The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Anime locations

The Real Life Camping Grounds and A Mystery Lake: An Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ Part Three

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” –George A. Moore

While this is a Yuru Camp△ post, permit me to indulge in an anecdote completely unrelated to Yuru Camp△, whose relevance will become apparent once I finish. I refer to the mockumetary series Pure Pwnage, whose unusual take on gamer culture and unique sense of humour made the series a highly memorable, timeless satire of gaming. I’ve referred to Pure Pwnage here on several occasions and have even written about the movie, which premièred in 2016. In Pure Pwnage, I’ve found a surprising depth in the series for how it handled life lessons, and another aspect that stood out is that Pure Pwnage is all-Canadian. The series predominantly features locations in Toronto, but also makes some use of locations in Montreal, Hamilton and even Calgary. The biggest query on my mind was where in Calgary FPS_Doug’s most famous scenes were shot: the streetlights seen while Doug is driving around and explaining his backstory are only found in Calgary, and the neighbourhood looked very familiar. The precise location continued to elude me, but then I realised that I could make use of a unique-looking landmark to figure things out. While Doug is driving, he passes by a school with a green, conic roof. Armed with this bit of information, the knowledge that such a school did not exist in the quadrant I am most familiar with, and Google Maps’ 3D mode, I found out that the school is called Monsignor JS Smith School, and using some additional tricks, worked out where FPS_Doug’s most infamous moment occurred. One of Pure Pwnage‘s most iconic moments was filmed in Douglasdale, a community in southeast Calgary, and it turns out that this is probably why FPS_Doug is called Doug. How is this pertinent to Yuru Camp△, one asks? The knowledge of a few basic clues, some resourcefulness and a powerful tool has allowed me to work out some of the locations behind Rin and Nadeshiko’s camping trips: unlike the previous trips, these locations proved to be more challenging to find, and without these techniques, this third and (maybe) final armchair journey post would not exist.

  • While the skies may not match up entirely between the Yuru Camp△ images and the real-world equivalent, it is clear that Yuru Camp△ has captured the moody, brown landscapes of the Nagano hills by autumn, right down to details in the road signs. Unlike many of the previous locations, however, this stretch of open road was not easy to find, since there were no major landmarks to help determine where the route was. It turns out that this is Route 194, just north of the gas station where Rin waved to the traffic camera.

  • I will outline briefly the technique for how these lonely stretches of road are found here, and reiterate the process later – quite simply, it entails knowing roughly where Rin started, where Rin is going, and the fact that Yuru Camp△‘s attention to detail has led the girls to take the shortest path to their destinations. Taken together, this means that we can at least narrow down the route to one. Having a single path to follow means a brute force search of the spots seen in Yuru Camp△ is not as painful as it otherwise would be.

  • This is one of several paths up the mountain to the Yatsugatake-Chushin Kogen. In Japan, a Quasi-National Park is a park that is managed by nearby prefectures, rather than the federal government. Yatsugatake-Chushin Kogen is a quasi-national park designated as such in 1964, managed by the Nagano and Yamanashi prefecture governments, and has a surface area of close to forty thousand hectares: it encompasses several lava plateaus and is a popular site for skiing. The area’s volcanic origins mean that onsen are also found here.

  • Here, we are looking at an ordinary roadside turnout. According to Google Maps, Rin would’ve continued on into the mountains along route 194, turned onto route 199, and then made her way back down along route 142. She would then turn right onto the Shimo-Suwa-Okaya bypass, continued on until she reached the Takabochi Skyline route and then ascend upwards into the mountains again. The entire run is around 37.1 kilometres, and back home, this distance can be traveled in roughly a third of an hour on open road. However, the winding mountain roads and area traffic slow things down.

  • The sign here (高ボッチ鉱泉) to the Takabocchi Hot Springs indicates that it is around six kilometres out, and last I checked, this hot springs has been permanently closed. While there’s the misconception that it was closed for the season, the sign seen in Yuru Camp△ indicates that this closure is indeed permanent, otherwise, the sign would indicate that it was closed seasonally. One can empathise with Rin, who’s traveled for upwards of an hour and a half outside, where it is 2ºC: while this is warm for folks of the True North Strong™, I know that being outside for this long without proper outerwear can be quite chilly.

  • Rin busts some mad moves on her way down to the Takabocchi hot springs. Six more minutes further would have seen Rin arriving at Akanejyuku Hot Springs, which visitors report to be quite comfortable and relaxing. Akanejyuku is a ryokan, but their hot springs are open to the public; admissions for adults is 700 yen, although the site asks visitors to limit themselves to sticking around only an hour to respect the accommodations for the ryokan‘s guests. Like the hot springs at Banff, the site’s water temperature may fluctuate unexpectedly.

  • With her plans to warm her bones in the onsen dashed, Rin returns up the way she came and stops in the wide open spaces of the Takabocchi highlands, which offer a sweeping view of the Japanese Alps to the northwest. Mount Fuji is also visible in the east when visibility is good. Between May and October, dairy cows also graze up here, although since it’s November by the time Rin visits, the grasslands are now quite empty.

  • The Yuru Camp△ incarnation of this field, with its cattle, seems a mirror of what I managed to find on Google Maps, and admittedly brings to mind “Bliss”, one of the most famous Windows wallpapers of all time. Featured as the default wallpaper for Windows XP, “Bliss” depicts an open field in California’s Sonoma County and was photographed by Charles O’Rear, but the site has changed considerably in the years since the photo was taken; there’s a wineyard up here now.

  • The combination of radio transmission towers and fog gives the area a distinctly Syphon Filter-like atmosphere: this series of third-person stealth shooters were released for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles of old, and when older graphics hardware meant that fog was widely used to conceal distant objects owing to limited draw distances. The towers at Takabocchi belong to NTT DoCoMo, a phone service provider whose name is a shorthand for the phrase “do communications over the mobile network” and also is phonetically similar to the phrase dokomo (どこも, “everywhere”).

  • From this entry, it’s a short 400-metre hike to the very top of Mount Takabocchi, which is 1664 metres above sea level. The ascent is actually not too arduous, as it’s quite flat up here, and, quite dejected by how her day’s turned out, Rin decides to climb up to the summit. It’s impossible not to feel bad for Rin, who wonders if it would’ve been easier to camp closer to home. Her first-ever long-range camping trip was met with a few disappointments, but from the viewers’ perspective, her day also had its high points, as well.

  • Whether it’s the sunset or midday, the view from Mount Takabocchi is spectacular. On Rin’s walk up to the summit, the dense clouds gradually give way, and she’s afforded with a spectacular view of Lake Suwa and the valley below. The density of particulates make it difficult to discern Mount Fuji from this spot, but Rin’s rewarded with a good view of Japan’s most famous stratovolcano, as well. I remark that Lake Suwa formed the inspiration for Itomori Lake in Your Name, and while I was in the area last, I was also actively avoiding spoilers about the movie.

  • As such, I did not make the connections when my travels took me close to Lake Suwa. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my travels considerably, and it was an added bonus that I did end up in the area that partially served to inspire Your Name‘s Itomori. We presently leave Lake Suwa behind and return to Hottarakashi Camping Ground, where Nadeshiko has decided to undertake a walk under the night skies. During her walk down from the campsite, she’s visibly frightened by the dark, but nonetheless persists in her walk and is rewarded for her troubles. Visible on the left is a fruit shop.

  • This viewpoint overlooking Yamanashi offers a stunning view to match the view that Rin’s got at Takabocchi; Yuru Camp△‘s deliberate choice to pick locations with beautiful night views and juxtapose Rin’s solo camping trip with Nadeshiko’s group camping with Chiaki and Aoi show that in spite of outward differences in their chosen approaches, both ways of camping have their merits and lead to a similar destination: a sense of wonder associated with the outdoors.

  • Rin’s travels come to an end with a visit to Suwa’s Takashima Castle and a proper soak in an onsen. The original castle was built in 1592, during the Edo period but was dismantled during the Meji Restoration. The current structure was the result of a reconstruction project that finished in 1970; the rebuilt castle is not entirely accurate to its original form, but it’s nonetheless a pleasant place to visit. Besides a museum, there’s also a park that provides a good view of cherry blossoms.

  • Nadeshiko accompanies Rin on her latest camping trip; after Rin expresses a desire to test her shiny new portable grill out, she invites Nadeshiko to come with her to Lake Shibire. This time, Rin and Nadeshiko receive a ride from Sakura. At the beginning of their journey, Sakura takes a route over Toyama Bridge on the Katakajima Bypass on her way to Iitomi, where the girls pick up provisions for their camping trip.

