Let me recollect the FIRST word in Japanese language that I have learnt in my life…. Well, I clearly remember that I was around 10-12 years old and the Doordarshan channel was playing the 1966 hit, bollywood movie LOVE IN TOKYO. The song SAYONARA SAYONARA introduced the first word for me, “Sayonara” which is the Japanese word for farewell. Ironic that the first word I learnt is FAREWELL, used mostly when you see off someone you are probably NEVER gonna meet again…
I move to Japan in 1998, and was working at an Indian insurance company New India Assurance which was based in Hibiya Park Building (the building is now no more). It is just a stones throw from the place where the song “Sayonara Sayonara” was partly filmed in addition to other location in and around central Tokyo. So much has changed in these past 50 years since the movie was shot here, but there are still those traces which can be found as “intact” even today. Here is a photo story of a things which I have tried to compare.
HIBIYA PARK : Lets start with the Hibiya Park place where the song was shot. The development around Hibiya Park with a few commercial buildings is easily visible, but the pelican fountain where Joy Mukherjee is walking by, still stands as is! The plants around, the railings and all is still so similar even 50 years from the 1966 time…. Wonder if they will be around for another 50 years… 🙂IMPERIAL PALACE TOKYO : This location was a difficult, but an interesting one. The Imperial Palace grounds are quite spread out and finding this was proving difficult. We located a volunteer (a senior citizen) on the palace grounds and I showed him the video on my iPhone. He gave me a queer look and said that this video must be very “old”. He explained that the building on the extreme right was the OLD Imperial Hotel which has since then been rebuilt and directed me to the present location. I was so happy to locate this one and the stone foundation patterns too match if you look closely.
HANEDA AIRPORT, TOKYO MONORAIL : Every major city sport a monorail kind of infrastructure in todays 21st century. My hometown Mumbai also has a monorail which made its debut a couple of years back. It must have been an awesome presence 50 years back when the Monorail on the backdrop of the Olympics was in operation. Nothing sort of a miracle then, the Monorail featured in the film and Asha Parekh and Joy Mukherjee can be seen in this shot, the bridge which has undergone maintenance over the years, but still stands today connecting the domestic terminals and the new international terminal too. I returned from London last month and instead of going back home, strolled around the airport to locate the venue and got it all RIGHT!
TOKYO TOWER AND ZOJOJI TEMPLE GROUNDS : This one did NOT need any searching. The Tokyo Tower and the Zojoji Temple grounds are easily recognizable and although the Tokyo Skytree has made its debut on the Tokyo skyline in 2011, the Tokyo Tower still remain popular and is on the must see list of visitors. The 333 feet structure inspired by the Eiffel Tower still stands tall and has various illuminations throughout the year.AKASAKA MITSUKE TRAFFIC SQUARE : One of the most striking comparison was the GREEN COVER of Tokyo. In 1966 and even today the Imperial Palace grounds are one of the green spots in the city although the green cover has reduced across the city five decades later. The expressway is getting old and the maintenance costs in a deflation economy of Japan are rising every year. The Japan of 1966 was “new” and “modern”. Hopefully the Olympics 2020 will reset the infrastructure and a modern new Tokyo will be ready in a couple of years time.
HIBIYA PARK AGAIN : Lets return to the Hibiya Park. A pond at the backside, which I discovered last week has a fountain that you can see between Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh. The present state, the statue has horribly rusted but still stands in the Japanese style pond at the Hibiya Park. The pelican trying to take off can be clearly seen.Just next to the fountain seen above, you can also see the resting place as below which also is still around in the garden.TOKYO STATION : Now this one’s hilarious… Have you seen the song “Le Gayi Dil Gudiya Japan ki”? At the start of the song Joy Mukherjee is seen carrying Asha in front of the Tokyo Station and he MERCILESSLY drops her to the ground near the footpath. MEAN, VERY MEAN…. Was it incidental, intended, we may never know, but he literally plonks her down. OUCH That must have hurt. The Tokyo Station area is under renovation for a couple of years now, and the front area is being rebuilt with the Olympics in view. Expect a lot of changes by 2018 here.GINZA NEON LEDs : Tokyo has always been about Neon lights at night. They have been the stereotypical image of the city built over the years and the Ginza shopping district lights have been captured in the movie too! NEC, Mitsubishi all popular brands feature in the movie. The cylindrical structure building in the ppular Ginza Square then sported Mitsubishi lights, which since a few years back now belong to the company, RICOH which has a gallery on the 10th floor in that building.UENO PARK : Ok, so here is a disclaimer. I am not 100% sure about this location. I have done endless investigation, I asked a store clerk at the Matsuzakaya Ueno Store which is visible in the 1966 movie. The logo on the extreme right is clearly visible and the store clerk “feels” that it is the location in Ueno. The 2016 snap is all new buildings and a very different Ueno downtown today. The Matsuzakaya Store on extreme right is hardly visible from this spot, but it still stands there today.UPDATE APRIL 2017 : The Midori no Rhythm (みどりのリズム像) Statue : Continuing the Ueno theme, do you see a statue of two girls holding hands in the 1966 version in the below snap? I wanted to check if this location was indeed Ueno and started to look at landmarks which can help me define if this was indeed the same location…. That statue is not longer around so I had to contend myself with the Matsuzakaya store sign. Its been nearly a year since I wrote this article, and I was strolling around Ueno yesterday enjoying the Cherry Blossoms (April 9, 2017). I have mostly forgotten about this article and as I passed the lanes of Ueno enjoying the flowers, at the backside of the Ueno Park, the statue of two girls holding hands came into sight, completely a BIG SURPRISE. I had tried so much to find more about this statue and had not succeeded an unplanned find!, just 400 meters from its original location. This corroborates my finding that the original location in 1966 film is indeed UENO PARK!!!Bollywood film, Love in Tokyo explored various locations in Tokyo and also Kyoto. I will post a Kyoto photo comparison soon. The movie set in the Olympic town of 1964 is set to again visit Olympics in 2020. So many memories this film has set for my generation and I can totally relate to all those locations in the city even today. Many more Bollywood films are being shot in Tokyo these days with Ranbir Kapoor’s Tamasha being the latest one. Hope more Bollywood hits are shot in Tokyo similarly to London which is by far the top most location to appear in Bollywood films. Westminster Square, Warren Street, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, even distant cities like Oxford all are on the Bollywood map…. and hopefully Tokyo gets more popular in the years ahead….