It was our last day in Japan before we fly back to Scotland tomorrow. So, being a big fan of Makoto Shinkai's 5 Centimetres per Second (5cm) I just had to visit some of the locations that were located around Tokyo.
After spending the morning packing up properly to see how much space I had left in my luggage, I left the hotel around noon and headed to Harajuku which was going to be the starting point of my little adventure.
But first, breakfast! No conbini food this time.
It was quite quiet in the lobby. Mostly Japanese people.
The buffet was quite a modest one actually and there was no one to collect your coupon. There was just a basket for you to drop your own in.
Again, a great level of trust and honesty amongst the Japanese people.
A selection of bread was available every day while the two hot dishes were different each day. I thought the food was quite good.
The new Tokyu Stay hotel in Kamata was nice and quiet compared to the one in Shibuya even though the room was smaller.
Even the local area was very quiet compared to Shibuya.
I wouldn't have minded staying longer if they had self-service laundry facilities too.
The preferred IC Card around Kamata south of Tokyo seems to be the Pasmo. Not sure what its mascot is.
Trains in Kamata felt a bit older than the ones in the city. It was around a 30 min ride to get into Tokyo.
There are plenty of blogs around the web that visit places Anime is based on and are usually called "Anime Pilgrimage 聖地巡礼". Personally I think "Anime Location Tour" would be more appropriate.
Anyway, a lot of those blogs are quite comprehensive and even gave you the exact locations on Google Maps - you can import one to the My Maps app. Saves time because it made it much easier to find the locations but, I also made my own map which were the places I should be able to visit for the afternoon.
Apparently there's a separate Google app called My Maps that lets you place markers and name them... You can use it to import a map if you ever decide to visit these spots yourself.
Some of the locations were too far away for me to visit and I didn't want to dedicate my trip to visiting 5cm locations so, I went to the places that were closest around Tokyo.
One of the 5cm places was in Harajuku, famed place for cosplayers - or at used to be. I read they no longer hang out there because they got harassed by photographers and tourists too much.
Very busy the moment you reached the station. The station itself had a nice design to it. This was the Omotesando exit where a lot of brand labels are sold apparently. You have to walk a bit further to get to Takeshita for cheaper brands and where the young people hang out.
So, the first location I wanted to find is from the third episode when Takaki is out walking on a bridge. You can see it in the PV or you have to pause the episode at 09:48 to catch it.
Reason I like 5cm so much is partly because of its beautiful artwork while the other reason was because there's a lot I could relate to in the movie.
There was a nice view from one of the walkways but doesn't look like the one Takaki walked on...
I spent quite a while walking back and forth on this walkway from one side to the other, trying to find the same spot because someone else had managed to find it.
I walked from one side to the other so many times the workman there must have thought I was some crazy person, lol.
On the bright side, I did find an interesting building... A "castle". Wonder what it was for? Hotel? Amusements? Restaurant? Didn't spend time to find out since I had lots of ground to cover.
From this photo, you can see the iconic NTT Docomo tower on the left which is one of the major mobile network providers in Japan. Guess the tower matches the company's status. On the right are the block of white flats that cascade over each other like a stair case so, there must have been a walkway somewhere right outside the station. Maybe it was removed... It's been over 9 years since the movie was made after all.
Sure enough Google's Street View shows the walkway was still present in 2013 but then disappeared in the following year. That's why I couldn't find the same spot from this scene ^^;
Well, since I was all the way out in Harajuku, I thought I'd explore the area some more before continuing my 5cm location hunting.
Looks like the Olympics took place here before back in 1964. Now it's going to happen again in 2018.
Which reminded me of these guys... "World Order" should probably be in the opening ceremony, lol. From pro wrestler to dancer. I like how they just let people join in instead of editing them out xD
So here was Jingu Bridge or it used to be "cosplay bridge".
Funny thing happened here... A mainland Chinese tourist asked me to help take a picture of him in Japanese. My parents are from Hong Kong so my mother tongue is Cantonese and I've never learned Mandarin so I couldn't talk to him in his language.
It was quite weird for us, two Chinese people communicating in Japanese when nationalists still hate Japan for hiding their war crimes.
But, lets not get into that here.
Right next to the bridge was Meiji Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife.
Impressively sized gate but not as big as Toudai's.
