Home
Back

Tokyo Tales

Five classic films set in Tokyo

A gleaming, futuristic metropolis seething with light and energy, Tokyo is one of the world's great cinematic cities and also one of the most complex. Here are five films that penetrate the neon-lit surface and capture a sense of being in this endlessly wonderous and bewildering place.

Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola (2003)

A bored young wife and an older, jaded movie star form an unlikely bond while adrift in the big city, in this intimate and understated drama. The Tokyo setting fits like a glove, and many will relate to the lonely beauty it evokes.

Like someone in love, Abbas Kiarostam (2012)

Another film concerned with the puzzle of human relationships in the big city, Like Someone In Love follows the peculiar love triangle that forms between a student moonlighting as a high class prostitute, her boyfriend and a retired professor who is her client.

Tokyo Story, Ozu Yasujiro (1953)

From the simple premise of an elderly couple visiting their adult children in Tokyo, Ozu crafts a subtle yet incredibly moving examination of family, social change and the passage of time. One particular detail to look out for is his use of "pillow shots" between scenes, lingering on an empty room, a train, or a small architectural detail.

Stray Dog - Kurosawa Akira (1949)

In this hugely influential film noir, a police detective searches for a stolen gun amidst the rubble of postwar Tokyo. Restless tracking shots at street level capture a wealth of detail about life during the occupation, and you can almost feel the stifling summer heat and press of bodies in every frame.

Akira, Otomo Katsushiro (1988)

The film that almost single-handedly launched anime onto the world stage, Akira's vision of a futuristic Neo-Tokyo still resonates powerfully today. Much like the earlier Godzilla (1954), the film combines a sense of awe at mankind's potential with fears of destruction rooted in the trauma of the Second World War.

Home Delivery by japan-guide.com is a series of articles on Japanese culture, life and travel for all of us who are currently staying home to flatten the curve. Many travel plans, including our own, have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. While we aren't able to share new content from the road, we hope this collection from our travel archive helps you explore a bit of Japan from your own home.