The first ‘Babel‘ scenes in Japan don’t start till 19 mins have passed and its then that we see Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) playing volleyball on court in a school match. That was filmed at Ishioka City Centre Gymnasium (3-34-1 Minamidai Ishiokashi, Ibaragi-ken 315-0035) which is all the way up in Fukishima prefecture and as much as I enjoy hunting down these shooting locations there is no way I am going that far just for a photo!
Perhaps the main Japan location used in ‘Babel‘ was J-Pop Cafe (22 mins) in Shibuya at 31-2 Udagawacho on the seventh floor. I still haven’t been properly inside the place as I don’t want to pay so much money on an entrance fee. I’m not so sure but it seems from poking my head into the place that its not such a schoolkid hangout as portrayed in the film but is instead a bit more sophisticated. It appeared that way but what the hell do I really know when I only saw a bit of the place which is actually divided into three areas.
Tsuchiya Dental Surgery (below) is close to exit 1 of Kojimachi station and is where the confused schoolgirl has a dental appointment (43 mins) and even tries to kiss the dentist as he leans over her doing his job. This can be found at 1-4-12 Chiyoda-Ku.
There is fairly lengthy scene filmed in a park (62 mins) where Chieko and her deaf mates meet some guys and splash around having fun in the water fountains. That park is sadly no more not that it ever was what I call a park; not a blade of grass and just a small concrete area located beneath an overpass in Nishi-Azabu. The girls cross the road (lower left) and walk through the tunnel entrance seen below left and over my left shoulder in the photo below right. The tunnel can also be seen over the same shoulder of the actor talking to Chieko in the screenshot below right. In this park the girls meet the boys and the film-makers make the place seem way more interesting than it ever was.
Following the park they take a train to Shibuya and on 66 mins we see the inevitable appearance of the chaotic Shibuya Crossing (below) and Center Gai which stems off from it.
They end up in ‘Womb’ nightclub (below) on 67 mins which is situated in Shibuya in the middle of the love hotel area. The address is Maruyamacho 2-16 and its here that Chieko and friends dance to ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire albeit the Shinichi Osawa remix.