Apparently this is one of the differences between shrines and temples. If there are purification water and gates like these then it's a shrine that belongs to Japan's Shinto religion. Otherwise the place would usually have the Kanji "ji 寺" in it which means a temple dedicated to Buddhism.
Was tempted to go all the way in to the shrine but time was ticking. 5cm locations and a few other places were my priority today so just wanted a peek.
Meiji Shrine doesn't let you go through to Yoyogi Park and vice-versa apparently so all the more reason why I didn't want to go all the way in since I'd have to spend the same amount of time back-tracking.
That said, you didn't have to walk in far to see this impressive wall of barrels which were "sake wrapped in straw" apparently.
And on the opposite side were barrels of wine showing how Japan started to meet Western culture.
If you don't have time to visit Nara, the first capital of Japan then you could visit Meiji Shrine because the architecture looked very similar even though the religions are different. If you do have the time though, I highly recommend visiting Nara because of its grand Buddha Hall and views.
Well, time to move on.
The next set of 5cm spots were near Yoyogi-Hachiman Station which was on the other side of Yoyogi Park. There was an impressive looking building opposite the park which you can see on the left here.
Think it was some exhibition place.
I could have taken a train but since I was right next to the park and have yet to experience the cherry blossom festivities, I decided to walk through the park to the station instead.
Clean entrance full of tulips. It's not all about cherry/peach blossoms.
Since arriving in Japan, the itinerary I made was so packed I hadn't factored in much time for food like today ^^;
Was so hungry I bought something at the store near the gate. Again, it was quite an efficient shop. Order and pay at one window then go round to the other side to wait for your food.
More Yakisoba and a skewered chicken. There were no English signs and I didn't know how to pronounce skewered so I had to lookup how to pronounce it on my phone - 焼き鳥串, "yakitori kushi". It was "kushi".
While I sat eating there were these little birds right next to me. Back in the UK they would have flown away as soon as you were a few metres away from them... Not to mention they don't eat human food. Maybe different here in Japan...
Sure enough there was an area in full bloom and people were out having picnics. Locals were joining in the photos tourists were taking.
From the TV programmes your image of Japan would probably be cherry blossoms every where but...
Interesting thing was only a small section of Yoyogi Park was filled with cherry blossoms. Most of the park was just regular trees.
Crowd control and areas for everyone I guess.
And you should see the rubbish bins... Back in the UK, the bins would be stuffed with litter all around wherever there were festivities. Here, there was a giant dump area marked in blue for people to throw their rubbish away.
Crows didn't seem scared of people and just freely scavenged away as people filled the giant blue container with trash ^^;
5 Centimetres Per Second Locations
Well, back to the location hunting.
After strolling through Yoyogi Park and leaving through the Western Exit, you come across one of the railroad crossing points on the Odakyu Line.
And just up ahead a familiar yellow building is in sight.
This was one of the areas where Takaki and Akari lived when they were little. Actual place was around the Yoyogi-Hachiman area.
This yellow apartment block appeared in the movie in the first episode, 07:14 and is still around although the yellow isn't so apparent. Shinkai might also have taken the liberty of changing the order of the floors since it looks different but similar at the same time.
The area around the place was very tranquil and there were a lot of interesting structures.
Don't know if it was intentional but the walls had different patterns on them. Back in Scotland, most residential areas look the same.
Not quite the area where young Akari called Takaki but the phones are very similar. Always the green phone. Wonder if there's a story behind the phone's colour?
The next 5cm spot wasn't that far away. Probably could have just gone up the stairs by the yellow building judging by the map but, I wanted to explore the surroundings a more.
Here was the entrance to Yoyogi Hachiman Shrine, one of the places they ran through.
Didn't exactly capture the same angle but these were the stairs that appeared in the movie. Should have been from the other side.
All the photos taken at this temple can be found from episode one, 06:52 onwards. They have also been cropped to match the framing from the Anime but again, if you click on the photo, you can see the full photo.
May it indeed. Wonder if people doing mischievous things to entertain themselves count as disturbing the peace? Like playing a prank on someone which we think is fun but isn't for the person involved. I don't think we can ever get away from that =P
Spot where Akari is petting Chobi was just to the left after you climbed up the stairs. Suddenly I think of "Chobits"...
