The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Japan

The Real Life Road Home From Izu Peninsula: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part IV

“I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!” –Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

It’s been week after Yuru Camp△ 2‘s finale aired, and already, I’m suffering from Yuru Camp△ withdrawal. This was only to be expected, as Yuru Camp△ 2 represented an immensely cathartic experience, and so, without weekly episodes to look forwards to, things have become somewhat emptier. However, this does not mean that I’m out of Yuru Camp△ 2-related materials to talk about: somewhere before the series had ended, I did promise to return and do a short post on the remaining locations in Yuru Camp△ 2. This time around, I follow Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s way home. In the aftermath of a memorable and fulfilling journey to the Izu Peninsula, Yuru Camp△ 2 slowly winds down as the girls finish their itinerary and make their way back to Yamanashi under a setting sun that illuminates the land in a warm, gentle glow. Along the way, there are several noteworthy destinations to stop along at, allowing Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club to keep all of the promises they’d made at the onset of this journey. Thanks to Yuru Camp△ 2 being very open about its locations, this final set of locations prove straightforward to find. During the course of each of the four parts to my Yuru Camp△ 2 location hunt, I had a considerable amount of fun in finding everything: armed with my prior Oculus Quest experience, using landmarks and full immersion meant that none of the locations posed any challenge to find this time around. Thus, in this post, I take readers through the last of the Izu destinations, and return to Yamanashi, where Rin’s journey with camping first began.

  • The last leg of this journey begins at Hiroi Liquor Store, which is located at the heart of Itō in Izu’s eastern edge. Open from 0900 to 1800 JST on most days, Hiroi’s owners are every bit as friendly as the Iidas, and their sake is said to be excellent, being made from local rice. While I’m not big on alcohol, Hiroi also has an interesting selection of imported foods and drinks, making it a worthwhile place to check out even if one does not partake in drinking.

  • Mount Omuro is located 2.9 kilometres north north west of Hiroi Liquor as the mole digs, but by road distance, it’s a 4.6 kilometre drive. This dormant pyroclastic cone has not erupted for four millennia and is home to the Yamayake Festival, an annual event during which vegetation is burnt away. At the foot of the mountain, there’s a Visitor’s Centre and cable car that takes visitors to the summit of Mount Omuro. During early March, they’re open from 0900 to 1645 JST. An individual ticket for a round trip is 700 Yen (8.05 CAD), and the walk around Mount Omuro’s crater rim takes anywhere from twenty minutes to half an hour.

  • Across the street from the Mount Omuro’s Visitor Centre is the road access to Izu Shaboten Zoo, home of the capybaras that Akari is so excited to see. At the fork in the road, there’s a distinct cactus statue belonging to Izu Cactus Village Glamping, a resort offering fancy-pants camping. Glamping (Glamorous Camping) has been around for centuries as a concept, but it was only in 2016 where it entered the English lexicon. As one might expect of fancy-pants camping, Izu Cactus Village offers a do-it-yourself barbeque and beautiful geodesic dome tents that provide all the comforts of home. It’s, as folks are wont to say, a different form of camping that is a different kind of luxurious compared to the more traditional camping that Rin and the others do.

  • Glamping would defeat the purpose of Yuru Camp△, and their destination lies a ways ahead at Izu Shaboten Zoo, which is open between 0900 and 1700 JST from March to October. Visiting here is pricey compared to the Outdoor Activities Club’s usual events; individual tickets cost 2400 Yen (27.59 CAD), while for Akari, the price of admissions is 1200 Yen (13.80 CAD). For comparison, adult tickets to my local zoo is 24.95 CAD per adult, while children’s tickets are 14.95 CAD. However, what makes Izu Shaboten Zoo special is that, besides the famed onsen-enjoying capybaras, most of their animals are free-roaming and friendly towards humans. One can even purchase animal food and feed the animals here, and for visitors looking for a change of scenery, Izu Shaboten Zoo also has a pleasant botanical garden.

