9 Set Locations You Should Visit If You’re a Japanese Drama / Movie Fan

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  • I am a huge fan of Japanese dramas and movies. I try to keep up with the latest shows as much as possible. As a huge J-Drama fan, I would definitely love to explore and visit shooting locations of my favorite shows! If you are a huge J-drama fan as I am, I’m sure that you would love to visit these locations too. So, here are some drama filming locations that you should not miss if you visit Japan someday!

    1. Akasaka Palace or Akasaka Rikyu (State Guesthouse) – Seisei Suruhodo, Aishiteru 2016

    Akasaka Palace has appeared in the drama ‘Seisei Suruhodo, Aishiteru’ in 2016, starring Takei Emi and Takizawa Hideaki. This location was used as the first meeting place of the main characters played by Takei and Takizawa. In the first episode, you can see that there are chairs and tables on the set. In reality, this location serves as one of the two State Guesthouses of the government of Japan. This was originally made as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince of Japan in 1909. Today, it stands as the official accommodation for the visitors of the Japanese government.

    Is this open to the general public?

    Akasaka Palace is open to the general public. The palace is only closed when there are official visitors from abroad who stay at these accommodations. When you want to visit the palace, you need to sign up on their homepage or you can drop by at their reception area directly. There are three locations in Akasaka Palace that are open to the public: the main and front garden, main building and main garden and the Japanese style annex. Entrance fee for the main and front garden is 300 yen, 1,500 yen for the main building and main garden, and 1,500 yen for the Japanese style annex. You can drop by the reception area to visit the main building. However, reservations are only allowed through the website if you want to visit the Japanese style annex.

    Akasaka Palace is located at 2-1-1, Moto-Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0051, Japan.

    You can take the JR Chuo Line or the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, getting off at Yotsuya Station. It is only a 7 minute walk from Yotsuya station. Unfortunately, there is no parking area available for vehicles so, I recommend that you use public transport.

    Akasaka Palace Website
    Access

    2. British Hills, Fukushima – Hana Yori Dango 2005, 2007, 2008 / Hana Nochi Hare 2018

    British Hills was the mansion that appeared in ‘Hana Yori Dango’ and ‘Hana Nochi Hare’ as the Domyouji family mansion. It appeared several times in these dramas. As tagged on their website, the British Hills is part of Britain that you could visit in Japan without a passport. You can reserve a room, dine a fantastic meal, learn English and shop for souvenirs in this location!

    It’s as if you are in Great Britain when you visit British Hills. They have European themed rooms and villages. You can dine on European food in British style settings. Aside from checking into a British styled room and eating European food, they offer free English lessons and they also teach you British culture. They offer lessons on calligraphy, British arts & crafts, how to cook British food, aromatherapy, jewelry making, and snooker! These are taught by ESL teachers from Great Britain.

    British Hills is located at 1-8 Aza Shibakusa, Oaza Tarao, Tenei-mura, Iwase-gun, Fukushima 962-0622 Japan. It can be accessed via Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train. Just get off at Shin-Shirakawa Station. Then ride the shuttle bus going directly to British Hills. You must make a reservation for the shuttle bus before you embark on this trip.

    British-Hills Website
    Access

    3. Fuchu no Mori Park – Gokusen 2002 / One Litre of Tears 2005 / Nodame Cantabile 2006, Hana Kimi 2007

    Fuchu no Mori Park appeared in the first season of ‘Gokusen’ starring Nakama Yukie and the popular Johnny’s idol Matsumoto Jun. This location is often used when Yankumi’s (Nakama Yukie) students gather. Aside from Gokusen, this location was also used in other dramas such as ‘Nodame Cantabile’, ‘Hana Kimi’ and ‘One Litre of Tears’.

    The park is located at Sengencho 1-chome & Midoricho 2-chome in Fuchu-shi and is a 10-minute walk away from Higashi Fuchu Station on the Keio Line. There is no admission fee for this park so anyone is welcome.

    Fuchu no Mori Park Website*Automatic translation available
    Access

    4.Hachijo Kojima Island – Battle Royale 2000

    ‘Battle Royale’ was a very popular film in the early 2000’s. Many people were intrigued by this brutal film adaptation of a Japanese novel written by Koushun Takami. ‘Battle Royale’ tells a tale of junior high students who are forced to kill one another in order to survive a certain game. The live-action adaptation was mostly filmed in Hachijo Kojima Island wherein the killing battle takes place.

    The exact location of the island is at Hachijomachi, Hachijo-jima, Tokyo. Getting to Hachijo Kojima Island takes about half a day; almost 12 hours away from Tokyo via ship. The island itself has been abandoned since 1969. However, visitors can still enjoy the island through the available diving and fishing spots on the coastline.

    Hachijo Kojima Island Website*Japanese only
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    5. Lockheart Castle – Yukan Club 2007 / Atashinchi no Danshi 2009 / Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge 2010

    Lockheart Castle is a pretty popular set location in Japanese dramas since it was featured in three different Japanese dramas. This location was first featured in the drama ‘Yukan Club’ in 2007, ‘Atashinchi no Danshi’ in 2009, and ‘Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge’ in 2010. In ‘Yukan Club’, the castle served as a highschool for the main characters. Meanwhile, in ‘Atanshichi no Danshi’ it was featured as a castle called ‘Trickheart Castle’. In ‘Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge’, it was featured as the mansion the characters lived in.

    The Lockheart Castle is like an amusement park with a European theme. According to their website, this place is for lovers and couples. As described on the website, it is THE ‘lover’s sacred ground’ in the North Kanto region. This theme park has 25 acres, with a stonemade church, shops and restaurants. Many activities such as ringing the bell that is believed to bring eternal love and writing messages on small heart shaped shells which you can hang anywhere in the park can be done in this romantic site.

