Anime is one of those things which has really helped bring Japan and Japanese culture to the attention of many people overseas. I certainly wouldn’t call myself an anime fan as such but that’s not to say I haven’t had my moments. I’ve watched a handful of Japanese animation shows, mostly due to there being some location match-ups and recently managed to pick up an English map in Gunma prefecture giving details of about one hundred real animation backdrops around Japan.
The map only gives information regarding the main city used for the setting of each animation. Knowing that I was going to cycle to Kawagoe last month, I had a look at the map and saw that the city has played host to ‘Tsuki Ga Kirei‘ (2017 -), known in English by the name ‘As The Moon, So Beautiful‘. I thought I had better watch an episode or three of this original adolescent romance drama in anticipation of the bike ride. Of course Kawagoe is not in Tokyo but it’s location in Saitama Prefecture is close enough for it to be included in this long running series, and is in fact the first non-movie to feature.
Kawagoe Kumano Jinja (17-1 Renjakucho, Kawagoe) was actually the first place I visited in the city (other than the station) as this trip wasn’t just about getting match-up shots for the anime in question. This shrine (below) features throughout the show but it first appears from the outset as various shots of Kawagoe are shown in animated form.
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Hikawa-bashi crosses the Shingashi River (below) and can easily be found out the back of the very popular Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. If it looks anything like this view with the cherry blossoms in full bloom then it’s definitely a place deserving of a revisit during that season.
The view of Takazawa Bridge (below) with Kenryuji to the side is also part of the establishing shots in the opening minute.
The Hon-Kawagoe branch of the Gusto family restaurant chain (below) doubles up as the similarly named Guest Cafe which appears eight minutes into episode one which is called ‘Haru to Shura’ (‘Spring and Hard Times’). Akane and Kotaro are third year students at junior high school and very much the main characters of this animation. Akane and her family just happen to dine out at this restaurant at exactly the same time as Kotaro and his parents. Their interactions are slightly awkward at this stage as they kind of like each other but are timid when together.
Kawagoe Matsuechō Post Office (below) was found by chance as I was cycling between the aforementioned Kumano Shrine and Chion-in Temple. It appears around 16 minutes and is where Kotaro posts something or another!
There is actually another animation which uses Kawagoe as the backdrop. In Japan it’s known as ‘Kamisama Hajimemashita’ (2012) but in the English-speaking world it’s called ‘Kamisama Kiss‘ and I guess I’ll track down some locations for that on a future visit.
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