  • Google’s directions tool provides several possible routes to reach Lake Shibire: Sakura opts to take the slightly-longer but presumably more familiar Motosu-Michi route, which brings the girls by their high school. This particular stretch of road leads up to Lake Motosu, although rather than making a right onto route 412, Sakura continues along route 300 to their destination. From the concrete barriers to the retaining wall, Yuru Camp△ has lovingly illustrated the girls’ routes; at this point in the game, it is evident that intrepid adventurers can take the very same paths in Yuru Camp△, but further to this, one would likely need to rent a vehicle to begin trekking along some of these paths.

  • Sakura takes route 414, a narrow mountain road that leads up to Lake Shibire. The guard rail and narrower road indicates that this spot is deeper in the mountains, ruling out the small valleys along the way, and so, just like that, we find our location. Again, the attention to detail in Yuru Camp△ is exceptional; inspection of the real-world and anime images find considerable similarities: the same power cables can be seen in the anime screenshot as in the image from Google Maps.

  • There is only one way up to Lake Shibire from route 414, and this is up route 409. Because route 414 is down a very narrow, winding road, one imagines it would be quite easy to miss important intersections, so it makes sense that signs indicating directions of places would be placed at said intersections to help motorists out. Thus, the sign and mirror seen here were found fairly quickly. I should note that if my links break for any reason, please let me know immediately, so I can set about replacing them!

  • As much fun as it sounds, the legend of the bull that Yuru Camp△‘s narrator explains is, unfortunately, bullshit; the lake’s name in kanji is 四尾, or “Four tails”. This is said to have originated from a legend where a four-tailed dragon god resides up here. Here is the same monolith that Rin passes by en route to their campground, although the photograph does not capture the autumnal beauty of Lake Shibire in its full glory. Here, I mention that other sources have considered Yuru Camp△‘s narrator as ‘mysterious’, but I think that the narrator is Rin’s grandfather. Encountered while Chiaki is hunting for camping spots, Rin’s grandfather is an expert camper and inspired Rin to take up camping: it is only logical that he is the one explaining to audiences what the campers are up to.

  • Nadeshiko takes a walk around Lake Shibire while Rin sets up the campfire. This particular camping trip proved to be quite entertaining for viewers: Nadeshiko’s fear of the dark means that she’s reluctant to be out and about after sunset, and she decides to make the most of things while it’s light out. Rin seems unperturbed by the dark, although when returning from the bathroom, encounters a “mysterious shadow” that she bolts from. Rin is so shaken that she decides to spend the remainder of the night in Nadeshiko’s tent, and while she does not outright say it to Nadeshiko, it’s clear that in this moment, Rin is glad that she was not camping solo.

  • Prior to the events of Yuru Camp△, Nadeshiko lived at the edge of Hamamatsu, a moderately-sized city with a population of nearly eight hundred thousand people. She mentions that she was close to Hamana Lake, so this is where I began searching. Because 3D buildings are available, it was possible to fly overhead and, even though I was applying a brute force search, it was moderately quick to locate this intersection by viewing the shoreline of the lake and then working out what landmarks below looked familiar.

  • From features seen in Yuru Camp△, I eventually found this spot, located on a bridge south of Lake Hamana, connecting an island where Nagisaen Camping Ground is located to a series of reclaimed islands. As a software developer, I believe in good documentation and good step-by-step instructions. While I am of the mind that ideas and information that is worth something should definitely be protected, simple or trivial things, such as a simple “indexed table view with a search bar” or locations of an anime are not meant to be kept behind lock-and-key.

  • Nadeshiko had long admired Mount Fuji from afar, and when her family moved to Nanbu, her first decision was to see Japan’s best mountain up close and personal. Nadeshiko recalls the drive to Nanbu from Hamamatsu, so to find this spot along Nadeshiko’s route, I decided to see how one would get from Hamamatsu to Nanbu. The returned results include the Tōmei Expressway and Shin-Tōmei Expressway, a divided highway, and the image from Yuru Camp△ depicts the freeway as cutting through a forested, mountainous area with an overpass visible in the distance. The Shin-Tōmei Expressway cuts through more forest, so I looked overhead for any intersecting routes, and eventually came across the one depicted in Yuru Camp△, which is near the Maoten Shrine. While Mount Fuji is visible from this point on a good day, it is nowhere near as prominent as seen in Yuru Camp△.

  • The remainder of the locations in this post are fortunately, not so obscure: we return to the valley where Nadeshiko and the others spend their everyday lives in Yuru Camp△ here. This is Minobu station, which has been in operation since 1920. The current building dates back to 1980, and the station averages around four hundred and fifty passengers daily. From Minobu Station and the surrounding town of Minobu, the locations that Chiaki, Aoi and Nadeshiko travel along to reach the Caribou outdoors shop are easily found along route 10.

  • This crosswalk is found adjacent to Minobu Station: we are looking at a liquor store and a restaurant. A little further down the road is the confectionery store where the girls buy manju. These are apparently so good that Nadeshiko and Aoi eat their way through theirs in a heartbeat, and rush off to buy more. In their conversation, Aoi, Chiaki and Nadeshiko wonder why the manju are overlooked amidst the other offerings in Minobu. However, since Yuru Camp△ aired, this particular shop has seen an increase in sales, and visitors find that true to what the girls experience, the manju are excellent.

  • Because talking about benches is quite dull, I will deviate from what the screenshots above yield and discuss the Caribou outdoors store: in one of my reviews, I mentioned that looking around the area does not find such a store to exist. I wondered if I was simply not looking hard enough, but Hanabira.Kage, one of my readers mentioned that Caribou is based off a Swen store. A closer look around Hamamatsu finds the store that Aoi, Chiaki and Nadeshiko visit. Thus, a thanks goes to Hanabira.Kage for having brought up the store’s name, since I was able to ultimately locate it – this is why I love being able to talk to my readers. I imagine that like Glasslip, the change in location is intentionally so to facilitate the story: from the girls’ train station at Kai-Tokiwa to SWEN in Hamamatsu is a journey of at least three hours rather than the sixteen minutes it takes to get from Kai-Tokiwa to Minobu Station.

  • As we near the end of this third part of my Yuru Camp△ Armchair Journey mini-series, I will note that there might be a fourth part in the future as my schedule allows, but for now, readers will have at least three comprehensive parts to look through and explore. I will make a map available in the future, but for now, readers do have direct links to the Street View points for more obscure locations. For obvious locations like Minobu Station and its surroundings, I leave it to you, the reader, to explore around.

  • While landmarks such as Minobu Station and its surroundings are straightforwards to find, there are challenges encountered with more mundane, obscure locations. Fortunately, locating the last of these locations was not as tricky as finding that intersection in Hinamatsu: as we near the end of this post, we have one more ace-in-the-hole. Previously, we figured out where Rin and Nadeshiko’s school was, and judging from the lighting of the sky, it’s after school. So, the question then becomes “how does Nadeshiko get from school to Kai-Tokiwa Station?”, and knowing this, if we follow the shortest route from school to the train station, we have a relatively short walk that we can follow. Exploring this allows us to find the exact spot where Nadeshiko waves to a dog on a truck.

  • As we follow this route to its conclusion, we come across a bridge with a sign indicating that its maximum load is fourteen tonnes. It is here that Nadeshiko encounters a Google Street View vehicle, with its distinctive camera fixture. From the road sign and storefront, to the adjacent white apartment and street lamps, Yuru Camp△‘s attention to detail is visible again here. While her voice and message indicate excitement, Nadeshiko also seems a bit shocked that she’s encountered such an unusual vehicle here.

  • During the evening, Rin explores the area surrounding her school using a tablet. Google Maps was launched in 2005, and a mobile version for Android became available in 2008. The technology has come a very long way since then, and one of the features I make use of the most frequently is offline mode. This function is most useful when I’m in areas without a cell signal or WiFi, and today, Google Maps on tablets is immensely powerful, allowing me to explore areas in Street View as smoothly as I do on a desktop computer.

  • The surprise that Rin finds while exploring familiar streets is as much of a nice easter egg as the various Stan Lee cameos and the end credits sequences of MCU movies. The real world location is quite devoid of people, and I note here that while Yuru Camp△ is excellent in terms of details, they missed one thing in this Street View segment: Google routinely blurs out faces and license plates to preserve privacy. Nadeshiko’s face is not hidden here: while Google is reasonably thorough, they can sometimes miss things, and users are asked to report anything that they would like to be blurred. Of course, this is one case where realism is not of utmost important: a blurred Nadeshiko would destroy the joke of running into her at this crosswalk.

