Sunday, April 22, 2007

Be Part of the Movie Set in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is one city that can often make you feel as if you are walking on a movie-set. You might imagine the director about to shout ‘cut’ at which point the extras who surround you, many of whom are dressed in bizarre outfits, will all scuttle away and the amazing set around you will be dismantled. It is, however, real and perhaps it is its ‘other-worldliness’ that has lead to it inspiring movies such as Blade Runner and being the location for Sofia Coppola’s more recent Oscar-winner Lost in Translation. One other recent blockbuster also took influences from the city, and more specifically, the Gonpachi restaurant on the edge of the Roppongi hills at Nishi-Azabu. That film was Kill Bill: Vol. 1 whose acclaimed director, Quentin Tarantino, apparently used the restaurant interior as a basis for the ‘House of Blue Leaves’ in his film where ‘The Bride’ (Uma Thurman), decked in a yellow motorcycle jumpsuit, ‘kicks arse’ in one of hell of a martial arts fight scene.

Although not actually filmed in Japan, the set was apparently constructed on a soundstage in Beijing, it is rumoured that Tarantino took inspiration for the scenes from the restaurant and held a wrap party there. More recently, the former Japanese premier, Junichiro Koizumi, entertained George W. Bush in this rather rustic-looking izakaya (Japanese bar or restaurant). It’s certainly atmospheric and retains a down-to-earth feel with diners welcomed vociferously by all the staff on arrival. You can sit at tables on the balcony level or around the central kitchen area where delicious yakitori (barbecue grilled skewers of meat or vegetables) are prepared. The Eringi mushrooms, Kuroge beef and bacon wrapped tomatoes were all cooked to perfection. Soba (buckwheat flour) noodles are another house speciality and suggested as a filler after you have sampled the various tapas-style offerings. The place gets busy so either get there around 6pm or book ahead.

You might not see Uma whooping it up in the flesh with Quentin but you can certainly recall images of her flying through the air and dispatching members of the underworld as you enjoy the food and atmosphere of the place without a yellow jumpsuit in sight!



1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu


Tokyo 106-0031


Tel: 03-5771-0180

Opening hours: 5pm – 2am

Credit cards accepted