Tokyo offers some of the most technologically advanced cinemas in the world, as well as independent cinemas with interesting features. Many people in Japan love to take a moment out of their stressful day to sit in a blissful temperature-controlled environment and while the day away, letting lush sounds and stories take them on a journey.
Many expats do as well— but where do you go to watch a movie in your native tongue? Let’s take a look at 19 Tokyo cinemas where movies are screened in their original language, adding to the quality of the viewing.
How it works: Cinemas in Tokyo
Most international films are screened in their original language with Japanese subtitles but many theatres also offer a dubbed version running around the same times. You need to make sure you’re buying the right ticket otherwise, you may end up watching a movie you totally don’t understand.
In Japanese films, subtitles are called 字幕(Jimaku) and Dubbed movies are called 吹替(Fukikae). If you want to watch an original language film, be sure to choose the “字幕” symbol in the movie listing.
The price of a movie ticket in Japan tends to run around 1300 to 1900 yen for an adult and 1000 to 1500 yen for a student, though of course, these rates differ from complex to complex. It’s generally rather expensive, but food and drinks in the cinema are cheaper than in some countries.
As movie tickets are not really cheap, we recommend going on special service days. Usually, every cinema has a day or a running week/month when they offer tickets at a highly discounted price! So before going, you should definitely check it out.
Photo from Pixabay by Derks24
Here is a list of movie theatres which screen English films, classic national films and more.
Best Visuals, Sound & Facilities
Toho Cinemas is a large chain of movie theatres in Japan. Roppongi Hills and Shinjuku Toho Cinemas are easy to access locations in the centre of Tokyo, with MX4D and an original extra-large wall-to-wall screen where you can enjoy a truly impressive movie experience. MX4D is a 4D cinema experience, where you can feel motion, wind, mists, and scented air. When you are watching a scene in the sea, you can actually feel the waves and water on your face!
Discount tip: Every 1st and 14th of the month and every Wednesdays (women only) 1200 yen.
Photo from Pixabay by dylanagonzales2011
2.United Cinema Toyosu
United Cinema Toyosu has a 270-degree wide screen — the first-ever in Japan. In the 4DX theatre, your seat will move and you feel effects like rain, fog, lightning, even snow! This theatre has an option to pay an additional 5000 yen for a double occupancy ”premium pair seat,” – a 170cm wide comfortable sofa with a table that could be ideal for dates or families.
Cinemas everywhere have popcorn, but United Cinema Toyosu has a more unique flavour: “Hokkaido butter shoyu (soy sauce)”. Many pair it with traditional Japanese flavors like, Yuzu ginger, Matcha latte, or Green tea to create a typically unique Japanese experience.
Discount tip: Late showings after 8 pm 1400 yen, every 1 of the month and Wednesdays(only women) are 1200 yen.
More info:United Cinema Toyosu
Shinjuku Piccadilly has luxury features. “Platinum seats” go for 5000 yen per person, where you will be offered an ottoman sofa to watch a film on, as well as access to the platinum lounge where you can have a drink an hour before showtime.
For an even more luxurious experience, you can pay 30000 yen to rent the “Platinum Room” for 2 persons, where you will be offered a welcome drink and sweets in a completely private waiting room and balcony room to watch. In the platinum room, you can talk and drink while watching a film, since you have your own surround-sound speakers.
Another Piccadilly cinema in Marunouchi (Ginza area) offers the latest visual system “Dolby Vision” and a powerful sound system. The front row has reclining seats, comfortable for your neck and enough space so you can extend your legs.
Discount tip: Every 1st of the month and every Wednesdays(only women) are 1200 yen.
4.Tachikawa Cinema City Cinema Two
Tachikawa is a little on the outskirts of Tokyo, 40 mins from Shinjuku but worth a visit for movie lovers. The Tachikawa Cinema City Cinema Two is famous for its range and excellent sound system.
In the listing, you can choose from more delicate and layered 極上音響 “exquisite sound” screening, while 極上爆音 “super explosive sound” screenings deliver incredibly crisp acoustics. They use Meyer Sound speakers, which are usually used for large scale music concerts, to give you a wildly different sound quality experience than other cinemas.
Uniquely, they often have some classic Japanese films or animes with Japanese subtitles! This is rare to find. If you are studying Japanese, this would be a great opportunity.
Discount tip: Late show after 8 pm 1300 yen, Every 1 of the month is 1100 yen.
More info: Tachikawa Cinema City Cinema Two
For a weekend, Cinecitta would be a great day trip to escape from the inner city’s hustle and bustle. Between Tokyo and Yokohama, in Kawasaki, there is an Italian-themed shopping mall called La Cittadella, a nice place to relax with shops and restaurants, concerts and numerous events. Cinecitta is one of the biggest cineplexes in the Tokyo area, with about 3200 seats in 12 screens. They show a wide variety of films from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films.
The concession stand has a unique menu, with 8 craft beers, fruits and churros, cheesecake sticks, and a croissant with anko(sweet beans).
Discount tip: Every 1 and 23 of the month and Wednesdays(only women) are 1200 yen. Late show after 8 pm 1300 yen.
Cinemas near Shibuya station area
6.Human Trust Cinema Shibuya
If you want to watch a film when you’re sightseeing or shopping in Shibuya, Human Trust Cinema is a convenient place to check out. They offer a cloakroom service to keep your luggage. In addition, child seats and blankets are available for little ones.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month and Wednesdays 1200 yen. Every Sunday after 8 pm 1400 yen.