The backroads Rin took to Mount Takabotchi, Nadeshiko and Rin’s ride to Lake Shibire, Nadeshiko’s flashbacks to Hanamatsu, and the Google Maps locations that sees Nadeshiko encountering Google’s Street View vehicle, were far more obscure than any of the locations I had previously kept track of. There are no distinguishable landmarks, street signs or other indicators of where some of these locations are. However, there is my accumulated knowledge of how Yuru Camp△ does things: two approaches were used to find the locations showcased in this final Yuru Camp△ Armchair Journey post. The first is that the anime sees the girls take the most efficient route to get from point A to point B, and so, given that we know what the optimal route is, we can trace this route and, following it, find things that are more obscure (such as the highway Nadeshiko recalls driving down while moving to Nanbu or the sign pointing to Lake Shibire). The second is that as long as the girls are on foot, we can explore nearby areas (within a one-kilometre radius) if their starting point is known. Nadeshiko’s viewpoint of Yamanashi and the hot spring Rin initially hoped to enjoy were found in this manner. The end result of this is that I find myself highly impressed with the attention to detail that Yuru Camp△ takes in depicting not just the techniques for camping, but also the journey and paths everyone takes to their destinations. By now, it’s become clear that the only way to really enjoy these locations is if one has home field advantage, or a considerable amount of vacation time on their hands – for everyone else, I again defer to the incredible capabilities that Google Maps has conferred upon us. Short of travelling to Japan in person, this tool has offered no shortage of exploration options that will serve to deepen the audiences’ appreciation of the effort that went into making Yuru Camp△. I close with the remark that, back in Pure Pwnage‘s first season’s eighth episode, Jeremy and Doug square off again DeathStriker6666 at LANageddon in Calgary. I immediately recognised the streets and hills as being in Calgary, but for the longest time, I wondered where the location was. After attending a Japanese festival at the Bowness Community Centre, I realised that the site was the one and the same for LANageddon, bringing an answer to yet another long-standing question I’ve had about Pure Pwnage. One thing’s for sure: I highly doubt that there exists anyone else out there who’ve had the audacity to mention Yuru Camp△ and Pure Pwnage in the same sentence, much less in the same blog post.

The Real Life Camping Grounds and Two Campers’ Views: An Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ Part Two

“Life is a journey, and if you fall in love with the journey, you will be in love forever.” –Peter Hagerty

Yuru Camp△‘s first episode set the precedence for what to expect with respect to attention to detail and atmosphere, so when the anime continued into its run, it was hardly surprising that the locations depicted were highly faithful to their real-world counterparts. As the anime moved ahead, Rin undertakes a camping trip at Fumotoppara. Her solitude is soon interrupted by Nadeshiko, who’s asked Sakura to help drive her there. With a host of ingredients in tow, Nadeshiko makes a fantastic dinner for Rin as a thank you for earlier. Later, Nadeshiko formally joins with the Outdoors Activity Club and takes a camping trip together with Chiaki and Aoi at. Their adventures happen in parallel with Rin, who takes a solo journey out to Kirigamine Highland in Nagano prefecture with her shiny new bike. Like Rin’s journey to Koan, details in both trips are rendered with exceptional precision, to the point where one could follow the girls’ travels in a near-flawless manner and experience what they did with naught more than a set of coordinates representing the routes they took. Similar to the last post, I will be making use of Google Maps’ Street View utility – all of the screenshots shown here are openly available on Google Maps. The landmarks, such as train stations and the Fuefukigawa Fruit Park, are trivially easy to find. My approach in tracking down Rin’s route through Nagano is a bit more involved but still straightforwards: because Yuru Camp△ takes the time to show highway signs, it becomes possible to work out which route the sign is found on and what intersections it might be near. With this one, a range of locations between the second and forth episodes are found, illustrating the exceptional details Yuru Camp△ places into illustrating the locations the girls travel through and to.

  • Rin travels along a small road off Route 139 leading to Fumotoppara Campground. The Google Street View team evidently has come later in the year: the leaves have already fallen from the many of the trees, making the distant hills and plains more visible than in Yuru Camp△.

  • This view is taken some 15 kilometres away, as the mole digs, from the quiet country road Rin is travelling on: we are looking east along Route 803 towards the bridge that Nadeshiko was crossing in the first episode. From Nadeshiko making a request to the point where she touches down at Fumotoppara, every step in Yuru Camp△ is presented. This is one of the reasons why I count Yuru Camp△ worthy of the mantle “Survivorman The Anime” – Les Stroud is very meticulous and methodical in his survival advice, similar to how things are done in Yuru Camp△.

  • While Sakura was seen giving Nadeshiko a (admittedly adorable) physical beating in the first episode, her willingness to drive her all the way out to Fumotoppara from Nanbu is a strong indicator of the warm bond that the two siblings have. A large mountain range separates the two locations – the road distance is a hair over 40 kilometres, and owing to speed limits, it takes around an hour to go around the mountains.

  • The Fuji River is visible down Route 10 here: in both the anime and real-world images, the green guardrails lining the road and a train tunnel to the right, are visible. With a total length of 128 kilometers, the Fuji River features several dams along its run for generating power, and downstream, the bridge where the Tōkaidō Shinkansen crosses the Fuji River, with Mount Fuji visible in the background, is one of Japan’s most iconic views. When I first looked at my itinerary to Japan more than a year ago, I thought I would be going south through Shizuoka, but my travels brought me to Yamanashi and Nagano.

  • The turn here is located along Route 469 near the Hachiman Shrine between the Toshima and Inako station. The mountains in Japan are by no means formidable compared to the likes of the giants that characterise the Canadian Rockies, but nonetheless represent barriers to travel. Tracing the route that Sakura takes to Asagiri Plateau shows that she’s taking the most efficient route possible. This is logical from a production perspective, as well – the art crews are unlikely to be impressed if their route is all over the place, and it is more economical to simply follow a route and render choice points along the way.

  • This stretch of road is quite near Asagiri Plateau: owing to the narrow lanes, the speed limit here is 50 kilometres per hour. It is located around 21.6 kilometres (thirty-six minutes) away from the point illustrated in the earlier set of screenshots: the times and distances returned by Google Maps indicates that a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour is the norm. While this seems very slow, having driven on narrow mountain roads, I can say with confidence that these lower speed limits are intentionally so for the drivers’ safety: while in Banff National Park, the narrow, winding roads to some features are such that I feel uncomfortable going any faster than 30 kilometres per hour.

  • While Google Maps passed this area in November, the area has dense foliage. By comparison, the anime incarnation of this area shows a much sparser foliage, making Mount Fuji more visible. Careful inspection of the images also show that along the guard rails of Route 139, those tall grasses are visible in both the anime and real-world screenshots, suggesting that, even if I’m not precisely where Nadeshiko and Sakura pass by, I must be close. The choice of colours in Yuru Camp△ suggest a much chillier, drier day.

  • As evening sets in, Sakura and Nadeshiko finally reach the parking lot at Fumotoppara. This wide open expanse is a far cry from the cozier spaces of Koan Campground at Lake Motosu: with an elevation of some eight hundred metres above sea level, the region east of Mount Fuji consists of a large amount of pasture land. This is quite suitable for dairy farming, and during Yuru Camp△‘s final camping trip, Chiaki and Aoi enjoy ice cream from a local producer.

  • The Outdoor Activities Club’s first camping trip takes them to Hottarakashi Campground. Minobu Station to Yamanashi Station is around an hour and sixteen minutes by train, and from here, the girls have a bit of an uphill walk to reach their campsite: it’s 4.1 kilometres out, and while this can be walked very quickly, Aoi, Chiaki and Nadeshiko are also carrying a nontrivial amount of gear for their trip. As such, when the girls reach the uphill portion of their walk, they tire very quickly.

  • The bridge over Fuefuki River is less than two hundred metres from Yamanashi Station, and true to its real-world counterpart, has a railing that is reproduced faithfully. The smokestacks visible in the Yuru Camp△ screenshot are not found in the real-world equivalent: this series of warehouse and storage tanks belong to the Japan Carbon Co. Ltd: they have a manufacturing plant in Yamanashi.

  • Nadeshiko’s boundless energy stands in stark contrast with Aoi and Chiaki, who slowly haul their gear up the mountain. During this trip, Nadeshiko is also carrying an entire rice cooker. This road is located off a right turn on Route 140: maps mark this as “Fruit park Entrance”, and the street lamps here are fruit-themed, as seen in their distinct red housings. One interesting thing in Japan is that their streets don’t have names: districts in Japan are divided into blocks, and while unintuitive for us gweilos, the system is actually similar to the Military Grid Reference System that NATO militaries use.

  • While I leave readers to again enjoy the similarites between Yuru Camp△ and real life, I continue on from the point before. Use of a system similar to the MGRS eliminates ambiguity: back in Canada, if I say “5th Street and 4th Avenue”, because of the way this works, I could be referring to different intersection. To solve this, I would need to specify which 5th Street and 4th Avenue I’m referring to (e.g. 5th Street East and 4th Avenue North). Another minor detail about Japanese addresses is that they start with a coarse granularity and work their way down, while addresses most of my readers are familiar with will start with a fine granularity and work their way up.

