As part of Movie City Tokyo, FilmInFocus looks at a list of 10 diverse movies shot in Japan’s capital by Western filmmakers.
Slide 5: You Only Live Twice (1967)
The fifth James Bond movie took the action to Japan, where 007 sets out to get to the bottom of a scheme perpetrated by Japanese terrorists exploiting Cold War tensions by playing the Soviets and the U.S. off each other. Ian Fleming went on an extensive research trip to Japan before writing the 1964 novel, but Roald Dahl – on his first screenwriting assignment – threw out almost everything bar the title. As ever with Bond, the national stereotypes are somewhat labored, so featured prominently here are samurai swords, karate and sumo wrestling, with a memorable sumo scene shot at Ryogoku Memorial Hall, the sport’s national venue. Ironically, filming in Japan may have been too much for Bond – or at least for Sean Connery, who decided he was done with playing the secret agent. While filming You Only Live Twice, Connery was dogged by journalists, with the Japanese press corps insisting on calling him James Bond. The final straw appears to have been an incident in which Connery was photographed in a public toilet, and then the picture published in a Tokyo daily. During filming, Connery declared he was to step down as 007.