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 }

patrick sindo PHILIPPINES February 27, 2007 at 4:17 am

uhm this movie is so great!!!but i’m not contented regarding to the ending on the part of ryuuji and rei!!!hehehehe
but i realy realy realy like this movie!!!
hope there is a clear ending on the part of ryuuji and rei!!!


franz elaine February 27, 2007 at 2:08 am

very nice movie!we really like the story!!!=p


wichie PHILIPPINES February 26, 2007 at 8:20 am

i watched it non stop.. i’d like to have a copy of all the albums with tokyo friends’ songs in them..



lailani a. cularte February 26, 2007 at 6:11 am

i love ur show ….tokyo friends rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!! i hope i can watch the full show


special heart February 26, 2007 at 4:58 am

i dont like their ending… i want to have a follow up episode to complete the thought of the movie. i want to find out what will happen to ryuuji and their relationship with rei. i also wanted to know if each and everyone of them was able to find the happiness they’re longing for… i like very much the songs of tokyo friends, they are very interesting. i wish it could be at philippines so that there is a remembrance for their movie here. it is also good for friends that are longing for the happiness…

It is a certified inspiring story…….
I learned a lot things about life….. Especially the lovelife…
I love you Sabakan… And to all the cast of the tokyo friends…..


lit_85 PHILIPPINES February 26, 2007 at 3:31 am

hi im lit,i really like da is currently aired in the phil.i hope that i has a part2.i really enjoy the film…..


roland PHILIPPINES February 26, 2007 at 2:56 am

very succesyfull movie


pia February 26, 2007 at 12:08 am

Hi! I’m from the Philippines too.

Does anyone have the lyrics of the songs sung by the survival company (the tagalog and japanese version, written in English alphabet)?

Thanks and God Bless!


Aprilis CANADA February 25, 2007 at 11:59 pm

Hi nixxy, glad you like the series. You can find lyrics to songs from the series and movie at under the ‘Ai’s Lyrics’ section.


nixxy February 25, 2007 at 1:57 pm

hi OMG this movie was so awesome i like it very much because i like watching japanese , korean , chinese , thaiwanese movies and series.gosh i think this movie is a hit i wish someone will post a lyrics of the song friend i like it very much its so meaningful………ill buy a dvd of it soon


jhayvive February 25, 2007 at 2:18 am

tokyo friends is the one of the best mini series ever.. i watch it in cinema one evrytime they air it, one of the cable channel here in the philippines.. full of fun and kilig stories.. “Friends” of survival company is one of my favorite song..


joice ann fernandez PHILIPPINES February 24, 2007 at 10:56 pm

i wacthed ur movie,nd i love it very much…it’s so beautiful….
from the very start i watch it,ive been touch with the happenings..specially with REI,.my favorite character is rei nd nd ryuuji..they are excellent..

one thing i can say is it is so beautiful


Ana February 23, 2007 at 6:10 am

I luv tokyo friends!this my favorite japanese show!Otsuka Ai looks like Yeng Constantino(She is a singer too).I wish I could see the movie of Tokyo Friends!i wish i can watch it again and speak japanese so i can know what they are talking about!


reYn February 23, 2007 at 12:38 am

i Love this movie so much.!!! i love rei.! hehehe..! shes beautiful n she has a talent.!! i love them so much..! specially their song FRIENDS..


shobe February 22, 2007 at 7:31 am

wat is the name of ai otsuka’s all songs in tokyo’s friend??
can someon mail it up 4 me?
chibe_05 at


Sweet Shobe February 22, 2007 at 1:46 am

i love tokyo friends. i’m from the philippines too.
i’m also watching it in cinema one.
could somebody tell me where could i get a copy of this dorama.
i love watching it. ai otsuka’s voice is really cute.


GotohMasafumiLover001 UNITED STATES February 21, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Wow, a lot of Philippine peopleO.O Anyway, that’s not far that u guys get to see Japanese series on ur tv>


sheila marie rogador PHILIPPINES February 21, 2007 at 6:22 am

To the writer, I want to give my appreciation to all your info which are not known to me, thanks so much for writing those details. I know it took you time to finish it.


shiela PHILIPPINES February 21, 2007 at 2:37 am

oh my god.. i really like watching tokyo friends in cinema one.. i always watch them everyday!.. woohoo!.. im from philippines. wer cn i find the song to me by sabakan??..

btw, i saw ai otsuka in animax last saturday at music station super live 2006!..
i really like her voice!.. she looks like yeng constantino…… promise~!


sE February 20, 2007 at 8:32 am

Ai is really great~ continue supporting her!
*im no longer using eli_se16


Shinzou PHILIPPINES February 20, 2007 at 6:15 am

Hi Gud day!! i like the character of Ai otsuka “rei” the way she act,. very simple and she’s brave!!! GUd luck From philippines!!


gEX February 20, 2007 at 12:36 am

Rei and Maki are so cute! and I really really love ryuuji!! tokyo friends the best!! I watch it on cinema one here in the philippines!


nEi PHILIPPINES February 19, 2007 at 11:43 pm

i saw the dorama and i rily kike it,,,, Ryuuji is really cute,,,


samgino February 18, 2007 at 8:31 pm

i realy like ai otsuka her voice is so nice i tingk i will fall in love with him i hope i will meet him i really love ai


ka3na*_* February 18, 2007 at 10:11 am

i luv TOKYO FRIENDS!! very much!