And yes, there really were cats. There were cats everywhere... I think we know why Makoto Shinkai chose to use this place in his movie. He's always posting photos of cats.
Who needs a cat cafe when you can come here? =P
The shrine was quite a big place.
Interesting thing was it was right next to a busy road but as soon as you walked in, it was so peaceful and quiet...
The gate outside the temple they ran by.
To the right of this gate was "Fukusen Temple" and you might recognise the statues.
Yup, they ran through here too. We are hot on their trail.
Seems Shinkai likes to obscure the background in light whenever scenes have short screen times. Works I guess and saves production time.
So, while we're here I thought I'd check out the place. I was curious to see the local areas of Japan not just the tourist spots.
Lots of patrons just like the other shrines dotted throughout Japan.
And we can't miss out the purification water... I think they put that vending machine next to it on purpose, lol.
I don't think they were expecting tourists around here. I got the odd look while I had my camera out ^^;
Not quite sure what these were at the sides... Containers for holding ceremonial fires?
Place looked well maintained.
And had your usual wishes on wooden Emas and unlucky knots of O-mikuji fortunes tied up.
DIY brooms and chopped logs. The monks must be partly self-sufficient here.
And yes, more cats. This one looked very sleepy.
Well, time to move on before it got too dark to take good photos by hand. This part of the city was very clean, no graffiti like around Shibuya.
Cycling was very common and despite these signs cyclists don't actually go by the signs. This guy was sticking to them though.
A lot of the buildings looked quite unique and stood out from each other.
I headed north from Yoyogi-Hachiman towards Yoyogi Station where a few of the other 5cm spots were scattered nearby along the Odakyu railway line.
These mirrors can often be seen in Anime and quite popularly used as a camera angle. Kind of reminded me of Initial D where they watch the racers drift round the corners.
Again, not something you see back in Scotland. Corner mirrors I mean =P
Every building around here looked unique. It was like they were all designed by different people rather than mass produced by one single company.
Not exactly the exact scene from 5cm but, you can see how the manhole cover matches the ones in the area. Every area in Japan has their own unique design.
You could always see the Docomo tower in the distance.
No garden but plenty of plants to help add some greenery.
As you can see, there's a lot of possible routes to get to the next nearest spot from Hachiman Shrine. Just depends how adventurous you're feeling.
Didn't note down the exact route I went but this is fairly close... I didn't rely on Google Maps really. Instead, I marked down the spot and followed the compass so I had a general direction to go in. Ended up following the main road mostly ^^;
I probably should have left this final scene last but, the photo trail in this post would have been messed up so, I'll just keep it here to keep the chronological order anyway.
Yes, the spot featured in the ending scene where grown up Takaki might have passed by Akari again and finally managed to let go of his past =)
The last episode was very short so I ended up buying the novel and translated it for fans since I had a lot more time back in those undergraduate days. It's been over 3 years since then and now it's circulating around the internet be it in torrent form, zipped or self-hosted ^^;
And not too far away was also the crossing point where young Akari ran ahead of Takaki.
Vending machines are still in the same spot despite the movie being 9 years old now. Notice there are still construction trucks in the back too... Must be constant construction work in this area.
There was an old man there when I took this... Must be Takaki in his old age, lol. It's a busy spot with lots of people walking by so I didn't want to spend time waiting for the perfect shot.
And this was what was sold at the vending machines. I blame Steins;gate whenever I buy Dr. Pepper to drink =P
The buildings around the area may not have a lot of detailed carvings like back in Scotland but, they had their own uniqueness to them like this barber place.
You probably don't want to know the story behind the "barber's pole" - that common red, blue and white coloured pole you see that marks a barber's place. Not a nice one ^^;
It's just one 5cm spot after the other in this area.
Here was Sanguubashi Park which wasn't completed yet when the shots were taken for the Anime. The scene appears in both the first and last episodes.
If the park was completed at the time of the Anime maybe there would have been scenes of Akari and Takaki playing here.
Not really sure if cherry blossoms were in full bloom or I had waited too long to see them but, Yoyogi Park was certainly busy with people blossom viewing earlier.
And not far from the park was the little downhill path. I'll use the third episode for comparison here since it's closer to the modern day area.
