The first time I heard about Toho Cinema’s 午前十時映画祭 (Gozen-jyuji-no-eigasai) I almost flipped out. I was in Umeda and noticed that Taxi Driver was among the list of films featured at the movie theater right next to the station. Taxi Driver, I thought, irritated. Oh no they didn’t, did they?
They remade Taxi Driver! Or maybe it’s just a really, really late release of that Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallen movie that tanked? We do get things late out here, and sometimes they change movie titles ever so slightly. I had to investigate.
I marched up to the ticket counter demanding to know the meaning of it all. The lady working there kindly informed me that the Taxi Driver posted outside the theater was indeed referring to Scorcese’s classic. “One ticket, please.” I said in response, immediately throwing all my responsibilities out of the window and deciding I had nothing better to do for the rest of the day.
Only later did I find out that Taxi Driver was just one of many classics playing in selected Toho Cinema theaters throughout Japan. Each theater plays one of fourteen films for two weeks and then moves on to another classic. They have been doing this for the last four years. This years titles include movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ben Hur, and 2001: A Space Odyssey and One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The only catch is that there are no evening shows, so you can only take advantage of this deal if you have the day off. If you do, don’t miss the chance to share the beauty of classical cinema with housewives, the unemployed, the elderly, and kaishain playing hookie and munching on popcorn. Besides, it is also one of the cheaper ways to go to the movies, a steal at only 1,000 yen a ticket (or 500 yen if you can convince them you are a student).
The theaters and showings change every year. For information on what’s playing and where, visit the Toho Cinema schedule page. Normally, there will be only one showing a day at 10 AM, though individual theaters may vary.