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Hiroshima Cinemas

December 28, 2018

This is one of the best times of year to see a movie. Time off, cold weather outside, and a flotilla of holiday releases all clamoring for an audience. Luckily, Hiroshima is much friendlier to cinephiles than it is to English language readers. There are several large cineplexes, as well as a healthy choice of smaller, arthouse theaters to choose from.

For blockbuster releases, you may want to head to your local cineplex-style theater. There are several in the city, but my favorite is Wald 11, in the Fuchu district’s Aeon shopping mall. With eleven screens, there’s almost always something here worth seeing., even if there is nothing special about the theaters themselves. Wald 11 is a clean, modern and otherwise average cineplex, but there is often something comforting in that. The concession stand has everything you can reasonably ask for, and yet the floors are never sticky, which seems faintly miraculous.

Despite the number of screens, though, don’t wait to see anything you’re genuinely interested in, because turnover is brisk. One problem we’ve had in Hiroshima is that many children’s offerings are only made available in their dubbed versions. Outraged mothers have complained often enough that things are getting better (thanks all!), but a subtitled screening still isn’t something you can count on for family films. I loathe malls, but I loathe this one less than others, and my daughters always enjoy a wander around its three sprawling floors either before or after the show.

The Salon Cinemas and Hatchoza, across the street from one another, are all run by Hiroshima’s Johakyu corporation, which has gone to great lengths to preserve quality cinema in the city. The two Salon Cinemas sit on the top floor of the Tokyu Hands Building downtown, across the main street from Fukuya Department Store. They replaced the much-loved old location near Takanobashi, and are both more convenient and comfortable. Hatchoza is a virtual jewel box of a theater, at the top of the Fukuya building. 

The seating in all of these theaters is more comfortable than your sofa at home, designed by a local furniture company and including kotatsu seating at the rear of the Salon theaters. In the Salon Cinema lobby, the Pearl Cafe stands as a tribute to one of Hiroshima’s legendary ‘kissaten’ coffee houses, a longtime fixture near Hiroshima Station until it shut its doors several years back. Meanwhile, Hatchoza’s stunning interior was designed by the art director of the famous Japanese film ‘Shall We Dance,’ and you can enjoy a glass of wine with your movie. The screenings lean away from giant commercial releases and emphasize smaller films from Japan, Europe, and America, with occasional offerings from smaller film industries. If you love movies, you’ll want to check these theaters out at your earliest opportunity.

Finally, for a funky experience, you can head over to Yokogawa Cinema. One Japanese movie-buff acquaintance of mine recently told me that he loved this place as much for its smell as for the movies themselves, which probably says all you need to know. No, I’ll say more. The smell (and the famously uncomfortable seats) of this erstwhile…ahem…adult oriented… theater are long gone, after a renovation five years ago. Today, the cinema preserves something of its old down-at-heel atmosphere while focussing on a schedule of screenings that would be financial suicide for any cineplex. 

There’s not a lot in the way of foreign language films, but sometimes they’ll try something from abroad. Check the listings from time to time, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I saw Manchester by the Sea there and thoroughly enjoyed it.  They also do a lot of horror movies and small independent films, and regularly play host to a variety of film festivals. An old and well-loved theater, and another mecca for Hiroshima’s cinephile community. Try to drop by, and don’t miss the rest of the surrounding area either. It’s one of the last remaining districts of an older Hiroshima that is fast disappearing beneath apartment towers and shopping developments.

Additional Information

Wald 11

Address: 2-1-1 Osu  4F Aeon Mall Hiroshima Fuchu, Fuchu-cho, Aki-gun 735-0021

Access: 4th floor of the large Aeon Mall, east of Hiroshima Station.

Hours: Earliest showings generally from about 9:00. Check website for schedule.

Ticket prices: Adults 1800 yen, College/High School 1500 yen, Jr. High and Under 1000 yen

Telephone: 082-561-0600

Website: http://kinezo.jp/pc/wald11

Salon Cinemas 1 and 2

Address: 8F Toei Plaza Building,16-10 Hachobori, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi 730-0013

Access: Top floor of the Toei Building across from Fukuya Department Store, look for the Tokyu Hands sign.

Hours: Approximately 10:00 to 21:00. Check website for schedule.

Ticket prices: Adults 1800 yen, College 1500 yen, High School and Under 1000 yen

Telephone: 082-962-7772

Website: https://johakyu.co.jp/

Hatchoza Cinema

Address: 8F Fukuya Hatchobori Honten, Ebisu-cho 6-26, Naka-ku Hiroshima-shi, 730-0021

Access: 8th floor of Fukuya Department Store building, downtown.

Hours: Approximately 10:00 to 21:00. Check website for schedule.

Ticket prices: Adults 1800 yen, College 1500 yen, High School and Under 1000 yen

Telephone: 082-546-1158

Website: https://johakyu.co.jp/

Yokogawa Cinema

Address:  3 Chome-1-12 Yokogawachō, Nishi-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 733-0011

Access: Approximately 3 minutes walk east of Yokogawa Station, south of the tracks.

Hours: Earliest showings generally from 9:30. Check website for schedule.

Ticket prices: General 1700 yen, Couples 2200 yen, College 1500 yen, High School and Under 1000 yen

Telephone: 082 231-1001

Website: yokogawacinema.com

Image by: At by At [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

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