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Kamakura: The Secret City of Anime In Real Life

Kamakura isn't known for anime... until now.
Ever since I started getting into anime, I was always amazed with the beautiful scenery some shows portrayed. Beautiful skies, wide landscapes, bustling cities... it almost seemed too fantastical and out of this world for it to be real. That is, until I started looking for those places; which until that point I'd only ever seen and admired through drawings on a screen. What I found was an area of Japan where most anime series base their locations off of. And so, as an avid fan wanting to explore unknown origins, I set my foot out to an area simply called... Kamakura.

From Tokyo to Anime Town

Kamakura is situated in the south-east of Kanagawa, a prefecture located west of Tokyo. So we had to do a little travelling to get there. Luckily, since it is also known as a rather famous tourist destination, there were many accessible trains we could take to get there. We decided to take the scenic route; to go from Ikebukuro station and travel along the Shonan Shinjuku Line that took us directly to Ofuna.
From here we changed from a train to a monorail; specifically the Shonan Monorail, which took us from Ofuna station to Shonan-Enoshima station, all the while gliding above the residential ocean of houses that cover the Shonan area. Something I noticed while on this monorail was the height; it's actually quite low and only barely passes above the buildings below (which was a certainly scary experience, especially if you're afraid of heights like I am). After a short 15 minute ride, we arrive in Shonan Enoshima on our way to Enoshima Island, our first destination.

Enoshima

Enoshima is a tiny island off the coast of the Kamakura area, known for it's beautiful scenery of shrines, a wide horizon of ocean and a large supply of domesticated cats that run amok. And while I am a dedicated lover of kitties (regardless of my unfortunate allergies), I was excited about exploring this island for a slightly more unconventional reason. Enoshima is also home to a few real-life locations portrayed in anime like "Slam Dunk" and "Tsuritama", but most notably being the main setting for the 2012 music slice of life anime "Tari Tari"; where most of characters are seen living on and around the island. Thus, walking through the lush forests of cherry blossom trees and treacherous drops of ocean cliff-faces was a whole new experience for me. And the absolutely magical landscape fully immersed me into the anime itself.
(It wasn't until after I went that I found some similar scenes from the anime, so apologies if the angle of the photos are not an exact replica).
Title card for the anime showing Enoshima in the background

Beach scene

A familiar bridge, unfortunately taken from the other side

Enoshima bridge, a common site during the anime

A small shopping district

A view of Yokohama from the island. Absolutely majestic.

From the train station (either Shonan-Enoshima station or regular Enoshima station) you can either walk directly to the island via its significant red bridge, or there is a little boat service that takes you to the back of the island for a measly 400 yen (roughly $4US). Enoshima is also known for its beautiful temples, delicious food (the octopus crackers are an absolute treat) and its lively atmosphere. Even if you're not into seeing anime scenery in real life, I would absolutely recommend coming here and experiencing everything that this tiny island has to offer. 

Gokurakuji

Our next destination was the real life location that inspired the 2004 cult horror classic "Elfen Lied", in which the large majority of its scenery was based on a little seaside town called Gokurakuji (which means "Paradise Temple"), just a few train stations from Enoshima. We took the Enoshima Dentetsu to get there; a tiny little train that runs along the Shonan shoreline, through a complex route touching shoulders with houses and running with cars chasing our trail. For first timers, it might not only be a scenic sight, but also a weirdly frightening experience as well.
If you want to experience beautiful ocean views from a train window, the Enoshima Dentetsu is the way to go.

Along the way to Gokurakuji (and even further along towards Kamakura), you can see some more real-life locations based on a number of anime series; if you can think up of any beach scene from an anime, it's most likely based on the ocean views you can see from the Enoshima Dentetsu. Unfortunately we didn't have as much time to get off at every station along this train line to explore every possible reference to every anime, but for those with the time (or if you're committed enough), then this is also another fun way to experience the beauty of the Shonan area.
The first thing you notice when getting off at Gokurakuji is the beautiful greenery; it almost seems like a fantasy world with how much forest and traditional suburban scenery it offers. Most of the notable scenes from Elfen Lied can be found between Gokurakuji station all the way to Hase, the next station on the Enoshima Dentetsu Line. Here are just some of the shots we managed to find along the way.
(Again, not all photos are frame perfect to the anime but the resemblance is uncanny).
From Episode 1, the setting is set clear in stone.

I noticed they for some reason moved the telephone box in the anime...

I couldn't get the exact angle but it's still a beautiful shot.

A very iconic shot from the top of the Seijyuin Temple staircase.

The famous fight in the graveyard (I obviously can't replicate the explosion)

Graveyards seem to be popular setting in Elfen Lied...

Of course, we didn't have all the time in the world to explore every possible scene from the anime (or any other anime, for that matter), but I think that's what makes the Kamakura area a really fun place to visit, especially if you're a fan of anime. There are literally SO MANY anime series to choose from when trying to find real life anime scenes that it's literally impossible to find them all in just one day, which makes Kamakura's replay value that much higher. This is an area I love to come back to over and over again to try and look for more anime scenes from my favorite anime, or even try to find new and undiscovered areas found in anime. Maybe I can come back soon to go and find some new anime places...
If you'd like to see our travels to Anime City in video form, check out this little video montage I put together.

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8 comments

Nice!! I watched Tari Tari ages ago when I started learning Japanese, and didn't make the connection that it was set in Enoshima. One of my favorite animes.

Another great one is 言の葉の庭 (The Garden of Words), which has beautiful animated renderings of Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo.

omg, this was freakin dope!

Love this post! So cool to see the real life inspirations for the settings!

Wow, very unique type of post. More please!

Curious to see what other anime was based there, there's a few locations in the video that look oddly familiar.

Would like to go here. But is it ok to go during winter? It could be different

I went to Kamakura to find the screenshots of Elfen Lied too! The characters also visit Sasuke Inari Shrine that time in the rain when looking for Nyu.

I am not an anime fan except perhaps for Studio Ghibli but I love this article. How much fun hunting down the real scenery!