Mr. Miyagi’s House from “The Karate Kid”Jan 30th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
One of the greatest filming location mysteries to ever exist was that of the house where Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) lived in the 1984 classic The Karate Kid. It was common knowledge that the residence had been demolished in the late ‘80s, but no stalker had ever been able to track down its former whereabouts – until now that is. While I had long been aware of the enigma surrounding the locale, I had never actually seen The Karate Kid until two weeks ago. (Well, I saw it in the theatre when it first came out, but did not remember it at all.) The Grim Cheaper did not learn of this fact until two Saturdays ago and he was so upset when he did that I’m surprised he did not divorce me on the spot. He immediately purchased the flick on iTunes and forced me to watch it. Now that I have, I am in utter shock that the movie remained off my radar for so long. I absolutely LOVED it. And as soon as the credits started to roll, I became hell-bent on tracking down Mr. Miyagi’s house. I quickly sent out texts to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog and Chas, of It’sFilmedThere, asking them for any information they had. Those texts got everyone started on an intense search which led to the locale being found just a few days later! Woo to the hoo!
Chas informed me that the best tip he had ever gotten regarding the location of Mr. Miyagi’s house was in June of last year when an anonymous commenter posted this on his site: “Mr. Miyagi’s house is torn down but was located on Gault St. between Independence Ave. and DeSoto in Canoga Park. My family has lived in the neighborhood forever and I remember as a kid being able to witness the filming of the movie.” While seemingly a great lead, because the area had changed so much in the ensuing years, Chas had a hard time verifying it. Then, the day after receiving my text, he managed to track down Karate Kid executive producer R.J. Lewis, who checked his files and reported back that Mr. Miyagi’s house was formerly located at 20924 Gault Street in Canoga Park. As it so happens, 20924 Gault lies smack dab between Independence and DeSoto Avenues, which fell in line with the comment on Chas’ site. Two unrelated people coming forward with the exact same information was enough to convince me, so since I was in L.A. at the time, I headed right on over there the following day.
Thankfully, the stalking gods were smiling down upon this particular venture because shortly after arriving at the location, I happened to spot a man pulling into a driveway down the street. Hoping he would be able to verify R.J.’s information, I asked how long he had lived on the premises and when he answered, “Since 1971,” I practically started salivating. Not wanting to alter or steer his memories in a certain direction, I decided to keep my questioning as vague as possible and asked if he happened to know if the movie The Karate Kid had been filmed in the area. He immediately pointed in the direction of 20924 Gault and said, “See that short palm tree there next to the three tall palm tress, that’s where Mr. Miyagi’s house used to be, but it was torn down a long time ago and a duplex has since been built in its place.” Upon hearing those words I almost passed out from excitement. The gentleman, who could NOT have been nicer, wound up speaking with me for a good twenty minutes or so filling me in on the filming. He told me that the railroad tracks and oil derricks seen in the movie were fake and that both the first and second Karate Kid movies had been shot on the premises.
With those three confirmations under our belt, Owen, Mike, Chas and I got to work in searching for any visual markers that might still be in existence at the site. According to The Karate Kid press kit, Mr. Miyagi’s house was “a rundown shack in a weedy yard until the construction crew descended upon it. When they were finished, the interior became a modest and beautifully austere Japanese dwelling with mats, screens and other authentic Oriental accoutrements. The yard itself was landscaped with miniature mountains, lanterns, decking, a pond complete with expensive koi (Japanese fish) and hundred-year old bonsai.” The section of the house shown most often in the film is pictured below. In real life, Mr. Miyagi’s property stretched from Gault to Vose Street. This portion of the house faced Vose Street. Knowing what I now know, I believe it was actually the rear of the residence, although it was made to look like the front in The Karate Kid.
The area shown as the backyard in the movie is pictured below. It faced Gault Street and was, I believe, the real life home’s front yard.
An unobstructed aerial view of the property circa 1980 from the Historic Aerials website is pictured below. Mr. Miyagi’s house is the residence surrounded by trees, located just south of Gault Street.
The home is circled in pink below.
In the first scene that features Mr. Miyagi’s house in The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) are shown entering the property from Vose Street, not Gault. In the scene, they are initially heading east on Vose before turning north onto the vacant land located just southwest of the residence. The fake train tracks were set up in the spot denoted with two pink lines below. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi’s route is denoted with a blue arrow. The two make a right turn across the tracks, heading east, and then another left turn, heading north, towards the home. (Big THANK YOU to Chas for explaining this to me. I cannot read a map or figure out spatial directions for the life of me!)
The house seen in the background as Daniel and Miyagi first make the turn off of Vose is located at 20948 Vose Street. As you can see, it still looks much the same today as it did back in 1984 when The Karate Kid was filmed.
The garage with the pyramid-shaped roofline visible in the scene is located at 20941 Vose Street. A current aerial view of that garage as well as a 1980 aerial view are pictured below.
Mike happened to find videos of the entire movie being rehearsed on YouTube, which you can watch by clicking below. In the scene in which Miyagi and Daniel first arrive at the house, you can see that the fake railroad tracks have yet to be installed.
The Gault Street house was also used in a few scenes in the beginning of The Karate Kid, Part II.
In the movie, the house located across from Mr. Miyagi’s, at 20919 Gault Street, is visible. As you can see below, it looks much the same today as it did in 1986 when filming took place.
By the time that The Karate Kid, Part III was filmed in 1989, the Gault Street house had been torn down, so a replica of it was built for the shoot on the Warner Bros. Ranch backlot in Burbank. It was then demolished once filming was completed.
Thanks to a source Mike has at the Ranch, we now know that the house was built in the eastern portion of the lot, in the area denoted with a pink circle below. At the time, that space was vacant land. The building and parking structure visible in the current aerial view below were not constructed until later. The edifice that is visible in the upper right hand corner of the two screen captures above is denoted with a blue circle below.
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Big, huge THANK YOU to R.J. Lewis for his information about this location and to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, Owen, from When Write Is Wrong, and Chas, from It’sFilmedThere, for all of their work in helping to verify it.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Mr. Miyagi’s house from The Karate Kid was formerly located at 20924 Gault Street in Canoga Park. Sadly, it was demolished in the late ‘80s and no remnant of it remains.