Who said that anime had to be an indoor-only experience? In addition to cosplay, another fun way to enjoy anime off the screen is by undertaking an “anime pilgrimage”. This means going to check out real-life locations from anime—and it’s a great way to explore parts of Tokyo that you might otherwise overlook.
Anime tours in Tokyo
Here’s a quick overview of how to do ’em.
Booking a tour with a guide
One option is to book an anime tour with a local guide, although these tend to focus on anime and gaming hubs rather than real-life locations from anime. In other words, you’ll probably be checking out manga and anime shops or cafes in the likes of Ikebukuro or Akihabara, not, you know, the place where so-and-so from X show met that girl on that day. In the rain. With that umbrella. And then they went to that restaurant.
DIY anime pilgrimages
There are two different ways to do DIY anime tourism: one is to screenshot a few scenes from your favorite film or series, and then painstakingly research what real-life location, if any, inspired them. That’s a lot of hard work, if you ask us. The easier option is to use a dedicated anime vs. real-life location guide site, like Mipon, which provides all the info you need—and in English, too.
Mipon has step-by-step guides to finding real-life spots from popular anime, including Death Note, the Fate series, One-Punch Man, Re: Zero, Rent-a-Girlfriend and Mob Psycho 100, with more titles being added all the time.
The anime pilgrimage guides will take you everywhere from obscure street locations to ramen restaurants, random offices and apartment buildings (just a friendly reminder not to be creepy) and hot springs in Tokyo, Yokohama and the broader Kanto region (plus some other parts of Japan, if you’re up for longer-distance travel). You can pick from “must-see” spots or go “off-the-beaten-track” to locations deemed less important.
The level of detail is impressive/intense, depending on where your head is at. You’ll be able to match scenes shot for shot, re-capturing them with your camera.
As a former otaku turned aging writer with insufficient energy to do much besides stare blankly at the
void screen on which I would once watch anime, I admit I was unable to recognize many of the titles on Mipon (the shame, the shame). However, the guide to real-life locations from the film Tenki no Ko (Weathering with You in English) jumped out at me. The title and its locations have garnered quite a lot of media attention, so you might have seen them on your travel radar.
The 2019 blockbuster by Makoto Shinkai, the director behind visually-stunning works like Your Name, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 Centimeters per Second, and Voices of a Distant Star, is based in Tokyo—and a pilgrimage will take you all around the capital, from nightlife districts to observation decks and weather shrines.
Anime tour: Real-life locations from Tenki no Ko
To give you an idea of what these anime tours are like, here are a few of the places included on the Tenki no Ko itinerary on Mipon (you can see the precise spots in their guide).
seedy entertainment district in Shinjuku is (in)famous for both its Robot Restaurant and adult establishments. The Tenki no Ko tour offers a way to avoid all of that, while still getting a feel for the area.
See what else there is to do in Kabukicho (and be sure not to miss Golden Gai).
The tour gives you a good excuse to take an old-school tram and then walk up a random hill, get some cool photos of local, less touristy Tokyo, and check out the Zoshigaya area near Ikebukuro.
Tokyo City View Observation Deck
Housed in the Mori Tower at Roppongi Hills, this is a popular spot for gazing at the city skyline. You may as well check out a few other things in Roppongi while you’re at it.
Koenji Hikawa Shrine
The Koenji Hikawa Shrine is where folks go to pray for good weather. Once you’ve asked that typhoons avoid Japan, and that the Tokyo summers become a little less sauna-like, consider heading into vibey Koenji itself, pictured above, for a meal and some music (the area is known for its live venues).
That’s just a preview of where this particular anime itinerary will take you. See the full Tenki no Ko anime pilgrimage on Mipon.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.