10 Breathtaking Real Life Anime locations to visit in 2020 Olympics

This year, all eyes are on Japan as it gets set to host the XXXII Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The entire Tokyo Metropolis has seen redesigns and refurbishing for the welcome of nearly 10 million visitors who will throng the streets in a few months. And nothing else can be a better opportunity for anime lovers than this to plan a pilgrimage to Japan for a few weeks to check out some real life anime location. Now you don’t even need to make up a story about your anime obsessed itinerary, just tell everyone you are just there for the Games (which is not untrue after all). Unless you’re an unapologetic otaku who proudly wears their heart anime smitten on their sleeves. And rightfully so.

Anime artists often use real life locations as an inspiration for their art and stories. The list compiled is just about that. Remaining true to the spirit of sportsmanship, teamwork and chivalry that is the theme of the year, cataloged below are some real life anime locations based on sports anime.

List of real life anime locations

#1. Haikyuu!!

The story of Hinata Shouyou, a short middle school student who vows to become a star volleyball player much like his idol has several real life anime locations. The hometown of Haikyuu is Kasuno which is based on Karumai, located in far north-central Iwate Prefecture.  The author of the manga was born in and spent his life in Karumai until high school and thus drew plenty of inspiration from there.

Tohoku International School, Karumai

Karumai is 640 kilometers from Tokyo which is a considerable distance and might deter potential visitors. Thanks to Japan’s famous bullet train, the Shinkansen, the journey only takes around 3 hours from Tokyo to karumai. A journey via flight would take similar duration. The countryside is exceedingly beautiful, also Hokkaido, which features in anime like Silver Teaspoon is located quite nearby to the north.


#2. Kuroko no Basket

Kuroko no Basket does not rely much on real life locations as much as Haikyuu does, but there are several places featured in the show which have their real life counterparts. For example, the protagonist’s school Seirin High is an actual school in Tokyo.

The stadium where many of the baseball matches occur is also based on a real stadium in Japan called the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The beautifully detailed scenery possible could be the imagination of the artists but other locations as mentioned are accessible and are in Tokyo itself.

Tokyo Metro Gymnasium where all the buff kids hang out

#3. Yuri!!! on Ice

Not only does the real life anime town Hasetu, the hometown of Yuri exists, the collection of actual people who were the inspiration behind Yuri Katsuki also live in the town. Located in the Saga Prefecture of Japan, the town’s name is Karatsu. Hasetu featured in the first two episodes of Yuri on Ice. The actual town of Karatsu is located on the island of Kyushu in Saga prefecture, towards the southern end of Japan. It is nearly 1130 kilometers away from Tokyo. A journey via either Shinkansen or airplane between the two locations would take around 6 hours.

Karatsu is a beautiful place with Karatsu Castle as the center of attraction offering firework displays and a 360-degree view of the place and the bay area. To the south and close by lies Nagasaki, a place renowned for its historical significance in World War 2.

Magnificent Fireworks over Karatsu Castle

#4. Hajime no Ippo

Hajime no Ippo is primarily set in the metropolis of Tokyo and Osaka, serving as the real life anime locations. Different parts of the country are shown as the story progresses and introduces new characters.

Osaka is one of the biggest cities in the world located in the Kansai region of Honshu in Japan and is the capital of Osaka prefecture. It is 2 hours away from Tokyo via bullet train and easily accessible. The bus service available takes around 8 hours. The attractions in Osaka are innumerable as it is one of the throbbing nerve centers of Japan.

Osaka City

#5. Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru is an anime about a girl who has great potential in playing karuta, a Japanese card game. The protagonist in Chihayafuru, Arata Wataya lives in Awara City in Fukui Prefecture, located north-northeast of Kyoto, near the Sea of Japan. The town is very popular thanks to the constant pilgrimages by anime lovers. Its popularity is such that the Postal Branch office in Fukui assists the locals in making specially framed stamp sets based on the anime. Awara city has some of the best hot springs in Japan. These waters are extremely beneficial for people with skin problems and sore joints.

Soft lights of an onsen resort ( a Japanese hot water bath)

It takes around two and half hours to reach Awara from Tokyo if you travel by bullet train. A journey via bus would take around 9 hours.


#6. Keijo!!!!!!!! 

Although the anime Keijo is written about a fictional women’s only game of the same name as the show, its settings are mostly real. The story is based on Awaji Island, in Hyogo prefecture where Nozomi’s Keijo academy is located. The island is situated between the main island Honshu and Shikoku. Several shots of existent landmarks are shown throughout the anime, including the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Hyogo, the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Arawashima’s magical bamboo groves at night
Beautiful colors of Tenryuji Temple

Other real life anime locations include the Togetsukyo Bridge, Tenryuji Temple and a surreal bamboo grove (these bamboo groves were also featured in the anime Oregairu). All of them are located in Arashiyama, Kyoto prefecture; one of the most beautiful districts in Japan which boast a large number of tourists’ attractions. The Tenryuji temple is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Around 500 kilometers from Tokyo, it takes 3 hours to travel from the capital to Arashiyama and Awaji Island by bullet train.


#7. Ping Pong the Animation

The artists who drew this anime used the towns of Enoshima and Kamakura as their sources of inspiration. Enoshima is a lovely small island just 50 kilometers away from Tokyo. It is very popular with tourists because of its proximity and at the same time the isolation it provides away from the bustle of the metropolis.

Artist’s visual representation of Enoshima

There are beautiful beaches and spas and various shrines that can be visited. Kamakura too is close by and is similar to Enoshima with numerous shrines and temples. Both are located in Kanagawa Prefecture.


#8. Girls & Panzer

This anime, as the title astutely suggests is a delightful anime about girls who drive tanks and practice tank warfare. The setting is in the real life anime town of Oarai in the prefecture of Ibaraki. It is located by the sea and is only one and a half hours by car. It is famous for its Seaside Park and food. The anime features plenty of landmarks that exist in real life like the Oarai marine tower, the Aqua World Oarai, the regional aquarium, and others.

Oorai Aqua World in Ibaraki

#9. Slam Dunk

Slam Dunk the beloved anime about basketball and the delinquent MC Hanamichi Sakuragi’s love for the game is mostly set in Kanagawa prefecture. Like Ping Pong, the animation and many others, the towns of Enoshima and Kamakura and areas in Tokyo serve as real life anime locations. Some landmarks are the Enoden line, the Musashino Kita High school in Tokyo, the Shibuya Center street, Kamurakashi, etc.


#10. Yowamushi Pedal

The popular anime Yowamushi Pedal (Wimpy pedal) shows the story of a shy Otaku Sakamichi Onoda who joins a bicycle club in his school. Onoda and his friends participate in fierce competitions on the hair raising cycling routes across the Wakamaya Prefecture.

Beautiful Shirasaki Beach

The region is mountainous with treacherous tracks, a formidable challenge for any cyclist. It is about 600 km from Tokyo, taking around 7 hours to reach from Tokyo.  There are tourist attractions like the Shirasaki Beach in Yura, Engetsuto Island, and the Taki no Hai waterfall among others.


(All satellite images are owned by Google.)