Real-life Ghibli movies & anime scenes in Japan


Every otaku’s bucket list comprises a quest to explore Ghibli films and anime locations. It’s time to take it to the next level if you’ve already seen every Studio Ghibli-like place in Singapore. And by that, we mean taking a flight and exploring the actual locations in Japan that served as the inspiration for several famous animations.

Here are some places in Japan that look like Ghibli movies and anime scenes IRL that you can explore the next time you’re there.


1. Princess Mononoke – Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Shiratani Unsuikyo RavineImage credit: @benwalker via Instagram

Gear up in your hiking shoes for a trip to the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine, about 2 hours away from Osaka. To experience the exact lush forests that inspired the anime Princess Mononoke, take the 5km Taiko-iwa Rock trail. And like the Forest of Mononoke, you’ll see moss-covered rocks and trees at the ravine during the 4-hour hike.

Just pay a small fee of ¥500/entrance (~S$4.50) before you start your mini adventure at the trailhead. It is recommended that you take a guided tour for ¥5,000/hiker (~S$44.99).

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Princess MononokeThe characters are often seen in the Mononoke Forest with “Kodamas”, the tree spirits.
Image credit: @ghiblipicture via Twitter

A heads up, though; this trail is not for newbie hikers, as it takes you up a steep hill and can be pretty challenging. Beginners can give the easier 2km Yayoisugi Cedar Course route a go instead.

With a proper pathway, minus the adventurous mountain hikes, you’ll pass by similar mossy forests and 3 cold streams.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Top of the Taiko-iwa Rock
Book a 1-day tour around Shiratani Unsuikyo
Image credit: @patach__ via Instagram

The highlight of the Taiko-iwa Rock trail is that once you’ve reached the top, you’ll see the beautiful landscape of the Yakushima cedar forest

Getting there: Take a 2-hour flight from Osaka Itami to Yakushima, followed by a 20-minute drive to Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine.

Book a 1-day walking tour around Shiratani Unsuikyo.


2. Your Name – The National Art Centre & Yotsuya Suga Shrine stairs


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Your Name scen at the Salon The Rond
Image credit: @savicevic.1993_1994 via Instagram

Drag your hubbies for a date at Salon de Thé ROND cafe, the same cafe where Taki and Okudera-senpai from the anime Your Name dated. The cafe is in The National Art Centre in Tokyo, so if you land at Haneda Airport, it’s about a 30-minute drive away.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Salon de The ROND cafe
Image credit: @AnicommArt via X

To get a photo of this exact scene IRL, all you have to do is take the elevator to the 3rd floor of the art centre. After getting a good look at the cafe, art lovers can explore exhibitions such as the BTS of Yves Saint Laurent works that are showing right now. Oh, and it’s free entrance to the centre for all.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Yotsuya Suga Shrine Stairs
This couple understood the assignment.
Image credit: @kiyomoon via Instagram

Another Your Name hotspot that’s impossible not to mention is the Yotsuya Suga Shrine stairs. This is the iconic location where Mitsuha and Taki first met. It’s just a short walk from the Yotsuya train station, so you need not worry about the hassle of taking cabs. 

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Your NameImage credit: Lauren Massuda via Medium

Recreate this scene, and take a shot for the ‘Gram. Keep in mind that this is a popular stop for anime enthusiasts. So, if you don’t want anyone to photobomb your photos, plan your visit during Japan’s off-peak seasons – say January to March, in the afternoons.

Address: 7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 11am-6pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
Contact: +81 3-5770-8162 | Salon de Thé ROND website


3. Higurashi When They Cry – Shirakawago


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Shirakawago VillageFun fact: Shirakawa-go Village sees snowfall of up to 2m high during winter.
Image credit: @porpun.n via Instagram

If you’ve seen the anime series Higurashi When They Cry, you will be stoked to know that Hinamizawa Village actually exists in real life, somewhere in Japan. It’s tucked away near the Gifu Prefecture, about 3 hours away from Nagoya. Head over and you’ll stumble upon a charming town called Shirakawa-go Village.

Since then, Shirakawa has become one of anime otakus’ must-go attractions during autumn, aside from the Ghibli Park in Nagoya.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Higurashi When They CryImage credit: @kyouray via X

The town is dotted with gassho-style houses that have steep and slanting roofs to avoid snow building up on the roof in winter. Exactly like in the anime, might we add. Aside from taking in the majestic view of mountains, look out for anime character statues like Mion Sonozaki, Rena Ryuugu, and Satoko Hojo around the village area.

Getting there: Take a 140-minute train ride from Nagoya Station to Takayama Station. Then, take a 65-minute express bus to Shirakawa-go.

