The Tokyo You Find in Movies

By Peter Bowen | May 3, 2010
Womb in Tokyo Womb in Tokyo

You can still find the places Tokyo has popped up in films—in Tokyo.

Tokyo, like many cities of the world, is often experienced in the movies long before a tourist actual travels there.  But unlike many cities, Tokyo had cameos in only a few Western films. And most of those sport locales that tourists can still visit to put themselves back in the film’s frame of mind.

The bar at the Park Hyatt; inset: Lost in Translation

The bar at the Park Hyatt; inset: Lost
in Translation

Lost in Translation

Perhaps the most celebrated is Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, a film in which Americans––namely Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) and Bob (Bill Murray)––being in Tokyo is central to the narrative. So attractive was the Tokyo pictured in the film that no less than six travel agencies offered Lost in Translation tours soon after the movie came out. One of the more luxe packages promised “accommodations at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) stayed and met” as well as first class travel and perks for $7,500. If you are more DIY, you can get a breakdown of the main places to visit at “The Insider’s Guide to Tokyo.” In his piece on the film’s locale, Shaun Davies points out the primary points of interest and their neighborhoods. The Tokyo Park Hyatt, of course, with its famous bar and fabulous views is a big attraction. You can also eat at Ichikan, the sushi restaurant where Bob and Charlotte meet. Much of the action takes place in the chic streets of Shibuya. In addition, Davies highlights, “Bob and Charlotte are often pictured roaming Shinjuku. The neon-saturated street that Bob sees from the window of his taxi at the beginning of the film is the Kabuki-cho side of Yasukuni Dori.”

Womb in Tokyo

Womb in Tokyo

Babel

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2006 epic Babel weaves together four stories unfolding in Morocco, the United States, Mexico and Japan. In Tokyo, a teenage deaf-mute girl, Chieko Wataya (Rinko Kikuchi), can be seen going crazy at a rave in the club Womb. The disco is real and located in the Shibuya area. The four-level, multi-bar club hosts one of world’s most sophisticated laser systems in the world, as well as a very big disco ball. Not far way you can also visit J-Pop Café, the same locale where Chieko and her friends hung out, scoping the boys out.

Kill Bill

To be sure Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy Kill Bill, Vol. 1 is all fantasy, but one of the locales, the House of Blue Leaves, where Uma Thurman’s character carries on one of the most extensive knife duets in all film history, was based on a actual restaurant.  The restaurant Gonpachi in Nishi-Azabu was the inspiration for the multi-leveled lodge in the film. While their menu is extensive, it’s most noted for its soba noodles and meat skewers. While you may not find crazed sword-slashing babes flying through the restaurant, you will find plenty of tourists. Famous guests include former President George W. Bush.

You Only Live Twice

At the start of the 1967 James Bond thriller You Only Live Twice, our hero (played by Sean Connery) drives to the head of Osato Chemicals, a large Japanese corporation which it turns out is simply a front for SPECTRE, the global evil empire headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In fact, the evil front really houses a gracious inn, the Hotel New Otani, a luxury hotel that opened in 1964 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. Among its claims to fame is the adjacent 16th century garden.

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