  • After an ardous climb that leaves Chiaki and Aoi exhausted, the girls reach the park at the base of Fuefuki Fruit Park. Nadeshiko has energy to spare and runs around like a cheerful puppy, and while the Street View has not provided readers with the same view of Mount Fuji that Yuru Camp△ does, on a clear day, the summit of the stratovolcano is just visible over the other mountains in the distance.

  • The Fuefukigawa Fruit Museum consists of three large glass domes. One acts as a greenhouse and houses a variety of tropical fruits, the second is a combined restaurant, fruit shop and book store, and the third is an enclosed open space that occasionally hosts performances. For folks in this area, the museum is definitely worth visiting: for one, it’s free admissions, and the area also provides a spectacular view of the Yamanashi valley below. The domes are open between 09:00 and 17:00, and the gardens and parks surrounding these are always open. I will be covering Nadeshiko and the others’ camping experience at Hottarakashi in a later post.

  • We hop over some 46.25 kilometres (as the mole digs) to a spot on Route 17: Rin passes by this point on her way to the Kirigamine Highland. For both anime and real-world images, some greenhouses are visible here. I passed through this region last year while travelling from Lake Kawaguchi to the Shirakabako Hotel on the shores of Lake Shirakaba last year: rather than Route 17, I was on the Chuo Expressway. Unlike the Outdoor Activities Club’s camp, whose locations are not only walkable, but also trivially easy to locate, Rin’s route is a bit more obscure. Locating it by brute force would take forever, and this is time I don’t have, especially considering that I did not pass along this road, but fortunately, there is a trick.

  • We recall that in my previous Yuru Camp△ armchair journey, I mentioned that the total accuracy in signs between the anime and real-world incarnations would be useful. With this sign, we know that Rin is taking Route 17 and is coming up on an intersection for the Yatsugatake-Echo Line (八ヶ岳工コーライン on the sign). With this, we can precisely pin down where Rin is, and from here, it becomes reasonably straightforwards to trace Rin’s path as she travels into the Kirigamine Highlands.

  • Moving along Route 17, one can see all of the intersections Rin stops at: she’s following a car with a dog in it for a considerable distance, and I feel that a some of the Manga Time Kirara series seem to have animal motifs for their characters. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s characters resemble bunnies, while Kiniro Mosaic and K-On! characters are kitten-like. In Yuru Camp△, puppies seem to be the motif.

  • We are very nearly at the end of this post, and I will take some time to explain the rationale behind these posts. While looking around for information, I found another series of similar posts that dealt with the real-world locations of Yuru Camp△. While similarly detailed as the content here, the difference between my posts and theirs is that theirs uses small 320 by 140 images. My story with location hunt posts begins in 2012, when I was given a request to translate and make accessible a series of location posts for CLANNADKanon and The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi. Originally formatted in SHIFT-JIS, the pages were indecipherable in some browsers and featured tiny images that made comparison difficult.

  • I am forgiving of the old SHIFT-JIS sites because years back, broadband was just becoming commonplace and bandwidth was still expensive. However, it is now 2018: 2007 called and want their 320 by 140 images back. These images are too small to be comfortably viewed on a phone and are too fuzzy to appreciate on a desktop browser – I know that some folks are protective of their content, but we exist in an age where some things exist to be shared. Since the screenshots of Yuru Camp△ and the corresponding locations in Google Maps are publicly accessible, I see no reason that anyone should play the gatekeeper for freely available content. As such, this series of posts will feature screenshots in a proper resolution.

  • While I’m a bit lazy to link the screenshots directly, folks interested in checking the locations out for themselves can always click on the links to do so, and I am willing to send out links to the full-resolution screenshots if there is demand for them. Returning the party to Yuru Camp△, we’ve reached the Kirigamine Highlands, and here, Rin stops in front of the Chaplin Restaurant, which visitors have remarked to have a good view and reasonable service. However, Rin’s destination is a smaller inn to the back, known as the Korobokkuru Hutte. This inn is not reachable via Street View, but by this point in time, I should have no troubles in convincing readers that Korobokkuru Hutte is also faithful to its real-world counterpart.

  • Up here on the Kirigamine Highlands, it feels distinctly like the open plains around Southern Alberta’s foothills. Shorty after the episode aired, I popped up here for myself and located the very same traffic webcam that Rin is waving from. Because I knew where Korobokkuru Hutte was, I reasoned out Rin’s path of travel and found a gas station facility further to the west. I’ve mentioned this in the earlier post, but for folks who don’t like clicking on links back to another page on this blog, here is the location in Google Maps. In my talk at Yuru Camp△‘s halfway point, I noted that the webcam Rin waved at is real and has a website providing real-time footage. However, because it is powered by Flash, readers will have to give Flash permission to run in order to see anything.

  • iOS devices will not run Flash unless jailbroken, and Android devices need some tinkering with to run Flash, so if you’re running stock iOS, that link to the webcam won’t work. I left my talk at Yuru Camp△‘s halfway point on the conclusion that in Yuru Camp△, either Flash is more secure and mobile phones allow Flash to run natively or Nadeshiko has 1337 phone customisation skills. This brings my second part of the Yuru Camp△ armchair journey to a close, and looking ahead, there is to be one more part in this mini-series. This final post should be out before May is over, but for now, my attention has turned towards Amanchu! Advance and Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, which has turned out surprisingly engaging. As well, with Battlefield 1‘s latest weapons crate update, and some of my latest experiences, I will also be looking to share that with readers in the very near future.

Thanks to remarks from Yuru Camp△‘s author, Afro, and a bit of Google-fu, Rin’s second campground is quickly pinned down, along with the location of Korobokkuru Hutte, a small restaurant that Rin stopped at en route to her campground in Nagano and the route the Outdoors Activity Club take on their way to Pine Wood campground, including Fuefukigawa Fruit Park and Hottarakashi onsen. To be able to trace these routes means that fans can experience both Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club’s travels in full, down to the exact same dishes and food items that the girls enjoy on their adventures. With this in mind, the Outdoors Activity Club’s trip to Pine Wood is the easier of the two to replicate for visitors: Yamanashi station up to the campground is around a 4.7 kilometre walk. With an elevation gain of 371 metres, the walk can be completed in around 50 minutes at a moderate pace. By comparison, Rin’s travels from Minobu to Korobokkuru Hutte is around 102 minutes and spans 108 kilometres: the shorter route has a toll, so it follows that Rin will be going the long way around. Unless one has their own transportation, following in Rin’s footsteps would be rather more difficult. Consequently, if individuals were interested in retracing the adventures of Yuru Camp△, I imagine that a greater number of recollections for Nadeshiko and her friends’ path would exist. However, this should not dissuade inquisitive individuals from checking Rin’s journey to Nagano if their resources allow for it – as I’ve mentioned in the first part of this Armchair Tour of Yuru Camp△, if you’ve got adventures to share about your visit, I would love to hear about it!

A Thousand Yen View of Mount Fuji: An Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ Part One

“I’ve been camping and stuff, but if you left me in the woods I’d probably just curl up and cry until someone found me.” —Norman Reedus

When I watched Yuru Camp△‘s first episode, it was a cold January evening, and I had just returned home after a warming, hearty dinner of beef short ribs and Andouille Sausage, fried green tomatoes and yam fries with cornbread. Entering Yuru Camp△, my expectations of the anime was limited to that it would depict camping amongst a group of friends, and that campgrounds surrounding Mount Fuji would be prominent. However, as the first episode began rolling, it became clear that Yuru Camp△ was vying for the title of “Survivorman The Anime” – its exceptional attention paid to details in camping is evident in step-by-step instructions of how tents are set up and how one can use pinecones as a fire starter simultaneously provides viewers with useful information about camping, all the while presenting Rin and the others’ camping trips as pleasant experiences. The details in Yuru Camp△ are such that one’s curiosity is piqued, and after some Google-Fu, I learned that the locations of Yuru Camp△ were inspired by real-world locations. Faithfully rendered, this adds a sense of realism and immersion into the anime, and moreover, with the sophistication that Google Maps offered, it became clear that it was possible to trace the very route Rin took on her way to Lake Motosu. This forms the motivation for this mini-series of posts, collectively titled “An Armchair Journey Yuru Camp△“: in this mini-series, I will be exploring some of the locations visited in Yuru Camp△ and matching them up with their real world equivalents. Unlike previous posts, where photographs were provided by intrepid readers, this time, I will be making exclusive use of Google Maps and Street View to match locations seen in Yuru Camp△ to real locations.

  • Yuru Camp△ opens with Rin cycling along Route 300 (Motosu-michi). The real-world location images are sourced from Google Maps’ Street View, and dated to November 2017. Appropriately, the leaves in the area are yellowing as Autumn sets in: I imagine that the Google Maps incarnation is somewhat later than when Rin set off for Lake Motosu, as there is more greenery in Yuru Camp△ than there is in the real-world equivalents. To kick things off, folks interested in exploring this stretch of highway may do so here.