Book a day tour from Nagoya to Shirakawa-go and Takayama.


4. The Yuru Camp – Lake Motosu


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Lake Motosu with sunsetCatch the gorgeous sunset with your besties at Motosu Lake.
Image credit: @asadesuyo1122 via Instagram

Without a doubt, Mount Fuji is incredibly gorgeous no matter which angle you are admiring it from. But the right way for The Yuru Camp fans to see it is from Lake Motosu – just like how the girls in the series did.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - The Yuru Camp
Image credit: @BelleDeesse via WallpaperUp

While you could stay overnight in a Mount Fuji ryokan, you could also bring your camping gear and pitch a tent at the Kouan Camping Grounds. Just a 3-minute drive from Lake Motosu, the grounds guarantee that you’ll wake up to the view of Mount Fuji in the morning

All you have to pay is ¥600/adult (~S$5.45) for the camping fee and ¥1,000/night and tent (~S$9.08) on d-day.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Stand-up paddle board at the Lake MotosuDo water activities in Motosu Lake, one of the 5 Fuji lakes with crystal-clear waters.
Image credit: @bbheadmezon via Instagram

The experience of seeing Mount Fuji from a distance hits different when you’re on a stand-up paddleboard (¥1,500/hour,~S$13.63) in the middle of a tranquil lake. But if you prefer canoeing, you can rent them for ¥1500/hour (~S$13.63) for a 1-person canoe or ¥2,000/hour (~S$18.17) for a 2-person canoe.

Kouan Camping Grounds
Address: 2926 Nakanokura, Minobu-cho, Minamikoma-gun 409-3104, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Opening hours: 8am-8pm, Daily
Contact: +81556-38-0117 | Kouan Camping Grounds website


5. Attack on Titan – Hita City


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Oyama DamImage credit: @to2insta via Instagram

The 93m-tall Oyama Dam in Hita City has gotten many tourists’ attention, especially fans of the anime Attack on Titan. Situated a 1.5-hour drive from Fukuoka City, the dam is undeniably the inspiration behind “Wall Maria” in the anime, given that they’ve built statues of the 3 main characters Armin, Eren, and Mikasa.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Attack on Titan
Image credit: Lost in Anime

Channel your main character vibes and pose for a pic with the statues; pretend you’re waiting in fear before the Colossal Titans breach the “Wall Maria”. 

Stop by the Attack on Titan in HITA Museum before you leave to see exclusive and original drawings of the series. Plus, anyone can get in for free.

Address: 2991 Oyamamachi Nishioyama, Hita, Oita 877-0201, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +81 973-52-2445 | Oyama Dam website


6. Demon Slayer – Ashikaga Flower Park


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Ashikaga Flower Park
Image credit: @nnguyen22 via Instagram

Calling all Demon Slayer stans, make your way to Ashikaga Flower Park to experience what it’s like to stroll through a place akin to the luminous purple flower-covered mountain Tanjiro had to spend a week in.

The purple wisteria season starts in late April until early May, and ticket fees differ through different blooming seasons with a starting price of ¥300/adult (~S$2.73) and ¥100/child (~S$0.91). Book them in advance because the tickets sell like hotcakes, especially during the blooming season.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Demon Slayer
Image credit: CuteWallpaper.org

Walk under a 150-year-old tree with dangling wisteria flowers, through an 80m-long wisteria tunnel, and witness a waterfall-shaped wisteria tree. All these can even be seen at nighttime when the garden is illuminated. 

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Fujinohana Monogatari Ofuji FestivalImage credit: @sora_ace_wyoo via Instagram

Also, keep an eye out for their Fujinohana Monogatari Ofuji Festival, which happens every year during the said season, as they’ll have a light-up event. You don’t want to miss the stalls selling all sorts of accessories, cosmetics, and sweet treats made out of wisteria flowers, too.

Getting there: Take a 40-minute bullet train from Tokyo Station to Oyama Station, then switch to the JR Ryomo Line to Ashikaga Flower Park Station for another 30-minute ride. From there, it’s a 3-minute walk to the park.

Book a day tour to Ashikaga Flower Park.


7. Spirited Away – Dogo Onsen Honkan


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Dogo Onsen Honkan
Image credit: @mizusawa3 via Instagram

For those who enjoy hot springs, beautiful architectural designs, and Ghibli’s Spirited Away, the Dogo Onsen Honkan is a must-visit in Japan. Head to one of the Japanese onsen towns, Matsuyama, if you want to soak in Japan’s oldest hot spring bathhouse for just ¥460/person (~S$4.18).

