While there are hundreds to choose from, we’ve selected 10 anime that use fascinating and unique real-life settings worthy of visiting! We’ve also ensured a balance of locations across Japan, so you can tour lots of the country on anime alone! Even without their anime connection, each one of these places makes for exciting sightseeing and are easy to get to!
10. Welcome to the NHK (2006) - Kawasaki/Yokohama
Even to this day, Welcome to the NHK remains an insightful analysis on the dark side of modern Japanese culture. Fans who were moved by main character Sato's all too relatable anguish can make the pilgrimage to his neighborhood of Ikuta (生田 ) in Kawasaki City.
While not all that special in itself, Ikuta presents a pleasant slice of an archetypal Japanese neighborhood and a chance to relive the memories of NHK’s emotional ride. Mita Park #1 (三田第1公園 ) is where Sato and Misaki hold their therapy sessions, which is authenticated by the concerning ‘beware of molesters’ sign featured in the anime. Nearby you can see Misaki’s house, which, like the anime, is atop a hill overlooking the entire area. This is a regular person’s house, so if you wish to take photos, do it discreetly and from a distance. The manga café where Misaki works is called "Break Time" and is also near Ikuta Station. Unfortunately, according to anime blogger Scholl, the apartment block used as inspiration for Sato's Mita House has since been demolished.
For more exhilarating NHK-related sightseeing, episode 8, which involves Sato and Misaki pretending to be in a relationship to please Sato’s visiting mother, is set in the neighboring city of Yokohama (横浜市). Their first stop is Yokohama’s sprawling Chinatown, where they enjoy a fancy Chinese lunch at Heichinro Yokohama Honten (聘珍樓 横浜本店). After Sato’s mother leaves, the two try having a real date, and visit many hot Yokohama date spots, including the serine Harbor View Park (港の見える丘), Minato Mirai (みなとみらい), where you spot the old Nippon Maru ship (pictured), and Yamashita Park (山下公園).
9. Grand Blue (2018) - Ito
The hilarious hijinks of diving manga turned anime Grand Blue take place in Kawana (川奈), a part of the beachy hot spring town of Ito (伊東) on the lush Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島). While the anime exaggerates its beauty a little (the sand is a disappointingly dark color), for fans of Grand Blue and lovers of Japanese beach culture, the trip is worthwhile!
The diving shop where the characters hang out is believed to be modeled on real-life diving center Oasis (オアシス川奈), although the buildings and background are not perfectly identical. If you want to try diving in Ito's gorgeous ocean for yourself, Oasis offers courses for both beginners and pros! If you'd prefer a swim, a 10-minute walk up the coast will bring you to Kawana Dolphin Beach (川奈いるか浜), where the refreshing atmosphere and tranquil waters are most reminiscent of Grand Blue's idyllic world. The university where the characters attend, Ito University, is not real, but its building is an exact copy of the iconic Kawana Hotel (川奈ホテル), which is a five-minute drive from Kawana Station (川奈駅). Kawana Station itself makes an appearance in episode five, whereby the characters rendezvous for their group date.
Of course, if you’re a Grand Blue fan, you’ll want to finish your tour in Okinawa, where the final three episodes of the anime take place. The team visit the breathtaking Miyakojima Island (宮古島) while staying at the real life Beachside House Miyakojima, which is right on the beachfront and perfect for divers!
8. The Eccentric Family (2013)/The Tatami Galaxy (2010) - Kyoto
Following the sights of animes The Eccentric Family and The Tatami Galaxy is a great way to tour Kyoto. Both anime are based on novels by Tomihiko Morimi, who demonstrates his admiration for the magical city through his beautiful prose.
The Eccentric Family provides an entertaining guide to the history and culture of the ancient former capital. The protagonist constantly refers to the city while explaining each setting and its significance. This includes extravagant attractions like the stunning Shimogamo (下鴨神社) and Goryo Shrines (上御霊神社) and the breathtaking Arashiyama (嵐山), along with a simpler, more everyday Kyoto through the Kuramayu (鞍馬湯) traditional bathhouse and the Teramachi Arcade (pictured).
