In anticipation of ‘Fast 9‘, the ninth film in the ‘Fast & the Furious‘ saga (or the tenth if you include the ‘Hobbs & Shaw‘ spin-off from last year!) I decided to re-watch them all as I really couldn’t remember much from the first four in particular. No sooner had I begun my mission and Coronavirus came along to put the release date back another year. Despite the postponement I decided to continue watching them all anyway.
The third instalment, known as ‘The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift‘ (2006), was quite possibly the first film I saw in this franchise as I watched it in 2011 for the long running films ‘set’ in Japan feature on this site. It may be the one I rank the lowest but re-watching it earlier last year did renew my interest in trying to track down some of it’s fairly limited “real” Tokyo filming locations. Now it should be stressed that the majority of this movie was shot in the USA with heavy use of studio sets and CGI.
Japan is seen for the first time on 12 minutes as Sean (Lucas Black) arrives at the airport and is then in a taxi going through Scramble Crossing (below) in Shibuya.
Chuo-dori Avenue in Ginza (below) is then seen a split second later as the two places are blended seamlessly using movie magic.
Sean then gets out of the taxi at his dad’s apartment (below) which is on a quiet backstreet of the Azaba-juban district. The whole area has been transformed since filming took place so it’s not really recognisable at all. It is later seen in daylight on 45 and 81 minutes respectively but I left empty handed after wandering around block 10 of Mita 1-chome. 15 years is a long time so it`s no surprise that the area has changed so much.
When Sean wakes up on 15 minutes, this bridge view in Azabujuban 4-5-1 (below) can be briefly seen.
Many international productions tend to shoot a scene or two at Shibuya`s Scramble Crossing and this film is no exception as Sean makes his way to school in a way which makes no sense geographically given where he resides.
The garage which Sean and Bow Wow`s character are outside on 19 minutes looks to me like one of the backstreets towards the end of Center Gai but it`s America again!
The `Wadakura High School` entrance seen on 16 and 33 minutes appears to be a studio shot. Han (Sung Kang) picks Sean up here in his flash car on the second occasion.
The sento (bathhouse) which Sean goes in to on 34 minutes whilst Han waits outside appears to be somewhere in Kyojima according to the green sign above the latter`s shoulder in one of the screengrabs below. I went to this area last year and walked around for a bit but found nothing that remotely resembled what I saw on screen.
The bright pink Botan Pachinko parlour with the phone box outside it, which first appears on 36 minutes, is not a real Japan location but was just filmed at Universal Studios in California.
The rooftop aerial shots around the 48 minute mark are Adidas Futsal Park Shibuya.
That is next to Tokyu Plaza Shibuya (1-2-3 Shibuya-ku) at Hachiko Square but the buildings don`t quite match up. It`s been said that this is actually Hawthorne Plaza (12124 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne) in California.
The overly crowded Takeshita Dori shopping street in Harajuku appears on 52 minutes.
It seems like those shots have been mixed with some taken at either Kabukicho in Shinjuku or Center Gai in Shibuya. What do you think?
Sean and Neela appear to have a date at a vending machine service station on 56 minutes. They use chopsticks to eat meat spaghetti but I have no idea where this is. My guess would be the studios back in the States but as with many of these locales, I`m not confident!
It’s the classic shot of Yasukuni dori in Shinjuku (below) on 69 minutes which has featured in so many movies and TV programmes over the years and I guess it’s become the classic shot (alongside Shibuya crossing) of the neon lights of Tokyo really hitting the foreigner visiting these shores. In reality though these scenes were faked.
It`s on to Shibuya in no time at all (70 minutes) for the finale which is blatantly CGI. The intersection is really Wilshire Boulevard between Grand Avenue and Flower Street, in the heart of Downtown LA.
The Metro station scene on 72 minutes was done back in the States. The guide board is very similar to real ones, and it`s difficult to make out the station names in kanji, but it does seem like it`s non-sensical and doesn`t match reality.
Despite the neon dressing, much of this movie was shot back in the U.S. and I`d guess that only the Azabu-juban and Harajuku ones are real. Please let me know in the comments if you know any better or tweet me. @tokyofox
Click here to read ‘London Filming Locations: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)’
Click here to read ‘London Filming Locations: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)’
Click here to read `TF Top 10……Films To Feature “Japan” Very Briefly!`
Click here to read ‘Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’ (2006)’