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Spirited AwayImage credit: Studio Ghibli

The iconic hot spring resort is what inspired the huge bathhouse in the anime, where quaint creatures roam around. You not only get to chillax and soak in the hot springs but also see cherry trees blossom at Dogo Park and the ruins of Yuzuki Castle nearby.

Address: 5-6 Dogoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0842, Japan
Opening hours: 6am-11pm, Daily
Contact: +81 89-921-5141


8. Castle in the Sky – Takeda Castle Ruins


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Takeda Castle Ruins
Image credit: GAMMADION13 via Google Maps

What if we say that you can be teleported to the set of Castle In The Sky? Well, not literally. But if that sounds like something on your wishlist, grab your cameras and pack your jackets to visit the land in the clouds known as Takeda Castle Ruins.

With the mountain surrounded by seemingly endless clouds, you’ll feel like you’re high up in the sky. Make sure to wrap yourself up in layers of clothes, too, because it’s about 2°C up there.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Castle in The SkyImage credit: Pinterest

To get an incredible view of the sun rising, we recommend sun-seekers hike the 40-minute trail up Ritsuunkyo for the best view. It’s a 12-minute drive from Takeda Castle, and you’ll need to pay an environmental cooperation fee of ¥300/person (~S$2.73) before you hike.

Whip out your phone and snap lots of photos of the scenic view once you’re at the top because you’ll be standing directly opposite of Takeda Castle. That means you’ll also get to see the Takeda Castle grounds “floating” in clouds. 

Takeda Castle Ruins
ADDRESS
Japan, 〒669-5252 Hyogo, Asago, 和田山町竹田古城山169番地
Opening Hours: Saturday 08:00 a.m - 06:00 p.m  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.3
(3266)
CONTACT INFORMATION

Getting there: Take a 20-minute train from Okayama Station to Himeji Station, then switch to the Hamakaze Line to Takeda Station, followed by a 20-minute bus ride to Takeda Castle.


9. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea – Tomonoura


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Tomonoura
Image credit: @tsutsucame via Instagram

Watching Ponyo has made many fans switch up their typical Japan destinations to somewhere out of the city, like the fishing town of Tomonoura. It’s an isolated town overlooking the Seto Inland Sea at the end of Fukuyama City that shares the same vibes as the animated film. 

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Ponyo On The Cliff by The SeaImage credit: Studio Ghibli

Not only does the port resemble the ones in the movie scenes, but so do the town’s historical monuments such as Joyato Lighthouse and a red-roofed house that served as Sosuke and Risa’s home inspiration. 

Anime-Like Places In Japan - View from Fukuzenji Temple's verandah Image credit: @anitattooo via Instagram

In Tomonoura, you’ll find several peaceful shrines and temples, most of which have become both local and tourist attractions. But nothing beats the view from the Fukuzenji Temple verandah, so you might want to stop by to take in the sights of the Seto Inland Sea.

Getting there: Take a 30-minute bus ride from Fukuyama Station to Tomo Port bus stop.

Book a kayak activity at the islands of Tomonoura


10.  Jujutsu Kaisen – Takeshita Street


Anime-Like Places In Japan - Takeshita Street in Tokyo
Image credit: @rani_lim via Instagram

Ask a tourist about Takeshita Street in Tokyo, and they’d say they know it as the bustling street full of street food stalls, fashion shops, and trendy cafes. Ask a Jujutsu Kaizen fan, and he’ll recap the Takeshita Street scene where Nobara was strolling along the pavement and the characters assembled near a coin-operated locker.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - Jujutsu Kaisen at Takeshita Street
Image credit: @Surwill via X

Many scenes in the anime happen around the Harajuku area, and Takeshita Street is a place where you can do more than just take photos. It is a go-to hangout place for youths who go there for the Insta-worthy spots at the vibrant storefronts with colourful displays and street art.

Anime-Like Places In Japan - souffle pancake at the Gram Harajuku
Image credit: @domles via Instagram

You’ll also be spoiled by many street food options, and in case you need a suggestion to kickstart your food hunt, start with Gram Harajuku. The cafe is known for its boing boing soufflé pancakes that cost about ¥950 (~S$8.63) for 3 pieces.

Book the Harajuku half-day tour in Tokyo.


A pilgrimage to Studio Ghibli and anime real-life locations

Hop on the trend that will take you into the magical worlds of Studio Ghibli films and Japanese anime the next time you visit Japan. Recreate the scenes, pose, and then compile a collection of “in anime VS. reality” photos to post on your social media.

For your next Japan itinerary, check out:


Cover image adapted from: @nnguyen22 via Instagram, CuteWallpaper.org, Lauren Massuda via Medium & @kiyomoon via Instagram

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