Real life anime locations


Anime pilgrimage, or seichi junrei (聖地巡礼), might be a foreign term for most. In Japan, however, anime fans have taken it upon themselves to suss out and visit locations that look like or have inspired their favourite series. 

From an obscure library in a rural town to mystical woodlands inhabited by ancient trees, we have put together 10 real life anime locations for a sacred anime tour around Japan. 


1. Your Name – Gifu Prefecture


Real Life Anime Locations - miyagawacho-ochiai bus stop in Hida cityMiyagawachō-Ochiai bus stop 
Image adapted from: Toho and @cylut

Your Name is an anime film that broke box-office records in Japan and across the world. It tells the story of a boy in Tokyo and a girl in the countryside as they suddenly swapped bodies. 

The film splits its scenes between two contrasting locations – the urban landscape of Tokyo that is home to male lead Taki, and the idyllic countryside setting of Itomori where female lead Mitsuha resides

Real Life Anime Locations - Keta Wakamiya shrineTaki approaching locals for directions at Keta Wakamiya Shrine in Hida City 
Image adapted from: Toho and @mr.daichi0228

Unbeknownst to many, the town of Itomori is fictional. But its mountainous landscapes are very much real and inspired by Gifu Prefecture.

Real Life Anime Locations - JR Hida Furukawa stationHida Furukawa Station 
Image adapted from: Toho and @wamazingjp

In the movie, Hida City in Gifu Prefecture is a neighbouring town of Itomori. After Mitsuha’s sudden disappearance, Taki travels from Tokyo in search of her. He makes a pit stop in the small town of Hida Furukawa, visiting the city library and other locations in search of Itomori.

Real Life Anime Locations - Hidashi Library Hidashi Library, where Taki researches about Itomori 
Image adapted from: Toho and @konitanjp

As many locations featured in the film can be found in the rural town, it has now become a popular day trip destination for enthused fans. Even the Hida Tourism Association has jumped on the bandwagon, mapping out a comprehensive tour of all must-visit sites from Your Name

Miyagawachō-Ochiai bus stop
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: Miyagawacho Ochiai, Hida-shi, Gifu, 509-4415, Japan
Nearest Station: JR Tsunogawa Station

Keta Wakamiya Shrine
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: 1297 Furukawacho Kamikita, Hida, Gifu 509-4212, Japan
Nearest Station: JR Hida Furukawa Station
Website

Hida Furukawa Station 
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: 8 Furukawachō Kanamorichō, Hida, Gifu 509-4225, Japan

Hidashi Library 
Opening hours: Hidashi Library: Tue – Sat 9AM-8PM, Sun 9AM-5PM, Closed every Mon and last Fri of the month
Address: 2-22 Furukawacho Honmachi, Hida, Gifu 509-4232, Japan
Nearest Station: JR Hida Furukawa Station
Website 


2. Chihayafuru – Ōmi Shrine


Real Life Anime Locations - Ōmi Shrine Stairs leading to the Romon gate 
Image adapted from: Nippon TV and @chiyaha_project

Chihayafuru is an anime about uta-karuta (歌かるた, poetry karuta), a competitive Japanese card game that is physically and mentally demanding. The deck of cards used in a karuta game comprises poems from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首), a classical collection of 100 Japanese poems by 100 poets.

Real Life Anime Locations - Ōmi shrine Naihaiden Chihaya and friends pray at the Naihaiden of Ōmi Shrine
Image adapted from: Nippon TV and @kentahasebe_photo 

The beautiful vermillion Ōmi Shrine frequently featured in the anime is located in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. Famous for hosting the annual national karuta championships, the shrine is said to be connected to the creation of karuta

Emperor Tenji, the 38th emperor of Japan and the founder of Otsu, is enshrined as a deity here. Ōmi Shrine was constructed in 1940 to commemorate 2,600 years of rule by the Japanese imperial family. 

Opening hours: 6AM-6PM, Daily
Address: 1-1 Jingu-cho, Otsu City, Shiga
Nearest Station: Keihan Electric Railway Omijingumae Station
Website


3. Princess Mononoke -Yakushima


Real Life Anime Locations - Yakushima Image adapted from: Netflix and @kichikintrek_yakushima

A 4-hour ferry ride from Kagoshima will take you to the subtropical island of Yakushima, whose mystical woodlands have inspired the setting of Princess Mononoke.

Real Life Anime Locations - Yakushima
Image adapted from: Netflix and @kichikintrek_yakushima 

Apart from being renowned as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan, the island is also populated with yakusugi (屋久杉) – ancient Japanese cedar trees more than 1000 years old.  

