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If you’re a big anime fan, you want to visit the “seichi” (holy ground) of famous anime in Japan. Not only are these locations themselves special to fans, but they are places worth a visit on their own.
The city of Matsuyama is a popular and one of the oldest resort towns that even the Imperial family frequents. One of the main attractions is Dogo Onsen. The three-story bath house attracts many Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi in Japanese) fans as it supposedly was the inspiration for the bathhouse in the animated film.
Matsuyama has many other things to offer besides the bathhouse. The town is also the setting of Natsume Souseki’s Bocchan, and there are many things attributed to the novel and its character, including a train.
Matsuyama Castle is also another popular location in Matsuyama. It is famous for being one of the 12 castles to remain from before the Edo Period as well as for being very close to how it originally was built.
Fans of Shinkai Makoto, especially Kimi no Na Wa, are familiar with how he includes real life locations in Japan throughout his films. There are various locations throughout Tokyo that you can visit from Kimi no Na Wa but arguably the most iconic is the stairway where the two main characters reunite. It is also shown on promotional images for the film.
The stairs lead to Suga Shrine, a peaceful place despite only being a few stops away from Shinjuku. You can pray for good luck and buy charms to ward off evil.
You can also visit the Tokyo Toy Museum nearby just north of Yotsuya Sanchome Station. It has an abundance of attractions for all ages, introducing many traditional toys that have entertained children for generations. It’s also a great place to buy gifts for children.
And just one station away is Shinjuku Gyoen, a large national garden park heavily featured in another Shinkai Makoto film, Kotonoha no Niwa. It is a beautiful park with various types of gardens perfect in any season.
The gates of the Jinnai Family property in Summer Wars! is based on The East Gate of the Ueda Castle Ruins. The Jinnai Family are the main characters in the film and the house gates as well as a castle theme play a part both in the real life segments of the animated film as well as the parts depicting the inside of a game.
Ueda Castle Ruins are what remains of a 16th century castle in Ueda, Nagano built by Sanada Masayuki. Every year, many visitors come to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring - the 1000 Cherry Blossom Trees Festival is held there - the colorful autumn leaves in the fall and the snow covered ruins in the winter. There is a fee to enter the museum and watchtowers but the park itself is free.
Hakodate, Hokkaido is a picturesque seaside town with many things to do. The girls of “Aqours” in Love Live! are invited to visit Hakodate and visit many of its famous places, making it a popular destination for fans. There are quite a few famous places that appear in the anime, including JR Hakodate Station, Hakodate Arena, and Goryokaku Tower. The photograph above is of Hachimanzaka, where the girls look down at the port. Hachimanzaka is one of most popular of the 19 slopes in Hakodate that offer a beautiful view of the port below. At the top of the slope is Hakodate Nishi High School, another setting in the anime. And don’t forget to experience the beautiful night view at Mt. Hakodate like the girls did. It’s considered one of the three major night views in Japan.
Not only can you go to the places that the characters visited, but you can also eat what they had. You can eat tofu shiratama zenzai (traditional Japanese dessert soup made with mochi dumplings and azuki red beans) at Sabo Kikuizumi and eat burgers at Lucky Pierrot.
Toyosato Elementary School is used as the model of the high school in K-ON! The popular anime is about a group of high school girls who join the music club and form a band.
Toyosato Elementary School is no longer used as a school, but was preserved by the community due to its historic value and architecture. It has become a popular spot to visit as many fans of the anime come to Toyosato in Shiga Prefecture just to visit this school. One of the highlights is the music room and the auditorium, both of which are used by groups to practice and perform music. If you’re lucky, you can catch a performance!
Fans of the anime Free! were able to spot the similarities between the fictional setting of Iwatobi in the anime and Iwatomi in Tottori. The town’s website even offers a map of the major spots used in the anime. Places you don’t want to miss include Iwami Station, Uradome Swimming Area, and Tajiri Port Area which includes Tajiri Shrine (the steps and torii that lead to one of the character’s homes) and Tajiri Lookout Point, pictured above.
The quiet town has embraced its identity as inspiration for the anime and offer Free! goods only found in Iwami. Not only is it a great place for fans to explore, it is a beautiful area to visit off the beaten track to experience a lesser known part of Japan.
Kono Sekai no Katasumini is about Suzu, a woman from Hiroshima who lives in Kure City during World War II. An animated film was made in 2016 based on the manga by Fumiyo Kono.
The story centers around the daily life of Suzu and her family rather than the war itself, so buildings like the Atomic Bomb Dome (before it was bombed, so when it was still known as Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall) make an appearance merely in the background. Both Hiroshima and Kure City have a map of places that appeared in the background as Suzu and her family lived their lives in the animated film.
Notable locations include Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial, which includes the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Park and the Peace Museum. In Kure, one can visit the Yamato Museum and learn about the history of the Japanese Navy, something that comes up in the film.
Anime fans often dream of visiting the places that inspired the setting of their favorite works. Here are seven great locations to visit, each offering many amazing sights to see whether you’re a fan of the anime or not! Take a pilgrimage to these seichi, holy grounds, and explore to your heart’s content.
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