Lost in Translation: Where Was the Sofia Coppola Movie Filmed?

In the Sofia Coppola directorial, ‘Lost in Translation,’ Bill Murray portrays Bob Harris, an aged, lonely, and fading actor who goes through a midlife crisis when he travels all the way to Tokyo to promote a Japanese whiskey, Suntory. While he is in the metropolis to tape a commercial for the whiskey, he crosses paths in the hotel bar with another estranged American named Charlotte, a young woman who has come with her celebrity photographer husband.

Following the unlikely meeting between Bob and Charlotte, they start meeting frequently and forming a heartfelt and meaningful bond that changes their perspectives on life. The 2003 romantic comedy-drama movie features impressive onscreen performances by Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, Fumihiro Hayashi, and Catherine Lambert. The story unfolds in the brightly lit Tokyo Metropolis as Bob and Charlotte navigate their relationship and Tokyo.

Lost in Translation Filming Locations

‘Lost in Translation’ was filmed in Japan, especially in Tokyo, Kyoto, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka. According to reports, the Bill Murray starrer commenced in late September 2002 using a “run-and-gun” approach and lasted about 27 days as the shooting schedule wrapped up in November of the same year. Now, without further ado, let’s dive right into all the specific locations that appear in the romantic drama movie!

Tokyo, Japan

A prominent chunk of ‘Lost in Translation’ was lensed in Tokyo, the capital as well as the economic center of Japan. The production team set up camp in various neighborhoods and streets across the bustling Tokyo Metropolis. A few important scenes were shot in the Park Hyatt Tokyo, especially the New York Bar at 3-7-1-2 Park Hyatt Tokyo 52F in Shinjuku City’s Nishishinjuku. In the movie, Bob and Charlie visit various places across Shibuya City.

For instance, the karaoke parlor scene involving Bob, Charlotte, and some friends was recorded in Karaoke-kan at 150-0042 Tokyo in the district of Udagawacho. Moreover, Bob and Charlotte visit the sushi restaurant Sushiya no Ichikan and the shabu restaurant Shabu Zen in Kamiyamacho. Charlotte visits the Jogan-ji Temple at 2–26–6 Honcho in Nakano Ward. Furthermore, while the train station scene was taped in Omote-sando Station at the intersection of Avenue Omotesandō and Aoyama Street in Aoyama, Minato ward, the last goodbye kiss scene was recorded around 1 Chome Nishishinjuku in Shinjuku City.

A few key portions were filmed around the iconic Shibuya Crossing and the Rainbow Bridge in Minato, Tokyo. Interestingly, the production team completed most of the shooting on public streets and subways without securing any filming permits, relying entirely on city bystanders as extras. Regarding the challenges they faced in Tokyo while filming, the director Sofia Coppola was asked about the same in a February 2004 interview with Indie Wire.

Coppola revealed, “I think the biggest challenge was just working with our time frame (27 days) and our low budget. (She didn’t want to disclose the exact budget, saying only that it was ‘a couple of million dollars.’) Because the hotel had guests, the hours were just crazy. But having a mostly Japanese crew and not speaking Japanese was definitely complicated.”

Kyoto, Japan

Shooting of some important portions of ‘Lost in Translation’ also took place in Kyoto, the capital city of the eponymous Prefecture in Japan. The temple scene where Charlotte comes across the newlywed Japanese couple was shot in and around Nanzen-ji Temple at 86 Nanzenji Fukuchicho in Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward. A couple of other holy places where the production team set up camp for lensing a few key scenes for the movie are the Heian-Jingu Shrine at 97 Okazaki Nishitennocho in Sakyo Ward and Ryōan-ji Temple at 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho in Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward.

Other Locations in Japan

The director and her team also traveled to other locations across Japan for shooting purposes. Specifically, some pivotal sequences for ‘Lost in Translation’ were recorded in Kawaguchiko Country Club at 6236 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, in Yamanashi’s Minamitsuru District. In addition, the famous Mount Fuji appears in the backdrop of the scenes shot in the city of Fuji.

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