Tokyo Friends

by Aprilis on August 4, 2006 · 123 comments · AddThis

Tokyo Friends

Tokyo Friends was released on June 8, 2005. Unlike many other Dorama, it was never aired on TV. Instead it was released as DVD; 3 DVDs to be exact. Volume one and two contained the first 4 episodes while volume three contained the last episode. Each episode is approximately 70 minutes long. A Tokyo Friends Premium Box was also released, which includes all 5 episodes, a bonus DVD and 12 postcards. Although this is a very typical Tokyo-story and was never aired on TV, it was quite successful, most probably because it was Otsuka Ai’s debut as an actress.


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This dorama is about four girls’ lives in Tokyo: Rei, Maki, Ryoko, and Hirono. These four girls all moved to Tokyo in search for their dream. They all met at a local pub called Yume no Kura, which roughly translate to “Dream Warehouse”. While the girls worked hard at night as part-time waitress in the pub, they spent the days searching for their dreams. While they try to fulfill their dreams, they also fall in love. Sadly, not all their love life ends “happily ever after”. But all is good, because the four of them will always have each other to share their happiness and sadness with.

The three watches as Kazuo's wife leaves. Keitaro questions his boring proper life.

The first episode starts off kind of slow. This is because it tries to introduce each of the main character briefly, while it focus on how Rei is adjusting to her new life in Tokyo. However, from the second episode onwards, things move more quickly as more characters are introduced.


The Characters

Otsuka Ai as Iwatsuki ReiOtsuka Ai as Iwatsuki Rei
Rei is the first character we meet. She is still living at home and works in the family business. One day after seeing a Tokyo commercial on TV, she finally decides to move there. She doesn’t have a real reason for wanting to go to Tokyo, maybe she’s tired of the fish village lifestyle she’s been having and wanted to make a change of her life once and for all.
After moving in with a friend and getting a part-time job at Yume no Kura, she begins searching for her dream. One night as she was trying to wake a drunken customer, she was suddenly offered a chance to become a vocalist of a band: Survival Company (also known as Sabakan).
At first, Rei isn’t sure if singing in a band is what she really wants. After a series of minor decisions, she decides that she will stick with the band. Along with the other members of Sabakan, Rei is working hard towards the band’s big debut.


Kobayashi Mao as Abiko MakiKobayashi Mao as Abiko Maki
Maki is a university student majoring in arts. She once told Rei that she is majoring in arts because it is the only thing she is good at. The many drawings that you see in the pub are done by Maki.
Maki never clearly stated her dream. Even when she does tell us what she wants, it always seems to be changing. But one thing remains constant with Maki’s dream: it always has something to do with art.
As Maki is ready to make another big change, she begins to question her love for art. She even questions herself, as to why she paints at all.


Maki Yoko as Fujiki RyokoMaki Yoko as Fujiki Ryoko
Ryoko is an office lady (OL) and a regular customer at Yume no Kura. There are a lot of times when she’ll hang around the pub until closing. Her dream is to find a financially secured man and get marry. This is why she is always seen with a different man at the pub and is very knowledgeable about men.
Eventually, Ryoko’s bad habit gets her into trouble: she is caught having an affair with one of her co-worker and this gets her fired. While looking for another job, Yume no Kura’s owner asks Ryoko to temporarily help out in the pub.
Rei can’t stand Ryoko living her life this way, and questions her uncaring and casual behaviour towards men. While Ryoko couldn’t care less about what Rei or anyone else thinks of her, it seems there is more to Ryoko’s story than what meets the eyes.


Matsumoto Rio as Hayama HironoMatsumoto Rio as Hayama Hirono
We don’t meet Hirono until the end of the first episode. She has left her home town and just arrived in Tokyo. She saw the “help wanted” sign for Yume no Kura, and decided to apply. Hirono’s dream is to become a great actress. But not just any actress; she wants to perform in plays that she wrote herself.
Besides wanting to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress, there’s another reason why Hirono came to Tokyo. In high school, there was this senpai (an upper classmate) she really admired. Actually, more like a crush. She heard the senpai came to Tokyo and thus decided to try her luck there. The other girls often tease her about her relationship with the senpai, and always urge her to give him a call.
As luck would have it, it turns out that the senpai is also a regular customer at Yume no Kura. The senpai is happy to see her, and he even invites her to join his theatre troupe.