  • It’s a 32.6 kilometre drive from Izu Shoboten Zoo back to Darumayama Kogen Rest House, the same roadside stop with the observation deck and gorgeous view of Mount Fuji that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club had visited in episode eleven. Rin had parked her moped here for the day and accepted a ride from Minami, and now that the time has come to head home, the group returns here to retrieve Rin’s bike before preparing for the hundred-kilometre drive back to Yamanashi. I imagine that Rin and the others also grab a light lunch here before heading back: there’s a snack bar that serves everything from ice cream and pancakes to noodles and curry rice.

  • The way back home to Yamanashi is presented as a very gentle and peaceful drive: here, a frame portrays Sirkanogawao Bridge on the Izu-Jūkan Expressway (E70) just outside of Ōhito, a small town north of Izu. E70 has a short tolled section and runs for 57.3 kilometres: it opened in 1992, but sections of it are still incomplete. With speed limits of 100 km/h depending on road conditions, expressways generally are only open to motor vehicles that can maintain 50 km/h or greater: mopeds like Rin’s are generally not permitted.

  • As such, Rin takes a slightly different way home on her moped: this intersection is where Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club part ways. Minami will head east down this road back to Prefectural Route 18 and make for the intersection linking them to E70, while Rin heads north for Prefectural Route 129. Because Rin’s journey is much slower, she has a few moments to herself, while the other girls (save Nadeshiko) fall asleep and find themselves back home in Yamanashi before they know it. The slope up this road looks much steeper in Yuru Camp△ 2 than it does in real life.

  • Yuru Camp△ 2 portrays a sign on the grassy slop adjacent to the road indicating the direction of Shuzenji Hot Spring, and sure enough, the signs can be seen in the real-world spot on the right hand side of the image. In this post, I’ve chosen not to go hunting for all of the various spots that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club separately pass through: at the journey’s end, there isn’t much that can be said about freeway overpasses and coastal roads that is useful for readers. Visitors will only likely pass along these spots if they’re in Japan, and I don’t feel a particular need to compare stretches of road Yuru Camp△ 2 with real life, not when other comparisons do a compelling job of conveying how faithful the anime is to real life.

  • Back in Yamanashi, Rin runs into Nadeshiko, who’d gone out with Sakura to see if she’d been alright. Yuru Camp△ 2 ends with a conversation between the two, and here, Rin shares her first-ever camping trip with Nadeshiko. The series elegantly wraps things up towards its ending, and so, for this post, I’ve decided to go looking for the road Rin takes to get back home during her first year of middle school, where her love for camping began. Here, she walks along a road lining the Hanki River, just off Route 400. I’d long known that Rin lived somewhere near the Tokiwa River, so finding this spot was a matter of looking for bridges near the Tokiwa River along Route 300. Inspection of the Google Street View image and location from Yuru Camp△ 2 finds that I’ve got a match, right down to the red utility box and T-intersection road sign.

  • Much as how I ended the first Yuru Camp△ 2 location hunt post with a screenshot of an instance where the real-world location has a vacant lot, here, I’ve found the spot where Takeda Bookstore is located. The presence of a distinct-looking garage besides a house indicates that, as with Nadeshiko’s grandmother’s house, C-Station remains true to real life even if certain locations were created to accommodate the story, and as before, while visiting a vacant lot isn’t likely too troublesome, folks should still take care not to disturb residents if they are visiting for real. With this in mind, folks using virtual means of exploration can check things out to their heart’s content. I believe with this, I’ve covered off most of the relevant locations of Yuru Camp△ 2 and therefore, can conclude this post now.

