One of the main reasons people visit Japan for the first time is because of the country’s legendary pop culture. Some are fans of video games, while others come because they are fans of a particular anime or manga series. If you are an Otaku (Japanese for nerd) who loves Japanese animation and comics, you should visit one of these locales.
1. Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum
Anime fans are well aware of Astro Boy, or Mighty Atom as he is known in Japan, this manga and subsequent anime about a little boy robot superhero is one of the most popular of all time. Astroboy is an icon in Japan, and if you visit Takarazuka in the Kansai region you will find a museum dedicated to Astroboy creator Osamu Tezuka.
Tezuka also created the widely popular manga’s Blackjack and Kimba the White Lion. There are interactive displays, murals and even a library where you can read some of Tezuka’s work. The lower floor features a cool display where you can actually learn how to create your own anime. A cafe styled after Kimba the White Lion is a great place for a snack or refreshing coffee.
Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum
Address: 7-65 Mukogawacho, Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture 665-0844, Japan
Website: Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum
2. Studio Ghibli Museum
If you are a fan of Hayao Miyazaki and his famous works like My Neighbor Totoro, Laputa Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, Ponyo and many more, then you must visit this museum. This museum in the sleepy Tokyo suburb of Mitaka showcases all of the famous Ghibli movies, and there are even original short animated films played here that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. You need to purchase tickets from a registered tourist agency before you visit Japan, or if you are already in Japan you can purchase them from Lawson convenience stores. The ticket has a designated time to arrive beforehand, and if you don’t show up before that time you can’t get in.
Studio Ghibli Museum
Address: 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan
Website: Studio Ghibli Museum
3. Sakaiminato city in Tottori prefecture
This city is must visit if you are a fan of the spooky manga GeGeGe no Kitaro, which is about young yokai (Japanese ghost) and his encounters with other spirits. The town is adorned with statues of characters from this manga series and anime. Even the trains and ferries are covered in artwork from this manga.
The Mizuki Shigeru Road
Address: 5 Honmachi, Sakaiminato 684-0025, Tottori Prefecture
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4. Universal Studios Osaka
Universal Studios Osaka features a number of anime themed rides and attractions including giant Attack on Titan statues and a Yokai Watch themed stage show. Women and girls who are a fans of Sanrio’s popular Hello Kitty property should check out Universal Wonderland’s Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue.
Universal Studios Osaka
Address: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Japan
Website: Universal Studios Osaka
5. Akihabara Tokyo
Akihabara is the mecca for anime fans. This neighborhood in Tokyo is home to all your otaku shopping needs. There are more manga bookstores here than anywhere else in the world, and you can even find rare and collectible figures you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Cars and buildings are adorned with advertisements for anime and manga.
JR Akihabara station Tokyo
Address: 1 Chome Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
6. Dogo Onsen
If you are a fan of the Academy Award winning anime film Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki, then you should spend a relaxing evening at this popular onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku. It is said to be the influence for Yubaba’s bathhouse in the film. It certainly looks similar in a lot of ways. Fortunately, this onsen isn’t overrun with ghosts and spirits.
Address: Dogoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan
7. Yakushima island
Here’s another vacation spot for fans of Studio Ghibli anime. Yakushima island was the part of Japan that inspired Miyazaki when he was creating and animating the critically acclaimed film Princess Mononoke. The lush forests are very similar to what are seen in the breathtaking and beautiful film. Shiratani Ravine in particular will remind you of the film as you go for a hike.
Shiratani Unsuikyo Valley
Address: Kumage-gun Yakushima-cho 891-4200, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
8. Tomonoura city
This port city is the influence for the port town that’s seen in the Studio Ghibli film Ponyo. The serene and picturesque water of this city in Hiroshima prefecture will make you feel like you are actually living in the Ponyo anime. Because this is a fishing community there are excellent sushi and sashimi shops here. This is also a great place to visit for comic book fans as the movie the Wolverine was also filmed here.
Address: 1225 Tomocho Ushiroji | Tomoe Chiku, Fukuyama 720-0202, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
9. Iwami, Tottori
Iwami, Tottori has seen an influx of visitors in recent years thanks to the popularity of the high school sports anime Free! The anime is set in the fictional town of Iwatobi, which is based of the real life town Iwami. The tourism office in the town cleverly produced brochures outlining specific locations that inspired scenes in the anime. The brochure was even animated by the same company that made Free! Uradome swimming area is of particular note since the anime is about a high school swim team. Shrines like Arasuna and Tajiri shrine were also featured in the anime.
Address: Uradome, Iwami-cho, Iwami-gun 681-0003, Tottori Prefecture, Japan
Japan is a dream for anime fans
There are many things to see all over Japan for anime fans. There are theme parks and shopping centers devoted to popular anime. There are museums which tell the rich history of certain manga and their creators. You could even relive a scene from one of your favorite animes by visiting a locale that was the inspiration for the backdrops of your favorite show. Check out one of these spots the next time you are in Japan.
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