Eita as Shintani RyuujiEita as Shintani Ryuuji
Ryuuji is the lead guitarist of Sabakan. He is the one that writes and composes all of the band’s songs.
After hearing Rei’s singing, Ryuuji decided to make Rei as the band’s lead vocalist. Although the other member and Rei objected to this suggestion, Ryuuji convinced them to give it a try. That’s Ryuuji for you: he’s very stubborn when it comes to music. There are other times when this stubbornness becomes a selfish act. And these selfish act often gets him into trouble with his friends. But outsider can’t see all that goes on inside a person; sometimes Ryuuji’s selfish act is really just his way of expressing his feelings and concerns toward others.


Katsumura Masanobu as Sasakawa KazuoKatsumura Masanobu as Sasakawa Kazuo
Kazuo, or better known as Tenshyo (manager), is the owner of Yume no Kura. His dream is to have a small castle serving the best French cuisine to the finest patrons. That’s why he spend the past 12 years studying French cooking. While waiting for his dream to become a reality, he opened up the Yume no Kura pub with his wife. One of Kazuo’s bad habit is that sometimes he gets a little too cozy with the waitress and ends up being scolded by his wife.
In fact, his wife has been really dissapointed about his lack of motivation to become a better man and suddenly one day, she exploded and left Kazuo without looking a single glance back. This comes as a surprise not only to everyone at the pub, but also to Kazuo. Now he has to run Yume no Kura all by himself and figure out what how to live without his beloved wife.


Kitamura Ikki as Sasakawa KeitaroKitamura Ikki as Sasakawa Keitaro
We don’t meet Keitaro until the second epsiode. He is Kazuo’s younger brother, and the pride of the family. He graduated from a second rate university and currently works for a bank. Although working at a bank is a swell and all, he finds this way of life very boring.
It seems that everyone wants something from Keitaro: Rei wants him as Sabakan’s audience; Maki thinks he will make the perfect model for her drawing; Ryoko sees him as a husband who’s financially stable; and Hirono wants his help with live theatre. Maybe with the girls dragging him around to help fulfilling their dreams, Keitaro will be able to spice up his own life and eventually find his own dream.


Sato Ryuta as Satomi KenichiSato Ryuta as Satomi Kenichi
Like Keitaro, we don’t meet Kenichi until the second epsiode. Kenichi is Hirono’s senpai from high school. He moved to Tokyo and created a small theatre troupe call the “White Tights”. He is the leader of the theatre group, and writes all their scripts.
Kenichi doesn’t seem surprised when he first saw Hirono at Yume no Kura. He explained that an old classmate already told him about Hirono moving to Tokyo. He joked that Hirono didn’t call to tell him she was in Tokyo and commented that she had gotten very pretty.
It seems like Kenichi’s script writing isn’t that good, and because of that, some of the actors decided to leave the troupe. The troupe is in serious trouble now: they have a play coming up and they’re short on actors. Rei quickly suggest Hirono to join the troupe, and the White Tights, so far with only male actors, gladly accepts her participation.


The Music

BOO BEE BENZSince the dorama talks about Sabakan and the road to their big debut, it’ll only be right if the band performed some original songs. One of the first songs that the band performed is “to me”, which is written by Ryuuji. In reality, this song is actually written and composed by a band called BOO BEE BENZ. Other songs performed by Sabakan include “Friend”‘, “Yumekui”, and “tears”. All these songs are written and composed by Otsuka Ai.

Otsuka Ai’s 6th single “Daisuki dayo.” included “Friends -Sabakan Version-” as the b-side track. A different version of “Friends” was later released on her second album, LOVE JAM. On August 2, 2006 Otsuka Ai released her 12th single, “Yumekui“, which features “Yumekui” as the a-side and “tears” as the b-side song.



Overall, I had a really good time watching this dorama. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, so I can relate to the girls’ situations and emotions. There are times when leading male characters express their inner most feelings too. And watching these kinds of scenes were really interesting, because I would never had expected a guy to confess their feelings so openly.