The Tatami Galaxy likewise flaunts the charm of the exotic side of Kyoto, with the climax of the first episode taking place during the ultra-recognizable Gozan no Okuribi (五山送り火) festival on the Kamogawa Ohashi Bridge (鴨川大橋). Kyoto is known for its rivers, and many of the anime’s numerous riverside scenes take place on the tranquil Kamo River Delta (鴨川デルタ), including the iconic ‘setting off fireworks at lovers’ scene. Sanjo Bridge (三条大橋) is another serine, quintessential part of Kyoto seen in the anime and known in real life as a popular date spot. The park where the protagonist chats to his crush, Akashi, takes place in the peaceful Tadasu Forest (糺の森), nearby where the fictional "Neko Ramen" is supposed to be.
7. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (2018) - Kanagawa
Most of Bunny Girl Senpai takes place in Japan's second most populous prefecture, Kanagawa (神奈川県). Renowned as a beachy and laid-back area popular with tourists, there is lots of anime-related sightseeing to do here!
Among its numerous settings, the biggest highlight is Enoshima (江の島), a tiny island off the coast of Fujisawa City (藤沢市) that is connected to the mainland via bridge. Attractions seen in the anime include the stunning Enoshima Shrine (江ノ島神社) and the Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世通り), where you can sample the scrumptious whitebait famous in the area. The widely publicized promotional image featuring the titular bunny girl in front of a jellyfish aquarium is from Enoshima Aquarium’s Jellyfish Fantasy Hall. A short walk from the island along the mainland coast will bring you to Shichirigahama Beach (七里ヶ浜), where many of the anime’s dramatic beachside scenes take place.
While you’re in the area, stop by some other anime locations! Kamakura Koko Mae (鎌倉高校前駅), "Japan’s most famous crossing," allows you to relive your Slam Dunk nostalgia. For fans of the 2005 anime Elfen Lied, Gokurakuji Station (極楽寺駅) and the beach near Hase Station (長谷駅) are heavily featured. In a special Elfen Lied OVA episode, characters Nana and Nyu take refuge in the ancient shrine of Zeniarai Benzaiten (銭洗弁財天宇賀福神社) in Kamakura (鎌倉).
6. Love Live! Sunshine!! (2016) - Numazu
Since 2012, the Love Live franchise has been an enormous multimedia sensation in Japan, and its sequel, Love Live! Sunshine!! was naturally a huge hit. Unlike its predecessor’s boisterous Tokyo setting, Sunshine mostly takes place in the small city of Numazu (沼津市), above the Izu Peninsula. The city has a lot to offer and can be visited as a day trip from Tokyo. Iconic locations from the anime include Numazu Station (沼津駅), Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世商店街), the Kano River (狩野川), and Bentenjima Shrine (弁天島神社) (pictured).
However, the biggest highlight is in the Uchiura Mito (内浦三津) district, where you can find the model for the traditional Japanese inn that idol Chika and her family run and live in. In real life it is called Yasudaya Ryokan (安田屋旅館), and it is open for business! You’ll notice loads of similarities between the real and fictional version both inside and out!
5. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) - Hakone
While Neon Genesis Evangelion takes place in a barely recognizable post-apocalyptic world, there is enough of the mountainous hot spring Hakone (箱根) region featured to warrant a visit. Within the story, Hakone, around two hours by train from Tokyo, is the site of the fortified city of Tokyo-3 and its mountains, lakes, and streets are often ravaged by fierce fights between the Eva Units and the Angels. One iconic location is Lake Ashi (芦ノ湖), a gorgeous lake with Mt. Fuji views and an eye-catching torii gate in the water (pictured). The lake acts as the battleground for Shinji and Rei’s fight against the powerful angel Ramiel in episodes five and six. Those with keen eyes might be able to spot the lake’s torii gate in the 2007 film remake.
Even if you don’t find any recognizable locations, Hakone has become enough of a pilgrimage site to prompt the development of Evangelion-themed stores, restaurants, attractions, and more! This includes the recent addition of a two-meter tall Evangelion Unit-01 and diorama of the Nerv complex at Togendai Station (桃源台駅), a terminal on the Hakone Ropeway.
