Travel might not be possible right now. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t see and enjoy the beauty of a place. In this article, we recommend 10 movies that you should check out. These movies capture the beauty of the Japanese capital. They will surely make you fall in love with Tokyo.
Table of Contents
1. Lost in Translation
This 2003 romantic film by Sophia Coppola captures the beauty of Tokyo. Not only does it show what’s it like to be in a city filled with snazzy signages and fast-paced life but it also captures the feeling of being adrift and uncertainty.
The film follows Scarlett Johansson and her friendship with Bill Murray as they discover the sights and sounds of Tokyo. With both endearing performances, you’ll surely want to drink at the Hyatt Regency Hotel too after watching this.
2. Tokyo Godfathers
Directed by famed anime auteur, Satoshi Kon, this masterpiece follows three homeless people who accidentally found a baby on Christmas. With the aim to reunite the lost baby with its parents, the trio goes on a journey throughout one end of the city to the next. Just as you embark on their hunt for the baby’s parents, you’ll encounter all of the different beauty Tokyo has to offer.
3. Tokyo Sonata
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s critically acclaimed film, Tokyo Sonata, tells the story of a family’s struggles after the father was laid off from his job. Maintaining some sort of normalcy, the father continues to “go to work” under the gist that he is still employed.
This later unfolds into a story of heartbreak. The film is set in Tokyo and offers a dive into the turmoils and pain that the city and its people face during the 80s as the country recovers from the economic bubble.
Tokyo! is an anthology film of three short segments directed by three non-Japanese directors, Michael Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-ho. As the three short films are made by non-Japanese directors, it offers a view of the city from an outsider’s perspective.
Each short film highlights a problem prevalent in society. Bong’s Shaking Tokyo follows a hikikomori, Gondry’s Interior Design, is about a young people’s move to Tokyo, and Carax’s Merde depicts a subterranean creature of the Tokyo sewers.
5. Tokyo Tribe
Renowned director Sion Sono adapts Tokyo Tribe manga series in this live-action production. Set in an alternate Tokyo, the film depicts street gangs (known as Tokyo Tribe) as they maintain control of their respective territories.
If you’re looking for an imagined look of the Japanese capital, look no further than this film. It’s a mash of fun, entertainment, and pure craziness. It mirrors elements of art-house horror, musical, even tribalistic themes.
6. Tokyo Story
Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story is not just a must-watch to fall in love with Tokyo — it’s a must-watch for anyone who wants to discover the beauty of Japanese cinema. This beloved Japanese film follows an elderly couple who visits their grandchildren and stays with them for a while. From there, the story unfolds. Many critics regard Tokyo Story as one of the best Japanese films ever made as it captures profound emotions in simplicity.
For an anime film that was released in 1988, Akira sure feels like it’s ahead of its time. Not only is this anime gem a must-watch for anime fans, but it’s also a must-watch in general. The film depicts a dystopian city (Neo-Tokyo) where disturbing experiments are being done on children to harness their psychic abilities. With excellent animation, colorful visuals, and themes ahead of its time — Akira is truly a classic that will make you see Tokyo as a futuristic, innovative hub.
8. Adrift in Tokyo
Follow two nihilistic people discovering and exploring the city together in Adrift in Tokyo. As the pair bond over being out of love with love, they also go on a journey in the Japanese capital. A part comedy filled with plenty of Japanese cultural references, the film will make you appreciate the simple details about Tokyo.
9. Your Name
Makoto Shinkai’s smash-hit anime film, Your Name is a gender-bending story of two teenagers — one living in the countryside and one from the city. As they exchange bodies, they also experience the difference between the two places. This film contrasts the Japanese countryside with vibrant city life, making it stand out more. Shinkai is known for his beautiful take on scenery and Your Name is no exception. Replicating real-life buildings, train stations, and shrines, fall in love with the city as you see it in 3D.
10. Train Man
Train Man gives viewers an incredible look and sharp focus on the otaku life, and what more screams otaku than Akihabara, the informal otaku center of Tokyo. See the snazzy billboard lights, flashy stores, and tall mega buildings in this area as you follow the two leads and their own love story. The film is decided to the otaku life as much as it is highlighting what Akihabara has to offer.
And there you have it! Make use of this quarantine period to watch these films and fall in love with Tokyo instantly, so on your next trip, you’re just going to experience the beauty of the Japanese capital first hand.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some facilities and events throughout Japan may change their operating days or hours. Please check official facility or event websites for the latest updates and information.