Films Set In Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Japan is a wonderful city and last month I visited the place for 7 nights. I ticked it off my bucket list, a holiday that’ll never forget. For this feature, I’ve decided to look at 10 films set in the fantastic city or has pivotal scenes in Japan’s capital. The choices some may not always be critically great, some might be gems, others considered classics. As ever not in any particular order and YES thee list isn’t complete, it’s only a selection…

Lost In Translation (2004)

Gives us a stylish, slow moving insight to two lonely people in Japan’s capital, one a season actor in town to promote a famous whiskey (one that Tommy Lee Jones actually does in real life), the other newly wed young wife of a photographer. Is this a true reflection of a great city or simply showing no matter you are that subjective matter hit you anywhere? Tokyo is certainly a town that could bring you out of any shell.

Godzilla (1954)

Many films for this Kaiju or monster have been made but you have to turn back to the original film. Reflecting the fears of a Japanese post war nation and the threat of nuclear destruction and the ever changing world.

Tokyo Story (1953)

Considered one of the greatest film’s ever made and always high on many critics greatest ever lists including Sight & Sound. Yasujiro Ozo’s film captures post war Japan’s rise to become a capitalist nation as we know it as now whilst fitting in those traditional Japanese traditions and values. Seeing the struggles of people of the time. This film follows a couple heading to Tokyo to visit their children and when they arrive it breaks their hearts the children don’t have much time for them.

Enter The Void (2009)

Some consider French filmmaker Gaspar Noé’s best film. Recently rel-released through Arrow films, a story of a drug dealer, in what is a psychedelic exploration of Tokyo’s underworld and nightlife. A visual exerience that only Noe can master so well, mesmerizing stuff.

Akira (1993)

Tokyo feels like you are walking around a movie set. Blade Runner is one of those films, but thanks to a city renowned for it’s technology this one is another. Katsuhiro Otomo’s cyberpunk classic is another showcasing Tokyo’s progress journeying into the unknown. We following a bike gang leader who attempts to rescue his longtime friend only to learn that friend is more dangerous thsn previously thought.

Adrift In Tokyo (2007)

Third Window Films released this brilliant indie from Satoshi Miki out in the UK. This dramedy follows the story of a lonely debt ridden young man , whom crosses paths with a loan shark. The man decides to pay those debts off in return he walks with him around Tokyo. Whilst taking in some of the cities famous landmarks it’s all about the consequences of ones actions.

Funeral Parade Of Roses (1969)

Toshio Matsumoto’s art film thats very experimental most of radical for the time. The subject matter was ahead of its time that takes place in the city’s hostess clubs. The film is a story of a transgender woman trying to make a life for herself working as a hostess. It doesn’t hold back and plays at times like a Greek Tragedy.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Satoshi Kon is considered one of the greats in anime, will known for his surreal Paprika, but his tale of 3 homeless people trying to get a new born abandoned baby back to her mother on christmas eve. Melodramatic, comedic reflecting the light and dark side of Japanese society. An uplifting film that sees them travel around the snowy streets of Tokyo.

Shoplifters (2017)

Hirozaku Kore-eda turning into an important voice of Japanese cinema. A story focused on a poor Tokyoite family living on the breadline and as the title states they ‘steal’ and adopt a young girl running from an abusive parent. It’s all about the family and how they struggle with daily lives.

Stray Dog (1953)

Akira Kurosawa is considered the master of Japanese filmmaking. A director renowned for his Samurai warrior films, this time steps into Noir. Considered the quintessential first Japanese detective film with the legendary Toshiro Mifune as a homicide cop. He’s chaing a criminal who stole a police gun which he commits crimes with who happens to be a Yakuza.

Notables Kill Bill Volume 1, Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, Ikiru, Tokyo Drifter, Tampopo, Last Samurai, The Outsider, Babel, The Wind Rises, Bullet Train

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