I imagine that this will be the second last Yuru Camp△ 2 and location hunt post I write about in the foreseeable future, as I’ve covered almost all of the locations and content to the best of my ability. As per usual, having the Oculus Quest has made the location hunt process much more engaging and immersive, and in no time at all, I’d found everything of note. While this means that until Yuru Camp△: The Movie is released, I won’t be doing too many location hunts with the Oculus Quest. However, having said this, I have caught wind of an experimental VR app called Laid-Back Camp Virtual, which allows players to step into the world of Yuru Camp△. Insofar, I’ve been using Wander for Oculus Quest to visit the real-world locations of Yuru Camp△, but the developers at Gemdrops have successfully brought the world of Yuru Camp△ to life, complete with the talking pine cones. At the time of writing, only the Lake Motosu version is out, but there are plans for a Fumoto version as well. Individually, each cost 24.99 CAD for the Oculus Quest, and appear to be a guided tour of the experience that Rin and Nadeshiko have in their earliest experiences together, allowing players to really become a part of Yuru Camp△. While the experiences are quite short, totalling only forty minutes each, this could be a fun demo that adds another dimensionality to having an Oculus Quest: it’s been two years since the Oculus Quest released, and save for SUPERHOT VR and Wander, I’ve not really found other apps to be worth the price of admissions. Having a few additional titles in my library would really allow me to get the most out of the Oculus Quest; while I’ve greatly enjoyed its usability with only two titles so far, it would be nice to experience other games and see what’s possible in VR.

The Real Life Izu Peninsula and Birthday Camping, Seaside-style: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part III

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart” –Confucius

While Rin was denied the opportunity to camp in and explore Izu Peninsula during the New Year’s, circumstances have shifted, allowing Rin to accompany the Outdoors Activity Club to the Izu Peninsula for the biggest camping adventure seen in Yuru Camp△. Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島, Hepburn Izu-hantō) was formed from Philippine Sea Plate, Okhotsk Plate and Amurian Plate meeting in a triple junction, creating intense tectonic activity that results in volcanism and frequent earthquakes. Izu Peninsula is home to a number of fictional series; Amanchu is set on Izu’s eastern edge, and Koji Suzuki’s The Ring (along with the film adaptation) uses Izu’s remote but stunning natural beauty as the backdrop for a series of terrifying events. Although perhaps iconic for its setting in The Ring, the actual Izu Peninsula possesses none of the terror – it is a prefecture famous for its hot springs and natural features, which drives tourism, as well as wasabi production. With a population of some four hundred and seventy-three thousand people, and covering an area of 1421.24 km², it is here that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club have their grandest experience yet, which has spanned three whole episodes so far. While Izu itself has a surface area nearly six times larger than the largest search space I’ve looked at for Yuru Camp△, the mountainous topography, narrow coastal roads and limited pathing options, together with the fact that Yuru Camp△ 2 has been very kind with showing routes and destinations, has meant that for this location hunt, finding the exact places that Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi, Ena, Minami and Akari visit has presented no trouble at all. With virtually every spot well-covered by Google Maps, it became trivially easy to tread along the same paths and marvel at the same sights that this close-knit group of friends experiences on their adventures when the information in Yuru Camp△ 2 is so complete, and the Oculus Quest’s capabilities are used to further augment the rate at which things can be found. Using the full immersion that the Oculus Quest provides, the peninsula’s beauty is apparent as I travelled along the virtual representation of Izu’s coastal highways and mountain trails. In this post, then, the aim is simple enough: as with previous location hunts, my aim is to share the locations seen in Yuru Camp△ 2, and provide an adequate amount of detail so that folks can appreciate the effort than went into Yuru Camp△ 2. I am aware that location hunting with Yuru Camp△ is a popular activity; I do hope that this post is able to help folks find what they seek, and perhaps, even use this post as a starting point for planning out their own trip to Izu Peninsula.

  • I’ll open with a stretch of road Rin travels along during the first leg of her Izu Peninsula tour and assure readers that most of the remaining destinations in this post will be more exciting than various stretches of road. To share a bit of a story for fun: when I was younger, 半島 always gave me trouble: it translates directly to “peninsula”, but breaking the word apart, 半 (jyutping bun3, Hepburn han) means “half”, and 島 (jyutping dou2, Hepburn with the on’yomi reading) is island. Hence, my interpretation of 半島 was “half-island”. When I first visited Hong Kong at the age of four, the reading of Kowloon Peninsula (九龍半島, jyutping gau2 lung4 bun3 dou2) would always confuse me, since Kowloon wasn’t an island by any definition, and I struggled with the idea of what a “half-island” was until learning it was equivalent to a Peninsula.

