Sangatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion), the award-winning piece from Chica Umino has been attracting interest from all over the world. Fans eagerly await the completion of the manga and anime and many have tremendously enjoyed the two-part live action movie. Not only is it entertaining, but readers and viewers can also learn about important aspects of Japanese culture. The unforgettable story of Rei Kiriyama, a young, aspiring shogi player brings you to 8 interesting locations around Tokyo that are most definitely worth a visit!
When Rei Kiriyama decided to leave his foster family house, he chose an apartment near the river. The location is inspired by the neighborhood near the Sumida River in the Chuo area. Let’s start with the well-known bridge in the series: the Chuo Ohashi. A famous landmark in the story, the bridge connects the place where Rei lives and where the Kawamoto sisters’ house is located. It has a lot of exposure in the series as it shown whenever Rei walks back to his apartment lost deep in thought.
Even for those who aren’t a fan of the series, Chuo Ohashi is still a sight to see. From the bridge, you can view the majestic Sky Tree Tower, the greenery of Tsukuda Park and the Sumida River often filled with tourist boats or jet skis. At night, it has a beautiful illumination, a perfect backdrop for a night stroll. Get off at JR Hatchobori Station and the bridge is just a three-minute walk from there.
Cross the Chuo Ohashi Bridge and you’ll see the famous park in the series: Tsukuda Park. This is where Rei and the Kawamoto sisters usually stroll. The park is a haven for joggers and walkers and is perfect for every season. There is a row of cherry blossom trees which lead up to the reconstructed Ishikawajima Lighthouse.
If you walk a bit further from the lighthouse, you’ll notice a huge, red Torii Gate that marks the entrance to the Sumiyoshi Shrine. The shrine is another landmark in the series and is usually shown whenever Rei visits the house of the Kawamoto sisters. The shrine premises are small but a lot of people visit the shrine because it is an important symbol of the Tsukudajima area. There are some important artifacts found in the shrine and a summer festival is held once every three years.
If you exit at the gate near the main hall of the shrine, walk straight and turn left, you will discover a beautiful bridge called Tsukuda-ko Bridge, which is also depicted in the series many times. This bright red bridge makes a stark contrast to its surroundings. The small creek is surrounded by dilapidated houses and old boats – a sight uncommon in the Tokyo area. Some days, you will spot artists in the area quietly painting. Most of the time, families and older people relax there to enjoy the serenity.
Head in the direction of Nishinaka Street and eat some monjayaki, a dish also portrayed in the series. The lane has many shops and restaurants and is suspected to be the inspiration for the lane where the Kawamoto’s sweet shop is located. Near the shops, there are many small alleys that you can walk through. Get lost and have fun! Who knows, maybe you will be the one to discover the model house of the Kawamoto sisters?
Shogi, or General’s Board Game, is a traditional Japanese board game that is similar to chess with some rules changed. This game plays a vital role in the development of the story in Sangatsu no Lion. Don’t worry, if you are not familiar with shogi, the series tackles some introductory concepts of the game. Even if you don’t learn how to play it, you will still be hooked to the story in no time.
The series shows from the beginning how Rei Kiriyama juggles his career as a pro-shogi player and a high school student. He often takes the Chuo Line to Sendagaya Station to do his matches in the Shogi Hall in the Sendagaya area. When you exit the station, you will see the Japan National Stadium on your right. The stadium is often seen in the series whenever Rei or other shogi players walk back to the station.
From Sendagaya Station, the Shogi Hall is a 7-minute walk. If you’re a fan of the series, the sight of Shogi Hall will really bring excitement to you as the story of Rei’s shogi matches come alive. After taking photos of the building, enter the hall and you will see a big Rei Kiriyama stand with his shogi board. Check the store and you will see different kinds of shogi board games and pieces from the cheapest to the most expensive. There are also Japanese books that introduce shogi to beginners. Entering the building is allowed and you can see many shogi enthusiasts playing shogi on the second floor. It can be a bit crowded especially on a weekend.
A few meters away from the Shogi Hall is the Hatonomori Hachiman Shrine. The shogi players in Sangatsu no Lion often go to the shrine to pray for guidance in their matches. The whole shrine is depicted throughout the anime series. This shrine is known for its summer flowers and the miniature mountain in the middle of the garden.
Even if you are not familiar with Sangatsu no Lion, you will still enjoy going to these two main areas of the series as it gives you a different vibe and experience to the usual touristy sights. If you’re a Sangatsu no Lion fan, then visiting these places is definitely a must! A visit early in the morning to the Sendagaya area is perfect to avoid the crowd, while a late afternoon visit is great for Tsukishima and Tsukuda area in order to see the sun setting over the river and the beautiful illumination of the Chuo Bridge at night.