    History of the Lockheart Castle

    Originally, the castle was located 50 km southwest of Edinburgh, constructed in 1829. The U.S.S.R President Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1988, gave permission for the transport of the castle to Japan via the Siberian Railroad. The castle was restored in Japan on April 6, 1993.

    The Lockheart Castle is located at 5583-1 Takayama-mura, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma,377-0702 Japan. Admission fee is 1,000 yen for adults, 800 yen for students while 500 yen for children. The place can be accessed by cars. It is about two hours away from the Tokyo area.

    Lockheart Castle Website
    Access

    6. Omi Jingu Shrine – Chihayafuru 2016 and 2018

    The Omi Jingu Shrine is a sacred place for Karuta players as presented in the anime, manga and live-action films of ‘Chihayafuru’. This is where competitive Karuta competitions take place annually. The Omi Jingu Shrine is a shrine located in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. The shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Tenji who had a strong love for Karuta. One of the nicest things you could do in this place is to learn how to play Karuta in the Omi Learning Center! Memorabilia from the movies are also exhibited at the location. There are also merchandises for sale and of course, you can purchase karuta cards. I greatly recommend buying a set of Karuta cards.

    The Omi Jingu Shrine is located at 1-1 Jingu-cho, Otsu City, Shiga. You could get to the shrine via JR Kosei Line to Otsukyo Station. It’s a 20-minute walk from there. Another method is through the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line to Omi-Jingu-Mae Station. It only takes 10 minutes from there.

    Omi Jingu Shrine Website*Automatic translation available
    Access

    7. Seikei University – Hana Yori Dango 2005, 2007 and 2008 / Hana Nochi Hare 2018

    The prestigious school called ‘Eitoku Gakuen’ in the popular drama ‘Hana Yori Dango’ is actually Seikei University in real life. This is where the rich and popular F4 and the strong weed-like girl Makino Tsukushi were introduced. The sequel of ‘Hana Yori Dango’, ‘Hana Nochi Hare’, also takes place at the same location wherein the main heroine Edogawa Oto got bullied by her schoolmates.

    Since this is a University, I greatly suggest you behave during your visit to this location. You do not want to disturb students studying. This University is reachable via JR Chuo Line, Sobu Line or Keio Inokashira Line. Just get off at Kichioji Station. Then take the Kanto bus from the North Exit bus depot at Kichioji Station then get off at Seikei Gakuenmae bus stop or if you would like to walk, it’s about a 15 minute walk away from Kichioji Station.

    Seikei University Website
    Access

    8. Shinagawa Season Terrace – Tokyo Tarareba Musume 2017

    The Shinagawa Season Terrace appeared in the drama series of Yoshitaka Yuriko entitled ‘Tokyo Tarareba Musume’ in 2017. The location that was used in the set was the huge park that has a nice view of the Tokyo Tower. This is where the main characters often met.

    Shinagawa Season Terrace is a commercial place in the Shinagawa Minato area. It has about 20 stores in 3 floors that is mostly for dining. Although this is a commercial place, it was a brilliant idea to include a park for office workers to enjoy and also relax after working all day. As seen in the drama, it has a very gorgeous view of Tokyo Tower.

    Shinagawa Season Terrace is located at Konan 1-2-70, Minato Ward, Tokyo. It is a 6-minute walk away from JR Shinagawa Station Konan Exit.

    Shinagawa Season Terrace Website
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    9. Yebisu Garden Place – Hana Yori Dango 2005, 2007 and 2008 / Hana Nochi Hare 2018

    Last but not least, Yebisu Garden Place! This location is very popular since this was featured in two well-known Japanese dramas: ‘Hana Yori Dango’ and ‘Hana Nochi Hare’. This lovely and magnificent place is memorable for fans of both dramas. This location served as the meeting place of Domyouji Tsukasa (Matsumoto Jun) and Makino Tsukushi’s (Inoue Mao) first date. As a fan of ‘Hana Yori Dango’, this place is truly memorable for me and I would definitely love to visit this place someday. In ‘Hana Nochi Hare’, this was also the meeting place for the two main characters played by Sugisaki Hana and Hirano Sho.

    Yebisu Garden Place is like a city within a city. It consists of an array of five-star restaurants and many skyscrapers. This place was also a former location for a beer brewery so you can also find a beer museum in the area where you can have beer tasting and have a meal as well! Aside from the beer museum, you could also find a photography museum. To have a nice panoramic view of Tokyo, you could also visit the Yebisu Garden Place Tower where they have ‘sky dining’ restaurants on the 38th and 39th floors.

    Yebisu Garden Place is only a 5-minute walk away from Ebisu Station via the JR Yamanote Line.

    Yebisu Garden Place Website*Automatic translation available
    Access

    The Writer’s Personal Thoughts

    As a huge J-Drama fan, I would definitely love to visit these wonderful locations. They will definitely bring back lots of memories once I experience them first hand. The very first place I will visit if I go to Japan again would be Yebisu Garden Place since the drama ‘Hana Yori Dango’ is so precious to me. It is the drama where my journey of becoming a J-Pop fan started. It is the reason why I am writing this article. The next place I would someday visit, is the Omi Jingu Shrine where the film ‘Chihayafuru’ was made. I attended the Japanese film festival in my country last July and I saw the three films in one day. I got very emotional watching the films since they were lovely and it’s a rare chance that we see Japanese films in our local cinemas.

    I hope all of us fans can visit these memorable places someday!

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