  • Yuru Camp△ sees Rin and Nadeshiko biking around a great deal in the beginning. Rin’s bike ride from Minobu up to Lake Motosu and Koan Campground sees her ascend some 700 metres in elevation: Koan Campground is around 938 metres above sea level. While 700 metres is a considerable gain in elevation, involving a lengthy uphill climb with a bike, how hard it is to actually ascend a hill is dependent on several factors.

  • Rin makes the ascent look easy, and I remark that there’s also a psychological component in biking: once one has done a route before and know what to expect, they become more efficient at choosing when to expend energy and when to take a “slow and steady” approach. Having biked extensively, I usually prefer taking hills one stroke at a time to conserve on energy. Other factors in Rin’s biking is that her folding bike is a world apart from my mountain bike, being much lighter.

  • Rin reaches the Nakanokura Tunnel here, a section spanning some 558 metres. Yuru Camp△ depicts there being a sign on the tunnel’s western end, but nosing around, I was unable to find the sign on this side of the tunnel. I remark here that because Yuru Camp△ has a great deal of scenery, duplicate screenshots from my other posts might be a very real possibility. In general, I try not to have duplicate screenshots where possible, but the exception is for location hunt posts.

  • There’s a thrill about biking through a tunnel, but this is also a dangerous task if one lacks proper tail and head lights on their bikes. In Canada, the minimum requirements are that bikes must be equipped with both a tail and front reflector. More serious cyclists will use LED lights to increase their visibility. While noticeable in the other screenshots, slight differences in perspectives are visible between the anime screenshots and images taken from the real world.

  • Once Rin reaches the eastern end of the tunnel, it’s only a stone’s throw to the Koan Campground. After viewing the first episode and realising the extent that Yuru Camp△ has gone to reproduce the actual locations, I began contemplating a mini-series of posts to be titled “An Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△“: there is no substitute for actually being somewhere, but technology has become sufficiently sophisticated such that it is possible for one to explore some locations in the comfort of home to get an idea of what a location might look like.

  • Rin exits Nakanokura tunnel here, and true to the same spot in reality, there is another sign specifying the tunnel’s name and length. Visible above the tunnel is a sign that indicates the tunnel is a no-stopping zone, and the speed limit is fifty kilometers per hour. The speed limits in Japan aren’t too radically different than they are in Canada: they default to 60 kilometers per hour unless otherwise posted (it’s 50 kilometers per hour in Alberta).

  • The signs seen in Yuru Camp△ are identical to their real-world counterparts, and so, it is actually a reasonably straightforwards task to map out how the girls get to their campgrounds in later episodes. The first episode has Rin coming up from Route 300 eastward, and the anime depicts the last 1.5 kilometre leg of her journey to the Koan Campground, making it trivially easy to trace her path, but the implications of the high detail means that for the later episodes, it would be similarly straightforwards to follow the girls’ paths as they embark on their travels with a very high precision.

  • Third largest of the Fuji Five Lakes in surface area and the deepest, Lake Motosu has a maximum depth of 121.6 meters. Sharing the same surface elevation as Lake Shoji and Sai, geologic evidence suggests that these three lakes were a single lake prior to Mount Fuji’s eruptions in 864-868 AD. Presently, Lake Motosu is, along with the other Fuji Five Lakes, popular as a sightseeing and vacation destination. While Mount Fuji in Yuru Camp△ is obscured by clouds in the same manner that I saw when I was in Japan last, the Street View version shows Mount Fuji under much more favourable viewing conditions.

  • As noted in my first Yuru Camp△ talk, this public restroom is a bit of a walk from Lake Motosu’s shore. One thing in Japan that takes some getting used to is the fact that their standard “Western” style toilets are as complicated as the cockpit of an air superiority interceptor. For my part, I did not use any of the complex functions with Japanese toilets: my only requirements for a fully-functional toilet is that it can flush.

  • Details, right down to the facade of the public bathrooms, are rendered in great detail. While one cannot reasonably expect to find a Sleeping Nadeshiko™ here if they were to visit for real, a look at the terrain surrounding Lake Motosu and the fact that Nadeshiko’s home, some forty kilometres away in Nanbu would explain why the normally-energetic Nadeshiko is now bushed: new to the area, she’s cycling in uncharted roads and therefore, lacks the same psychological readiness that Rin has. With this being said, I’ve never seen anyone sleep like this in a public space, although I do concede that there is an adorable element in seeing Sleeping Nadeshiko™.

  • A mountain visible in Yuru Camp△ on Lake Motosu’s opposite shore is visible in the real-world equivalent. Now is a good time as any to explain the title of this post: it is inspired by Nadeshiko and her wish to check out Mount Fuji for herself, after being inspired by the design seen on the current iteration of the Japanese 1000-yen bill, which began issuing in 2004. The presentation of Mount Fuji on this note, the lowest paper denomination of Japanese currency is can be seen on Koan Campground’s official website and is adapted from a photograph taken by Kōyō Okada, a renowned photographer.

  • Koan Lodge’s main building is where Rin goes to check in and pay for admissions to the Koan campground. According to their official website, the base cost is 600 yen for adults (7 CAD at the time of writing), and there are additional fees for assistance in setting a tent up and parking. For children, the cost is a mere 300 yen. The site does not rent camping equipment, and availability is on a first-come-first-serve basis. Cabins are also available, with a six-person cabin beginning at 17280 yen per night (208 CAD). From Koan Lodge’s main building, it’s straightforwards to find the public washrooms and the chain gate leading down to Koan campground.

  • It’s been a year since I last visited Japan, and a year ago today, my tour brought me to the Yamanashi region. While the weather was exceedingly pleasant, clouds continued to obscure views of Mount Fuji, and I was denied the view of the stratovolcano’s flat summit. However, what I could see of Mount Fuji was majestic. We had yakiniku and explored a small village surrounding the Oshino Hakkai, then ascended the south face of the mountain to the Fujinomiya Fifth Station for an up-close-and-personal view of Japan’s most iconic mountain. The day concluded with a lengthy ride to the Shirakaba Hotel, at the eastern edge of the Kirigamine Highlands.

  • Further Google-fu finds that for folks interested in travelling to Lake Motosu from Tokyo, the number of options are limited: only one bus route exists. Departing from Shinjuku, this option costs 2200 yen (25.86 CAD), and the ride is around two-and-a-half hours. The bus does not stop close to the Koan Campground’s main building, so there’s a bit of a walk to actually reach the site.

  • In this post, I’ve opted to provide simple links to the equivalent spots on Google Maps so you, the reader, can explore them for yourself if you so wish. Rin’s journey and camping at Koan Campground occur in a relatively small region, so all of the spots seen in Yuru Camp△‘s first episode are very easy to locate once a few waypoints are known. As Rin’s journey broadens in scope, and the anime’s travels extend to encompass Nadeshiko and the Outdoors Activity Club’s adventures, the amount of surface area to explore in Google Maps will increase considerably. I put together a map shortly after finishing Yuru Camp△ and will share this in a later post.

  • Observant folks will notice a corner of Nadeshiko’s pink jacket in the anime image: she’s moved. Her story is a hilariously piteous: after tiring out from biking all the way from Nanbu, she fell asleep, missed the scenery and awoke when it was dark. The first episode of Yuru Camp△ shows that for her stoic, taciturn manner and love for reading about the occult, Rin frightens surprisingly easy. Once she calms down, she helps Nadeshiko out and learns more about her, all the while leading Nadeshiko to see a peaceful and spectacular view of Mount Fuji under a full moon.

  • Sakura arrives to pick up Nadeshiko, coming from the same direction that Rin took earlier. She’s pulled up and parked at a space adjacent to the Minobu Information Center, which is the log cabin just visible above the black Toyota Matrix in the real-world photo. A glance at the maps shows that, as nice as the location was, it would have been around eighteen kilometers from Lake Kawaguchi, which was the last stop of the day when I was visiting the Yamanashi area a year ago.

  • From Lake Kawaguchi, the fastest way to get to the Minobu Information Center is actually down route 139, which takes visitors through the infamous Aokigahara, which is a particularly dense, pristine forest stretching between Lake Motosu and Lake Saiko. Satellite imagery shows an uncommonly thick forest which makes navigation very difficult. Aokigahara which is best known as the “Suicide Forest”: owing to its dense growth, it can be very easy to become disoriented, and some unfortunate individuals have chosen to make this their final destination in past years. It would be hilarious to see the Outdoors Activity Club attempt camping Aokigahara in the way that only Yuru Camp△ can present, but in reality, camping in the forest is a difficult task: the terrain is not well suited for camping, and as far as I can tell, there are no sanctioned campsites here.

  • Yuru Camp△‘s first episode concludes with Nadeshiko riding a bike through the Nanbu area. She’s biking over the Fuji river here: Nanbu (南部, literally “South Area”) is a small town of around 8600 and has no secondary schools. Details, such as the guardrails, are faithfully reproduced, although evident from the screenshots, the weather in Yuru Camp△ is rather nicer than the moodier skies seen in the Google Maps image. This particular bridge is located at the heart of Nanbu along route 803, facing east.

