Japan // Kyoto & Nara //

Toei Film Studio Park

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At Tōei Uzumasa Eiga-mura (東映太秦映画村), one of Japan’s major film companies opens its sets to the public. At the entrance is Padios, an amusement arcade aimed at children, with 3D roller-coaster rides, games and souvenir shops. The studios behind, where directors such as Kurosawa Akira filmed their classics, hold more general appeal and are worth a visit. One of the indoor studios is usually in action, nowadays mostly making historical TV dramas but also the occasional film (most recently, the 2009 historical drama Hiten no Shiro – “The Castle of Heavenly Flames”) while the outdoor sets – an Edo-period street, thatched farms, Meiji-era Western-style buildings and so on – are enlivened by roaming geisha, battling samurai and a superbly cheesy “special effects” zone. On the way out, don’t miss the Movie Museum, where Japanese film buffs can take a nostalgic romp through the archives.

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