Tokyo Vice—the TV series inspired by the Jake Adelstein book—was shot in Tokyo over 2020/21. Set in 1999, the series uses locations that are evocative of late 90s Tokyo. While the interiors of the hostess club, the police station, and the offices of the fictional Meicho Shinbun were likely shot on sound stages, most of the other locations featured in the film are real and you can visit them.
In order of appearance, we present the real-life locations of Tokyo Vice.
** Warning: Minor spoilers ahead **
1. Hijiri Bridge, Ochanomizu, Episode 1
The opening scene of Tokyo Vice sees a man, crumpled against the side of this bridge with a sword protruding from his chest. Hijiribashi is actually one of Tokyo’s most popular trainspotting locations, so a body left here would not remain unnoticed for very long! The director of the show carefully timed their shot to ensure that there were older train models running on the nearby Marunouchi Subway Line and Chuo Line. The newer model—like the one in our photo—would have been a giveaway.
2. Chiyoda Inari Shrine, Episode 1
The memorable self-imolation scene was shot right in front of this shrine. It’s not a notable shrine in any way, but it is typical of downtown shrines in Tokyo.
3. Toranomon Okura Hotel, Episode 2
The character of Jake (played by Ansel Elgort) accompanies Detective Katagiri (played by Ken Watanabe) through an ornate hotel lobby. This is supposed to be the lobby of the Okura Hotel, an iconic 60s hotel that was demolished in the 2010s. However, the decor of the lobby was recreated when the replacement Okura Hotel Tokyo was built. If you visit today, it will be more like going back to 1969 than 1999.
4. Ikebukuro Mikado Game Center, Episode 2
Sato (played by Show Kasamatsu) visits a game center for a shake down. For this, the producers chose a retro-arcade that luckily doesn’t have any post-1999 game machines.
5. Don Quijote Kabukicho branch, Episode 2
The Don Quijote store on the corner of Yasukuni Dōri avenue and Kabukicho’s “Godzilla Road” is an icon of the area. The store is popular with international visitors picking up Tenga as a hilarious gift for friends back home. The store itself is actually quite small. It also probably wasn’t there in 1999 as Don Quijote started expanding rapidly from its first store near Nishi-Kasai in the early 2000s.
6. A Depachika, Episode 3
When Jake goes to buy Detective Katagiri an expensive melon before visiting his house, he visits a depachika—a department store basement. These are filled with food, packaged gifts, bakeries, bottled drinks and a lot more gourmet options. We’re not sure exactlly which depachika this is, but most offer a very similar experience.
7. Golden Gai, Episode 3
When Jake and his colleagues Trendy and Tin Tin go out drinking, they meet up at a bar in Golden Gai—a well known warren of tiny drinking spots near Kabukicho.
8. Shinjuku Batting Center, Episode 3
After that, they move on to the Shinjuku Batting Center—one of two such facilities in Kabukicho—to hit baseballs. You can also test the speed of your throwing arm, which is a guaranteed route to shoulder injury for anyone who has been drinking and hasn’t thrown a baseball for more than a decade.
9. Happo-en Garden, Episode 4
When Jake is kidnapped and taken to the Yakuza boss’s house, the garden outside looks like Happo-en to us. It’s at night though, so we could be wrong on this.
10. Atago Shrine Stairs, Episode 6
The stairs that Polina and Jake run up in episode 6 lead to Atago Jinja. The stairs are really, really steep, so running up them at night while pretending to be drunk would have been quite hazardous.
11. Maruyamacho—Love Hotel Hill, Episode 7
Jake emerges from a love hotel and bumps into an old college friend. This is the infamous Love Hotel Hill area of Shibuya. In recent years, this has been a popular area for unsuspecting international visitors to book Airbnb accommodation.
12. Roppongi nightclub, Episode 7
The place where Jake and his college friend hang out is likely a sound stage, but it’s probably a version of the notorious pick-up spot Gas Panic in Roppongi, which closed its doors in 2011. Although Gas Panic is long gone, you can still visit plenty of clubs in the same neighborhood.
13. Benkei Bridge, Episode 8
When Detectives Katagiri and Miyamoto leave the Shinjuku Police Station for a chat, they magically appear across the other side of the city in Akasaka. Benkei-bashi spans a pond where locals fish and tourists struggle to look competent in row-boats.
14. Park Hyatt, Episode 8
Based on the absence of tall buildings visible from the window, we’re guessing that the Tozawa-gumi office is actually a suite in the Park Hyatt—made famous by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in the film Lost in Translation.
15. Tokyo Rainbow Bridge, Episode 8
There is a scene with Detective Katagiri driving near Tokyo Bay. In the distance the distinctive Rainbow Bridge can be seen. The brdge spans the lower reaches of the Sumida River, connecting downtown Tokyo with the Odaiba neighborhood.
For more on Tokyo Vice, so our articles Things that Tokyo Vice gets Right and Wrong about Tokyo and Jake Adelstein’s (Remnants of) Tokyo Vice.