From train to tree: Golden Gai, Toden streetcar, and Shinjuku Promenade Park

Whenever I watch an old Japanese film, I see all these terrific scenes of old Tokyo and just have to know where they were filmed. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times it isn’t. The other day I was watching a compelling yakuza movie,「無頼」より 大幹部 Burai yori daikanbu (1968), aka Outlaw: Gangster VIP. It stars Tetsuya Watari 渡 哲也, the handsome and tough-looking actor who starred in the cult-classic, Tokyo Drifter 東京流れ者 (1966).

Here’s one of the scenes that made me stop and take a screenshot. Spot “A” (map):

Would you believe that now it looks something like this:

What we see today is Shinjuku Esplanade Park 「新宿遊歩道公園四季の道」, a green “S” that cuts through the drab Shinjuku cityscape. It was built in 1974 following the removal of the Toden streetcar that stopped running here in 1970.[1] To the east of this path is Golden Gai 新宿ゴールデン街, that rectangle of tiny old bars on the eastern edge of Kabukicho 歌舞伎町.

Here’s a map of the area, showing a segment of the former streetcar:

Here are some helpful blogs on this topic:

And here are three interesting comparisons between the 1968 film and today:

Movie scene (1): bad men walking 

In this scene, train tracks are in the foreground. A group of men emerge from the Golden Gai bar district. I’ve outlined the awning of a bar that will appear in a subsequent photo.

Comparison: We stand on the tracks, facing north. The photo was taken in 1970[2] , by which date the train is no longer in-service. Golden Gai is to the right. An 11-story building is dead-ahead at the back of the picture. To the left is an arch that presumably served the same purpose that it does today: announce the entrance/exit of Golden Gai. A clump of trees can be seen in the front, left of the photo. I’ve outlined the black awning of the bar seen in the still from the movie.

Next we see an aerial photo from 1968[3] ; the train’s curve is clear from this angle. Next is an aerial view from today, showing that the streetcar path has been completely obscured by trees.

From the ground, this is what you would see when facing north and south.[4]

Movie scene (2): tracks

Here’s another scene from the film, similar to the one that opened this post.

Comparison: The streetcar was still running in the following picture from 1969. The buildings on the right of the picture match the buildings from the film. The photo also provides additional information about the location; to the right (west) is the Shinjuku Ward Office (map). Straight ahead is the 井 sign, which is probably for the Marui Shinjuku building 丸井 新宿. (These are not visible in the scene from the film due to a different camera angle).

Move scene (3): Running man

This scene starts near the northern end of Golden Gai, then follows the tracks as they progress east/northeast. Here’s the scene:

Here’s a contemporary photo from 1967 (source):

And the film scene, annotated to match the 1967 photo:

And the same scene from 2016:

A parting shot:

To finish, here’s an early-morning scene from the film, facing the Shinjuku Station area. This scene was shot from a building at this location: map. I’ve noted some of the landmarks that have been mentioned earlier in this post.

Reference Map:



  • 廃線 = Waste line
  • 東京都電車(とうきょうとでんしゃ) Tōkyōto densha, referred to as 都電(とでん), aka Toden. In English this can be referred to as ‘streetcar’, ‘tram’, or simply ‘Toden’.

See also:

Golden Gai:


Shinjuku Ward Office:

  • 新宿区役所 (Shinjuku Ward Office) (panoramio)

Flare tower

Golden Gai map, 1979;




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