Photo:Manish Prabhune on Flickr

Going to movies in Tokyo

Tokyo is a very diverse city with uncountable sightseeing destinations. Yet when it’s raining and cold outside, you might prefer something indoors. If shopping and dining have already showed you everything you wanted to try, then perhaps you would like to visit the local movie theatres. Especially if you are in Shinjuku and Godzilla is waiting for you right by the building of the Toho cinemas. It seems like entering another world of reality guided by the famous creature!

Shinjuku Toho Cinemas

Shinjuku Toho Cinemas

Photo: Manish Prabhune on Flickr

And no, you don’t need to worry about the language: foreign movies are not dubbed in Japan. So you can enjoy a Hollywood movie and practice reading Japanese from the sub titles. Win-win situation! There is one distinctive feature of movies here, they are generally featured much late than the worldwide release schedule. But then, if this is your favorite movie back home, why not watch it again?

Booking tickets is not that difficult at all, and you can easily do it over the internet. For example, the Shinjuku Toho Cinema is all in English. Unless it is a very-very popular movie, you can book right on the day you are planning to watch it. Conveniently, the site allows you to choose your seat. The prices are not cheap and depending on the movie, time of the day, etc. each ticket can cost around 2000 yen. You get a discount if you are a student, but females also enjoy special days, here Wednesdays, where the tickets have special prices.

Inside view of the theatre

Inside view of the theatre

Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr

Once you are at the cinema, all you need to do is to find the ticket machine. No need to wait in long queues. Simply input your booking number and the phone number that you had used to make the initial booking. The machine will then print out the ticket and you are ready to go.

The staff starts checking the ticket and allows you to enter the theatre and take your seat 15 minutes before the movie begins. While you are waiting, you can purchase some snacks. I know it’s annoying for some, but where else can you enjoy delicious sweet or salty popcorn? You can get both tastes in different sizes, medium or large.  And, of course, a soft drink.  You can also drink beer or wine, yes. If you buy all food together, you will be given a neat tray with holders for both popcorn and drink cups. And the tray can be easily placed on the handle of your seat.

Snacking popcorn.

Snacking popcorn.

Photo: CLF on Flickr

Seats in the movie theater are quite comfortable. If you need, you can also borrow a pillow at the entrance. For a 3D movie you will be given the glasses that you can keep. Generally, movie theatres are clean and people in Japan are polite not to make noise. Be prepared that the politeness also includes watching the entire movie until it finishes, which means not only the movie itself but ALL the credit captions at the end. Personally, I find it nice to give credit to all the people involved in the process of making a movie.

Have fun!

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