  • Because Nanbu has no secondary schools, Nadeshiko’s commute to school is a lengthy one: she must bike to Utsubuna Station, then take the train up to Kai-Tokiwa station and disembark here before setting off on a 770-metre uphill walk to her high school. The train stations along the Minobu line are older: Kai-Tokiwa station opened in December 1972, and the iteration of Utsubuna Station seen here opened in March 1967. The Minobu line itself runs for around 88.4 kilometers, and along its run, there are 39 stations.

  • Close inspection of the town in the valley below shows that Yuru Camp△‘s incarnation is much less developed, less densely-built than the real world equivalent. The great distances separating the locations of Yuru Camp△ are apparent in the first episode alone, and even attempting to cover off the areas seen in the first episode alone would require a vehicle to do effectively: mass transit would be quite slow out here.

  • In both the anime and real-world images, a corner of the high school is visible. Having taken a look around the area, the high school is not named on the maps. Closer inspection in Street View will find that there is indeed a school here. This school is out of the way, so I’ve provided a link here to this location for easier exploration. This brings the first part of my “Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△” to a close, and looking ahead, I see at least two other parts in this mini-series. I did remark that May seemed to be a quieter month, so I’d figured that I should roll on this series before things get more busy in the future.

With the camping facilities and Lake Motosu so readily located, Yuru Camp△ made it apparent that all of its locations would be based on their real-world equivalents. The manga further explains details of each locale, providing yet another excellent resource for folks: I’ve heard that camping attendance has surged since Yuru Camp△‘s airing, attesting to the sort of excitement and inspiration that anime can generate amongst its viewers. In Yuru Camp△, every step is so vividly rendered that one would, with the appropriate equipment and some basic outdoorsman know-how, be more than capable of following Rin’s footsteps in recreating her solo camping experience. While this is very tempting, for folks outside of Japan, such a trip would also be prohibitively expensive: from a value perspective, it simply is not worth flying over to Japan for the singular purpose of camping at Lake Motosu. Having said this, I will be exploring some other locations that Nadeshiko and Rin camp at in the very near future: with a few more locations in mind, if there are any folks out there who wind up flying over to Japan and camping at a variety of the sites seen in Yuru Camp△, I would certainly love to hear your stories and adventures. In the meantime, for folks whose thoughts for this trip are still in the consideration phase, I invite you to look around on Google Maps for yourself: I will be posting a more complete map when this mini-series of posts end, but for now, I’ve chosen to kick things off with a link to the Street View around Lake Motosu as a starting point.

A Photogrammetry Exercise in Kimi no Na wa (Your Name): Determining the location of Taki’s Apartment and a fly-through from Tokyo to Hida

“Where is Taki’s apartment located?”

This question was posed by one of our readers shortly after Your Name began screening in Japan, and at the time, information about the film, especially amongst the English language anime community, was limited. Consequently, when I received the question, I wondered if it were even possible to answer it accurately. For one, metro Tokyo is the world’s largest city, and even Tokyo Proper has a surface area of 2187.66 km² and a population of 13 617 445 as of 2016. By comparison, Calgary has a tenth of the population, and it’s already tricky enough to find things here — it took me ages to realise that Pure Pwnage‘s Lannagedon event was hosted at the Bowness Community Centre, for instance. However, the challenge was an intriguing one, and I began wondering how to go about solving it. When I recalled an episode of The Raccoons back in July, I felt that I had my answer: in the episode “Search and Rescue”, Bert Raccoon and Cedric Sneer go looking for a meteorite that lands on Jack Pine Island in the Evergreen Forest. Assuming that recovering the meteorite is a day trip, the two do not leave any information behind as to where they went, and when their raft floats off from the island, the two find themselves stranded. Despite the effort of their friends, who search the Evergreen Forest through the night for them, the two are not found until the next morning. After Lady Baden-Baden reveals that she saw the meteorite, Professor Smedley-Smythe is able to use triangulation to work out where the impactor landed, leading to Bert and Cedric’s rescue. The concept of triangulation is a reasonably simple one: if there are at least two known points, then the location of an unknown point can be determined by forming a triangle by means of the existing points. The version in The Raccoons is the simplest one: the baseline distance and angles are not used, as a map is available. However, slightly more involved forms allow for a distance to the unknown point to be determined provided that one knows the baseline distance between two observes and the relative angle of this baseline to their line of sight. In this exercise, I apply a variation of the technique, plus several landmarks in the Tokyo, to form the starting point for answering this question.

Locating Taki’s Apartment

  • Figure I: Taki viewing Tiamat’s fragment splitting up in the eastward direction. The Yoyogi Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building are highlighted in this image for clarity. All of the images in this post can be expanded for viewing at full resolution.

  • Figure II: A section of the Tokyo skyline seen in Your Name. Here, I’ve highlighted some of the buildings visible in the image. Landmarks with a red label were used in my preliminary estimates to narrow down which area Taki’s apartment is located in.

  • Figure III: Approximation of where the skyline in Figure II might be viewed from. Using the four landmarks and roughly their angles, the area one can begin looking for Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, enclosed by the sightlines. All of the map data in this discussion are sourced from Google Maps and have been modified to improve clarity.

From footage in Your Name, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the nearby Yoyogi Building is visible from Taki’s apartment (Fig I). In the image, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is right of the Yoyogi building. Inspection of a map allows us to work out that Taki’s apartment must be east of these buildings. The second set of points we can use can be derived from the fact that Taki is seen leaving home with Tokyo’s skyline visible on the horizon (Fig II, Fig IV, Fig V, Fig VI, Fig VII). Visible in the frame’s left-hand-side is Akasaka Palace, accommodations for visiting state dignitaries. Tokyo Tower is also visible, along with the Embassy of Canada as the frame pans right. Thus, we can use Tokyo Tower and the Embassy of Canada as the first of the known points for our calculations: in the images, the Tokyo Tower is left of the Embassy of Canada, so we can reason out that the scene is taken from a point north of these buildings. The estimated sight lines allow us to constrain Taki’s apartment to an area in Shinanomachi, Wakaba, Yotsuyasakamachi (Fig III). These are densely-built up neighbourhoods, and while we’ve worked out roughly where Taki’s apartment could be, exploring the area bit-by-bit would still take a while. Fortunately, we have two more points that makes the calculations easier to approximate: Akasaka State Property is visible in the frame shown when Taki (Mitsuha) is looking over Tokyo. We use this to further constrain the possible region to an area west of the Akasaka State Property (Fig II). The second point is rather more subtle – there’s a small apartment complex called the Meiji Park Heights, and it is visible in the image’s lower right hand corner (Fig VII, VIII). This apartment is located southwest of Taki, so using the same technique and tracing backwards, we find a line that passes over a community centre north of the Chou Main Line (Fig IX).

  • Figure IV: Identifying buildings visible from the perspective seen in Your Name. When we zoom in to the area highlighted in Figure III and rotate the camera, we find a distinct set of landmarks not dissimilar to the buildings seen in Figure II. I use some of the more distinct skyscrapers in the image as comparisons.

  • Figure V: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. Amongst the buildings I’ve looked at include the 43-story Park Court Akasaka: The Tower, a residential complex that was completed in 2009, the Sogetsu Concert Hall and the Embassy of Canada. The Embassy of Canada was chosen as a point primarily because of its distinct roof. This building was completed in 1991.

  • Figure VI: Panning east from the perspective in Figure IV. When the camera pans right, other buildings become visible, including Tokyo Midtown, a mixed-use building that is, with its height of 248 meters (814 feet), the second-tallest in Tokyo. By comparison, Brookfield Place East of Calgary will have a completed height of 247 meters (810 feet). Other buildings highlighted for their visibility include the International Medical Welfare University Graduate School, Honda Welcome Plaza Aoyama and the TK Minami-Aoyama Building.

  • Figure VII: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. With the number of familiar landmarks visible in Your Name, we can say that Taki’s apartment must be located close to the Akasaka Imperial Property. There is one final structure that is present when the camera pans, and this is the Meiji Park Heights, with its distinct roof and windows.

  • Figure VIII: A closer view of Meiji Park Heights. Despite its unassuming appearance from 3D imagery, the building houses spacious, luxury apartment units and is conveniently located to two train stations, as well as the Akasaka grounds. With two-bedroom units that have a total area of close to 1125 square feet (110.41 square meters), rentals start at 350000 Yen per month (3900 CAD), more than double that of an equivalent in Calgary (1500 CAD per month).

