What you can see in “Cinema Town” – Chofu(near central Tokyo)

It is about 20 minutes by train from Shinjuku station in central Tokyo. Do you know that there is a town called “Cinema Town“?

Compared to the era when movies were the greatest entertainment for the common people, it is said that the Japanese movie industry is declining. However, in the era when film production was at its best prospered, Chofu city has been a town crowded with film industry to be once called “Oriental Hollywood”.

Although the number has been decreasing, a lot of video related enterprises gather in Chofu City, still making movies and raising movie culture importantly. They are engaged in making more evolved towns with the “Cinema town”.

This article introduces what to see in Chofu city especially for those who like movies and  are interested in sightseeing in Tokyo.

It is possible to visit enough if there is half a day from central Tokyo!! 

If you are in Tokyo on the date of Chofu fireworks display date, it will be much more wonderful.

Chofu became a new “movie town”

Chofu city is located in the central part of grand Tokyo, in the southeastern part of Tama district. It is outside of Tokyo’s 23 wards(mid Tokyo) most popular for tourists, but it is located in good access from cenral Tokyo ( Shinjuku station) for 15 to 20 minutes by train.

On the other hand, since the nature of the Tama River and Musashino area was well preserved, it was a favorable place for movie shooting. Its origins date back to 1933. A movie shooting station for the first time was established near the Tama River in Chofu.

Now, more than 40 movie and video companies are gathered in Chofu. For example, Kadokawa Daiei Studio, Nikkatsu Chofu film making Center, Takatsu Decorative Art, Toei Lab Tech, Tokyo Development Office etc.

Although Chofu lasted long as a gathering place of the movie industry, it is obliged to evolve as a new town with the era of digitalization. In the autumn of 2017, the redevelopment in front of the station ended, and the periphery of Chofu station was renewed. This picture is before and after.

▲In the 1950s around the Chofu station where the Japanese movie industry had reached its peak(Photo source : Local History museum )

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▲The new Chofu station front which was renewed in 2017.

“Chofu city sightseeing map” is very convenient to visit

I introduce one convenient goods when you come Chofu. It is a very useful map, because Chofu and the map of the surroundings is easy to see, a theme-based visit course was introduced.

You can get it at Chofu Tourist Information Center (Open: only at 9 o’clock – 16 o’clock on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays) in the South square on the ground from Chofu Station.

You can also obtain it at Chofu City Hall (Open: Mon-Fri at 9 o’clock – 17 o’clock)where will take about 5 minutes on foot from Chofu station.

In addition, you can download the map in English, Chinese and Korean from the following website.

https://csa.gr.jp.e.adt.hp.transer.com/contents/1887 (source: Chofu Tourist Navi)

“Chofu Cinema Festival” held in 2019

“Chofu Cinema Festival” is scheduled to be held for about 1 month from February 16, 2019 to March 10, 2019.

This is a festival taken over the “Chofu Film Festival” which has been on for the past 28 years. They are trying to raise the event by adding some new attempt.

Film screenings with guest talk, movie / video related exhibitions, workshops etc will be held in cooperation with the film enterprise companies.

The unique one will be the “Chofu Movie Prize” which will be selected by “Citizen and Film Engineer” both voting. It is the first attempt in Japan.

It will be decided by voting from Japanese movies that were first released for a fee at domestic cinema (commercial movie theater) from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018. (Selected works)

I personally expect that it will be an wonderful event.

They have not corresponded to a foreign language yet about the event website. I am expecting they will consider foreign language expressions in the near future.

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▲ Entrance of the cinema complex “Theatus Chofu” which opened in 2017.

Movie-related monuments and spots

Ornaments at the Chofu Station

Getting off at the station, the first thing you can see is the interior of the station. As stated as “the city of the movie”, decorations related to the movie are scattered a lot in the station.

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▲ The design of the movie equipments are decorated for destination guide. In recent years, video shooting has been digitized from the use of film, and now most will be digital production. Chofu has been treasuring the history of “old-fashioned film shooting” had been long time popular in movie industry.

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▲Interior decoration is arranged design with film such as pillar, guide board. For the young generation, these ornaments would not be familiar. They may think  “What is this pattern? What is film?”

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▲Here is also film ornament under the ticket vending machine. It is not just a film. These are arranged contemporaryly, feeling “evolution” with unique design.

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▲Symbols of movies “DAIMAJIN” and “GAMERA” between advertisements. Although it is an old movie ( more than 50 years ago), there will be many people who were born in 1940-1970’s.

These are the movie works produced by Kadokawa Daiei Studio (Kadokawa Daiei shooting center) located about 15 minutes on foot from Chofu Station.

