It’s not uncommon for movies and animation to use a real town or city as a basis or inspiration but with the 2005 Japanese animation ‘Kamichu!’ we have a place which is depicted almost faithfully on screen. Though the name is never mentioned, it is Onomichi in Hiroshima-ken which serves as the setting for this 16 part series.
Last year in Golden Week I visited Fukuyama en-route to Hiroshima and indulged in some brief ‘Kamichu!‘ location hunting. That was nice but that post was just a taster for the real thing in Onomichi which I was most impressed by on my first visit back in March 2014 with my in-laws so returning was something I was more than happy to do.
I really cannot stress how this post couldn’t have been done without the help of the following sites; Punynari’s Island Aventures and Cardcaptor’ Blog. They did all the hard work so we don’t have to! The former goes into detail at great length so please check it out. The Tokyo Fox effort is basically just a copy of what can be seen there……or a homage as I’d prefer to call it!
Most of my screenshots are taken from episode 1 ‘Seishun no Ijiwaru‘ (The Spite Of Youth) but they regularly pop up throughout the series. They are not in chronological order as that would mean a real miss-mash of photo’s. Instead they appear in the order that I took my walking tour of the city.
First up is Onomichi station itself (below) which is where Miko and Shoukichi start their run away journey to “a nearby town” which turns out to look exactly like Fukuyama. This can be seen in episode 11 (watch it here) which is titled ‘Koi wa Yukue Fumei’ (Love is Missing).
Take the south exit of the station, turn left once outside and the bridge can be seen a short distance up the road. The view from this crossing bridge called Uzushio-bashi (below) is en-route to the shopping district.
With the station behind you turn left at the bridge and head up a slope and you come to Tsuchidō Elementary School (Nishi Tsuchidocho 6-44 ) which portrays the middle school (below) of Yurie and her friends. First, I followed the path and steps to the left of the school as this allows for some splendid views of the Seto Inland Sea in the distance but more importantly I could (just about) see onto the school roof which is a common setting for some story lines and it is also where Yurie first shouts “Kamichu!” in that first episode.
I’m not usually in the habit of just wandering around schools but as it was a national holiday and the gate was open, I thought why not!
Just inside the gates is a rock garden (below) which is seen in most detail in episode 10’s “Kimi ni Kettei” (I Choose You) episode.
The fictional Raifuku shrine is a mix of two shrines. The main frontage is that of Ushitora-jinja (below) which is located just behind the cable car station that ascends to Zenkou-ji Park. It’s address is 1-3-5 Nagae and it’s #11 on the signboard maps dotted around the area and is home of the Matsuri and Miko Saegusa.
A five minute walk from there is Misode Tenman-gū Shrine (below) which, apart from the front facade at Ushitora-jinja, is the template for the aforementioned Raifuku-jinja in the show. It is labelled as #19 on the Onomichi signboard maps and can be found at 1-11-16 Nagae.
Having ascended the steps I then engaged in a very nerdy moment as I decided (thanks to the help of a native tourist) to copy one the screenshots (below) that I was carrying on my tablet.
Among the ema (wood blocks – common at shrines for prayer requests) (below) were a few messages and drawings from fellow ‘Kamichu!’ fans who have made the pilgrimage to this shrine.
The steps (below) where Yurie and her friend encounter the rock cats in episode 2 “Kami-sama Onegai” (Please God) is a few minutes walk away from Ushitora-jinja on the west side of the shrine.
That was the end of the Old Temple Walk area (one that I hope to return to one day) as I made my way down to the waterfront to find Onomichi ferry terminal (below) which is regularly used by Yurie in the show as she lives on the island across the water.
The photo below cost me a 120 yen return journey on the ferry (about a 3 minute ride one way) to Mukaishima which I didn’t realise at the time was an island I went to on my previous visit to Onomichi in 2014. I discovered that on my return home as I re-read that old post. I only spent about 15 minutes on the island as I took a quick walk round the block before boarding the next ferry back. Yurie’s home appears to be on this island in the anime but in reality it’s somewhere in the eastern hills of Onomichi and is one for me to find at a later date! Anyway, I was satisfied to have ridden “the transportation of the God.”
Back in Onomichi I went a few minutes walk to the left of Onomichi ferry terminal (as you look towards the water) to find the bench (below) where Yurie and friends regularly sit.
The tiny red torii gate (below) which first appears in episode 2 is a tough one to find but somehow I got lucky after wandering around a few narrow back alleys behind the main shopping street. The address is 1-15 Tsuchido so that should make it a lot easier for anyone else wishing to follow suit.
That little red shrine is on the right side about half way down the shopping centre pictured below and it is highly likely you’ll need to use your smart phone to find it!
I couldn’t leave the area without yet again sampling the local ramen delicacy (above) which has to be one of the best dishes I’ve sampled in all my years in Japan.
You can watch all 16 episodes (English subtitles) of ‘Kamichu!‘ here
Click here to read ‘Hiroshima-ken 2015/16 Pt IV: Gensobo-ji Temple