  • Figure IX: Using the Akasaka State Property and Meiji Park Heights to constrain the possible region of Taki’s apartment further. The Akasaka State Property was visible in Figure II, and together with the Meiji Park Heights, allow us to say that Taki’s apartment must be in a narrow area where both structures are visible. Using the sightlines running east-west, the possible location of Taki’s apartment can be searched for in the highlighted area.

We now have an area small enough so that we can start looking around manually, and immediately north of the community centre are some apartment complexes. We are left with several options: Taki lives in an apartment with an outdoor hallway, which allows us to eliminate a larger apartment nearby with windows facing south, as well as a green-roofed apartment (Fig X, XI). Adjacent to the green-roofed apartment is a slightly taller apartment, and while it has south-facing balconies, this is our candidate, located at the address 〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15. The building itself is called 離宮ハイム (Rikyū haimu), and from details in the film, Taki lives on the sixth floor. Despite the descrepancies in design, especially with respect to the placement of balconies and the angle of sunlight seen in the film, when we descend down for a closer look along a road, it becomes apparent that we’ve located Taki’s apartment. Details in the road he’s seen running along, both to school and to meet up with Miki for his date, line up with what is visible from the site’s real world location (Fig XII, XIII, XIV, XV). Without the use of too much trigonometry, we’ve found Taki’s apartment with some reasoning, a bit more guesswork and liberal use of Google Maps. I remark that a more precise and sophisticated technique can be applied here: because we have the heights of the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, clever use of a clinometer and the screenshots can also allow one to approximate the distance to the buildings and determine where the screenshots are roughly located.

  • Figure X: Highlighting Taki’s apartment and the route he’s seen taking to school and on his date with Miki. Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, while the route we see him take is given in red. From exploring the area given in Figure IX, Taki’s apartment was located in the space of around two minutes.

  • Figure XI: Corridor outside of Taki’s aparment. Close inspection of the unit numbers find that Taki lives on the sixth floor, although his apartment has a covered corridor compared to the unit located in the real-world location. However, as the structure needs to be suited for plot-related elements, the discrepancies are readily accepted without much concern.

  • Figure XII: Street-level view looking south from the road leading from Taki’s apartment. Quite ordinary and unremarkable by any definition, it is possible to use Google Street View to approximate a small section of Taki’s route, and I imagine that folks in Tokyo familiar with the region can trace his path to school and the route he takes when meeting Miki for a date with total accuracy.

  • Figure XIII: The equivalent spot from Figure XII in Your Name. The extent to which details are reproduced are incredible: whether it be the placement of mirrors, the potted plants beside the apartment on the right, the vending machine or the skyline, we have a near-perfect reproduction within Your Name of the location.

  • Figure XIV: The road going down the hillside leading from Taki’s apartment. The real-world location is filled with shrubbery, with the skyline barely visible, whereas in Your Name, there is less vegetation that allows the skyline to be more clearly seen.

  • Figure XV: The equivalent spot from Figure XIV in Your Name. While I never visited this spot during my time in Tokyo back in May, the closest I got from Taki’s apartment and the Suga Shrine would have been around 2.6 klicks, when I visited the Meiji Jingu Garden. This was the first destination that was on my itinerary in Tokyo.

The Giant Flythough Kimi no Na Wa

During the opening credits to Your Name, there’s also a brief moment where the camera flies from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo, through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, out to rural Japan and eventually, Itomori (Fig XVI). This is undoubtedly an impressive feat of animation and a visual treat to behold on its own, but there is a pleasant surprise to this, as well – if one were to project a line from Taki’s apartment in the heading as depicted in the film, they would end up in Hida, Gifu, passing over Lake Suwa along the way (Fig XVII, XVIII). In total, roughly 237 kilometers of distance separates the location of Taki’s apartment in Tokyo from Hida in the Gifu prefecture. While some might consider this a mere coincidence, the level of detail Makoto Shinkai and his team put into their art is nothing short of exceptional, so I imagine that this was a deliberate design in keeping with the thematic elements within the movie. Whereas Shinkai’s earlier themes were more about distance, Your Name deals predominantly with connections and how distances can be closed: the Chinese term “緣份” (jyutping jyun4 fan6, “fate”) describes the movie neatly, as it appears that supernatural forces compel Taki and Mitsuha to meet. That their homes lie along the same line is a clever element added to the film, and while subtle, serves to reinforce notions that Taki and Mitsuha must meet in order to convey the thematic elements in the movie. With this in mind, it is likely that Shinkai and his team worked backwards, choosing the rural location and then corresponding it with a location in Tokyo; it is considerably more difficult to pick a rural location suitable for Mitsuha, whereas in Tokyo, the dense urban build-up means that Taki could have been placed anywhere in central Tokyo without any substantial impact to the narrative.

  • Figure XVI: Stills from the opening scene in Your Name depicting a fly-over from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo to Mitsuha’s house in Itomori. Starting from the roof of Taki’s apartment (1) and flying east over the Tokyo cityscape (2) towards the Tokyo Metropolitian Government Building (3), the camera moves through the gap between the two towers (4) out into rural Japan after a transition (5), eventually landing in Itomori (6).

  • Figure XVII: Approximation of the route covered by the route seen in the opening in the real world. The red path highlighted shows this: in the upper left, the route covered between Figure XVI’s (1), (2) and (3) are shown. The opening shortens things after (4) is reached. Curiously enough, the line intersects Suwa Lake before landing in the small town of Hida in Gifu. During my visit to Japan, we passed by Suwa Lake after leaving the Ikenotaira Hotel beside the shores of Shirakaba Lake en route to Nagoya and Gifu.

  • Figure XVIII: Overhead view of the entire route from Tokyo to Hida, Gifu, intersecting with Lake Suwa. The total distance separating Taki’s apartment from Suwa Lake is 154 kilometers, while the full distance from Hida to Tokyo as the mole digs is 243 kilometers. To put things in perspective, Red Deer to Calgary is a little less than 154 kilometers, while Edmonton and Calgary are separated by a distance of 270 kilometers.

Closing Remarks

An interesting point to note is that only 480 metres separates Taki’s old apartment from the Suga Shrine. This entire exercise only took around five minutes to complete, although the post itself took a ways longer to draft out: from exploring the areas by means of Google Maps’ Street View and 3D utilities, it becomes clear that, as with Suga Shrine, Your Name takes some creative liberties in recreating locales for the film but nonetheless retains considerable accuracy. That it is possible to apply a bit of triangulation and make use of a commonplace tool to precisely determine where the events of an anime film occur, is itself a testament to how far technology has come in recent years. Sophisticated techniques for obtaining stereographic data to create 3D maps has made photogrammetry, the process of using imagery for locating structures and objects, increasingly accessible to all users: Google has optimised their 3D maps so even computers with an Intel Iris GPU can view maps in 3D. Such tools make it effortless to figure out where one’s destinations are, what road layout and traffic controls lie along a hitherto unexplored route and gain a preview of what things look like on the ground at a location halfway across the world. With tools of this calibre, quickly ascertaining locations within anime becomes a much more straightforwards task, especially if one is familiar with a handful of landmarks in the area of interest. All of these sophisticated tools means that hopefully, I’ve adequately answered the question posed: when asked “where is Taki’s apartment located?”, I can suitably respond “〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15“. Back in The Raccoons, for Bert and Cedric, being lost on an island now simply means sending out a phone call and tagging their location to simplify the search and rescue process. Having said this, some lessons, such as informing others of their intended activities and destinations, continue to endure even if the technology we’ve presently got far outstrips anything that was available in 1989.

The Stairs to Suga Shrine in Yotsuya, Shinjuku, Home of the Fateful Meeting in Kimi no Na wa (Your Name)

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” —Bruce Feirstein

The history behind Suga Shrine dates back to the Edo period; the shrine itself is actually the merger between the Gozutennou and Inari shrines, which, after the Meiji Restoration, became enshrined together to become the Suga Shrine. The shrine takes its name from Japanese mythology, where hero Susano no Mikoto defeated an eight-headed serpent and remarked 「吾れ此の地に来たりて心須賀、須賀し」(Romaji: “Warere kono ji ni ki tarite kokoro suga, suga shi”, literally “I come to this place, and my heart becomes purified”). The shrine itself features unique paintings on its ceiling depicting the Sanjurokkasen (The Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry) a group of poets from the Asuka, Nara and Heian Periods renowned for their poetic ability. The painting was dedicated to the shrine in 1836, being the work of Unpou Ooka, while the lettering was done by Arikoto Chigusa. Besides the painting, the site also is home to the Komainu, a guardian dog statue dating back to 1728, as well as the Yotsuya mitsuke memorial stone. With a bit of history behind it, the Suga Shrine is an intriguing place to visit for folks travelling in Japan, being close in proximity to the Tokyo Toy Museum and Shinjuku Historical Museum. However, I imagine that most folks are not here for some Lonely Planet-esque entry on the Suga Shrine: the stairwell leading up from the main road to the Shrine was quite trivial until the première of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, and since the film’s release, has become a popular spot for visitors looking to tread the same path that inspired the place Mitsuha and Taki, the film’s protagonists, meet properly for the first time.