Real Life Anime Locations - Yakushima Image adapted from: Netflix and Takeshi Kuboki 

Foray into the island’s moss-covered forest grounds and you will find Jōmon Sugi (縄文杉), the oldest and largest cedar tree in Japan. Japanese scientists have estimated the tree to be at least 2,500 years old, though bolder estimates put the age closer to 7,000 years old. 

Real Life Anime Locations - Kodama sitting on forest bed
According to the film, kodama are signs indicating that a forest is healthy
Image credit: @mamyako

Thanks to the popularity of Studio Ghibli films and Princess Mononoke in Japan and worldwide, Yakushima has become a popular hiking trail for fans of the film. Keep a look out for kodama (木霊, tree spirits) that might be hidden among the lush vegetation, as many will bring along figurines of tree spirits as props for their photos. 

Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: Miyanoura, Yakushima, Kumage District, Kagoshima 891-4205, Japan
Nearest Station: Arakawa-tozan guchi Bus Stop
Website


4. My Neighbour Totoro – Satsuki and Mei’s House


Real Life Anime Locations - Satsuki and Mei's house Image adapted from: Netflix and @takashi.mabuchi 

This life-size recreation of Satsuki and Mei’s rural house in My Neighbour Totoro is located in Nagakute, a city in Aichi Prefecture. The house was built in 2005 for the Aichi Expo Memorial Park and it remains a popular attraction today. 

Real Life Anime Locations - Satsuki and Mei's house Image adapted from: Netflix and @kmik.24

As the new Studio Ghibli theme park slated to open in 2022 is being built on the grounds of the Memorial Park, the house is closed temporarily. It’s a bummer, but at least we have something to look forward to when the current pandemic blows over. 

Real Life Anime Locations - Study room in Satsuki and Mei's houseImage adapted from: Netflix and @toorurira

Visitors will be surprised by the attention to detail in the replica house. From the hurriedly scribbled notes stacked on the desk to the hand-drawn calendar hanging on the wall, no detail is spared. Some have even sworn that they spotted susuwatari (煤渡り), the adorable black dust mites that have appeared in the film. 

Opening hours: Closed until further notice
Address: Yazako, Nagakute, Aichi 480-1103, Japan
Nearest Station: Expo Memorial Park Station
Website


5. Haikyuu!! – Kamei Arena Sendai


Real Life Anime Locations - Entrance of Kamei Arena SendaiEntrance of the gymnasium 
Image adapted from: Netflix and @pyooon_079

The players of Haikyuu!! are no strangers to hard-fought matches in Kamei Arena Sendai, formerly known as Sendai City Gymnasium

Real Life Anime Locations - Moon face in Kamei Arena SendaiGiant moon face 
Image adapted from: Netflix and @rererenoreeeeo

Located in Kurasuno High’s homeground, Miyagi Prefecture, important matches like the Miyagi Interhigh Preliminaries and Representative Playoffs were held here.  

Real Life Anime Locations - Kamei Arena Sendai indoor stadiumImage adapted from: Netflix and @rererenoreeeeo

The gymnasium is open to the public daily. Fans can visit the gym anytime to take photos, though they have to be careful not to disturb athletes who are using the facilities. 

Opening hours: 9AM-9PM, Daily
Address: 1 Chome-4-1 Tomizawa, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 982-0032, Japan
Nearest Station: Sendai Subway Tomizawa Station
Website


6. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – Tamachi


Real Life Anime Locations - Tamachi areaImage adapted from: Netflix and Kimamanidansu

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a romantic comedy with a straightforward premise – the main female and male characters try to win a confession from each other. 

Most of their exchanges are set in school or the student council room, though on rare occasions, fans are given a glimpse of their life outside school. 

Real Life Anime Locations - Tamachi area Image adapted from: Netflix and Kimamanidansu

In episode 3 of the first season, the sheltered Kaguya gets a chance to commute to school on her own. She passes by Tamachi – the informal name for the area surrounding Tamachi Station in Minato, Tokyo

Home to a number of company headquarters and organisations, Tamachi is indeed a fitting area to be featured alongside the daughter of one of the top four conglomerates in Japan. 

Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: 5 Chome-33-36 Shiba, Minato City, Tokyo 108-0014, Japan
Nearest Station: JR Tamachi Station 


7. Weathering With You – Tabata Station (South Exit)


Real Life Anime Locations - outside of Tabata Station south exitImage adapted from: Toho and @akira_390

With a knack for visual storytelling, Shinkai Makoto is renowned for his attention to detail and conscientious effort in background drawing. Like in Your Name, Weathering With You draws heavy inspiration from Tokyo’s urban landscape. 