venz07 UNITED STATES February 17, 2007 at 10:39 am

I really like this dorama! Like you said earlier maybe because I’m a girl but their problems are so real…and I can’t help but envy them for having good friends like that. I wish I can watch the Tokyo Friends movie with subs but thats going to be a long time from now. I really like the songs that Ai is singing.


kim February 17, 2007 at 12:26 am

hi ryuuji im ur greatest fan of all and i wanna say to all cast of TOKYO FRIENDS you deserve the best of all and i just wanna have a lyrics in your songs like (FRIENDS) compose by EITA as ryuuji,,,go go go SURVIVAL COMPANY known as SABAKAN!!!hwhw eeehee


sE February 16, 2007 at 10:34 am

Tokyo friends is really great! >__<

i dont know anyone in my school who likes Ai Otsuka, so pls do add my YM if your from Philippines: eli_se16

thank you!


Seiji February 15, 2007 at 11:35 pm

I love tokyo friends a lot because it’s very inspiring!=).


jp February 15, 2007 at 5:00 pm

speaking of philippines, im from that c0untry, the show is really a hit in here! I hope the cast visit us in here! And the songs that was sang, even if i can’t understand it was very very good! I can feel its meanings deep inside, and oh, the name of the cable channel is cinema 1 and it is currently in its 3rd episode right n0w!


mickay February 15, 2007 at 12:46 pm

hi! i’m from philippines and i really really like tokyo friends…
it helps me realize that i should follow my dreams and believe on it… and the soundtract are soooo nice!

till then…


cheryl joy February 15, 2007 at 3:34 am

hillo.. it nice to watch that kind of movie because as a girl i can relate in there situation.
i watch this here in the phillipines. it so nice.


samgino February 15, 2007 at 1:27 am

it was a very good movie i enjoy watching it i hove i will meet them espicialy with ai otsuka


rekka February 14, 2007 at 10:35 am

the movie is very good…and can u plzz write the part 2 of tokyo friends…

keep it up..


jaZzY February 14, 2007 at 8:58 am

Tokyo frienDs,, ahm.. i find it pretty and interesting,, it’s cute,, very inspirational for teenagers,, hmm,, i’m sure you’ll enjoy watching this.. well done!! heehee,, (^_^) this rocks! mwahh,,, :-*


quincy miyake February 14, 2007 at 7:54 am

its nice …im from the philippines and my friend like watching it….her name is lerio..


gj February 14, 2007 at 7:37 am

i love the music while browsing through the net..hehehehe im also hooked to it cause the Cinema One is now airing it! ^_^


angel February 13, 2007 at 4:51 pm


tokyo friends is currently airing here in the philippines.. (in cabel channel)
well im kinda hook on this film..
that’s all.. *;*
have a nice day…


GotohMasafumiLover0001 UNITED STATES February 7, 2007 at 5:21 pm

On :)

YesAsia US | YesAsia Global


Jupiter UNITED STATES February 6, 2007 at 4:43 am

Where can I find that this song that is playing on this website? The one sang by the “Survivor Company – To me” ??


GotohMasafumiLover001 UNITED STATES October 31, 2006 at 5:43 pm

You can get the soundtrack at


Kiuball UNITED STATES October 27, 2006 at 10:10 am

Love the series. Love the songs. Love the way it made me cringe and shed a tear or two. Awesome Dorama. If I can find a copy of the OST, I’d pick it up.


GotohMasafumiLover001 UNITED STATES October 3, 2006 at 5:37 pm

I love this series!! Ai is an excellent actress!!
I can’t wait for the movie! I also can’t wait to get the soundtrack! I’m writing a story similar to this, well I write stories like this a lot :)


Blue Ballad September 25, 2006 at 11:16 pm

interesting… i, myself have seen it ’til the third episode. during the show, i found that “To Me” is a very nice song. Do you know how to find this song? if you do so, please contact me via my email (ballad_in_blue at yahoo dot com), thx!


Changzer September 21, 2006 at 9:04 am

good article… well.. for me, it was a good dorama… although the story goes a bit slow :)


Aprilis CANADA August 16, 2006 at 1:11 pm

The song from the web site is “Friends”, by Otsuka Ai. I believe it’s the “Sakaban Version” which was featured as a b-side on her 6th single, “Daisuki dayo.”


Kanae August 15, 2006 at 3:18 pm

Hi!! Does anyone know what’s the song’s name that
is heard in the web site of tokyo friends?? also
who is singing it? is it the opening song of the dorama
thanks for the info


Aprilis CANADA August 4, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Otsuka Ai is a popular J-Pop singer, she compose and writes all her own songs. In a recent interview, Ai mentioned that she’ll like to focus on music than acting. You can find more information about Ai at
Matsumoto Rio released a single back in 2004. But ever since then, she’s just been acting.

As far as I know, none of the other actresses have any experience in the music industry.


sian August 4, 2006 at 12:33 pm

very well written! i enjoyed reading it. thanks for the info on when the ost will be released. i will try to get my hands on one if possible. i would give the drama a 5 out of 5 though..


Matt Ramsden UNITED KINGDOM August 4, 2006 at 11:13 am

A very informative article – I wonder how I can right an article?? Anyway are the actresses Jpop singers?

Matt Ramsden.

Keep it up~!


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