This is a story about people’s lives in Tokyo, so of course there will be laughter, tears and awkward moments. There are times when they are just being plain silly, talking nonsense, arguing, and judging another person’s actions. Then there are times when the characters took each other’s words to the heart and I can’t help but envy their relationship with “aww” and smiles.

Ryuuji confessing his feelings to Ryoko. Rei warps up the dorama.

Although the dorama wraps up pretty nicely, it still left a lot of unanswered questions, which leads to the speculation of a sequel to end the story once and for all. Sure enough, on March 13, 2006, an official announcement was made about “Tokyo Friends The Movie“. The movie will continue from where the dorama left off and will be released across theatres in Japan on August 12, 2006. An Original Sound Track (OST) of the movie was also set to be released on August 23, 2006. The limited first press of this OST will include 3 can badges that were used by the Sabakan members in the movie.

Rating: ★★★★☆


Tokyo Friends Official Site

Tokyo Friends DVD

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

Aprilis was first introduced to the world of J-Pop through Ayumi Hamasaki's music. Through Ayu's music she was exposed to and fell in love with other J-Pop acts such as Ai Otsuka and Hello! Project. She is currently living in Japan and enjoying every moment of it.

{ 123 comments… read them below or add one }

iwak October 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

GREAT STORY….. i like this.


Pencuci Jamban MALAYSIA May 18, 2010 at 4:44 am


i have one question, how do you put your mp3 player, i mean where did you get it? because it was so simple and nice and loading pretty fast too..

My blog:


shantal February 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm




Hajimaru Kousuke MALAYSIA June 30, 2009 at 8:14 am

Hi, I’m Kousuke Fazrul from Malaysia.

I’ve watch all the episode and I like it. ^^

Simply the best japanese drama besides My Boss My hero.


jhonneth June 6, 2009 at 8:25 am

it is a good drama because it inspires me and other people to dream big.When I watch this film I was so in love when I watch this but like rei she needs to give up for his dream that’s why I need to give up my bf for my dream but he understands why I do this.I learned not to make mistakes and learn how to grew up with just by myself hope I can fulfill my dreams.


jamielle April 28, 2009 at 6:42 am

i want to know the title of the song that otsuka ai sang when they opened as front act of furacha in hokkaido??please reply as soon as posible..i really like the song..thanks


chester February 5, 2009 at 2:43 am

i’ve seen this story couple of time and this story really touch my heart a lot……..
i a a fab of otsuka ai for her song PEACH, the theme song for the hanakimi_drama…
and woooooow again for her………….


Marlina MALAYSIA January 25, 2009 at 2:57 pm

tq so much beeje…
i’ve been looking for this “To Me’ lyric right after watched the drama…
tq so much for the lyric…


dychanx December 20, 2008 at 2:27 am

this movie is really good plus they have a cool ost… the story feels so real.. more or less some of them feels a bit part of my life…


joshua November 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm

i like their music its so cute i hope i hav a voice ike that


nazri November 15, 2008 at 11:28 pm

hei!! myself noticed that u r a girl from the first time you comment the drama. i’m always tend 2 learn japan but still got no time….u hv any suggestion??? and i really like the last song she sing where she play guitar (but not really move her left hand)….title of that song??


blade AUSTRALIA September 24, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I notice that you didn’t mention the title of the song that Ai Otsuka sang when they opened as front act of Furacha in Hokkaido. Do you happen to know the song title w/ the lyrics that tells about her past relationship with Eita or Ryuuji?


ns verma September 4, 2008 at 11:59 pm

wonder how vivid the characters in this drama.
wish i have been in tokyo.
isn’t great that theatre survives on such dorama?


castelo September 4, 2008 at 6:05 am

this tokyo friend drama and movie give me spirit to wake up from my old dark life…..the honesty that showed by the character of the tokyo friend in seacrh for their own dream make me realize the dream that i cant reach b4…….maybe some other time later if iwork hard+support from friends maybe ican reach my old dream again…. arigato tokyo friends…..@#$


jusween MALAYSIA August 20, 2008 at 2:36 am

hi…i’m jusween @ jaz from Malaysia…..i really lurve this movie…i stayed up at night to watch this movie and need to go to school the next morning…although i know i will get sick and i really got sick…i continued admiring this movie…i watched it a few times….i would lurve to if any one can tell me where to get these songs and lyrics which touches my heart so deeply…….thank you so much…..


