11 real life anime locations to visit in Japan

Are you a fan of anime and dream of visiting the places that inspired them? Discover 11 real-life locations in Japan, where fiction and reality collide, and enjoy real-life locations that served as inspiration for your favorite movies and anime series. From Tokyo to the Japanese mountains, these destinations will allow you to appreciate Japanese history and culture in a new and fun way.

This type of pop culture-inspired tourism has become increasingly popular in Japan, helping to promote the country's culture and history through what is known as "Cool Japan".


1 - Yakushima Island - Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke (1997) is a staple of Japanese animation, one of Hayao Miyazaki 's undisputed masterpieces. The captivating atmosphere and the sets found in this film were largely inspired by a unique location in Japan: the island of Yakushima ! This is a fascinating island located off the coast of Kagoshima in southern Japan. It is known for its dense forests and its thousand-year-old trees, the Yakusugi cedars . This island is unspoilt, making it an ideal setting for Princess Mononoke and the themes covered in the film. Yakushima has even been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. Accessible by sea and by air, it is characterized, among other things, by the sandy beaches that surround it and high mountains in its center. If you have the opportunity to visit, you can indulge in hikes in the lush forests , guided tours to observe the local fauna and flora, or even enjoy the natural onsen .

To get there : Access to Yakushima is from Kagoshima by plane or boat.

Yakushima Forest

The forest on Yakushima Island looks just like Princess Mononoke's.


Princesse Mononoke et ses décors inspirés de l'île de Yakushima

Princess Mononoke and her decorations inspired by the island of Yakushima

Studio Ghibli

Learn more // Yakushima Island

4 - Shirakawago - Higurashi no naku koro ni

Shirakawago is an area in Gifu Prefecture that has several villages and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . This is the primary source of inspiration for the fictional village of Hinamizawa in the work " Higurashi no naku koro ni ", also known in English as "Hinamizawa, the cursed village" (2006) for its adaptation lively. This village is famous for its traditional thatched-roof houses , called gassho-zukuri , which are featured prominently in the show. The series, which is originally a visual novel series later adapted into an anime, follows a group of friends facing dark events in the small mountain town of Hinamizawa in 1983. Shirakawa-go has many iconic locations that have been adapted into the series, such as Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine. Since the series' popularity, Shirakawa-go has hosted Higurashi themed events and even erected statues of the main characters.

Getting there : Shirakawago is accessible by bus or shinkansen from Toyama, Kanazawa, Shin-Takaoka or Nagoya.

Le village de Hinamizawa, très largement inspiré de Shirakawa-go, dans la préfecture de Gifu

The village of Hinamizawa, largely inspired by Shirakawa-go, in Gifu Prefecture


Shirakawago Unesco world heritage village in Japanese Alps

Shirakawago, typical village of the Japanese Alps classified as World Heritage


Learn more // Shirakawa-go

3 - The steps to the Suga temple (Tokyo) - Your name

If you have seen Your Name (2016), you must remember the famous final scene, on this staircase. Since the release of Makoto Shinkai's hit film , this discreet staircase of 26 concrete steps has attracted thousands of visitors, who come to immortalize their visit by taking photos and it is not uncommon to see tourists trying to reproduce the cult scene there . Fans can also discover the surroundings of Shinjuku, a lively and diverse district of Tokyo, offering a wide range of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. There are many places in Your Name that exist in real life. Some are very innocuous, like a bus stop in the middle of nowhere , but many of these places have gained renewed tourist interest since the film's release, such as Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture.

To get there : Suga Temple : Japan, 〒160-0018 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Sugacho, 5

L'une des scènes les plus emblématiques de Your Name, sur les escaliers

One of Your Name's most iconic scenes, on the stairs

CoMix Wave Films

Les marches qui mènent au sanctuaire Suga

The steps leading to Suga Shrine

Flickr - Hideya Hamano

10 - Tokyo Tower - Sailor Moon, Detective Conan...

