Anime Vs. Reality: My Own Makoto Shinkai Pilgrimage

This will be the first of many blog posts about my not-so-recent trip to Japan and at random, allow me to start with something to nourish the geek in us.

Let’s not go into numbers but for sure, a LOT of the people from my generation (i.e. millennials), has been hooked on anime. For once in our lives at least. That is why I seized the opportunity to do the most cliche thing an anime fan could do when visiting Japan – a real life anime location pilgrimage. Yea!

My first choice would be Naruto. But Konoha is beyond bus or train ride away. Therefore, we have decided to join the hype for the animated film, Your Name (with a bonus from The Garden of Words, also from the same creator).

So on our third day in Tokyo, I and my supportive friends loitered around Shinjuku area to see the landmarks used in two of Makoto Shinkai’s works, Your Name and The Garden of Words. The locations are actually easy to find and in close proximity to each other. If walking is your thing, then you will find this trail undemanding.

Your Name

Mid-2016 when this movie about a body-switching romance of two high schoolers dominated the world. It is not a shock that it has surpassed Hayao Miyazaki‘s Spirited Away as the highest grossing anime film worldwide.

The first stop is located just right outside the Shinanomachi Station, the view of NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building.

I had to stand at the curbside in order to imitate the still. Please excuse the half of my face.
NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building
34 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0016, Japan

A few steps ahead is the pedestrian bridge used in a scene when Taki was calling Mitsuha. You’ll notice this instantly because more often than not, other fans are already flocking and taking pictures on the other end of the footbridge.

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Aside from the thing behind the real bridge, it looks just like the one in the animation. And that is me right there.
Pedestrian Bridge at Shinanomachi Station
9 Minamimotomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0012, Japan

Last stop for Kimi No Na Wa is the Suga Shrine. AHHH…this one is my favorite. It is quite far but I promise, it is walkable. Probably a 10-minute walk from Shinanomachi Station, depending on your pace. You might want to use a navigation app (e.g. Google Maps or Waze) to spare yourself from getting lost.

16681552_1280199295395554_295292467914920424_n_1280199295395554
Still me and a random Korean guy posing as Taki and Mitsuha when they passed each other.
Suga Shrine
Japan, 〒160-0018 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, 新宿区Sugachō, 5番地

While walking, a group of Korean guys asked us for directions going to the shrine. We went together and in return, I asked one of them to act as Taki. *Wink*

There is one more spot that you could visit within the area, the traffic intersection near Shinjuku Police Department. But I think it is irrelevant with its mere appearance in the trailer so we have decided to skip it.

That is it for Your Name and now we’re off to the next movie…

 

THE GARDEN OF WORDS

Another romantic film concerning a high school boy who aims to become a shoemaker and a mysterious woman which grew an extraordinary friendship in one rainy day, at a park in the middle of Tokyo. But unlike Your Name, this one is more realistic. No comet landing on an island, no body-swapping of the main characters. To be honest, I wasn’t able to give the appreciation it deserves the first time I have seen it. Second time? I had a deeper understanding of the flow of the story and the developments of the character. For me, it falls behind 5 Centimeters Per Second to my list of favorite Shinkai‘s work. Though surely it is worth the second glance, or the third.

For this film, we only visited one location: the park where Yukino and Takao first met, in the representation of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The park has an area of around 59 hectares; consisting of three access gates: Okido Gate, Sendagaya Gate, and Shinjuku Gate; and is divided into three major garden types, English Landscape Garden, French Formal Garden, and the Japanese Traditional Garden.

From Suga Shrine, you’ll be walking along Shinjuku Dori for approximately about 18-minutes, towards the Okido Gate. Don’t worry as I will include a trail map of the entire crusade below so you won’t get lost. You’re very welcome.

16806782_1280199145395569_1947406686925844697_n_1280199145395569
This is in the English Landscape Garden, showing a scenic view of the Shinjuku skyline. And again, that is the NTT Docomo Building on the far left.

On your way in, asking for a map from the gatekeepers would be a great help.

16729205_1280199185395565_1524918709433330857_n_1280199185395565
The small pavilion where the Yukino and Takao first saw each other, in one rainy morning.

There is a free-standing ashtray in the middle of the actual pavilion, but aside from that, it looks exactly like the one in the anime version.

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Me inside the pavilion, while imitating Yukino.

And these spots are all within the vicinity of the Japanese Traditional Garden.

16712032_1280199175395566_5145857211446802232_n_1280199175395566
Me again acting as Yukino in a scene near the pond.

Not far from the small pavilion is a pond where the Taiwan Pavilion stands.

16729298_1280199152062235_2811506472042326205_n_1280199152062235
That is the Taiwan Pavilion.

And this is where it ends. We did the visit during winter which explains the lack of greens from the photos. I would recommend going there during Spring where the plants and flowers are in full bloom. Apparently, this park is one of the top spots in Tokyo to see cherry blossoms and luckily, we were able to witness a few.

IMG_9160
It’s beyond my expectations to see one during this trip. Weeeeee!

=)

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan
Admission Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (Open Everyday)
Entrance Fee:
Adult: 200 Yen
Children: 50 Yen
Phone: +81 3-3350-0151
For more information about the park, click here.

PILGRIMAGE ROUTE:

The walking tour took us the whole day due to a lot of shenanigans and stopovers along the way. I remember having several food breaks and a quick stop at a neighborhood playground just because. However, it can be compressed to 3-4 hours if you’re just going to focus on the main spots.

I would suggest starting the tour from the Shinanomachi Station (via JR Sobu Line) and ending at the Shinjuku Gyoen which we found to be a great place to…nap. Yes, after the long walks, we spent the glorious afternoon laying on the grass within the English Garden.

Below is the trail map for the walking tour. Just follow the blue dots and you’ll be fine. Enjoy!

 

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