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Must-visit Kurosawa’s places

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    vitkina0504

    hello! I’m planning a big trip into Japan very soon. So my trip is a job trip – I need to visit as much as possible Kurosawa’s places. Studios, museums, houses, etc. I spent a lot of time looking for the information on the web-sites, but I had found nothing! I also read some information here, but it’s not enough. May you can help me with some places – family house or his flat, exhibition, studio or anything else? I hope, I can find some information with your help. Thank you!

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    vitkina0504

    The goal of my research is very simple. I’m working on a big Russian-Japaneese project, so we are going to make a big documentary about Kurosawa. Now we are looking for different places for shooting. Of course, they should have any connection with Kurosawa’s life-way. Thats why I need your help!

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    Vili Maunula

    Hi there! Mapping potential locations for a visit is something that I have been thinking about as well, so perhaps this is as good a time as any to do so. Unfortunately, off the top of my head there actually aren’t that many potential locations. I hope someone else here can add to the list.

    After the museum plans in Imari went belly up some years back, there hasn’t been any official museum to visit.

    Kurosawa grew up in the Ōmori district of Tokyo but I don’t know the exact location of his childhood house.

    Kurosawa had a big house in Komae (Tokyo) from the 50s on, but again I don’t know the address or whether anything is there today. It probably wouldn’t be too much of a task to find out if you asked locals.

    Kurosawa had a smaller summer house in Gotemba, Shizuoka (seen for instance in his talk with Hayao Miyazaki). Again, I have no idea about the exact location, but again locals might know.

    When writing screenplays, Kurosawa often stayed at the Ishihara Ryokan in Kyoto with his co-writers.

    Kurosawa is buried at the Anyō Temple in Kamakura.

    Then there would of course be the various shooting locations, but Japan has changed so much that not much resembles what we have in the films. A lot was in any case purpose built (and later destroyed) for the films. Some ideas:

    No Regrets For Our Youth has this beautiful scene on top of a hill overlooking Kyoto. Might be possible to find it?

    One Wonderful Sunday has a wonderful scene at an open air amphitheatre, where the film famously breaks the fourth wall. Does that amphitheatre exist (or was it a set)?

    Stray Dog has a long montage where Mifune’s protagonist walks around Tokyo. What do those streets and landmarks look like today? What about the baseball stadium featured in the film?

    I also wonder if the grove where Rashomon was shot still exists with its little stream.

    Scandal begins with Mifune’s character painting mountains. How has the landscape changed, I wonder?

    High and Low is very much grounded by the geography of Yokohama. One part of the plot even revolves around the need to find a specific landscape. I would love to know what it looks like today.

    The famous Himeji Castle was used in both Kagemusha and Ran.

    Rhapsody in August visits numerous famous sites in Nagasaki, including the famous playground that shows the impact of the nuclear attack.

    The “Village of the watermills” section of Dreams was shot in location at the Daio Wasabi Farm in Azumino, Nagano. This place might still resemble what we have in the film.

    A lot of the films were shot on sets, though. Toho studios of course remains, with its Seven Samurai mural in Tokyo.

    And the Toei Kyoto Movie Park apparently has a few Kurosawa items on show. Not a lot though, and I’m not sure how accurate my information is.

    I suppose the Kurosawa Film Studios would also be worth a visit. At least parts of Dreams were shot in the Yokohama studio.

    There are a few licensed restaurants as well. There is actually also a Mifune restaurant.

    I’m not sure if Kurosawa Productions has a physical office but if they do that’s where Kurosawa’s legacy lives on.

    Outside of Japan, Cannes has Kurosawa’s hand print in a stone in one of the parks.

    Anything else? Maybe someone can add to the list!

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    vitkina0504

    Thank you very much! We are going to check all of this places! And if I find more information on the web, I will let you know.

    Now I’m looking for different locations, but I still don’t understand, why there is no museum or any big exhibition in Japan about Kurosawa??? How can it be? He was one of the greatest film directors and the most popular director from Japan? Why there is no memory?? I know that he wasn’t so famous in his country, but there is no even a small museum? It is very strange. And, unfortunately, awful. Hope, our film will change the situation.

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    Ugetsu

    Sounds like a fantastic way to see Japan! I’ve long wanted to do something similar, but I’ve found it very hard to find information on where so many of his films were made.

    Regarding Vili’s comment on High and Low, I’ve a vague memory of coming across a blog where someone found the section of coastline where part of it was shot – the part where Mifune finds the house with the dead drug addicts. From memory, its surprisingly unchanged – but I can’t find that blog – unfortunately google is a bit useless when such common words are used. Perhaps someone else remembers it?

    Another place I’d love to see is wherever the open air parts of Ran were shot. I’ve often wondered if its the same place as the final action sequence in Sanshiro Sugata was filmed?

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    Longstone

    It’s a good question , I have found Ozu’s grave with the help of a Japanese speaking friend and you can see some locations he used in Kamakura and Tokyo but I’ve not knowingly seen any Kurosawa sights.
    I have this book at home somewhere which I think has some references to Kurosawa
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Film-Locations-Chris-MaGee-ebook/dp/B01A27TLYG/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1498822794&sr=8-14&keywords=Chris+Magee

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    Longstone

    I also remember reading that Kumamoto castle had been used in Ran

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    Vili Maunula

    vitkina0504: but I still don’t understand, why there is no museum or any big exhibition in Japan about Kurosawa???

    After he died, plans were put together to open a museum to display Kurosawa’s art, belongings and legacy. Imari, a fairly small town on Kyushu was chosen as the location, and a temporary exhibition was opened there in 1999. It was supposed to be replaced by a full museum later.

    Nothing ever came out of the museum plans however, and the temporary exhibition closed in 2011, the same year that the Kurosawa Foundation also collapsed. Words like “financial mismanagement” were thrown around, and I think there was also a lawsuit in connection with some missing funds, but it is of course easy to judge from the outside without any actual details.

    Sadly, nothing has since replaced the Imari exhibition. Kurosawa’s drawings are occasionally exhibited internationally, but that’s about it.

    I would like to think that there would be enough interest in an Akira Kurosawa museum and possibly even study centre, should one be opened in a tourist destination like Tokyo. Add a themed restaurant to the premises and you’ve got a fairly good proposal for a lot of film fans visiting Japan.

    Anyway, good luck with your film project! It would be great to see the result when you have it!

    And of course, do let me know if you need a freelance Kurosawa expert to tag along with you on your trip! 😛

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