During my vacation to Japan this summer, I went on a pilgrimage. But this wasn't a religious pilgrimage—this was an anime pilgrimage.
Actually, certain people might consider anime a religious experience. Maybe that's why Japanese people have started using the term seichijunrei 聖地巡礼 to describe visiting real-life locations used in anime (this word is usually reserved for trips to sacred places).
- pilgrimage to holy or sacred places; also anime pilgrimage
It makes sense when you think of the connection some people have with anime. Personally, I felt a special connection with the film Your Name, which took the Japanese box office by storm in 2016 (Tofugu loved it so much, we added it to our list of Top 20 anime of all time). I loved the story and characters of course, but the illustrated backgrounds are what moved me most.
Director Shinkai Makoto captured the breathtaking, beautiful scenery of Tokyo in intricate detail. As a former Tokyoite, this made an impact on me. The hand-drawn cityscapes really pulled me into the story.
So when I visited Tokyo during my vacation this past summer, I decided to go on an anime pilgrimage and visit locations used in Your Name. It was such an awesome experience that I wanted to share my personal walking tour with you; 15 sacred Your Name locations in one day.
If you love the film, I hope this is something you can do on your next trip to Tokyo.
Note: If you haven't seen the movie yet… sorry, this article is full of spoilers (naturally). Proceed at your own spoil-y risk.
- Before You Start a Your Name Pilgrimage…
- Your Name Pilgrimage Itinerary
- Salon de Thé Rond (10:55–11:45 a.m.) *Closed on Tues.
- The National Art Center (11:45–12:45 a.m.) *Closed on Tues.
- Tokyo City View in Roppongi Hills (1:00–2:00 p.m.)
- Yotsuya Station (2:25–2:40 p.m.)
- On the Way to Suga Shrine (2:40–3:20 p.m.)
- Suga Shrine Stairs (3:20–4:00 p.m.)
- Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery (4:20–4:30 p.m.)
- Around Shinanomachi Station (6:00–6:30 p.m.)
- Yunika Vision (6:50–7:10 p.m.)
- Shintoshin Pedestrian Bridge near Takarazuka University (7:20–7:40 p.m.)
- Intersection Behind Shinjuku Police Station (7:45–8:00 p.m.)
- Cafe La Bohéme near Shinjuku Gyoen (8:30–10:00 p.m.)
- Following the Red Thread to Your Name Locations
Before You Start a Your Name Pilgrimage…
Here are some things to prepare/keep in mind before you set off on your religious anime journey:
- Many places in this article are close to each other so most of the time, walking will be your best option (a pilgrimage should be full of walking anyway). I recommend wearing comfortable shoes and staying hydrated if you're going in summer. Summer in Japan is insanely hot.
- I timed my visits so the lighting conditions at each location would roughly match what is seen in the film. But most of the itinerary ordering is just for convenient transportation. Also, the itinerary is based on my July visit, so if you're traveling in a different season you may have to adjust your plans.
- I know you want to take great photos on this trip (I did too), but be mindful of traffic and other people when trying to get that perfect shot. Don't stand in the middle of the road or on a table at a restaurant just to improve your photography.
- You might run into other anime pilgrims (I did, a few times). Try not to occupy a spot for too long and let other people get in to take their pictures too.
- You'll probably be super excited when you recognize these place from Your Name, but try not to scream or dance. A lot of the stops are in ordinary neighborhoods where people live and work, so be respectful of their living space.
Your Name Pilgrimage Itinerary
If you want to find the exact location of each place, check out the handy multi-pin map I made on Google Maps.
Salon de Thé Rond (10:55–11:45 a.m.) *Closed on Tues.
The water glasses and coasters the cafe uses are similar to the ones in the movie. The plates look identical too!
I started my pilgrimage in Roppongi where Taki went on a date with his crush at the time, Okudera-senpai.
In the movie, they start their date in Roppongi Hills, but the first stop on our pilgrimage is the coffee shop where they had lunch. It's called Salon de Thé Rond, located on the second floor of the National Art Center.
There's no admission fee to get into the building, so you have free access to this coffee shop. It opens at 11:00 a.m. so I went up to the third floor a little before then and took some pictures from above. From this angle, I got a great shot of the modern, stylish architecture of the museum and the coffee shop.
As soon as 11:00 a.m. rolled around, I went into the coffee shop for an early lunch. I was the first customer! They didn't serve exactly the same dish Taki and Okudera-senpai ate in the film, so I picked the closest thing I could find which was a sandwich and corn soup meal. The portion size was small, but it filled me up enough to walk the rest of the day.
This is a small thing, but the water glasses and coasters the cafe uses are similar to the ones in the movie. The plates look identical too! Just a nice detail for all us Your Name superfans out there.
