Videos of Tokyo from the 1950s to the 1980s!

Here is a look at the transformation of Tokyo from the postwar era of the 1950s to the modern day. During this period of time (the later half of the Showa period), many monumental achievements centered around Tokyo occurred including the completion of the tallest structure in Japan then (the Tokyo Tower), the launch of the first shinkansen (bullet train), and the hosting of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

You may notice from the videos however that some things don’t change!


Tokyo Station, Ginza and the beginnings of Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower was the tallest structure in Japan (only recently taken over by the Tokyo Sky Tree) and the tallest television broadcasting tower in the world then. A brief panorama of Tokyo can also be seen in this video.

View of the streets in both commercial and residential areas. Somewhere around the middle of the footage is a cameo appearance by Godzilla!

The Tokyo Union Church, The Tokyo Imperial Hotel and Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. You may spot Nakamise-dori and the rows of Japanese flags which are still featured today.


Train 724 between Takasaki and Tokyo used by students and commuters. You will notice that safety standards weren’t so high in those days.

Another train video but this features everyone’s favourite shinkansen! The Tokaido shinkansen between Osaka and Tokyo was launched in Oct 1964 just shortly before the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. The trains arrived on time and within 4 hours (previous train rides took almost 7 hours). What a way to show off your engineering skills to the world!

The opening ceremony of Tokyo Summer Olympics of 1964 with Emperor Showa declaring the start of the games. The was the first Olympics to feature partial colour telecasts (the 1968 Olympics is the first with full colour telecasts). This was also a historic moment for television broadcasting in the US as it was the first ever colour television program transmitted over satellite from overseas.

Documentary featuring a day in the life of a Japanese family in Tokyo in the mid 1960s. Some things which may look familiar are bicycles (duh!), the koban and queues at the train station.