Real Life Anime Locations - hina and hodaka reunites outside Tabata Station
Hina and Hodaka reunites near Tabata Station
Image adapted from: Toho and @kei_baphoto

Near the end of the film, Hina and Hodaka reunite right outside the south exit of Tabata Station, an unassuming station on the JR Yamanote Line. 

Real Life Anime Locations - outside Tabata Station south exit Image adapted from: Toho and @akira_390

Compared to the bustling Shinjuku Station that appeared in Your Name, Tabata Station is awfully quiet for a place in Tokyo. You can take photos to your heart’s content at the south exit of Tabata Station without the watchful gaze of the train station staff as it’s unmanned. 

Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: 1-chōme-17 Higashitabata, Kita City, Tōkyō-to 114-0013, Japan
Nearest Station: JR Tabata Station


8. Kiki’s Delivery Service – Shōdoshima Olive Garden


Real Life Anime Locations - Kiki's bakeryGuchokipanya in the animated film (left) and Corico, a herb shop on the island (right)
Image adapted from: Netflix and Majyo no takkyūbin

Shōdoshima in Kagawa Prefecture is famous for its olive production due to the ideal Mediterranean climate, with approximately 2000 olive trees and 130 kinds of herbs grown in the Shōdoshima Olive Garden located on the island

Nowadays, the garden has become a pilgrimage destination for fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service – a Studio Ghibli classic that follows 13-year-old Kiki as she completes her training to become a witch. 

Real Life Anime Locations - windmill at Shodoshima olive gardenImage adapted from: Netflix and @rumi_smile_cl

The set used for the live-action version of the animated film is now open as a zakka (雑貨) shop.  Modelled after the European-style bread shop in which Kiki lives and works, the miscellaneous goods shop sells everything ranging from gardening supplies to pastries. Seedlings of herbs are also available for green-fingered visitors.

Opening hours: 8.30AM-5PM, Daily
Address: 1941-1 Nishimura-kou, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu-gun, Kagawa 761-4434, Japan
Nearest Station: Olive Koen Guchi Bus Stop
Website


9. Food Wars! – Shinagawa Station


Real Life Anime Locations - Shinagawa StationNavigating his way to a nearby restaurant for his internship 
Image adapted from: Netflix and Wikimedia 

Food Wars!, or Shokugeki no Soma, follows young aspiring chef Yukihira Sōma and his journey in a prestigious culinary institute in Japan. In this episode, students are assigned to various cooking locations across the country as part of their internship.

Our male protagonist, along with Hisako, are assigned to a small local restaurant near a busy train station – Shinagawa Station. As one of Tokyo’s busiest stations, it is the perfect introduction to the episode. We later find out that the restaurant is struggling to keep up with the barrage of orders from commuters, and naturally, our protagonists use their culinary expertise to help the owners get back on track. 

Opening hours: 8AM-10PM, Daily
Address: 3 Chome-26-27 Takanawa, Minato City, Tokyo 108-0074, Japan
Nearest Station: JR Shinagawa Station 


10. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Itto-seki Split Boulder


Real Life Anime Locations - itto-seki in NaraImage adapted from: Netflix and @kate6475124

Demon Slayer is set in the historical Taishō era, which means that we unfortunately can’t visit places that look exactly like the ones in the anime. But dedicated fans have managed to find a real-life split boulder located at Amanotateiwa Shrine in Yagyū, a village near the city of Nara.

This huge stone that is split into two down the centre, as though with one swift stroke, is aptly named itto-seki (一刀石), which means “a stone split with one stroke of the knife”.

Real Life Anime Locations - recreation of demon slayer split boulder scene
Image credit: @7mj2lO6PWahvbx2

At the beginning of the series, Tanjiro is tasked by Urokodaki to slice a boulder with his sword. This is his final challenge before he is allowed to enter Final Selection – a test administered by the Demon Slayer Corps that will determine if Tanjiro can become a demon hunter. After 6 months of consistent failure, Tanjiro finally manages to slice the boulder into half cleanly. 

Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Address: Okugaharacho, Nara, 630-1232, Japan
Nearest Station: Yagyū Bus Stop
Website


Real life anime locations in Japan


Anime pilgrimage is hugely popular in Japan and slowly gaining traction internationally among anime lovers. But even if anime is not your cup of tea, it is a cool way to travel and discover new hidden spots that are off the beaten path.

Check out these articles for more anime related content: 

Cover image adapted from: Toho and @wamazingjp