Hand type monument with Japanese famous actors and actress. It was produced with cooperation of 60 actors and 4 famous film directors who made a great contribution at the Nikkatsu Chofu film making Center.

Chofu station area

▼ After leaving the ticket gate, there is a movie map that summarizes movie shooting stations and related facilities in Chofu city.

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▼ There is also a movie map here.

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▼“Theatus Chofu” Building which is Cinema Complex ‘s building (inside Trie Keio Chofu Building-C)

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Although it has been a cinema town, there used to be no movie theater in Chofu. However, in the autumn of 2017, Cinema Complex “Theatus Chofu” was open in the place of 2 – 3 minutes walk from the Station.

There are 11 movie theaters (screens) in the Cinema Complex, some are with 4 DX theater. 4DX is a bodily sensation type attraction theater where the seat moves and vibrates according to the scene, wind, water, fragrance etc come out during viewing.

There are 11 movie theaters (screens) in the cinema complex, but the 4 DX theater (some only) is noteworthy. The seat moves according to the scene, vibrates, wind, water, fragrance etc come out while watching, it is a sensory type attraction theater 4DX.

It is a next-generation movie theater that is said to change movies from “appreciating” things to “experiencing” ones.

Surroundings of Kadokawa Daiei Studio (place where the movie town was originated)

It is approximately 15 minutes on foot from Chofu Station. Or it’s 3-minute walk from Keio Tamagawa station (Keio Sagamihara line).

It is a nostalgic feeling place that makes you feel the remnants of the Showa’s Golden Age (1950’s-1960’s).It is not widely known worldwide, but in Japan a lot of pretty famous works were born from here.  many people born in the 1940s – 1960s knew about that age.

▲ In front of Kadokawa Daiei Studio. A monument built in commemoration of Chofu and movie relations in a small park. There are “Monument of movie actor” and “Monument of birth of Chofu movie” near Kadokawa Daiei Studio.

The former shooting center was quite large, and this park was a part of the site originally. Although it is an inconspicuous place, this is exactly the the place of  birth for the cinema town Chofu. This monument was built by the Chofu-city festival executive committee in 1993.

In the signboard it is explained as follows.

Water and green and finished air, this is an indispensable condition for the movie industry. In January, 1933, this land very close to Tama River was chosen as the best place, a Japanese film company was established, the Tama River studio was completed. Since then, in the middle of 1950’s, it had three photography stations, two photofinishers and an art decoration company.  Chofu was declared as the movie city called “Oriental Hollywood“.
However, with the change in the times, the film industry has been forced to retreat somewhat, but its originality and entertainment still has great expectations.

Kadokawa Daiei Studio

This is Kagawa Daiei Studio. What makes this place famous is the movie “DAIMAJIN”.

Perhaps there is American people who know this name. Because Kasuhiro Sasaki was a pitcher who played with Ichiro at Seattle Mariners in MLB in the 2000s. His nickname was DAIMAJIN. (Because the face is on)

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Here, do not you think it is the same ?

photo source : http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=sasakka01

At the entrance of the studio, statues of “DAIMAJIN(Angry god)” and “BUJIN(Gentle god)” will welcome you.

Roughly speaking the story of “DAIMAJIN”, long time ago, the ruler of the era acted wrongly to the good villagers. And even “BUJIN” who was worshiped as a GOD gave a terrible treatment, so he (BUJIN) changed his figure with strong anger to the ruler. He was fighted back.

In other words, the gentle appearance before transforming into a great devil is “BUJIN”.

Originally, a mild appearance BUJIN was destroyed, as a result of the strong anger of God, appearing and changing appearance is DAIMAJIN. DAIMAJIN appeared to get rid of evil people with anger.

Therefore, the face of the great devil is full of anger.

▲ This is a picture from the outside of the fence inside the premises of the studio. Currently, they do not have an internal sightseeing tour for the general public.

“Gamera” was also taken here. Gamera may not be known unless it is in the Showa era.

▲ A studio antenna shop “MAJIN”.Finally. A studio antenna shop “MAJIN”. Stationary items related to movies, sweets, T – shirts etc are on sale.

Open  from 10: 00 to 17: 00 on weekdays only (Mon-Fri). Please note that you can not enter on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

More about cinema town

Access (Chofu Station – Daiei Studio)

Kadokawa Daiei Studio
Tamagawa 6-1-1,Chofu City Tokyo
Car: Approximately 10 minutes from central high speed Chofu interchange (Shinjuku) direction exit.
Train: It is a 15 minute walk from Chofu station. It is a 2-minute walk from Keio Tama River Station Keio Sagamihara line.
Taxi: About 3 minutes from Chofu station on Keio Line.