There was a guy busy on the phone so I couldn't take a better angle of this spot. Didn't want to disturb him either although you'll hear him in the video later ^^;
As noted before, most places in Japan don't have street names. Most of them are just numbered like this, "Shibuya, Yoyogi 4th District, 5".
Houses like these must cost a fortune in such a densely populated like Shinjuku.
So back onto the main streets there were two more spots that were almost right next to each other.
The phone booth Akari had called Takaki from when she broke the news they were going to be in different high schools. Notice the huge amount of ground you can see in this scene to make the viewer feel young Akari's loneliness and helplessness.
I didn't quite manage to reproduce the shot but you can see the highway arching above the phone booth. Either they edited out the bike stand or it was added there over the years.
The spot was near Sangubashi Bridge.
Which also happens to overlook the train running on the Odakyu line. All the crossings from the first and third episode are from this line, really. To the right you can make out a small shrine with its symbolic red "torii" gate.
Of course, I went over for a closer look. My 5cm location hunt was in the same direction anyway.
Not very familiar with this Tsushima Shrine but looked very new or well maintained since it appeared in 5cm that's almost 10 years old.
Think Japan's the only place where you'd see so many wires overhead. Probably because they're easier to maintain than underground when the country's prone to earthquakes.
"Like a boss"... Don't know where that saying came from. Metal Gear Solid?
It was getting dark which meant it was going to get harder to shoot sharp photos without bumping up the ISO. That would mean very noisy photos so I tried to pick up the pace towards Shinjuku Station with the Docomo tower in the distance.
And as we get further into the Shinjuku area, the streets remain free of litter but not graffiti.
Narrow pavements like this were also quite common... If you could even call it that. Instead of an actual pavement it was just a white line painted on the road to mark the area where pedestrians walked.
Buildings continue to change in design as I walked on.
Not far now... Photo looks bright only because I bumped up the ISO for these shots. Otherwise you wouldn't see much ^^;
So, I walked all the way from Harajuku Station, west through Yoyogi Park to Yoyogi-Hachiman and then north to here, Yoyogi Station. Wasn't quite tired yet but bit hungry ^^;
You probably could have just hopped onto a train from Sangubashi Station so that you didn't have to walk as much but again, part of this location hunt was to see the local areas.
Here was the spot at a Toei Oedo Line crossing where grown up Akari was shown during the music video part of the movie. Click to see the uncropped photo with the Docomo tower in the background. The tower is shown in the movie too but of course it pans from the sky down to where Akari is.
If you tried to record this place as it was, the amount of movement in the area wouldn't have matched the theme song, "One More Time, One More Chance". They would have had to seal off the whole area like they did with World War Z, hire extras and tell them when to appear etc.
Would have been much more expensive to pull off the same kind of effect and mood. Fortunately it was Anime so Shinkai could control what happens in the scene easily.
In this scene everything in the Anime is made neat, clean and tidy while Akari stands out with her bright coloured clothes. The "Golden Ratio" rule probably applies here. There's also a lot of bright lighting and colour in contrast to the sad song.
Beautiful dawn as I continued my hunt ^^
Towering buildings all around... Shows how densely packed Shinjuku is. Don't think I'd like living here. Especially if I could only afford a tiny apartment the size of the hotel rooms ^^;
Some of the 5cm spots were quite close to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which also happened to be a free observatory. That's why I chose to visit these set of spots last - chance for some night skyline photography.
I found this subway called, "One Day Street" that said would lead to the building so I decided to go in.
Wasn't that long of a walk through.
There was an interesting Seiko clock sculpture once I exited the subway. Not sure what the building was so I popped inside. All I saw was "Western Shinjuku".
When I got inside there were shops but most were closed apart from the restaurants. There was also another Seiko clock that looked pretty much the same. Everyone was wearing suits while I was in a casual flannel shirt so felt a bit out of place, lol.
Wasn't intending to look for this sculpture but I ended up passing by it anyway which is why I didn't capture it at the same angle as in the Anime. I think it's supposed to be a sundial and I probably wouldn't have remembered it if I didn't browse all the other 5cm location hunting blog posts out there.
This is where Takaki was coming out of Shinjuku Station after finding how busy the taxi queue was on Christmas Day. Busy spot with plenty of people in formal attire.
