Toyosato High School: Home of K-On!
April 27, 2012
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I hope I haven’t disappointed anyone owing to the image losses over the past while. They’ve been repaired now: if they disappear again, please let me know via a comment below and I will respond as soon as possible.
Toyosato Elementary School was built in 1937 and was designed by William Merrell Vories. It is located in Toyosato station, a small rural Japanese town in the middle of nowhere with sweeping rice paddies, and very few services. The elementary school moved to a new building in 2004 and was originally to be demolished, but efforts were made to preserve it. The school was renovated in 2007, and in 2009, served as the inspiration for Sakuragaoka High School, which was featured in the anime K-On!
- Curious fans looking to visit Toyosato Elementary are most likely to begin from the Tokyo region. Therefore, from Tokyo, Shinagawa, or Shin Yokohama, board the Shinkansen. At Maibara, transfer to the Ohmi Line and stick around until the Toyosato station. Trains typically come at hourly intervals, and as per typical transit regulations, proof of payment must be produced on request, so it is required that one carries their tickets with them.
- Once Toyosato station is reached, make a right out the station, then a left, and the another right. Toyosato elementary school is a fair distance from the tracks. It is immediately apparent that the version of the school was modelled after the post-renovations school.
- I’ve found that the anime version of a particular real world setting is cleaner in appearance than the original it was inspired by. This is hardly a surprise, given that most anime are about character and plot advancement rather than graphics. Naturally, a few exceptions exist.
- This is a statue of Furukawa Tetsujiro, a man who donated generously towards the construction of the school back in 1937. In the anime, his statue is adorned with a diverse range of decorations.
- The stairwells are faithfully replicated right down to the turtle and rabbit ornaments.
- Unlike some Canadian high schools (such as my old one), Toyosato elementary has a lot of windows, allowing natural light to fill the corridors. As a result, Japanese schools in general have a warmer, brighter feel to them.
- Several classrooms were replicated after the popularity of K-On! put the old school back on the map. This bears testament to how the popularity of moe (whether appreciated or not) has the power to influence a diverse range of things.
- This is the original music room that inspired the music room in K-On!. Its layout and furnishings have been reorganised to match the one found within the anime, right down to the instruments. Due to reasons of practicality, Ton-chan’s tank was omitted owing to the inherent difficulty in caring for a soft-shell turtle.
- For the sharp-eyed, local fans have replicated almost every detail found within the anime, from the cakes and tableware to the signs that each of the characters hold in the opening sequence.
- Trust me when I say that the real world is quite possibly crazier with respect to merchandise than is hinted at in the anime. See that HTT glass desk light? To K-On! fans, its value lies in not the functionality of the light itself, but the decals found on the light itself.
Within the school, the resemblances the anime shares with its real-world counterpart are impressive. In the actual school, both the rooms and hallways are decorated heavily with K-On! memorabilia, although some parts of the school were restored to reflect the environment found within the show. The school is rarely ever as quiet as seen in these photographs.
- This is a close-up of the signs that each of the characters hold up in the second opening in the second season. This image manages to capture each of the five signs.
- Aside from other points of interest, there is a food vendor that sells K-On! related food.
- Equipment found on the ground floor include computers and Xerox machines, reflecting on the fact that the building is still functional. Within the anime, these were where the teachers’ offices were.
- Blackboards are so old school; where I come from, we use whiteboards. Jokes aside, I’ve seen highly decorated blackboards at haikyos, abandoned Japanese sites. The sheer amount of stuff on this board is impressive and reflects how many people have shown up at the site. For English speakers in North America, a visit to the K-On! school would be equivalent to driving around 50 minutes from a city with one million people to a small town in the middle of nowhere.
Regardless of what the fans themselves may be like, their tendencies have given Toyosato a small boost in revenue resulting from tourism. That said, fans wishing to visit Toyosato might be surprised to hear that the region is relatively remote: train stations do not have English signs, which are found at major train stations. Whether or not this remote Japanese town is worth visiting is totally the discretion of the reader: personally, I only recommend this type of trip if one has a lot of time to spend in Japan owing to the locale of Toyosato (rather than any other factor).