It seems that Nagoya was a prime spot for international filmmakers in the early-mid 1990’s with a few movies using Japan’s fourth biggest city as the base to tell their stories. There was ‘Mr Baseball‘ in 1992, ‘3 Ninja’s Kick Back‘ in 1994 and then this one came along in 1995.
The limited DVD extras reveal that filming started in Nagoya as it was felt that they needed to be immersed in Japanese culture from the offset rather than delaying it until the end of production. The filmmakers spent two weeks shooting at various locations including the shots which appear in the initial scenes of the movie as the opening credits roll. I’m still very sceptical as to whether or not it is Nagoya-jo Castle (below) which appears 2 minutes in.
Across the road from Nagoya-jo Castle is the City Hall (below) which is seen briefly on 19 minutes. Shiyakusho (City Hall) station on the Meijo subway line is right outside.
I think ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013) owes a great deal of gratitude to ‘The Hunted‘ as the pachinko parlour scenes in both movies were strikingly similar. The Boss Pachinko Plaza (below) in this film is seen on 40 minutes but I’ve no idea whether it is (was) a real place or was just filmed on the studio backlot.
Paul Racine (Christopher Lambert) escapes the shoot-out at the Pachinko parlour and arrives at Nagoya station (below) by taxi one minute later but it’s no surprise that the place has undergone something of a facelift in the twenty plus years since it featured in this film.
The castle seen on the hour mark is definitely not Nagoya-jo but is actually Hikone-jo castle in Shiga prefecture which is 75 kilometres away. I had just assumed it was Nagoya-jo but as I wandered round that castle looking at my screenshots I realised that it bore no real resemblance to it. Of course places can change a bit over two decades but not castles. Having scrutinised the screenshots for a while, I realised that I had actually seen the same castle in ‘Three Ninja’s Kick Back‘ (1994).
Obviously there was something on my camera lens when I took the shot (above) on my trip to Hikone back in May 2011. Hikone is situated on the shores of Lake Biwa which is Japan’s largest freshwater lake and it’s castle is a simple 15 minute walk from the station. The 400 year old structure is three stories tall and surrounded by a double moat.
Genkyu-en garden (below) is the site of a centuries-old tea house and beautiful pond. It is located at the foot of Hikone-jo and is included in the 600 yen entrance ticket.
There are some shots of the castle grounds around the 67 minute mark. Again, I can only speculate that these were filmed on the walk up to Hikone-jo Castle but there’s always a chance that they were shot in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), where Japanese elements were recreated in two studios and several outdoor locations.
Three bullet trains were constructed inside a soundstage at Vancouver’s Bridge Studios as the filmmakers knew shooting a sword battle was a request unlikely to be granted by the Japanese. Kirina’s traditional Japanese hotel room featuring exquisite, luminous shoji screens was also filmed back in Canada.
Click here to read ‘Review: Films Set In Japan – The Hunted (1995)’
For other Japan filming locations click on the links below:
You Only Live Twice Lost In Translation Kill Bill Babel Godzilla Walk Don’t Run Into The Sun Monster Wasabi The Grudge The Ramen Girl The Toxic Avenger Pt II Ju-On: The Grudge 2 The Wolverine Memoirs Of A Geisha The Last Samurai House Of Bamboo The Grudge 2 Mr Baseball