New Zealand: The Last SamuraiPukekura Park: Japanese Army Base
In 2002, the cricket grounds of New Plymouth's Pukekura Park in New Zealand were converted into a late 19th century Japanese army camp, complete with tents, cannons and gatling guns. The filmmakers certainly did not shy away from spending big money on this project - all the Japanese soldiers were extras flown in from Japan on chartered flights.
If you feel inclined to spend some additional time in the park, it's worth exploring the different landscape features as well as some of the built attractions, including the Fernery and the entry-free Brooklands zoo.
There are plenty of lovely walks and the recently restored Tea House on the lake serves coffee and tea with an Instagram backdrop: If the conditions are right, the summit of Mount Taranaki aka Mount Fuji in The Last Samurai can be seen above the red beams of the Poet's Bridge.
In the story, the grassy field is the training area for the new conscripts of the Imperial Japanase Army. Many of the men have never fired a gun in their life and Captain Nathan Algren is tasked with forming them into a disciplined unit.
There is a small carpark at the Cricket Grounds which can be accessed by car through the big gates at Fillis Street.
Two major annual events are hosted at Pukekura Park - New Zealand's WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) in March and the Festival of Lights from December to Februay.
WOMAD is an international festival and showcases artists from all over the world performing music, arts and dance on six stages over three days.
In the New Zealand summer evenings, the park is transformed into an illuminated wonderland of lights. Live music, twilight movie screenings and pop-up performances wow more than 100,000 visitors a year. Welcome to the magical Festival of Lights.
Pukekura Park: Japanese Army Base
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