I am excited to present the second part in the series Lost In Translation's Tokyo in which our lovely editor-at-large Vivian Morelli relates her experiences as she explores the areas of the Japanese city that inspired the film by Sofia Coppola. Thank you so much for sharing your unique perspective with us, Vivian!
Lost In Translation's Tokyo: Shibuya
By Vivian Morelli
The busy and bright neighborhood of Shibuya in Tokyo features predominantly in Lost in Translation, and Sofia Coppola manages to capture the very essence of everything that is Shibuya: the crowds, the neon lights, the music blaring, the traffic, and more crowds of people crossing the infamous Shibuya crossing.
Shibuya is the trendy, young neighborhood of Tokyo where everything happens: nightclubs, restaurants, bars, cafés, enough shopping to make your head spin, and game centers. In the film, Charlotte can be seen curiously observing a group of teenagers in one of these centers playing different video games, such as the popular Taiko drumming and guitar games.
An important scene was shot right at Shibuya crossing, where the character played by Scarlett Johansson makes her way across the street, lost in a sea of people and clear plastic umbrellas. I find this scene so beautiful and so typically Tokyo. Shibuya crossing is the busiest intersection in the world as a matter of fact: once the light turns green, people from four directions go across the scramble. Three large television screens mounted on nearby buildings overlook the crossing, constantly blasting images and sounds. Shibuya never sleeps... although shortly after the March 2011 earthquake, it was kept dark for a few months in order to save much needed energy.
The massive Starbucks overlooking Shibuya crossing is also the busiest in the world and has the quickest service I've ever experienced. Incidentally, you can only order drinks in one size (tall), which is meant to accelerate production and serve thousands of customers in a timely manner. The second floor of this Starbucks offers a gorgeous view of the whole Shibuya crossing phenomenon. The floor is always crowded with tourists trying to take snapshots of the intersection (hey, I've been there before!), but Starbucks staff strictly regulate and forbid any photo opportunities. I have managed to sneakily take many pictures, after some practice...
Fun fact: Sofia Coppola and a small crew discreetly filmed footage of Shibuya crossing from that very same Starbucks. Sofia stated in the LIT documentary that she felt worried the whole time about getting caught, but it all went smoothly. She also mentioned that shooting the Shibuya crossing scene with Scarlett in the crowd (and rain!), caused her a great deal of stress, but once again they managed to do it without any problems.
And lastly, in the first scene, where the character of Bill Murray is riding in a taxi and suddenly awakens to the sensory overload surrounding him, he is in Shibuya. That particular scene completely mesmerized me when I initially watched the film: to me, this was Tokyo in a nutshell and I knew I wanted to go there. And it perfectly represents Tokyo, with the sounds and people.
Shibuya has now become a daily occurrence in my life, as I cross the infamous scramble every single morning, but the energy of Shibuya never ceases to captivate me, and I'm as wide-eyed as I was when I first saw the movie.
Lost in Translation film stills © 2003 Lost in Translation Inc. All Rights Reserved.