The spot's actually closer to Tochomae Station, near the Shinjuku Mitsui Building and a Canon Service Centre but the subway leads all the way into Shinjuku Station too.
Unfortunately, I can't quite remember the route I took at this point. All I can say is head towards the Metropolitan Building and you'll eventually get to these spots.
Well, that's all the spots I intended to visit in the area. The other locations were just too far for me ^^;
Now that I had finished my "Anime Pilgrimage" as the Japanese Otakusphere likes to call visiting places featured in Anime, it was time to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in the distance.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
I arrived at the base of the building but didn't see an entrance so I walked around a bit and ended up in a kind of underground parking lot...
Eventually I found one of the entrances. There are actually two observatories - north and south. I found the entrance to the north one.
You had your bag briefly searched before you were allowed to go up the lift. It was a government building after all and the prime minister comes here sometimes although it would probably have been sealed off by then, lol.
One thing for sure there weren't huge long queues.
I was 202 metres, 45 floors above ground so very short compared to Tokyo Skytree and even shorter than Abeno Harukas but the view was pretty nice. I think this was about the right height - more interesting than being high up looking at little dots of light =P
While walking around the shopping districts of Shibuya and Ginza it felt very much like walking around in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui... Just lots and lots of brand shops and department stores.
Great for the fashion conscious I guess.
Funny thing I found was a lot of the shop assistants had tablets on them and when they were stuck on how to interpret something they'd use Google Translate, lol. My friend did the same apparently when he went shopping alone and it works.
So, if you have a smartphone with you, be sure to pick up a SIM from a vending machine at the airport. It's not that expensive really if don't need a lot of bandwidth to watch YouTube or upload media files to social networks.
It was hard to take photos with the reflective windows so everyone was leaning forward over the rails to stick the lens right up against the windows.
Not quite sure what the blue dots in this shot were... Might have been the blue illumination lights from outside the building reflecting off dirty smear marks on the windows ^^;
From here you can see the NTT Docomo skyscraper I passed by earlier. Then there's the iconic Tokyo Tower in the distance which most Asian people probably grew up with from watching J-dramas. I don't watch any myself. Most recent ones was "Andoloyd" and "The Woman Who Doesn't Compromise" because they looked hilarious.
I think Hong Kong's Victoria Bay night view in Tsim Sha Tsui is probably more impressive... I can kind of see why so many Japanese tourists go there and why Hong Kong is nicknamed the "Pearl of Asia". Small place but with some great scenery.
Manners, convenience, cleanliness and quality of goods wise I think Japan still has the edge though.
Can't go anywhere in Japan without seeing a drinks vending machine.
I managed to walk around with my Gorillapod out and some other tourists had a full sized tripod out too but, wasn't too long before an old staff member ran over panicking, "Sir, you're not allowed tripods in here," and pointed to a sign.
How was I supposed to see this tiny sign? =/
There really wasn't that many windows to look through unlike the 360 view offered by the other two taller observatories I been to. Guess it's free though ^^;
Most of the floor was taken up by these stalls offering a whole mix of things and a restaurant. Food smelled nice, lol.
On the way out back to Shinjuku Station I actually came across a few more 5cm spots that I didn't intend to find.
Here was that big building Takaki stood outside, gazing up sadly at the snowing night sky although not so lonely with all those windows lit-up and people eating outside.
In the movie there are fewer windows lit and you see a "Merry Christmas" sign next to him too as he walked up the stairs. "Merry" indeed. Drama, eh?
Streets of Tokyo might be litter free but man, there's a lot of graffiti. I guess graffiti encourages creativity in some ways but, definitely not cool defacing other people's properties.
Subway was a big contrast which looked pristine, lol.
Argh! Eye of Sauron! Oh, I mean Eye of Shinjuku.
I just made that up. I don't know what this is called =P
It seems you'll inevitably come across 5cm locations if you travel around Shinjuku even if you don't go on a location hunt like I did.
Here was the taxi rank where Takaki was going to take a taxi home but decided to walk instead since it was so busy.
If you've never been to Japan, you might want to note taxi doors are controlled by the driver. You wait for them to open before you get on and also before you get off.
I don't know why but they also don't expect tips. Might have something to do with honour and hard work. They are also amazingly clean compared to taxis back in Scotland and drivers are very polite too.
