Mt.Sosha’s Engyoji Temple, “The Last Samurai” Movie Location in Japan


Let me begin this post by saying that I have never seen the movie. So, the pictures accompanying this post were taken without any intention of doing any frame by frame comparison. I don’t want my appreciation of more than 1,000 years old temple be clouded by the desire of finding the location where Tom Cruise delivered his lines.

Though much of the movie was said to be filmed in New Zealand and some studio in Hollywood, one of the chosen location in Japan is the Engyoji Temple complex of Mt. Sosha at Himeji City.

To access Mt. Sosha requires you to take a combination of local Shinki bus from Himeji train station and a ropeway to ascend towards the start of the temple walking path. Be prepared to walk around for at least an hour visiting the various temple buildings.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Walking along the wide pathways decorated by Kannon statues and surrounded by the towering trees gives you an impression of how huge the complex is. Most probably the same reason why it was selected as one of the film location, wide space to replicate a samurai-town ambiance and maybe enough size to fit in all the extra casts.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Few minutes walk from the ropeway station is the main gate(Niomon).
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Contiue walking along and a set of stairs leading to a sub-temple(Juryoin) can be seen on the right side. The gate is closed and as explain on the temple website, it can only be access by visitors who reserve a one of a kind “Shojin Dinner”.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Descending from the slope portion of the trail and passing by a small red Yuya Bridge , you will see a beautiful elevated wooden temple standing on a small cliff (Manuden). If you been to Kyoto, then the comparison to Kiyomizudera is the obvious next reaction.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Inside the temple, visitors are busy completeing their souvenir stamp.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Few more minutes walking will lead to a spacious area surrounded by three wooden buildings. Here is actually where most of the movie scenes in Japan were taken.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

One of the temple building (Jikido) is famous for houses several century old treasures and visitors are invited to look around.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Same building was used in one of the scene basing on the picture I have seen on the internet. The place was empty in the movie, they must have moved out all the exhibit materials for the movie.

mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

What I like the most about Engyoji temple houses in general are the high doors, wide hallways and balconies, once again might be the same reason why the area is an ideal movie location. I enjoyed walking along the wooden flooring and hearing the squeaky noise that I made, something that is not possible to do in Kyoto, where no space left even to photograph yourself due to countless numbers of visitors.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Across the main hall is a closed for public access is the Honda Family graves. If you want to see what’s inside, then you need to peek on one of the doors open slot, same way how I managed to take this picture. Though it was use as anothe location in the movie with set-up with a fake sakura tree.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Continue exploring will lead you to a thatched roof twin buildings with a small torii gate. Both buildings are said to be dedicated to two deities, Ototen and Wakaten.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

On the way back to the ropeway staion are several interesting things to see.
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)
mt.sosha (the last samurai)

Have you seen the movie? Any similarity or did CGI/film editing changes the look of Mt. Sosha? Will be happy to hear your thoughts, let me know on the comments below.

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