The rainy season seems to drag on forever here in Japan but a good way to pass the time is to go watch a movie. For those of you who haven’t seen a movie here yet, the digital picture and sound quality are top notch. The seats are clean and extremely comfortable. Hollywood movies are shown in English with Japanese subtitles, so you don’t need to worry about awkward dubbing.
The concession food is pricey; however, many people still do purchase popcorn, and the buttery smell that fills the room may have you running to buy a bucket, too. As for cultural differences, expect to sit with an eerily quiet audience (even during humorous scenes) and to stay in your seat until after the credits finish rolling.
TOHO Cinemas Discount Tickets
Ticket prices start at 1,800 yen, but there are opportunities each month to watch movies at a discounted rate! The public can watch movies for 1,100 yen every first and fourteenth of each month. Women have additional benefits; every Wednesday is Lady’s Day for 1,100 yen.
These discount days sell out quickly, so the best way to purchase is online with a credit card. The website has a few English translations, but knowing some Japanese will be necessary.
To order, go to the TOHO Cinemas website and choose your theater location. Pick the date, movie, and time. Next, choose your seats (I personally love having assigned seats in theaters). After, select the type of ticket you are purchasing (this part is in Japanese only): First Day (1st of the month), Cinema Day (the 14th), or Lady’s Day (which would be a Wednesday).
Now, it’s time for you to enter your information, which isn’t difficult, but for some reason the system only accepts your name written in Japanese (I write mine in Katakana). After you finish your purchase, save the confirmation number. On the day of your movie, instead of going to the box office to collect your tickets, go to the automated kiosk to print them out. Enter your confirmation number and telephone number, receive your tickets, and head to your theater door.
I watched Gravity (or Zero Gravity, as called in Japan) in 3D, and there was an additional fee, which I expected. But I was surprised that I had to purchase the 3D glasses (although, only 100 yen). The glasses are yours to keep and reuse for other 3D films.
I have heard complaints that Hollywood movies come to Japan late, but I haven’t found that to be the case for every movie. It’s true that Ted and Frozen took a while to hit the theaters here, but Les Miserables and Amazing Spiderman 2 were actually earlier than the US release. It really depends on the movie, so just check the TOHO Cinemas website to see what films are coming soon.
Another way to determine if a movie will be out is to watch Japanese variety shows, which do a lot of promotions. I have seen Hugh Jackman doing push ups and the cast of Spiderman playing ping pong on these random shows as they advertise their upcoming movies. What a great way to get excited about a film – to see familiar actors acting silly on these programs! Being able to watch the movie for only 1,000 yen is a pretty good reason to get excited, too!
TOHO CINEMAS Shibuya:
2-6-17 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0043
TOHO CINEMAS Roppongi Hills:
6-10-2 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-6190