Look at this footage of the streets in Tokyo after WWII

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I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years, and agree that this shows a completely different city than the one I know.

But I am not too surprised: the same level of change has happened in just 15 years since I started visiting Nanning, in China.


I’ve been to Tokyo a half a dozen times and the city shown here is unrecognizable to me.

Come on, admit it. Even in six whole visits, you haven’t memorized every street in Tokyo.

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Take a look at the Japanese films of the 1950s like Kurosawa’s “Yomiuri Tenjin” or “Drunken Angel” and you’ll see the same kinds of things. Or “That Wonderful Sunday.” Or “Five Chimneys.” The devastation of WWII was visible for a very long time.

I first visited Japan in 1971 and found it to be very like the USA in the 1950s. When I next visited in 1984, it was completely changed.

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Anybody else think the singer sounds like Kate Bush?

Whoever was selling overcoats back then, must have been making a killing.

An overwhelmingly popular style choice.


Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire was filmed in (West) Berlin in 1987. The same astonishing transformation has occurred there. Nothing had been rebuilt since WWII at that point, so there are literally open fields in what is now the center of town.


The late 40s and 50s was something of a golden era for Japanese movies. Especially check out Ozu Yasujirou’s movies, many of which are available on Youtube in full. A recurring figure in his films is the hugely popular Setsuko Hara (who died a few months ago). Modern audiences might be more familiar with the animated paean to her, Millennium Actress. A good starting point would be Tokyo Story, in which an elderly couple visits their grown children who have moved to Tokyo. It’s an oddly compelling gem of a family drama, though not particularly dramatic, and in its gentle way says it’s ok if you don’t always live up to society’s ideals and parental expectations, we’re just human.

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Having seen Tokyo Joe I’m inclined to agree.

That opening shot is almost definitely the big street by Shinbashi station from the Uchisaiwaicho side. Second shot as well, at least one of those buildings is still there close to Uchisaiwaicho station. Next two shots are probably roughly in the same area moving towards Ginza. Cant place the riverbank shot but the following one you can clearly see a sign saying “Office of the Provost Marshal” which as far as I can tell was in Shinagawa. Possibly the riverside and warehouse shots are in the same area.

Next time you are coming to my town, let me know, I’ll show you where I figure these were shot. Oh and happy Chanukah!


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