The National Art Center (11:45–12:45 a.m.) *Closed on Tues.
After lunch, I explored the National Art Center. I've visited for art exhibitions before, but this time I focused on the space around the exhibits. After seeing Your Name, I had a much greater appreciation for the architecture.
If you watch the movie carefully, you'll notice the finer details of the museum aren't replicated exactly, but the signature features of the building (the glass maps and wooden walls) are there. They really help you picture Taki and Okudera-senpai as an urban couple.
During my visit, there were a few art exhibits going on. I checked out one showing contemporary art from Southeast Asia. This wasn't related to the movie, but going to art exhibitions in Roppongi is a classic date for Tokyo locals. So taking in the art is like walking in Taki and Okudera-senpai's footsteps.
Side note: if you're visiting Tokyo in November or December this year (2017), the National Art Center will have a Shinkai Makoto art exhibit. Checking out original art by the director of Your Name in a location from Your Name; that might be the ultimate anime pilgrimage experience.
I can't make it, so let me know how it is.
And if you're reading this after 2017, sorry. The otaku event of your dreams is over and will never come again.
The next spot is an observation deck in Roppongi Hills. You can walk there from the National Art Center in about fifteen minutes.
Tokyo City View in Roppongi Hills (1:00–2:00 p.m.)
In Your Name, Taki and Okudera-senpai go to the observation deck called Tokyo City View.
Roppongi Hills is a huge complex of commercial facilities like shops, movie theaters, and restaurants. In Your Name, Taki and Okudera-senpai go to the observation deck called Tokyo City View. It costs at least ¥1,800 to get in, but sometimes you have to sacrifice for your anime journey.
Unfortunately, during my visit to the observation deck, there was a partition blocking part of the space, so I couldn't back up far enough to get a photo with a composition similar to the one in the movie.
Besides that, I had a great time. It was my first time at Tokyo City View and I got to see the city landscape stretching out all the way to Tokyo Tower. It was an awesome view!
If you've got time, there's an art gallery (on the same floor) and an art museum (one floor down). My ticket to the observation deck included the downstairs art museum too, so I popped in there for a bit.
The next stop is twenty-five minutes away. So we'll need to hop on the Ōedo line from Roppongi Station to get there.
Yotsuya Station (2:25–2:40 p.m.)
This is the station where Taki and Okudera-senpai meet up for their date. I know I reversed the order of the places they visited, but I did this to avoid the crowds and get better photos. Order and timing will make or break an anime pilgrimage.
Yotsuya Station also shows up later in the film when Taki and Okudera-senpai meet up to take a walk and talk about their trip to Itomori-chō a few years before.
If you want to get the best shot, leave the station from the Akasaka exit. Turn around and look back…
You'll get a photo similar to the scene above.
Now turn to your right…
Snap a photo of this iconic view.
There's also these stairs on your righthand side, if you're facing the station.
Yotsuya Station is a major commuter station, so be careful with crowds while you take pictures.
Next, let's walk to Suga Shrine; it only takes about fifteen minutes (though I stopped at a few Your Name places on my way there).
On the Way to Suga Shrine (2:40–3:20 p.m.)
The spots between Yotsuya Station and Suga Shrine are pretty important for us Your Name fans; they're featured during the climax of the film when Taki and Mitsuha are trying to find each other (you know, the part where you were crying so hard you could barely see the screen).
Here's one of the spots. Do you recognize these signs? If you do, congratulations! You deserve the title: Your Name nerd. This scene was like less than a second long in the movie. (How many times have you seen it, anyway?)
From Yotsuya Station, head toward Yotsuya Sanchōme, walking on the left side of the street, Shinjuku Dōri. You'll run into a Lawson 100 convenience store. Take a left from there. You'll see these signs!
When you're done adoring this spot, go back to Shinjuku Dōri and keep walking the same direction.
Not far from the last spot, you'll find a Softbank, then a Kinko's. Take a left again and keep going down the street.
You'll find a crossroads with this postbox.
At the crossroads, take the wider path on your left. You'll end up at the next spot.
It's another intersection close to the shrine's stairs (you Your Name otaku out there know how special the stairs are going to be).
When I was here, a bike was left in nearly the same spot as in the movie! I almost moved it to the exact same position to get the perfect photo… but that would have been bad manners in Japan (or anywhere, really). So don't do it, if you're thinking about it.
Now hold on to your butts. Here comes the highlight of the entire pilgrimage.
Suga Shrine Stairs (3:20–4:00 p.m.)
The stairs of Suga Shrine are the absolute culmination of the film. The scene is definitely the most impressive and iconic in all of Your Name. You probably remember it from the promotional images before you even saw the movie.
