Yasujiro Ozu's film shots (Photo: Ivy Ma / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Yasujiro Ozu's film shots (Photo: Ivy Ma / CC BY-SA 4.0)
- 3 min read

Kurosawa Akira & Yasujiro Ozu

Film locations of Japan's cinematic titans

The films created by Kurosawa Akira and Yasujiro Ozu are regularly listed among the best and most influential ever. And while successfully touching upon the human condition, their films also featured many fascinating locations within Japan. Here are a small handful of spots from two of their films, Kagemusha and Tokyo Story, offering up some great travel and sightseeing options for fans.

Kurosawa Akira

Possibly the most influential filmmaker of all time, Kurosawa Akira created films with extraordinary cinematic vistas and visual movement. His action, taking place across both vast landscapes and within intricate depths, offers plenty of destinations for fans of the legendary director.

Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture

Kurosawa's film jidaigeki samurai period film Kagemusha features some of Japan's most famous castles. Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is one of the country's 12 remaining original castles. A magnificent structure designated as a National Treasure as well as being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle is also known as the White Heron Castle and attracts a regular stream of awed visitors.

Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture
Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture (Photo: Oren Rozen / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Iga Ueno Castle, Mie Prefecture

Kagemusha also features the famous Iga Ueno Castle from Mie Prefecture. A registered National Historic Site, the castle was rebuilt in the early 20th century. A feature is that the reconstruction was based on wood, and not on concrete as some castles. Now the proud possessor of a museum, there are plenty of classical samurai armaments, scrolls and art.

Iga Ueno Castle, Mie Prefecture
Iga Ueno Castle, Mie Prefecture (Photo: baggio4ever / CC BY 3.0)

Yasujiro Ozu

Though being rightly labelled as masterpieces, the film locations of Yasujiro Ozu's works are much more constrained than Kurosawa's. Much of the action occurs within the family home and destinations are referred to rather than visited. Having said that, though, there are still plenty of choice destinations for fans of the master's works.

Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture

In Tokyo Story, the film's grandparents are sent on a trip by their children to Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture. Less than an hour away from Tokyo by bullet train, this seaside resort town was once a boom weekend getaway experience. Filled with hot spring resorts, Atami still retains a good amount of popularity. Regular festivals add excitement while museums and galleries like the Atami MOA Museum of Art and the Sawada Seiko Memorial Museum offer a flourish of culture to the sightseeing list.

Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture
Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture (Photo: Suicasmo / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture

Again, the grandparents of Tokyo Story feature with the couple's hometown, Onomichi. Located in Hiroshima Prefecture and overlooking the striking waters of the Seto Inland Sea, Onomichi is filled with Hiroshima's famous okonomiyaki stalls and restaurants. The popular Temple Trail, connecting 25 temples, makes for a great way to explore the city on foot while Cat Alley adds a touch of extra charm to an already delightfully local experience.

Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture (Photo: 663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0)
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Kim 2 years ago
This would be such a fun way to structure a trip!
Elizabeth S 2 years ago
I'm with you on this as an alternative itinerary. It would take you to popular spots but a lot off the beaten path. Lots to see and experience.
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