Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

A feudal stronghold in Kyushu, Japan, introduced by author Ian Fleming in the novel You Only Live Twice. Honeycombed with deadly volcanic fumaroles, poisonous plants, and terrifying insects, the castle becomes a magnet for locals eager to commit suicide. Its owner is none other than SPECTRE chieftain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, now retired to private life and masquerading as the very neutral Swiss citizen Dr. Shatterhand. For the movie adaptation, producer Cubby Broccoli tried to replicate this medieval bastion on a location scout to Japan in March 1966. Crisscrossing the island of Kyushu in a French-built Alouette helicopter that spring were Broccoli, director Lewis Gilbert, cinematographer Freddie Young, production designer Ken Adam, and military liaison Charles Russhon. Nowhere could they find a location that matched the description of the castle in Fleming’s book.

Remembered Gilbert, “We didn’t see one castle on the Japanese coastline, for the very simple reason that the Japanese don’t build castles on the coast. Because of the typhoons, it’s too dangerous. Any castles were built inland to defend strategic mountain passes and valleys. It was frustrating for us, because we couldn’t find the most important setting in Fleming’s book. We searched every inch of the Japanese coastlines and drew an entire blank. Not one battlement.”[1]

The trip was not entirely without results. During one of the helicopter scouts, the crew came across a Japanese national park filled with dormant volcanoes, one of which was a crater lake. The scenery inspired Ken Adam to instead build Blofeld’s base inside the cone of one of the volcanoes. Its roof would be made out of solid metal, camouflaged to look like the surface of a crater lake.

[1] Lewis Gilbert, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, London, June 15, 1977.


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