Ever wanted to hop on a plane and live out the classic indie film, Lost in Translation? Well, never fear, Japlanning has a plan for you! Today we’re giving you the Lost in Translation guide to Tokyo! Visiting the karaoke lounge they sang in, wander through legendary areas from the film, even stay in the same hotel they filmed in; it’s Japlanning the movies – Lost in Translation style.
Japan is an amazing country, yet finding western movies that use Japan as their back drop are few and far between, especially modern Japan. The most iconic movie that shows contemporary Tokyo would have to be Sophia Coppola’s 2003 classic, Lost in Translation.
The film is centered around Bob Harris (Bill Murray) who is an American film star, just out of the prime of his career. He is in Tokyo to appear in commercials for a quick payday, when he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), the wife of visiting photographer John (Giovanni Ribisi). Feeling lost and alone in this foreign city, the two become unlikely friends. Charlotte is young and looking for the purpose of her life, and Bob is just working and tolerating a dull and lifeless marriage back home. Throughout the film they both live out the experience of being a foreigner in Tokyo. Bob and Charlotte find each other, fulfilling certain needs they have: Charlotte needs Bob’s attention and humour, and Bob needs Charlotte as someone to talk to, as that has long left his marriage. He helps her by answering her questions on life and direction, while Charlotte helps him by reminding him how much he loves his children and wife. Their encounter, for what is less than a week, quickly comes to an end where they both realise each other are suddenly very important in their lives and have to soon part ways, possibly forever, tearing apart the deepest relationship either have had in a long time.
The film uses Tokyo as its main back drop, and the entire story is filmed in Japan, with 99% of it taking place in Tokyo. Everybody has their favourite moments from the film, so now it’s time to find out how to experience these locations for yourself, starting with staying where Bob and Charlotte do while in Japan, the iconic Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Although it has been more than ten years since the film was released, the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which is located in the upper floors of the Shinjuku Park Tower, a building designed by legendary Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, still draws fans of the film and elite travellers alike. Since opening, the hotel has been one of the must stay hotels in Tokyo, and for good reason -- the hotel has a reputation of impeccable service and amenities that other hotels just can’t match. In a city like Tokyo, which holds such a high price for space, the Park Hyatt is also a sight for sore eyes, with massive rooms starting at around 45 square meters, it’s a welcome sight to anyone who has spent time in a regular business hotel in Tokyo. The hotel is modern, stylish and elegant with Japanese influences throughout, such as Hokkaido elm paneling in the rooms, open spaces, and a very minimalist design.
A must visit location in the Park Hyatt, for Lost In Translation fans is the New York Bar and Grill. This is the bar that is featured in many scenes in the film, where Bob spends his time drinking whiskey, listening to live music, and ultimately meets Charlotte for the first time. The bar and restaurant offers amazing views of Tokyo from the 52ndfloor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. A bonus is that the New York Bar and Grill is considered one of Tokyo’s great cocktail bars, so grab a drink and enjoy and enjoy the view, as you relive some of your favourite scenes.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is located at 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, and is walking distance from Shinjuku station. The hotel offers a complementary shuttle bus service that regularly departs from the hotel to the station.
Official Site - tokyo.park.hyatt.com
Feeling hungry? Well in Lost in Translation, we see them indulge on traditional fare such as sushi and syabu syabu, however there are hundreds of these restaurants in Tokyo alone, and you’ll want to go to the same as those in the film. Well, look no further, the scene where Bob and Charlotte are eating sushi for dinner, counter side, is at Ichikan, a little sushi establishment in Shibuya. The old, unamused chef in the film is actually the restaurant’s owner. He has said, on the record, that he didn’t think Scarlet was particularly good looking, however his culinary skills are far better than his taste in women. Here you will try some of the most pristine made sushi you can imagine -- and don’t worry if you can’t speak Japanese, just point at the fish you want, and they will make it on the spot.
Ichikan is located at Sun View Heights Daikanyama Building, 9-5 Daikanyama-chou, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. It’s about a twenty minute walk from the station and can be difficult to find, so make sure you bring a map!
The other eatery that is shown when Bob and Charlotte have lunch (the scene is quite silent and awkward to watch) is a syabu syabu (pronounced shabu shabu) restaurant by the name of Shabu Zen. The one from the film is the Shibuya branch, and is located in the basement of the Creston Hotel. The restaurant offers traditional syabu syabu and sukiyaki, at quite a reasonable price, especially for lunch during the week.
Shabu Zen is located on floor B1 of Shibuya Creston Hotel, 10-8 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. It’s about a 10 minute walk from Shibuya station, and open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.
The nightlife scenes in the film are some of the most iconic and memorable moments in the movie, from the club hopping to the Karaoke lounge where the booth overlooks the streets below, this is where we see that the age difference isn’t an issue for a friendship like Bob and Charlotte’s, and Bob gets to experience Tokyo outside his work commitments for the first time.
The most memorable scene from the first night out would have to be when Bob and Charlotte go to karaoke with Charlotte’s local friends, and you can visit this same karaoke centre for yourself. The karaoke centre from the film is the Shibuya branch of Karaoke-Kan, located just off Shibuya’s main street, Centre Gai. It is very similar to most karaoke joints in Tokyo (there are hundreds of them), however the rooms with views over Shibuya are memorable, and great for a night out with friends in Tokyo. If you’re dedicated, and looking to be in the same room from the film, you have a couple of options, as they actually filmed in two of the karaoke rooms, numbers 601 and 602 so try and book these, and make sure you bring your pink wig!
Karaoke Kan is located at 30-8 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. It’s just a short walk from Shibuya station.
Official Site - www.karaokekan.jp (in Japanese)
If the clubs are more your style, you will want to check out Club Air in Shibuya. It’s the club featured in the film, and is still one of the hottest clubs in Tokyo for over 10 years. The club always has a live DJ and often guest appearances by some of the biggest DJ’s in the world. The club covers two floors with several rooms, bars and VIP areas to take in while there. There is a cover charge, which ranges from 2500 yen to 4000 yen, depending on the day of the week, and includes one drink.
Air Tokyo is located at 2-11 Sarugaku, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, It’s about a twenty minute walk from Shibuya Station.
Official Site - www.air-tokyo.com/access (in Japanese)
Many shots in the film show the characters travelling though the city flooded in the lights of the buildings. Most of these shots where done in Shinjuku and Shibuya, including the scene of Charlotte walking through the Shibuya crosswalks, which is the busiest crosswalk in the world, located just outside Shibuya Station. A walk through Shinjuku’s electric district will also relive scenes of Bob and Charlotte walking on the street past Yodobashi – Shinjuku branch. Take a walk through the centre of Shinjuku and Shibuya at night, and try and find all the buildings and signs you saw throughout the film.
Another iconic landmark in the film is the Rainbow Bridge, which you will see if you take a trip out to Odaiba Island as you will cross it.
Lastly, if you’re in Tokyo, and in your beautiful room at the Park Hyatt at 1:20am on a Saturday morning, tune into Channel 10 - Asahi Broadcasting, and watch Matthew’s Best Hit TV Show, where you can see the real show that Bob is a guest on in the film.
Lost in Translation has become a classic indie film which has brought fans from all over the world to Tokyo to relive the film, see the sights, and even to find their own purpose and in turn, get lost in translation. Next time you’re in Tokyo, be sure to visit a few of the locations from the film, and even spoil yourself and stay at the decadent Park Hyatt Tokyo and relive some of your favourite moments from the film.