  • While Rin’s soaking up a variety of geospots around the northwestern side of Izu, the Outdoor Activities Club travels down route 414 from Yamanashi into the heart of Izu, passing along the Michi-no-eki Amagi-goe roadside stop. There’s a small market here, Amagi Wasabi no Sato,  that the the Outdoor Activities Club stop by to get some wasabi ice cream: because of Izu’s climate and soil, the peninsula is well-suited for growing wasabi plants, and there’s actually a small field by the shop that grows wasabi. Visitors can even pick wasabi for themselves here; while the Outdoor Activities Club don’t see many geospots on their first leg of the journey, wasabi is an integral part of the Izu experience, so I felt that such a visit would be a reasonable tradeoff.

  • Fourteen minutes and 10.4 kilometres south of Amagi Wasabi no Sato is the Kawazu Nandaru Spiral Bridge, a feat of engineering that was completed in 1982 in order to ascend a steep mountain passage where building switchbacks was not possible. Because of the tight turn, the speed limit here is restricted to 30 km/h, and the total road distance this spiral bridge covers is 1100 metres to accommodate for a 45 metre elevation difference between road surfaces. As Yuru Camp△ 2 indicates, it’s certainly a fun experience for drivers and passengers alike.

  • While Chiaki and the others are riding the Kawazu Nandaru Spiral Bridge, Rin visits Ryugu Sea Cave, which is located a stone’s throw (7.1 kilometres down the shortest route, totalling about 12 minutes) from their rendezvous point. The Izu Peninsula isn’t particularly large, but Yuru Camp△ 2 demonstrates that there’s no shortage of natural attractions and local specialties to check out; it’s taken a full three episodes to even scratch the surface, and there’s still a few more spots Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club have on their itinerary for their last day. In this location hunt post, I’ve opted to show locations in order simply to keep things consistent.

  • At the parking lot for Ryugu Sea Cave, the shadows cast by the morning light shroud half of this frame in shadows. At this hour in the morning, Rin has the entire place to herself: only her moped is visible from this position, and to the left is the Healing Dragon, a small rental bungalow that acts as accommodation for visitors. It is across the street from Ryugu Park and features a full kitchen, barbeque pit and a washing machine. However, in order to make use of these facilities, one must register for a Healing Dragon membership, which is 1000 Yen per person.

  • As Rin discovers, the Ryugu Sea Cave is absolutely beautiful: originally an enclosed cave, the terrain above collapsed, creating a forty-metre wide opening that allows for the cavern to be fully illuminated. From the sky, Ryugu Sea Cave looks like heart, and so, is counted as a power spot, a place where nature is especially sublime and wondrous, sufficiently to recharge one’s spirits, hence the moniker. There are equivalent spots here in Canada: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Maritime provinces, have especially beautiful coasts, and the Bay of Fundy’s features are world-famous for their beauty.

  • After Rin meets up with everyone, the group heads on over to Shimoda’s Ra-Maru, a restaurant that serves some of what locals consider to be the best burger this side of Japan: their iconic Shimoda burgers comes with a gigantic slice of camembert cheese on top of the regular cheese slice, which, in conjunction with the sauce and generous helping of fried Alfonsino, is said to create a flavour experience that’s out of this world. While the burgers themselves are 1100 Yen (about 12.59 CAD), a full meal with a drink and side of fries or onion rings costs 1500 Yen (17.17 CAD). On the topic of burgers, I have mentioned that I am a bit of a burger connoisseur (although not to the same extent as poutine!), and my favourite burgers combine ingredients that play well together and super-combine for a veritable flavour explosion.

  • If and when I’m asked, the best burger in town for me is Kilkenny’s “Stuffed Bacon Cheddar” burger, a mouth-watering tower of bacon and cheddar cooked into the half-pound patty, paired with a fried egg, mango avocado salsa and back bacon. With this being said, I don’t see it on their menu anymore, and it’s been some four years since I’ve visited Kilkenny’s, so it is possible that the burger has been retired from the menu. Back in this location hunt, I’ve taken a few steps back here to show Ra-Maru from a different angle, to include the remainder of the building, which also houses a tourist centre, museum and seafood restaurant. Just visible in both the real life and anime incarnations are concrete pillars: the main floor is used as a dedicated parking space that Minami and Rin make use of, chosen for its proximity to Ra-Maru: the services and amenities here make this a solid place to act as a starting point for exploring Shimoda and its surroundings.

