The 12 Best Documentaries About Tokyo

Dec 8, 2023 | Best Of, Geography

Discover the secrets of Tokyo through ten of the best documentaries about this vibrant city. From its cutting-edge architecture to its historical neighborhoods, discover a side of Japan that few outsiders get to experience. Whether it’s an exploration of traditional culture or a journey into modern fashion trends, these films will let you explore Tokyo like never before. So grab your popcorn, settle in and get ready to be transported into the heart of a city like no other. From the past to the present, explore Tokyo through these captivating documentaries.


1. Tokyo Noise (2002 Documentary)

Explore the roar of Tokyo in this unique documentary! Dive deep into the bustling urban jungle, as you immerse yourself in an enlightening journey. Witness a remarkable view of Japan’s capital through interviews with renowned photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, game designer Shono, musician Mayuko Hino and more. Discover fascinating topics such as robotics, shintoism, “love hotels” and a photoclub devoted to the iconic Mount Fuji. Get ready to embark on a fascinating experience as you explore Tokyo and its unique culture! The documentary captures the essence of life in Japan’s largest city, exploring vibrant themes such as robotics and shintoism.

2. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown | Tokyo | S02 E07

Anthony Bourdain, the globetrotting chef and storyteller, travels to Tokyo in search of its hidden depths and mysterious underground. His journey takes him through a land of paradoxes – where traditional values of conformity and dedication coexist alongside unique subcultures. Throughout his exploration, he encounters some of Japan’s most renowned sushi chefs such as Yasuda, whose craftsmanship has created an international reputation. Exploring the city through its dark and unusual lens, Bourdain explores Tokyo’s secret side and discovers that Japan offers much more than what meets the eye.


3. World’s Busiest Station: Shinjuku Station Tokyo

The world’s busiest station, Shinjuku Station Tokyo, is the hub for incredible precision and disciplined organization. From the staff to the 3.6 million customers that pass through daily, everyone works together in perfect harmony – with a smile on their faces. This documentary takes a deep dive into this remarkable feat of modern engineering and shows what it takes to keep the station running smoothly. From the intricate network of train lines and platforms, to the untold stories from its passengers, this film truly captures the magic of Shinjuku Station Tokyo and offers viewers a unique glimpse into one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks.


4. Imperial House of Japan: Tokyo – The New Capital

Embark on a journey through the ages and explore how Japan’s storied Imperial House has shaped the country’s culture, national identity and tumultuous history for over 3000 years. From legendary founding Emperor, Jimmu, to current ruler, Naruhito of the Chrysanthemum Throne, follow this extraordinary dynasty’s historical progression as one of the oldest continuous hereditary monarchies in the world. Journey to the sacred home of this Imperial House, Tokyo, and discover how this modern metropolis is firmly rooted in its past while embracing the future.

5. Tokyo’s Fateful Sarin Gas Attack in 1995

It was March 20, 1995. Tokyo’s commuters were going about their daily routines, unaware of the tragedy that was about to unfold. Suddenly, passengers aboard the subway were overcome with a choking sensation – sarin gas had been released in the station, and many people began to pass out from its toxicity. The perpetrators were members of an obscure new religion, who believed that by killing all of humanity they could save mankind. The attack was an attempt to bring their beliefs into the public consciousness and spark a revolution. As news of this tragedy spread throughout Tokyo, it caused a deep shock in the city – one that has not been forgotten even today.

6. Rise of Tokyo in Color – World’s Largest City: Tokyo, Japan

Standing tall like a giant of industry, Tokyo is the largest city in the world. For over 150 years it has grown and evolved from a small town of wooden buildings to a sprawling metropolis. The journey to modernization wasn’t linear however with an earthquake and bombings along the way bringing destruction and heartache. But Tokyo rose from these ashes like a phoenix – bigger and more incredible than ever before. Rise of Tokyo in Color is a digital documentary that charts this fascinating transformation using rare, colorized archival footage to bring the story to life like never before.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B