Anime fans will probably find it fun to be addressed with the suffix "-sama" and no, it doesn't mean you're Lord/Lady something. You go to a maid/butler cafe for that sort of thing =P
So anyway, my 5cm location hunting route went something like this... What a walk it was!
I explored a lot so it will definitely have been more than 5km and well over 1 hour... I left at lunchtime noon and now it's dark after all but it was fun! I think it wouldn't have been as fun if I had someone guide me around rather than trying to find the spots myself and spending time exploring the area at the same time.
So, since the 5cm locations were quite close to Ikebukuro, I had a chance to drop into one of the official Evangelion Store there which was again in Parco. Really wanted to visit last night but it was too late.
I kind of got lost because I didn't know there was a second Parco building named "P Parco". I ended up walking around a floor full of ladies clothes in the main Parco building thinking it was hidden away in a corner. Then I checked the guide and found out it's in a different building...
And here we were. It was quite small compared to the Mugiwara Store and Pokemon Centre.
This fitting room obviously wasn't in use, lol. Most of the clothing items were for ladies as usual. I remember one colleague made this meme image in the office - formal wear for guys, suits. Formal wear for ladies, a million dresses =P
Don't touch Rei. She has an AT Field.
Some of the more expensive items included a replica of Misato's cross cost 20,000JPY (135GBP excluding tax) and I don't think it's tax free for tourists here... The Lance of Longinus necklace next to the keys looked like it would have been interesting to have. Design not completely Anime themed and it's awesome when a fellow fan recognises the symbol while everyone thinks it's just another item you wore.
There were also Evangelion themed e-ink watches too which were slightly more expensive than the cross. I don't think it can beat the Pebble in terms of functionality though.
There was a whole range of other merchandise too such as bags, phone cases (iPhone only, booooo), mugs and figures.
I didn't buy anything in the end because I was thinking ahead of how I would have to dispose of items when I got bored of them as usual... And a lot had art I've seen before, re-used art. Hate it when companies try to "milk" as much money as they can ^^;
Was kind of tempted to get a postcard or two featuring the posters from the Rebuild movies, though. Studio Khara did an awesome job with the remakes. Can't wait to see the final movie and see what direction they take it!
If you can read Japanese (or Sino characters at least), you'd probably have noticed this was where Nico Video, Japan's "YouTube", main office was located. So, I dropped down to see what was there.
There was a big butler cafe on one side (think maid cafe but butlers for the ladies) and Nico Video on the other with some merchandise on sale. Was very tempted to get the cute Nico mascot, lol.
Whole bunch of Nico Video Gatchapons too.
I think there was also some event going on. They were setting up a stage for an idol but I didn't stick around to find out.
Lots of 2D guy merchandise for the ladies in P'Parco. Guess that's why there's a butler cafe here ^^;
Aaand since there was a Bic Camera store in the area and there was still time before it closed, I dropped in to see if there were any more games I wanted to pick up.
They were really pushing promotions for FFXV. Going to be a big year for PS4 as far as JRPGs are concerned with Persona 5 coming out too.
One Piece was promoting razors too... Get a free One Piece toy when you buy one. Shows what a wide audience the show appeals to.
Electronic dictionaries seems irrelevant in this age of smartphones but they still sold them. Despite TV programmes building up an image of how high tech Japan is, a lot of companies still work the old way such as using fax machines instead of scanning documents for emailing according to one penfriend I used to write to.
Back in Scotland? Nearly everything is scanned and emailed unless your personal signature was required.
These Mount Fuji candy looked fun. Too bad I couldn't see it on the Shinkansen =/
Quick browse around the toys section to see if anything interesting to get. The Doraemon figures matched the modern day Anime designs so a bit different from the older ones Nakano Broadway had. Character designs have changed a bit over the years.
Now video games section, that's my floor!
There were some new retro game consoles that let you play old cartridge games again I think. Lots of 3DS face plates and video game trading cards.
Not going find an entire floor this size dedicated to video games back in Scotland.
This Bic Camera store had free leaflets to take away which I'm sure people who appreciate game art will like.
Well, been a looong walk today. Didn't get much apart from this 3DS XL faceplate protector. Tired of the big case I've been using to keep my 3DS free of scratches and what not.