama

Chirihama beach driveway is 8km long and 50m wide. As it’s made of compacted fine sand it is firm enough to drive along the beach.

It is worth noting that Chirihama is the only beach in Japan on which you can drive a vehicle, providing a top location for features using cars or motor bikes.
 

Many thanks to Shin of Fixers Japan for his help in compiling this article.

For more information about filming in Japan, take a look at our country guide.



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