This tale of three stories on three different continents intertwining with one another features Mexico, Morocco and Japan though it’s not till 19 minutes in that the latter features. It’s then that we see Chieko Wataya (Rinko Kikuchi) playing volleyball (below) on court in a school match. That was filmed at Ishioka City Centre Gymnasium which is all the way up in Fukishima prefecture and as much as I enjoy hunting down these shooting locations there is no way I am going that far just for a photo! For your information, the address is 3-34-1 Minamidai Ishiokashi, Ibaragi-ken 315-0035.
Perhaps the main Japan location used in ‘Babel‘ was J-Pop Cafe (22 minutes) in Shibuya at 31-2 Udagawacho on the seventh floor. I still haven’t been properly inside the place as I don’t want to pay so much money on an entrance fee. I’m not so sure but it seems from poking my head into the place that it’s not such a schoolkid hangout as portrayed in the film but is instead a bit more sophisticated. It appeared that way but what the hell do I really know when I only saw a bit of the place which is actually divided into three areas.
Tsuchiya Dental Surgery (below) is close to exit 1 of Kojimachi station and is where the confused schoolgirl has a dental appointment (43 minutes) and even tries to kiss the dentist as he leans over her doing his job. This can be found at 1-4-12 Hirakawacho in Chiyoda-Ku.
Next, there’s an aerial shot of Kachidoki Bridge (below) which was ripped up and spat out by Godzilla in the 1954 original.
Moments after that, Chieko is interviewed by two police officers in the lobby within the apartment block where she lives with her father, Yasujiro Wataya (Kōji Hashimoto a.k.a. Nobu from ‘Memoirs Of A Geisha‘) in Tsukuda. This sleepy little area is situated on reclaimed land, was formerly a small fisherman’s village over 300 years ago and today it lives very much in the shadows of its close neighbours Tsukiji and Tsukishima. The name of the building is The Crest Tower (below) and its address is 2-11-6 Tsukuda. It first appears on screen after 44 minutes and then again at the end of the film on 123 minutes.
Many, many thanks to Tim and David in the comments section for their help with pinpointing the exact location of this place. It should be noted that this tower block (below) is private property so behave with respect and discretion. I asked the staff in the lobby about the film but they really had no idea about it. They did of course know who Rinko Kikuchi was though!
The typical classic shot of Yasukuni dori in Shinjuku (below) is briefly seen on 62 minutes. It has featured in so many movies and TV programmes over the years such as ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013), ‘Godzilla‘ (2014), ‘Into The Sun‘ (2005) and many more. Why it’s shown I don’t really know as what follows is nowhere near this area!
There is fairly lengthy scene filmed in a park where Chieko and her deaf mates meet some guys and splash around having fun in the water fountains. That park is sadly no more not that it ever was what I call a park; not a blade of grass and just a small concrete area located beneath an overpass in Nishi-Azabu. The girls cross the road and walk through the tunnel entrance seen below. In this park the girls meet the boys and the film-makers make the place seem way more interesting than it ever was.
Following the park they take a train to Shibuya and on 66 minutes we see the inevitable appearance of the chaotic Shibuya Crossing (below) and Center Gai which stems off from it.
They end up in ‘Womb’ nightclub (below) on 67 minutes which is situated in Shibuya in the middle of the love hotel area. The address is Maruyamacho 2-16 and its here that Chieko and friends dance to ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire albeit the Shinichi Osawa remix.
For other Japan filming locations click on the links below:
You Only Live Twice Lost In Translation Kill Bill Godzilla Walk Don’t Run Into The Sun Monster Wasabi The Grudge Ju:On The Grudge The Ramen Girl The Toxic Avenger Pt II The Wolverine Memoirs Of A Geisha The Last Samurai