Laputa (4)

Usually all we look for in a theater is comfy seats, a decent sound system, and good movies. If you’re really picky, you might even seek out places with a beer menu, cheap tickets, or a unique schedule. Probably the last thing on your mind would the architecture of the building–but if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli, you’ll definitely want check out Laputa, a cinema in a building inspired by the legendary Castle in the Sky!

While there were once numerous cinemas throughout the local neighborhoods of Japan, they have mostly disappeared as giant cineplexes in malls have taken over. How you feel about that is probably largely dependent on how much you love small or niche films. If you’re happy with the blockbuster of the season, then the major cineplexes are awesome! If you prefer old school films from eras now gone by, then you probably miss the smaller theaters, each with their own unique character. Like Laputa Asagaya, a 50-seat theater in Tokyo that looks like something from of a Ghibli anime.


Located in Asagaya, a 10-minute train ride from Shinjuku, Laputa is a round, three-story building filled with greenery and winding staircases than could be best described as “awesome.” A slightly less romantic description would be that it looks like a giant bucket just dropped out of the sky.

▼A very cool bucket, but bucket-like nonetheless.

Laputa (17)

Laputa (18)

And, of course, it goes without saying that the theater’s name was taken from Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky–in fact the cinema started off exclusively showing anime films. Now, though, Laputa has changed its schedule to accommodate fans of older Japanese films, who have been left in the lurch as niche theaters disappear one by one. Part of that decision might also lie in the fact that theater still relies totally on actual film–they don’t have any digital projectors.

▼Hopefully the projectionists are fans of Fight Club

Laputa (15)

▼A model of the theater found inside the theater. Theater Inception!

Laputa (5)

As we mentioned, the theater isn’t just famous for its film schedule–it’s obviously also well-known for its creative architecture, which includes the long, winding staircases and bounty of greenery seen below.

▼One of the staircases…

Laputa (7)

▼And from a different point of view…

Laputa (6)

There is even a tiny pond and fish tank, matching the wooden theme, to create a sense of nature that you wouldn’t normally except to find in a movie theater, let alone on most city streets–though Tokyo certainly does have a ton of urban greenery and parks.

Laputa (10)

▼And we bet the fish won’t talk through the movie either.

Laputa (8)

The theater even has a small windmill on the roof. We’re not sure what they use it for, but we like to imagine it’s used to power the projector.

Laputa (14)

Laputa (13)

In addition to the wood-laden interior, the actual theater has stone walls that look like they were harvested directly from an ancient temple.

Laputa (12)

Though Laputa is primarily known as a theater, the establishment also has a restaurant and stage for live performances. As you might have expected, the restaurant is decorated to match the theme of Laputa; with lots of wood. Of course, the food, which is almost entirely handmade and filled with the healthiest ingredients the cooks can find, has received great reviews. The menu also changes often, so regular customers will have the opportunity to try new dishes.

Laputa (2)

Laputa (3)

And area with the stage for live performances, called Theater Samsa, is equally “woody,” with large bleachers. The hall regularly hosts performances, including dancing, theater, and music.

Laputa (1)

While Laputa isn’t quite the easiest theater to get to from central Tokyo, it certainly looks like it’s worth the trip for anyone who’s a fan of old Japanese cinema or just looking for a healthy meal in a beautiful atmosphere. And just imagine how surprised your friends will be when you tell them you went to Laputa!

Sources: Laputa, Naver Matome
Images: Tsuredzure no Nikki, Tokyo Ikairoku, MAST, Asagaya Navi, Golden Sharehouse, Itot, Nishimagomean, Tomomari Nikki2