The Best Arthouse Cinemas in Tokyo

Courtesy of National Film Centre
Courtesy of National Film Centre
Alicia Joy

Tokyo Writer

Whether you’re on the hunt for your favorite cult classic or the latest in contemporary arthouse cinema, we’ve rounded up the best revival houses in Tokyo.

1. Shin-Bungeiza

Theater

Shin-Bungeiza is beloved for its all-night screening events, which feature around five films back to back (usually rallying around a unifying theme) for just 3,000 yen (US$26) on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This independent theater screens a huge variety of movies from various genres and in various languages, from indie to mainstream, so those loyal to Shin-Bungeiza never get bored.

2. Ebisu Garden Cinema

Cinema, Theater

Ebisu Garden Cinema
© Dick Thomas Johnson/Flickr
After four years as a K-pop events hall, Ebisu Garden Cinema reopened in 2015 as one of Tokyo’s most prominent revival houses. This theater often screens arthouse flicks and independent documentaries, and doesn’t shy away from showcasing foreign talent. However, to keep the ticket sales coming, Ebisu Garden Cinema also features mainstream cinema, especially if it didn’t end up being appreciated by the mainstream in the first place.

3. Uplink

Cinema, Shop, Theater

Thirty-year-old indie cinema Uplink is located in Udagawacho, within walking distance of Shibuya Station. This independent theater includes a café and shop on the ground floor and a free gallery upstairs where local artists can exhibit their work. In addition to their typical theater setup with the large main screen, Uplink also has two smaller, cozier screening rooms.

4. Tollywood

Theater

Tollywood is the theater for short film fanatics. This revival house in hipster Shimokitazawa neighborhood specializes in indie shorts and the occasional full-length feature.

5. Theatre Image Forum

Theater

Theatre Image Forum in Shibuya specializes in independent films and documentaries, including those from abroad. Unlike small independent theaters that might play one or two features per day, Theatre Image Forum is great for drop-ins since they almost always have something scheduled from opening to closing.

6. Cinema Vera

Cinema, Theater

Cinema Vera is an independent theater in Shibuya’s lively Maruyamacho neighborhood. They screen dusty classics and little known masterpieces, especially those produced in Asia. Like many small theaters, one 3,000-yen (US$26) ticket generally buys you entrance to two or three features.

7. Waseda Shochiku

Theater

One of the oldest theaters in Tokyo, Waseda Shochiku is a small revival house run by students of the nearby Waseda University. It’s recommended for film-goers looking to see contemporary arthouse screenings, although they are known to play the occasional classic. English information is provided on their website.

8. National Film Center

Theater

Courtesy of National Film Centre
For history buffs, the National Film Center is the ideal choice. This theater focuses on preserving and reviving old films and documentaries, especially educational ones and those with some historical significance. English information available.

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