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Tuesday April 23rd 2024

The Wolverine | 2013

The Wolverine location: Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo
The Wolverine location: the funeral of Yashida: Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo | Photograph: wikimedia / Wiiii

Not a great deal of the X-Men universe, but plenty of Yakuza, as events from WWII Japan catch up with the ageless Logan (Hugh Jackman).

It’s set mainly in Japan, with an opening in the Canadian ‘Yukon’ but, being based at the Fox Studios in Sydney, most of the film was shot in New South Wales.

The wartime Japanese prison camp at ‘Nagasaki’, where Logan saves the life of guard Yashida (Ken Yamamura) as the atomic bomb falls, was built at Bonna Point Reserve, Prince Charles Parade, in Kurnell, on the south of Botany Bay, south of Sydney.

And when Logan wakes up in present, the snowy forests are not in ‘Canada’ but at Oberon, in the Blue Mountains about 70 miles west of Sydney.

He heads some 50 miles southeast into the town of Picton, transformed into the Yukon town of ‘Faro’ where, against a dramatic mountain backdrop, he strolls along Menangle Street to Remembrance Driveway, alongside the Picton Hotel.

It’s to Surry Hills, south of Sydney city centre, to find the Hopetoun Hotel, 416 Bourke Street, a now-closed music venue on the corner of Fitzroy Street, which provided the interior of the ‘Yukon’ bar in which Logan deals out rough justice to the bozo who had left the wounded bear to die. Disappointingly to many, the flurry of activity surrounding the filming of The Wolverine briefly lead to speculation that the Hopetoun was about to reopen. It was bought in 2016 and may still spring back to life.

It’s here Logan is discovered by the mysterious Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who’s on an errand from the aged Yashida. Now a mega-rich business tycoon, the one-time prison guard is dying and wants to say a final goodbye to the man who saved his life.

Sydney Metro Airport Bankstown, Avro Street, about 15 miles west of the city, becomes the local airport from which Logan and Yukio depart for Japan.

At Yashida’s heavily-defended ‘Tokyo’ compound (the film’s largest and most elaborate set, built at the Fox Studios), Logan finds out the real reason for the ailing man’s invitation. Yashida, not yet ready to meet his maker, offers to take on the mutant’s burden of immortality.

Declining the request, Logan finds himself attending the old man’s funeral, held at Tokyo’s Zojo-ji, 4-7-3 5 Shibakoen, Minato, the family temple of the Tokugawa shogunate, which does house the tombs of famous shogun. In the shadow of the striking red and white Tokyo Tower, the closest subway stations to the temple are Onarimon or Shibakoen Station on the Mita Subway Line and Daimon Station on the Oedo Line.

Realising that the oddly tattooed monks are assassins, Logan ramps up to Wolverine mode to protect Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). The mayhem in the temple grounds is no longer Tokyo, but the Chinese Garden of Friendship on Pier Street, at the south end of Darling Harbour in Sydney. The wooden walkway was laid over the garden’s lake, carefully avoiding disturbance to the lake’s vegetation or its population of Koi carp and turtles.

Adjacent to Chinatown, the Garden of Friendship was Initiated by the local Chinese community for Australia's 1988 Bicentenary, representing cooperation between the sister cities of Sydney and Guangzhou in Guangdong Province.

The subsequent foot chase through the streets of ‘Tokyo’ was filmed around the intersection of George and Smith Streets, in the heart of Sydney’s western suburb of Parramatta.

Logan follows Mariko onto the Bullet Train at Tokyo’s Ueno Station as she flees the city for the safety of her hometown but, with more killers in pursuit, the pair alights at Fukuyama Station in Hiroshima-ken.

The Wolverine location: Nakagin Capsule Tower, Ginza, Tokyo
The Wolverine location: Logan and Mariko check into the Love Hotel: Nakagin Capsule Tower, Ginza, Tokyo | Photograph: wikimedia / scarletgreen

It’s supposedly here that Logan and Mariko check into a ‘Love Hotel’ – which sounds like an establishment where lovestruck couples are provided with reams of paper to write each other endless declarations of affection. Or am I missing the point?

The building is neither in Hiroshima, nor is it a Love Hotel. It’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, 8-16-10 Ginza, in Shimbashi, alongside Tokyo’s Shinjuku Central Park, a revolutionary mixed-use residential and office complex designed in 1972 by architect Kisho Kurokawa.

Consisting of a double core holding detachable pods, it’s both earthquake resistant and recyclable, and was intended to house businessmen and women who either missed their trains or needed to remain close to the office. Although a design breakthrough in its time, only around 30 of its 140 apartments are still in use, others being used for storage or office space, or simply abandoned, and its future is uncertain.

If you really are head-over-heels and you’d like to spend a night – or an hour  – in a real Love Hotel, head to Shibuya’s Love Hotel Hill and look for the not too subtle neon signs.

Appearing to take a bus west to the suburb of ‘Nagasaki’ where Mariko grew up, Logan and Yukio arrive at the fishing port of Tomonoura, in the Ichichi ward of Fukuyama.

Apparently nearby, it’s many miles away to the west coast of Omishima Island, in the Inland Sea, to find the spot where Logan helps chop up the tree that’s fallen across the road, and recognises the site of the old prison camp. It’s on Route 51, just north of Omishimacho Miyaura, Imabari.

Following the abducted Mariko, Logan makes for the hi-tech headquarters of Yashida’s empire in the mountains. The snowy village, in which he fends off shedloads of Yakuza after recovering his healing abilities, was built on the car park on Hill Road at Holker Street, just north of Sydney Olympic Park.

The towering facility itself was created digitally, as there’s a final burst of X-fantasy with Wolverine finally facing both the poison-spitting Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) and the seemingly indestructible Silver Samurai.