Japanese culture and history is vast and colorful, it has given rise to some of the most awe inspiring architecture, design, technology and cities in the world. The country also has truly majestic rural areas that are second to none in the world. It’s no surprise then that some really huge blockbuster movies have chosen sites in Japan as their backdrop. Tokyo in particular is well regarding by those in the cinema industry and the quality of the film sets used really speak volumes about what the country has to offer, not just as regards to backdrops and sets but also in how its history and culture play a huge part in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits.
Kill Bill Volume 1: Released in 2003, Kill Bill Vol.1 had an estimated $30,000,000 budget and grossed around $70,098,138 in the US in the first six. Quintin Tarantino gives a nod of the head to the Japanese Samurai Slasher in the Kill Bill trilogy, the first of which sees Uma Thurman ‘The Bride’ do her revenge thing in Japan. The most iconic of the Japan based film sets for me in this film was the Kill Bill Restaurant (Gonpachi) that saw the epic fight scene between the Bride v the Crazy 88s.
The Last Samurai: Also released in 2003, its budget was an estimated budget was $140,000,000, grossing $111,110,575 in its first four months in the US. Although much of the filming is actually done in New Zealand there are a number of truly iconic Japanese sets featured in the movie. You’ll see the Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City feature as Katsumoto’s temple and Chion-In Temple, Kyoto feature as ‘The Imperial Palace’ among others. Both of these sets are saturated with fascinating and vibrant Japanese history and culture.
The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift: Released just over 10 years ago in 2006 had grossed $62,494,975 in the USA in its first quarter on an $85,000,000 budget. The movie makes use of the awe inspiring concrete jungle of Tokyo merging Japan and America as it’s also partially set in Los Angeles. The movie sees Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan feature highly as a backdrop in its high intensity action film.
The Wolverine: 2013 saw the US release of The Wolverine, it had an estimated budget of $120,000,000 and in its first four months of release it grossed $132,550,960. This high budget Marvel movie sees Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine) caught up in a mix of the yakuza and samurai. It shows some of the huge contrast of the country with scenes depicting the hustle and bustle of the big cities to the beautiful and almost serene Omishima Island.
Godzilla: The highly awaited remake, Godzilla was released back in 2014, its first 3 months on release saw it gross $200,661,309 and it’s thought to have had a $160,000,000 budget. Shot across Japan, Hawaii, San Fransisco and Las Vegas, Godzilla makes use of some extremely varied sets. One of the most haunting scenes in the movie is set in ‘the ghost streets’ of Janjira, Japan.