Fuad MALAYSIA August 14, 2008 at 7:35 am

simply the best..

Friends – Otsuka Ai

*1 tooku made aruite mita nani mo motazu ni aruita
Kimi ni atta ano hi no koto wa ima demo takaramono

Yuuyake de kakushita yokogao miraretakunakatta
(chippoke de potsuri namida nante rashikunakute
Sono te wo sotto hanashita)

*2 sayonara tte ietara kitto
(motto kantan ni wasurerareta no?)
Moshi mata itsuka aeru toki ni wa
Arigato tte ieru you ni

Ano shashin kara kikoeru waraigoe
Dokomademo hibiiteta ne
Ikuji nashi potsuri namida nante
Nasakenakute wazato iya na yatsu no furi shita

Itsumo no you ni ietara kitto
Motto kantan ni waraeta no kana
Moshi mata itsuka aeru toki ni wa
Itsumo no you ni ieru you ni

Wasurenaide tte ietara kitto
Donna koto mo shinjirareta no?
Hon no sukoshi tsuyoku naritai
Motto sunao ni nareru you ni

*2, *1 repeat


Zul August 2, 2008 at 4:00 am

hello….I’m from malaysia…

i love this drama….
n d song 2…

any1.. if u have the song “friend”’s lyric… can u send it 2 me… @


walid MALAYSIA July 17, 2008 at 10:08 am



rose MALAYSIA April 20, 2008 at 1:20 am

i’ve searching the song but didn’t find it… -to me- do you guys know where to get thae song.. world peace =”)


Joe MALAYSIA March 30, 2008 at 3:05 am


Tokyo Friends simply the best Japanese Movie I’ve seen so far. The way the story goes and music were so touching. I have to stay up late night to see how the story end because in Malaysia, the movie was aired from 12.30am to 3.30am.. imagine going to work next day with only sleeping 3 and a half hours.

Yoko Maki is so pretty and cool in that movie. I hope one day I can see her here, in Malaysia.

Keep up the good work and all the best that life can brings to you, Yoko Maki@Ryoko.

Regards from Malaysia.


Sharul MALAYSIA March 25, 2008 at 6:17 am


I’m Sharul from Malaysia. I really love this movie.
Dreams and friends are important in our life.
All songs in this movie are very cool.

I wish all the actress in this movie will come tour in Malaysia.

Peace rock n roll..


Miki Kawamoto MALAYSIA March 17, 2008 at 9:07 am

GREAT STORY….!!!Otsuka Ai is soooooo KAWAII….!!!! I admire her very much…and I also like Eita in the story…Where can I get those lyric…?I love those song…


beeje February 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm


nee kimi wa dare doushite sonna tokoro de
hiza wo kakaekonde naiteiru no?
aa kimi wa itsuka no boku da
jibun dake oitekibori kanashiin da ne

kaze to midori to tawamuretakke na?
hadashi de kanda daichi wa yasashikute
yume wo egaita hateshinai mama
itsuka togireru to shiranai mama

dare mo ga sorezore ni itami wo seotte
kurikaesu kyou wo hisshi de ikite iru
jyouzu ni arukeru sa konkuriito no michi no ue
tsuchi to kaze no nioi ni furikaeri nagara

kimi ga kimi jishin wo shinjirenai de sa
dare ga kimi no koto wo shinjiru no?
jishin wo motte ii hazu sa mouichido yuuki wo furishiboru

utagai wa shinai sa kono michi no yukue
itsuka tadoritsukeru sou shinjite iku
hadashi de aruku no wa sukoshi tsumetakute
kujikesou ni naru hi mo arun darou

dare mo ga sorezore ni itami wo seotte
kurikaesu kyou wo hisshi de ikite iru
jouzu ni arukeru sa konkuriito no michi no ue
tsuchi to kaze no nioi ni furikaeri nagara



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