Fans tend to go on pilgrimages to see and take photos of places that appeared in their favorite movies or their most beloved TV shows. It is not uncommon to hear of Game of Thrones fans travelling across Europe to find places that brought to life the city of King’s Landing or the walls of Winterfell.
In the case of Japan, anime is one of the country’s stronges soft powers, and it contributes massively to its economy and worldwide reputation.
Understandably so, many people around the world who travel to Japan like to visit certain places that appeared in some of the most iconic anime. If you want to go on one these anime pilgrimage, then we have some recommendations:
The anime tells the story of a bunch of shape-shifting Tanuki living in the modern-day Kyoto. Many of the locations depicted in the anime are as real as reality! The story takes place mostly in Central Kyoto with the main character living in Shimogamo-shrine (pictured below). Some of the places most frequently depicted in the anime are the Demachiyanagi area, Kawaramachi & Kamo river area (pictured above).
A small town with only 5 schools, this is the place where Iwatobi (a fictional town in the anime) is roughly based on. Recently, this place has become a tourist attraction due to the popular anime about swimming. Do not forget to visit the Iwamicho Tourism Association; you can visit it for free (from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.). You can find lots of merchandise and also don`t forget to also grab the Iwami Town`s Location Map (free of charge).
Iwami Tourism Website
More about the anime
Named Hasetsu in the anime series, this is the hometown of the main character Katsuki Yuri. The Hasetsu castle which is often portrayed in the anime is also based on the famous Karatsu castle in Saga. Other than the castle, Takashima Island and Yoyogi National Gymnasium are two other places that were featured in the anime.
Most of these places are welcoming anime tourism and embracing the fame, with cutouts of the characters placed around Karatsu town. In the local shrine most of the ema prayer plates have been drawn with characters from the anime and fans wishing for a second season.
As there is little time left until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the place is being renovated for the Olympic Games to come.
If you want to find out the latest information about the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Venues, have a look at the link below:
Besides Japan, the anime also revealed some places in Bangkok and also the homeland of Yurio(Yuri Plisetsky) and Viktor Nikiforov, Russia along with its Airport, a few scenes in St. Petersburg and Sochi.
Annually, the Japanese national championship of competitive かるた (karuta – a Japanese card game) tournament takes place in the famous Omi-Jingu (shrine). This shrine also features lots of history and information about karuta and it has, of course, merchandise from the anime.
As competitive karuta takes place at Omi-Jingu every year, it isn’t a surprise that this beautiful city was featured in Chihayafuru, the popular manga and anime that revolves around karuta.
This animated movie took place mainly in Tokyo and the lesser known Hida city in Gifu. There are many places in HIda to see, from the Hida-Furukawa train station to the Hida City library, all featured in the movie, so I recommend strolling around the city and find the joy in discovering the real locations!
Ano hana or あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。(Ano Hi mita hana no namae wo bokutachi ha mada shiranai -“We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.”) – you get to see merchandise from this anime sold at gift shops in or near Chichibu Station and Seibu-Chichibu Station!
The most famous landmark would be none other than the Chichibu bridge (pictured above). Other places such as the Ryusei Kaikan Michinoeki(Roadside station Ryusei Kaikan), Chichibu Shrine, Jōrin-ji Temple etc. are also some of the locations featured in Ano Hana where you can find some anime goods to please your otaku inner self.
Many fans and cosplayers have been visiting this city because of the locations that resemble the anime. Besides the locations, this city is also recommended by the Japan National Tourism Organisation, so it should be a MUST on your to do list.
The Washinomiya-jinja (shrine) is located in Washimiy and is featured in the anime `Lucky star` as Takanomiya-jinja (shrine). You can find this anime’s merchandise from many shops around this town. It is also an anime pilgrimage location recommended by the Japan National Tourism Organisation.
Already a famous town on its own, this is also the city that inspired the location in which the characters of this anime are mainly based on. The hot spring inn Kissuisō (which is the centre plot of the anime) is actually based on the real-life Yuwaku Hot Spring!
Many of the shops and places that the characters have spent their time at, can actually be traced back in Akihabara! Places such as the Radio Kaikan building, beef bowl shop and many more deserve a visit. There is no one place, so go and explore everything in the otaku paradise that is Akihabara!
Some places mentioned here actually became tourist attractions just because of the anime that features them! Without a doubt, some of the once sleepy towns became livelier all thanks to anime. Check out this Website for a list of 88 anime pilgrimage sites compiled for their 2018 edition and see if you can find your favorite!