For many anime fans, visiting the real-life locations that serve as the setting of their favorite stories has become a new way to experience their most-loved animated films, graphic novels or television series, allowing fans to literally walk in their favorite characters’ footsteps. These destinations are slowly becoming as popular as the series that placed them on the map, as fans pack their bags and travel to see these destinations first-hand.
The little town of Iwami cho in the Tottori prefecture of Southeastern Japan has been receiving much more attention lately with the airing of the Japanese anime series, Free!, a series focused on a revived swimming club. However, we’re most amazed at how animators were able to accurately capture the water-front town’s charm, using virtually every aspect of the town, from the charming harbor to something as simple as an alleyway, as illustrative inspiration.
Another town that has been placed in the spotlight, thanks to anime, is Oarai, in the eastern part of Ibaraki prefecture. Oarai’s most famous and distinct landmarks, like it’s marine tower and dolphin statue, as well as less well-known sites, like local restaurants, are featured in the popular series, Girls und Panzer. Locals have embraced their new found fame: pictures of the characters can be seen throughout the town and an event celebrating the anime was held earlier this year.
Though not based on a real-life place, Studio Ghibli fans can visit the home of Mei and Satsuki from the beloved Miyazaki film, My Neighbor Totoro. Located in Nagakute, Japan at the at the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park and designed by Goro Miyazaki, the house was constructed with such precision, detail and authenticity that visitors can feel as if the little girls could run in and out of the home at any moment.