4. Durarara!! (2010) - Ikebukuro
The complex urban crime drama Durarara!!, based off a light novel of the same name, liberally uses the sights and sounds of Ikebukuro (池袋), with a helping of the supernatural! Ikebukuro, a boisterous commercial district of Tokyo, is a popular youth hang-out and otaku heaven. The city is used so strongly that you’ll doubtlessly run into scenes from the anime almost everywhere you look! Places include Ikebukuro Central Park, Sunshine City 60 Street, Sunshine City, and the Seibu Intersection (pictured). The first episode heavily features Ikebukuro Station (池袋駅) and its ikefukuro owl statue, so you’ll enter the world of Durarara!! the moment you step off the train! Just keep a look out for any flying vending machines!
3. When They Cry (2006) - Shirakawa-go
When They Cry’s fictional setting is based on deeply historic village of Shirakawa-go (白川郷) in Gifu. Along with being a staple anime pilgrimage site, the town's dozens of ancient triangular thatched roof houses have earned it World Heritage recognition. While now an extremely popular tourist attraction, the town is still populated by residents enjoying a simple and steady lifestyle despite the fame.
Along with borrowing the town’s otherworldly ambiance, When They Cry directly lifts much of its scenery for its twisted story. Some famous locations include the Hachiman Shrine (白川八幡神社) and Wada House (和田家), together with various houses, bridges, and other bits and pieces you’ll be able to find by wandering around. See if you can spot Rika’s home!
2. Steins;Gate (2011) - Akihabara
Akihabara (秋葉原), known as the anime capital of Japan, sets the colorful stage for Steins;Gate - a tale of time travelling otaku vs international conspiracies. Wandering the city, you’ll surely come across locations related to Steins;Gate, along with dozens of other anime! For a basic Steins;Gate walking tour, start at Akihabara Station and head to the Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街). Both of these areas are heavily featured in several scenes throughout the series. The shrine where Ruka lives is based on Yanagimori Shrine (柳森神社 ), which can be reached from the station by crossing the photogenic Kanda Fureai Bridge (神田ふれあい橋), which is also featured in the anime (pictured).
However, by far the most important Steins;Gate location is the Akihabara Radio Kaikan (秋葉原ラジオ会館), where the time-bending events that kick off the thrilling story begin. While the original building was unfortunately demolished in 2011, a new, similar version was completed in 2014, making it still worth a look. No longer holding lectures, the building now contains several anime and manga stores, making it a hang-out for local otaku. After the anime first aired, a model of the time machine that crashes on the building’s roof was installed for a short period, making it a viral sensation in Japan!
1. Your Name (2016) - Yotsuya/Hida City
The dramatic climax of smash-hit Your Name sees protagonists Taki and Mitsuha cross paths at the long staircase outside Yotsuya’s Suga Shrine (四谷須賀神社) in central Tokyo. This now iconic area, which was beautifully recreated in the anime, has reeled in visitors from all over the world trying to reenact the film’s final moments. Suga Shrine can be easily reached with a 15-minute walk from Yotsuya Station (四ツ谷駅).
For die-hard Your Name fans, the tour doesn’t stop at Tokyo! Mitsuha’s serine hometown, Itomori, is said to be based off Hida City (飛騨市) in Gifu. Like its anime counterpart, Hida is full of magnificent scenery, historical buildings, and traditional architecture. It's a tourist-friendly insight into rural Japan that definitely warrants a visit! Hida Library, Hida-Furukawa Station, and the Keta Wakamiya Shrine make distinct appearances in the film, while several bus stops, streets, and other locations can be spotted with keen eyes! The Hida Furukawa Sakura Gift Shop holds many of the area's traditional goods and offers visitors the chance to try the kumihimo (組み紐) traditional braiding technique practiced by Mitsuha and her family.
However, Hida City is missing the most memorable part of its fictional counterpart - the giant lake! This vast lake encircled by mountain range is instead believed to be inspired by Lake Suwa (諏訪湖) in Nagano Prefecture. However, this is refuted by the director himself, who stated Lake Matsubara (松原湖) in the same prefecture to be the inspiration. Despite the director’s assertions, in my opinion, Lake Suwa looks a lot more similar!