  • Because we are going through Your Name again, the presence of duplicate images in this post are unavoidable. The post itself comes out of the blue, precisely a year after Your Name premièred in Japanese theatres; it is a consequence of a request I’ve had from a member of Tango-Victor-Tango, who was looking for a well-written location post and was kind enough to supply me with the photographs they’d taken. I’m not sure how visible this post will be in the grand scheme of things, since search engines are saturated with sub-standard location posts from Your Name, but at the very least, I hope that the post, featuring fifteen images each for the real-world location and movie incarnation, will be helpful for this particular member.

  • Most of the images of the film’s final moments are set in the streets surrounding Suga Shrine, and while attesting to the exceptional amount of attention Shinkai’s art team has paid to detail, such as illustrating of street signs, protrusions in the road and even the reflection of light on wet surfaces, the locations themselves are rather unremarkable, so this post’s figure captions will not deal predominantly with the locations themselves. Instead, I will take another look at the ending of Your Name, which has been considered inappropriate in the days following the home release.

  • Criticisms of the film’s ending as being inordinately happy have been made by a handful of individuals, asserting that a happy ending is, and I quote “…a lie that people actively seek because they can’t accept the shitty mess that is real life”. Such an assertion evidently can only come from individuals who have yet to find fulfilment or purpose in their lives – if they have such aversions to notions of serendipity, it follows that such people hold a degree of resentment against society itself, lacking the drive to better themselves and improve things around them.

  • The same individual goes on the claim that “…endings are the ones which realistically portray the cost of all their characters’ actions and why, in the end, the choices were worth it, despite what they gave up in exchange”. The irony of this is that even by their definition, Your Name‘s conclusion is enjoyable. I remarked that one of the main themes of Your Name, missed elsewhere even by reviews published to major news sources, is that love transcends spatial-temporal boundaries. As such, after everything that Taki and Mitsuha had gone through, it is realistic in portraying how the two reach their destination.

  • Because Your Name places so much emphasis on the unusual properties of how fate can bind individuals together and makes extensive use of the red ribbon as a metaphor for this connection, it stands to reason that the film was aiming to illustrate the strength of this connection. To have Mitsuha and Taki pass by one another and passively resign themselves to a fruitless search would be to contradict the very themes that Shinkai strives to convey. Mitsuha and Taki make sacrifices on the course of their journey to find one another, and the end result is the culmination of these choices.

  • The reason why there is seemingly “no patience for contrarian opinions” is not for the fact that contrarian opinions exist, but because the opinions themselves seemed intent on painting the movie as a sub-par “feel-good” effort that deviated too greatly from realism. I found that the film succeeded in telling the story it set out to tell, and with its combination of comedy and drama, managed to capture the audiences’ attention from start to finish. While not a masterpiece that dramatically altered my worldview, it nonetheless remains an immensely enjoyable film; it is evident that folks who found the film unsatisfactory are in the minority.

  • Owing to the film’s widespread popularity and reach, there have also been numerous cases of armchair experts coming out of the woodwork to comment on the film, asserting that there is a much deeper meaning in the film that other viewers have missed and that they alone understand. The counterclaim for this is simple enough: the fact that Your Name is so popular and relatable for such a diverse population is precisely because the film’s themes, symbols and motifs are universally understood. By conveying these ideas in a visually stimulating manner, through the perspectives of two everyday characters, the messages in the film are never obfuscated.

  • One indication that execution of Your Name is masterfully done is that the film was able to present abstract topics in a highly accessible manner. One of the long-lasting lessons I took away from my time in academia, one that endures, is that an idea that it takes genius to make the complex understandable. The concept is attributed to Albert Einstein, and my former supervisor certainly encouraged his students to think this way: while other professors gave jargon-heavy talks, with slides filled to the brim with text, my former supervisor explained complex systems in simple terms, preferring to let visuals and diagrams augment his lectures. Shinkai is likewise able to express complex ideas in an approachable manner, which lends itself to his films’ ability to move such a number of viewers.

  • The most noticeable differences between the real-world staircase in Suga Shrine and the incarnation seen in Your Name is visible in this image: while largely faithful to the real location in composition, lanterns from the shrine are not present in the film, giving the sense that it is down an ordinary street that Mitsuha and Taki meet, rather than beside a shrine. While Your Name makes extensive use of real-world locations, it also integrates fictionalised locations, as well, standing in contrast with Five Centimeters per Second and The Garden of Words.

  • One of the most suspenseful moments in Your Name was watching to see if Taki and Mitsuha would go the route that Takaki experienced in Five Centimeters per Second. In Your Name, Mitsuha and Taki come close to missing their moment, but ultimately seize the chance to address the longing in their hearts. It is a welcome, deserved ending for two characters for whom the film persistently present as being fated to meet one another: their longing was purely to meet, and the film allows this modicum of solace in being able to do so.

  • While long held to be Shinkai’s best work, and a movie that I count as being a full-fledged masterpiece for having changed the way I saw the world, I presently find that Your Name is an excellent companion to Five Centimeters per Second in that it confers another, different perspective on what things could be. While prima facie differnt in their endings, Your Name ends in an open manner just as Five Centimeters per Second did, to remind audiences that meeting is not sufficient, but it is necessary, for a meaningful relationship to occur. Much like how Takaki accepts what’s happening and see where things go, Taki decides to take a chance and see where things go, as well. The endings are, in retrospect, more similar than initially apparent.

  • I’ll take a moment to remark that I’m not particularly fond of going down long flights of steps, since the longer the stairs are, the more likely I’ll feel as though I’ll trip on the way down. This image is almost identical to the one I used in my original Your Name review, and in the comparison between reality and Your Name, both similarities and differences become quite apparent here. I imagine that the choice to blend reality with fabricated cityscapes is meant to mirror the fact that Your Name uses both fictional and realistic elements.

  • Besides the ending, one conversation topic that seems to plague discussions of Your Name is why Taki and Mitsuha remain oblivious to the differences in their years, especially considering how the current year is almost always actively in one’s mind owing to the prevalence of calendars. I imagine that the sheer lunacy of the conscious exchanging phenomenon pushes the year into the back of Mitsuha and Taki’s minds, which is not improbably considering just how shocking such an experience would be. Others yet contend that their different iPhone models should immediately give away the year, but such a remark is indicative of naïveté: the iPhone 5 that Mitsuha uses is still quite widespread, explaining why Taki has no trouble with using one, while Mitsuha, being from the country, assumes that she’s been out of the loop with respect to iPhone models as a result of living in the countryside and accepts Taki’s iPhone 6 without too much difficulty.

  • One of the things I’ve never mentioned about Your Name but greatly enjoyed was Mitsuha’s version of the song Nandemonaiya: the RADWIMPS version was quite nice, but having Mone Kamishiraishi perform it was to give the song a particularly strong emotional feeling to it surpassing even that of RADWIMPS’ performance.

  • With this last image, so ends a locations post that was thrown together on a moment’s notice. This one comes across being more unusual in focussing less on the setting and more on topics (somewhat) relevant to the film itself. The reason for this is that there is only so much I can talk about concerning stairwells, and not being an engineer, I won’t be able to offer any technical details about the bending moment of a stairwell or anything of that sort. Regular programming resumes in a few hours, where I will be detailing my incredibly enjoyable experiences with Battlefield 1‘s Łupków Pass update and the insane things I’ve done with the armoured train on that map.

The question is then, how does one reach this location? Owing to the exceptional mass transit system of Tokyo, this is not particularly challenging as an endeavour: Suga Shrine is an eight-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Yotsuya-Sanchome Station, and ten minutes away from JR Yotsuya Station, being located at 5 Sugacho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. The actual detail of the stairs leading up to the shrine is quite different than that of Your Name, as is the cityscape visible from the top of the stairs, but as outlined in the Your Name Official Artbook, this is one of the major locations in Tokyo featured in Your Name, along with Gaien (the pedestrian overpass is located here near the Shinanomachi station and is the site where Taki and Miki share several conversations over the course of the movie), Yoyogi (where Mitsuha first visits in an attempt to meet up with Taki), Roppongi (Miki and Taki have their date at the Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musée Restaurant on the third floor, after meeting up at Yotsuya) and Sendagaya (Mitsuha can be seen running here at the train station trying to catch a glimpse of a seemlingly-familiar face). Outside of Tokyo, the town of Itomori is evidently a fictional location, drawing inspiration from Hida in the Gifu Prefecture and Lake Suwa of the Nagano Prefecture. The dormant caldera is modelled after Aogashima; located south of Hachijojima, it is very remote and typically, can only be accessed by helicopter or boat. The latter is a tricky gamble owing to dangerous terrain surrounding the island, accounting for the general reluctance of fans to visit.