Of course, this promotional image (with Taki and Mitsuha in school uniforms) isn't replicated exactly in the film itself. Also the buildings on the right side of the stairs are a little different in real life. But you know those artists, always emphasizing height differences to make things more dramatic.
The background used in the actual film is much closer to reality.
The stairs of Suga Shrine are the absolute culmination of the film. The scene is definitely the most impressive and iconic in all of Your Name.
When I was here, there were a few other pilgrims; some Japanese high school girls and Chinese tourists. They took their pictures and quickly and left, probably off to the rest of the locations on the pilgrimage.
Suga Shrine is a super ordinary place. If you haven't seen Your Name, it won't seem special at all. A random guy talked to me at the top of stairs, wondering why I was taking pictures of the street and not the shrine behind me. He was visiting for shrine purposes and didn't have any idea why people were there but not visiting the shrine.
Of course, it's a sacred place for Your Name pilgrims like you and me. For some reason, I had trouble leaving this place. I just didn't want to…
But, I'm a grownup. I finally left and headed to the next spot: Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery in Meiji Jingu Gaien-mae. It's a bit far from Suga Shrine, but still within walking distance. You can get there in about twenty minutes.
Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery (4:20–4:30 p.m.)
This scene isn't particularly important in the film, but I recognized the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery building from one of the scenes where Mitsuha and Taki switch bodies, and Mitsuha is excited to see Tokyo (I personally really like those scenes). So, I decided to include it in the pilgrimage.
Actually, this is the moment I got most hyped during the whole pilgrimage. Check out the sign behind those three guys, the green one with the beer on it. It was actually there at the real life location! I didn't expect this at all, because it's an advertisement for a beer garden, which is a summer-only restaurant. Pretty lucky, eh? It won't be there forever.
I read online that the coffee shop the characters went to after this scene (Mitsuha always wanted to visit a fancy Tokyo coffee shop, remember?) is modeled after one from this area. Unfortunately, it closed down for good so we'll never know how accurate it was. 😭
I wanted to get a shot of the next spot at dusk so I went back to Shinanochō Station for a one hour break at a coffee shop (I was getting tired anyway). If you go on this pilgrimage in winter instead of summer, you may not need to wait for dusk because of the daylight time difference.
Around Shinanomachi Station (6:00–6:30 p.m.)
After the coffee, I was refreshed and ready to start my pilgrimage again. This time I headed to Shinanomachi Station for two pilgrimage spots.
One is a pedestrian bridge stretching over the road in front of Shinanomachi Station. It shows up twice in the film, at the end of both times Taki meets Okudera-senpai.
Personally, I resonated more with the scene after the date (the first time they met), because this is where Taki starts having feelings for Mitsuha. After Okudera-senpai leaves, Taki gets a text from Mitsuha and then tries to call her.
Although the bridge and trees looked same, there was a building there in real life that wasn't in the movie. Excuse me, building, but you're not canon!
Nearby the pedestrian bridge, there's a famous landmark of the Shinjuku/Yoyogi area: the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building, which also shows up in Your Name.
If you exit the bridge on the station side, you'll see the tower at a similar angle to what you'll see in the film.
Next I headed to the Shinjuku area. Take the JR Chūō Line for about six minutes to Shinjuku Station.
Yunika Vision (6:50–7:10 p.m.)
The first stop in Shinjuku is Yunika Vision. It's a giant piece of digital signage that broadcasts news footage and advertisements. In the film, commuters watched the screen for coverage of the fall of the Tiamat comet.
To get to Yunika Vision, leave through the east exit of Shinjuku Station. With the station to your back, take a left, then keep walking straight, parallel with the train line. You'll hit Yunika Vision in about three minutes.
This is the most crowded place on our itinerary so be careful of pedestrians when taking pictures.
Now it's time to move to the other side of Shinjuku. Stay on the same side of the street, across from Yunika Vision. Head under the railway bridge.
Shintoshin Pedestrian Bridge near Takarazuka University (7:20–7:40 p.m.)
After about seven minutes of walking, you'll see a pedestrian bridge.
Remember this? This is the scene where Taki and Mitsuha cross paths in the snow (they kind of recognize each other but don't acknowledge it).
If you want to view the bridge from a similar angle to the film, stop near Cafe Veloce.
If you walk up to the pedestrian bridge, you'll see another scene from Your Name…
Remember this? This is the scene where Taki and Mitsuha cross paths in the snow (they kind of recognize each other but don't acknowledge it).
Of course, it wasn't snowing when I was here in July, but check out those familiar letters in the window on the left side.
