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Guide To Best ‘Lost in Translation’ Spots Tokyo

The neon lights of Kabukicho in Shinjuku

The Kabukicho district glimpsed from a pedestrian bridge down the street.Photo by Joshua Meyer

The Kabukicho district glimpsed from a pedestrian bridge down the street.

Red-light district of Kabukicho. This is the neon paradise seen by the jet-lagged Bob on his entry into the city at the very beginning of the movie.

Watching Shibuya’s Scramble Crossing and the Q-Front screen

Q-Front and the surrounding buildings of Udagawacho at sunset.Photo by Joshua Meyer

Q-Front and the surrounding buildings of Udagawacho at sunset.

From Shinjuku, take the JR Yamanote line to Shibuya station. The famous scramble crossing outside this station was shown in Lost in Translation, but in recent years, the brontosaurus on the giant video screen Q-Front has been replaced by a butterfly sequence.

People crossing the Shibuya Scramble with umbrellas in the rain, as seen in Lost in Translation.People crossing the Shibuya Scramble with umbrellas in the rain, as seen in Lost in Translation.Photo by Joshua Meyer

People crossing the Shibuya Scramble with umbrellas in the rain, as seen in Lost in Translation.

If you’ve ever been up on the second floor of the Starbucks in the Q-Front building and felt like vultures were gathering behind you, waiting to swoop in and grab your window seat, then you’ll know that it’s a popular perch for taking pictures and shooting video of the scramble. Once upon a time, writer-director Sofia Coppola and a small guerrilla filmmaking crew went up there with their own equipment to furtively grab footage under the pretense of drinking lattés.

Karaoke in Udagawacho

Inside Room 601 at the 30-1 Udagawacho location of Karaoke Kan.Photo by Joshua Meyer

Inside Room 601 at the 30-1 Udagawacho location of Karaoke Kan.

Stretching back from the Q-Front building is the Udagawacho area of Shibuya. On Inokashira Dori, a street that runs parallel to the popular Center Gai shopping street, you can find the branch of Karaoke Kan (30-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku) where Bob, Charlotte and their friends sang “More Than This” and “Brass in Pocket,” among other songs. The rooms where they filmed the karaoke scene are 601 and 602. 601 is the room with the window view.

The rooms are quite popular, so you will need to call in advance (03-3462-0785) or go in person and book them ahead of time. Unless it has been removed recently, there should still be a Japanese sign on the wall between the rooms identifying them as the ones from Lost in Translation.

Shabu-Shabu on the edge of Udagawacho

The table at Shabuzen where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson sat.Photo by Joshua Meyer

The table at Shabuzen where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson sat.

If you take Inokashira Dori all the way down to where NHK headquarters is, you can hang a quick left and find the Creston Hotel, the basement of which holds Shabuzen (10-8 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya-ku). This is the shabu-shabu restaurant where Bob and Charlotte sit in the booth and appear less than thrilled with having to cook their own food.

At Shabuzen, you will be waited on by a mannerly server in a kimono. The tabehodai (all-you-can-eat) menu starts at ¥5,400. The one-plate menu starts at ¥4,300.

Two Closed Venues in Daikanyama

Photo by Joshua Meyer

The interior of Sushiya no Ichikan in Daikanyama.

Tucked away among the many fashionable boutiques in Shibuya’s upscale Daikanyama neighborhood, there used to be a sushi restaurant where you could pull up a chair at the same counter as Bob and Charlotte. The place was called Sushiya no Ichikan, and until recently — though his hair was going gray — you could still see the the same owner/chef who appeared in Lost in Translation working there.

Bonus: Locations in Kyoto, Japan

The main hall of Heian Jingu in Kyoto.Photo by Joshua Meyer

The main hall of Heian Jingu in Kyoto.

While Lost in Translation may have a reputation for being the ultimate Tokyo movie, it does make a brief bullet train venture away from Japan’s current capital to the ancient capital of Kyoto. Here Charlotte visits Heian Jingu shrine as well as two temples, Nanzenji and Chion-in. Bob is also seen playing golf in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

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