Besides Kyoto and Nara, there are many other places in Japan where you can film typical Japanese scenery and typical Japanese cultural aspects.
We will introduce these locations in this article and the following.

(1) Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki Castle

If you would like to film a Japanese castle in the Tohoku area, we would recommend you to go to Hirosaki Castle. This castle is located in Hirosaki City in Aomori Prefecture, the northernmost prefecture of Honshu. This city flourished as a castle town of the Hirosaki han (han is a type of local government in the Edo period).  This is one of twelve Japanese castles which preserve their keeps. One of the best times to visit is in May when the castle is surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom, and in winter when the castle is covered in white snow due to the heavy snowfall in Hirosaki. 
In the shopping streets lined with old townhouses, there are unusual arcade-like passages called "Komise", which was built in the early Edo period to keep out the snow. In one corner of the arcade there is a sake brewery that has been in existence since the Edo period, where you can film the production of sake using snow meltwater.

Hirosaki Nebuta (Rosino - Flickr: [1], CC 表示-継承 2.0,による)

Summer is also a good time to visit. “The Nebuta Festival”, one of the three major festivals in Tohoku, takes place not only in Aomori but also here in Hirosaki. Hirosaki Nebuta is characterised by its huge fan-shaped lanterns with samurai paintings on them, and it is a spectacular sight when they parade through the streets.

From Aomori Airport: 45 minutes by car.
From Tokyo: 5 hours on train.

(Contact Information)
Hirosaki City Greenery Association (For inquiry about Hirosaki Castle)
+81 172 33 8733

(2) Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture

If you would like to film a typical daily life scenery of a Samurai in the Edo period, Kakunodate is the place for you. 
Kakunodate is located in the north central part of the Tohoku region and is known as the "Little Kyoto” (one of many). The wide streets are lined with black-fence samurai residences, with the main house, gates and storehouses still intact, and there are beautiful Japanese gardens as well. Japanese traditional swords, armour, baskets and kitchen utensils used in the past are on display, allowing visitors to film the atmosphere of the Edo period. You can also shoot the samurai residences against the backdrop of the beautiful Japanese scenery of the four seasons: cherry blossoms in spring, maple leaves in autumn and snow in winter.

A little further into the mountains you will find Nyuto Onsen (hot spring). There, the thatched-roofed Honjin or main building, where the samurai guards stationed in the Edo period, still remains and is now used as an inn. Surrounded by mountains, it is the perfect place to film the scenery of an old Japanese mountain village.

From Aomori Airport: 45 minutes by car.
From Tokyo: 4.5 hours on train.

(Contact Information)
Kakunodate Film Commission (permission to use samurai residences and roads can be applied for here)
+81 187 43 3352
(For more information about Nyuto Onsen, please check the website of Tsuru no Yu)

(3) Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture

A typical Kitakata street
(Qwert1234, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kitakata is a good place to film the life of an old merchant. This city is famous as a town of warehouses. The brewing industry of miso and sake etc. has been prosperous in this region from old times. (Even now you can observe the making of sake and miso). 
Since the Edo period (1603-1867), many warehouses have been built as workplaces, and in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when many wooden houses were destroyed by fire, people started to build more warehouses to keep them safe. As a result, there are now more than 4,000 storehouses in existence, made of various materials such as plaster, oya stone and brick. Surprisingly, they are still in use today as shops, cafes, houses, storehouses,  and plastering and brewing workshops, and some of them can even be filmed from inside. 

And do not forget Kitakata Ramen, one of the three most famous ramen in Japan. It is not well known in the world, but its origin is said to be nearly 100 years ago and older than Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen. The soup is a light soy sauce flavoured blend of pork bones and dried sardines, with flat noodles. Please give it a try!

From Aomori Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes by car.
From Tokyo: 3 hours 10 minutes on train.

(Contact Information)
Kitakata Tourist Office
+81 0241 24 5200

(4) Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture


Here we would like to introduce Kanazawa which is said to be the second most typical Japanese city after Kyoto. Kanazawa is a castletown locates the centre of the Hokuriku region. It is famous for Kanazawa Castle, samurai residences and Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great  Gardens in Japan, notable for its yukitsuri — ropes attached in a conical array to carefully support tree branches in the desired arrangements, thereby protecting the trees from damage caused by heavy snows.

There are three tea house districts; Kazuemachi, Higashi and Nishi (like Gion in Kyoto, where you can play with geisha). Many tea houses are now open as restaurants and cafes, and at night the streets are lit up so you can film the fantastic atmosphere. In the centre of the city there is an old-fashioned market, Omicho Market, where you can taste fresh seafood and sushi.

Kanazawa has also developed a vibrant and flamboyant culture since the Edo period, with kimonos (Kaga Yuzen), pottery (Kutani-yaki) and gold leaf work.The city is not as big as Kyoto, but it is compact and easy to cover.

From Komatsu Airport: 40 minutes by car.
From Tokyo: 2.5 hours on train.

(Contact Information)
Kanazawa Film Commission (various applications related to filming)
+ 81 76 224 8411

(5) Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces, Ishikawa Prefecture

Shiroyone Senmaida

Rice paddies are one of the most typical scenes of Japanese farming villages. This rice field  located at the top of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture called “Shiroyone Senmaida” is registered as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and is said to be the most beautiful rice paddy in Japan.

Terraced rice paddies are a unique way of cultivating rice in mountainous areas where there is no flat land and the rice is grown in terraces along the slope. Here, the terraced rice fields extend from the top of the hill down towards the Sea of Japan, and the difference in height between the highest and lowest rice fields is equivalent to a 19-storey building. These Rice Terraces still preserve traditional farming methods such as planting, weeding, harvesting and drying.

In the summer, the rice fields are covered with lush green grass, in the autumn, the golden rice fields sway like waves as they wait to be harvested, and in the autumn and winter, after the harvest, the terraced rice fields are lit up with LED lights. You can film different beautiful scenery in all seasons.

In addition, in Suzu, a 20-minute drive from Senmaida, there is a place where salt is made using the traditional method of agehama, in which seawater is spread on sand, dried and then boiled down to produce salt.

From Komatsu Airport: 2 hours 10 minutes by car.

(Contact Information)
Wajima City Tourism Section, Exchange Policy Department
+81 768 23 1146

 We are going to present you 5 more cities with Japanese traditional sceneries in another article. So please wait for a while!  

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