In the film the blue letters are a logo plus "Chonschon(?)," but in reality the letters say "Johnson" with the logo in place of the letter "J." Turns out, Johnchonschonson is a translation company. Thankfully, they all work late so the lights were on in the office when I took this photo.
The next spot isn't too far away, just a five minute walk, but the route there is confusing and it's easy to get lost if you don't know the way. For those not using Google Maps, here are the directions:
Exit the pedestrian bridge nearest the building with the big curvy slide thing on the side of it (you'll know it when you see it). You'll see a Family Mart and a Starbucks on the right side of the building. Go straight and take a left after you cross the first intersection. Keep going and you'll find LOVE. Sorry, lonely hearts, in this case LOVE is a statue by American artist Robert Indiana.
Intersection Behind Shinjuku Police Station (7:45–8:00 p.m.)
After passing by LOVE, you'll see our next sacred pilgrimage spot.
In the film, this traffic light is featured during a short time lapse, after Mitsuha and Taki first realize they've switched bodies. If you're familiar with Shinjuku you might recognize the building directly behind it: cocoon tower.
If you want to snap a pic with a similar angle, try a wide angle lens (unfortunately, I didn't have one). Also, don't stand in the road! I saw a few other Your Name pilgrims standing in the street trying to snap their photos and it looked dangerous to say the least.
The next stop on the pilgrimage is a bit far, but I walked anyway (it takes about twenty-five minutes). Walking through Shinjuku is fun, so it's worth the extra time, I think.
You could also take the Tokyo Metro: hop on the Marunouchi line from Nishi-Shinjuku Station and get off at Shinjukugyoen-mae Station.
Cafe La Bohéme near Shinjuku Gyoen (8:30–10:00 p.m.)
We've finally come to the grand finale of our pilgrimage. The last stop is the restaurant where Taki and Okudera-senpai work. In reality, the restaurant is called Cafe La Bohéme (カフェ ラ・ボエム).
In Your Name, the restaurant is bigger and located next to a busy road, but the actual spot is in a nice, quiet area next to Shinjuku Gyoen.
One of our dear readers let us know that the name of the restaurant in the movie, Il Giardino delle Parole, means "The Garden of Words" in Italian. No need to explain for fans of Shinkai's work, but that's the name of his previous movie, which was based on Shinjuku Gyoen. Such a neat detail!
The restaurant is not-too-casual and they have a dress code. If you want to come in to eat and take photos, don't wear sweatpants, shorts, T-shirts, or Pikachu pajamas.
I celebrated the end of my pilgrimage with dinner at this restaurant. I was there at 8:00 p.m. on a weekday, so it wasn't busy. I liked having a low-key dinner at the end of all that walking.
The big windows, servers' uniforms and upstairs kitchen all reminded me of Your Name. I ordered the pizza with tomato and ground meat. It was delicious (and didn't have any toothpicks in it either).
The other food and drinks were also quite tasty, and the price was reasonable for a nice restaurant like this. I would come back here even when I'm not on an anime pilgrimage.
Following the Red Thread to Your Name Locations
There's also a fictional city in the movie called, Itomorichō. If you like this article, maybe I'll go to Hida and Lake Suwa (the places that inspired it) for a second Your Name pilgrimage.
Unfortunately, I couldn't cover all the sacred Your Name spots in Tokyo, but I think this itinerary is a successful one day walking tour with enough time to enjoy each location.
Taking photos of things I'd seen dozens of times in the movie, but never actually experienced was so much fun. It was like a scavenger hunt! Finding little connections between the actual location and Your Name (like the beer garden sign) was very rewarding. I told you about a few of these little details, but I'm sure you'll find even more when you go yourself.
And you should go soon. JJ Abrams just started work on a live action Hollywood adaptation of Your Name (which I'm sure will be stellar 😒). With popularity growing, these spots are bound to get more and more crowded as time goes on.
Of course, the real life Your Name locations are not as beautiful as they are in the film. After all, there aren't any gigantic animators airbrushing the streets of Tokyo each day. But seeing the inspirations for Shinkai Makoto's imaginative story was a wonderful experience. It gave me a much deeper connection to the film and city.
As I'm sure you already know (because you're a huge Your Name fan like me), there's another city in the movie called, Itomorichō. It's the rural town where Mitsuha grew up. Unfortunately, Itomorichō is not real; it's a completely fictional place, but some Your Name pilgrims have been visiting Hida in Gifu and Lake Suwa in Nagano, which were both models for Itomorichō.
If you like this article, maybe I'll go there for a second Your Name pilgrimage. That way we can get out of Tokyo and experience Japanese life in the inaka. If you're itching for a sequel pilgrimage, let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or old-fashioned email.
See you at Suga Shrine!