Pukekura Park: Japanese Army Base

New Zealand: The Last SamuraiPukekura Park: Japanese Army Base

Location

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.

The cricket grounds of Pukekura Park at the time of filming.

The cricket grounds of Pukekura Park at the time of filming.

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.

The Colonial Hospital "The Gables" was built in 1848 and relocated to its present site in the park in 1904.

The Colonial Hospital "The Gables" was built in 1848 and relocated to its present site in the park in 1904.

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.

For more information about the park, visit the website of the New Plymouth District Council or else go to the official visitor website for Taranaki.

Key Scenes

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.

Algren overlooks the training camp.

Algren overlooks the training camp.

Inspecting the new conscripts.

Inspecting the new conscripts.

Algren's Sergeant Gant takes over: "(roars) ALL RIGHT YOU LITTLE BASTARDS STAND UP STRAIGHT OR I WILL SHIT-KICK EVERY ONE OF YOU GOD DAMN COCKSUCKERS!! ATTEN-TION!"

Algren's Sergeant Gant takes over: "(roars) ALL RIGHT YOU LITTLE BASTARDS STAND UP STRAIGHT OR I WILL SHIT-
KICK EVERY ONE OF YOU GOD DAMN COCKSUCKERS!! ATTEN-TION!"

Japanese businessman and political lobbyist Omura makes sure that 'his army' gets into shape as fast as possible.

Japanese businessman and political lobbyist Omura makes sure that 'his army' gets into shape as fast as possible.

Algren teaching young officers the ins and outs of field tactics.

Algren teaching young officers the ins and outs of field tactics.

Algren does not shy away from unconventional training methods such as forcing solders to shoot at him under the threat of being shot themselves should they refuse. Of course, the soldier in this scene misses, proving Algren's point that the men have no idea how to fight.

Algren does not shy away from unconventional training methods such as forcing solders to shoot at him under the threat of being shot themselves should they refuse. Of course, the soldier in this scene misses, proving Algren's point that the men have no idea how to fight.

Videos

Map

There is a small carpark at the Cricket Grounds which can be accessed by car through the big gates at Fillis Street.

Tips

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.

The main concert stage is the centre piece of the TSB Bowl of Brooklands, which must be one of the most stunning natural concert venues out there.

The main concert stage is the centre piece of the TSB Bowl of Brooklands, which must be one of the most stunning natural concert venues out there.

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.

 

 

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