What could be more iconic in Tokyo than the Tokyo Tower? 333 meters high, 2 meters more than the Eiffel Tower, it is an emblem of Japan recognized throughout the world. This is something that many animated series have understood well since they use it as a backdrop or even as a place of interest. We can notably cite the case in the animated Card Captor Sakura (1998), where the eponymous protagonist fights to protect the city by trying to search for the magical cards that threaten its security. It can also serve as a symbol, as when it collapses following the earthquake in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (2009), showing all the fragility of the city in the face of natural disasters. It can also appear as scenery, serving as an instant reminder that a scene takes place in Tokyo, as in Sailor Moon (1992), or in Detective Conan (1996) where it appears many times, including in one of the credits and opening.

To get there : 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0011, Japan

Ran Mōri (Détective Conan) se tenant devant la Tokyo Tower

Ran Mōri (Detective Conan) standing in front of Tokyo Tower


Tokyo tower and Roppongi cultural district

The Tokyo Tower, built in 1958, is inspired by the Eiffel Tower

©Pumidol Leelersakulvong/123RF

La Tokyo Tower dans une ville désolée dans Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

The Tokyo Tower in a desolate city in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Bones, Kinema Citrus

La Tokyo Tower telle que présentée dans l'animé Sailor Moon

Tokyo Tower as seen in the anime Sailor Moon


Learn more // Tokyo Tower

6 - Dogo Onsen - Spirited Away

Located in the charming town of Matsuyama , Ehime Prefecture, Dogo Onsen is one of Japan's oldest and most famous onsens (hot springs). This historic spa town inspired the setting for the public bath in the hit animated film " Spirited Away "  (2001) directed by Hayao Miyazaki . By going to Dogo Onsen, you can relive the magic of the film while enjoying the benefits of its thermal waters. The main establishment, the Dogo Onsen Honkan, is a magnificent wooden building built in 1894 , which testifies to the rich cultural heritage of the area. In addition to its traditional baths, Dogo Onsen also offers relaxation services such as massages and beauty treatments. After enjoying the onsen facilities, feel free to explore Matsuyama's quaint alleyways , where you'll find delicious local food and a warm atmosphere.

To get there : 5-6 Dōgoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0842, Japan

Les bains du voyage de Chihiro, lieu principal de l'intrigue

The baths of Spirited Away, main location of the plot

Studio Ghibli

Japan Visitor - dogo-onsen-2017-1.jpg
Learn more // Le Dôgo Onsen

8 - Omi-Jingu - Chihayafuru

Omi-Jingu Shrine, located in Otsu , near Kyoto, is an iconic location in the Chihayafuru (2011) series. Indeed, this Shinto shrine hosts the national karuta championship every year, the famous traditional Japanese card game played by the characters in this manga. Yuki Suetsugu, the author of Chihayafuru, has used this place several times in her work. Visitors can discover wooden plaques called ema , often decorated with messages and drawings related to the series. The adjacent streets offer an array of shops and restaurants offering local delicacies and even Chihayafuru-themed souvenirs.

To get there : 1-1 Jingucho, Otsu, Shiga 520-0015, Japan

Chihaya faisant face à l'Omi Jingu, l'endroit où elle peut devenir Queen au karuta

Chihaya facing the Omi Jingu, the place where she can become Queen in karuta

mad house


The Omi junge temple in Otsu is a contemporary temple founded in 1940


11 - The port of Tomonoura - Ponyo on the cliff

"Ponyo" (2008) is another animated film by Hayao Miyazaki which is inspired by a real place: the village of Tomonoura . It is a charming port village located in Hiroshima Prefecture and facing the Seto Inland Sea. Blessed with a rich historical heritage, Tomonoura has retained its authenticity since the Edo period, offering a picturesque atmosphere with its traditional wooden houses and Setonaikai National Park . Visitors can experience the 380-year-old Taiami fishing method, as well as the historic Onfunayado Iroha building, where Hayao Miyazaki is said to have interacted with the locals. Don't miss the house resembling Sousuke's in the film, located near Ankokuji Temple , and explore the alleyways lined with small fishing boats . Sensuijima Island, accessible in a few minutes from the port, and the school decorated with a fresco in homage to Ponyo, testify to the close link between Tomonoura and the world of Ghibli.

Getting there : Tomonoura is accessible by bus from Fukuyama Station.

Le village où se déroule Ponyo sur la falaise, largement inspiré du village de Tomonoura

The village where Ponyo takes place on the cliff, largely inspired by the village of Tomonoura

Studio Ghibli

Port de Tomonoura

View of the port of Tomonoura.


Learn more // Le port de Tomonoura

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