It’s no surprise that while anime locations are fictional for the most part, their designs drew inspiration from real world places in one way or another. Let’s look at five locations which, while aren’t necessarily exact copies, but remain very faithful to their real-life counterparts.
1. Spirited Away – Jiufen, Taiwan
Travelling to the spirit realm isn’t quite possible for us, but this picturesque mountain village in Taiwan offers the next best thing. One glance at the innumerable red lanterns, streets and storefronts in Jiufen is more than enough to prove its undeniable influence on the classic animated film’s aesthetics. Oh, and the tons of street food there can help you replicate the experience of No-Face wolfing down on the numerous plates of food in the movie.
2. Kimi no Na wa – Suga Shrine Stairs, Shinjuku
Ah yes, the iconic scene at the end of the movie where the two lead characters finally cross paths in real-life without any sort of time-travel, body-swapping shenanigans. These are the very steps where that scene in the award-winning movie takes place in, and the resemblance between the real place and how it was depicted in the anime is as clear as day.
3. Fate/ series – Kobe City
The fictional Fuyuki City where majority of the fantasy visual-novel series takes place in is based on several landmarks in the city of Kobe, Japan. The most iconic would be the Kobe Great Bridge (as seen above), which inspired the location, Fuyuki Bridge, where several key battles in the series would take place. A redditor has even come up with an entire guide for your very own Fate/ pilgrimage. Talk about hardcore dedication to your own fandom. (He even brought along a small Saber figurine to place in his photos!)
4. Persona 5 The Animation – Sangenjaya, Tokyo
The inspiration that Tokyo’s Sangenjaya (三軒茶屋) had is pretty explicit; after all, the anime counterpart is called “Yongenjaya” (四軒茶屋), with “yon” referring to “four” and the “san” in Sangenjaya referring to “three”. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, here’s another comparison of the two places’ train stations. (Although the picture at the bottom is taken from the game instead of the anime adaptation!)
— 大槻 祐人 (@YutoOtsuki) September 22, 2016
5. Plastic Memories – Singapore
If the aforementioned Taiwan’s inspiration on Spirited Away wasn’t enough to blow your mind, this one definitely will. Singapore is a good 8 hours away from Japan, but many locations in the emotional, dystopian anime series Plastic Memories were designed with this island city in mind. Have a look for yourself; the resemblance is too uncanny to be a coincidence.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are definitely more locales, both inside and out of Japan, that you should definitely drop by for your anime pilgrimage. Which were the ones that surprised you the most?