More info:Human Trust Cinema Shibuya
An arthouse with 3 screens in Shibuya area. Eurospace is one of the last art house cinemas left, and specializes in playing independent films from Asia and Europe, which are rare to find in large cinemas. They’re also one of the more affordable ones on the list, though the space itself is a bit smaller than the rest.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month 1100 yen. Every Tuesday 1200 yen.
More info:EURO SPACE
Uplink Shibuya is one of the most popular cinema to go to independent films from both Japan and abroad. The theatre rooms are pretty small but offering a living-room atmosphere. The venue has a cafe and free gallery featuring local artists.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month and Wednesdays 1200 yen.
More info:Uplink Shibuya
Image Forum is an arthouse cinema where you can keep your finger on the pulse of avant-grade work through foreign films, documentaries, and experimental films. In autumn, they also have an annual event called the “Image Forum Festival”, an international film and video art festival showcasing experimental film and moving image/performance art in Tokyo and some other cities.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month and Monday 1100 yen.
More info:Image Forum
More Arthouse and Independent Cinemas in Tokyo
A compact arthouse cinema in Shinjuku.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month 1200 yen. Every Wednesday 1100 yen.
More info:Cinema Qualite
An old arthouse cinema in Shinjuku founded in 1920, has an interesting line up of International films. Artistic, independent, wide varieties of unique films.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month 1200 yen. Every Wednesday 1100 yen.
More info:Shinjuku Musashinokan
Shin Bungeiza’s highlights are ”Double feature” and “Cheering” movie showing. ”Double feature” is 二本立て(nihondate), with 1 ticket you can sit through a double feature at the movie theatre.
“Cheering” movie showing is called 応援上映(ouen-jouei) that means you can cheer and clap while you are watching a film. It’s even a norm to dress up in a cosplay costume and bring party poppers! Imagine, a music film or your favourite anime you are watching a big screen and cheering with friends!
Ticket price: 1450 yen for 2 films, the last film of the day 1000 yen.
More info:Shin Bungeiza
13.YEBISU GARDEN CINEMA
A cinema in Yebisu Garden Place which has a beautiful cafe with nice seating space and it also serves alcohol. Food like pizzas, omelettes and muffins are also available. You can even bring a wine glass to the theatre! Mainly Western independent films are screened.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month and Wednesday 1200 yen.
More info:YEBISU GARDEN CINEMA
14.Cine Switch Ginza
An elegant and stylish arthouse theatre in Ginza and perfect for the refined aesthete, while still being available at an incredibly affordable price. It has shown select works of European, American, Asian and national films. Generously, they allow you to bring your own snacks and drinks.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month 1200 yen. Every Fridays (only women) 950 yen.
More info:Cine Switch Ginza
A classic cinema since 1955. This theater also offers a 二本立て ”Double feature” ticket system. Free blanket and cushions as well as child seats are available in this historic theatre.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month 1100 yen, the last film of the day 1000 yen.
More info:Meguro Cinema
An independent cinema in Iidabashi shows double features. A bit old and small cinema but a great selection from classic Japanese films to blockbuster dramas.
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month and the last film of the day are 1000 yen.
More info:Ginrei Hall
17.Cinema Laputa Asagaya
Laputa Asagaya is one of the last of the old guards, showing classical Japanese films (without subtitles). If you are interested in black-and-white Japanese films from the 1950’s and 1960’s, this is the place. The theatre has only 50 seats, making it one of the smallest cinemas on our list, but it is famous for its architecture. If you know the Studio Ghibli movie “Castle in the Sky” you might recognize its influence in Laputa.
More info: Cinema Laputa Asagaya
Jinbocho is truly the last man standing when it comes to classic Japanese cinema. This theatre Only shows Japanese classic, silent films and some older anime like Doraemon. This is a great way to enjoy Japanese cinema without much trouble. Even without English subtitles, silent films can be enjoyed by all!
Discount tip: Every 1 of the month and Wednesdays are 1000 yen.
More info:Jinbocho Theater
In accordance with the reputation of the area, Shimokitazawa is a funky, small theatre specializing in short films, new independent films (mostly Japanese) and foreign animes. Shimokitazawa is well known for vintage shops, vinyl records and cafes, and is a lovely area to stroll along while you wait for your movie to start.
More info:Shimokitazawa Tollywood
Chance to watch Japanese movies with English subtitles
Generally, interesting cinemas in Tokyo don’t have English subtitles for Japanese films. Most of the time, you’ll only find such films at events like a film festival.
If you are staying in Tokyo in the fall, you have an excellent chance to learn more about Japanese films! The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is held annually from the end of October to the beginning of November. The festival shows a vast variety of international films with Japanese subtitles and Japanese films with English subtitles.
Tickets sales usually start from early October, ticket prices run around 1300 to 2600 yen, students 500 to 2100 yen. If you are lucky, you could see some movie stars and directors!
To find other movie events and get a ticket online, Tokyo filmgoer website (https://tokyofilmgoer.com) is helping you to get useful information.
Since Japan has plenty of rainy days, watching a movie in Tokyo at a movie theatre seems like a perfect plan! Find your favorite cinema and share with us your experience. Follow us at Expat Japan Life for more articles about Japan. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for blog updates and information about living in Tokyo!