  • After lunch, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin head into town to pick up ingredients for dinner. They pass over the Inouzawa River on Route 135: here, the cables for the Shimoda Ropeway, a cable car that takes visitors to an observation deck 156 metres up. The cable car runs every quarter hour and takes three-and-a-half minute one way; the sights up here are supposed to be great, especially when flowers are blooming, and there’s also a Buddhist shrine at the top of the mountain (Aizendo), but this isn’t a part of the Outdoor Activities Club or Rin’s itinerary.

  • Instead, for groceries, the group swings by MaxValu by Aeon. As the sign out front indicates, this supermarket is open twenty-four hours a day and has a solid selection of fruits and vegetables, everything that Aoi and Nadeshiko need to whip up their evening meal for their first night. In Yuru Camp△ 2, the store is called MaxPower, but otherwise, matches its real-world equivalent right down to the “open 24 hours” sign out front. However, it appears they’ve swapped out the Mister Donut place for what looks like a substitution for Starbucks. Incidentally, donuts are very popular in Japan, to the point where the only country on earth with both a larger number of donut shops and donuts consumed per capita is my homeland, Canada.

  • Manpo is a seafood restaurant and market rolled into one, being the place that the group stops at to pick up seafood for their evening meal. Located seven minutes (3.5 kilometres) east of MaxValu Izushimoda by car, Manpo (Manpuku in-show) is not mentioned by name in Yuru Camp△ 2, but finding it proved unexpectedly straightforward: I knew that Minami and the others had a short car trip between the MaxValu and Manpo. Further to this, Manpo was located prior to the group’s stop at Cape Tsumeki. Doing a search for seafood restaurants in the area quickly narrowed down the candidate locations, and Manpo was a perfect match. Visitors typically do as the gentleman does, sitting down to enjoy the charcoal-grilled seafood and excellent service. Minami is tempted to join, but ultimately, her students persuade her to keep going.

  • I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Google Street View extended down to the foot paths at Cape Tsumeki, a geospot renowned for its narcissus flowers and tranquil beaches. In March, Nadeshiko and the others won’t be able to see the narcissus flowers, and it’s a little too early for swimming, but the landscape remains inviting for a walk. With Street View available to me, I dropped onto the path on the grassy plains and traced it to Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s first stop, Tsumekizaki Lighthouse.

  • Tsumekizaki Lighthouse is perched at the edge of a cliff, creating a scene that’s simultaneously beautiful and melancholy: it does feel like the edge of the world here. A short way from the lighthouse are a collection of hexagonal rocks called the Tsumezaki Columnar Joints. Reminiscent of Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, volcanic activity caused the formation of columnar basalts, which form their distinct hexagonal patterns when thick lava flows cool quickly, causing vertical fractures to form. While exploring Cape Tsumeki, Minami learns that camping on the beaches here is actually prohibited.

  • With Cape Tsumeki done, and their problem of finding a new campsite solved, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin head next to the Hosono Plateau. Like Manpo, finding this distinct-looking tunnel carved into the cliff adjacent to the coast initially seemed a daunting task, since I’d have to trace through some 17.5 kilometres of coast to find it, but as it turns out, traits in the landscape allowed me to locate this spot without too much difficulty. Google Street View shows that the drive along route 135 would be an immensely enjoyable one, and I am immediately reminded of Taiwan’s Provincial Highway 11, which travels along the island’s eastern edge between Taitung and Hualien and had similarly stunning views where the coastal highway would hug sheer cliffs that dropped into the ocean below.

  • The narrow coastal highway widens by the time it reaches Kawazu, a town located in a valley. This town will serve as an important intersection when the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin return here on their second day, but with their destination, they pass through the town and head for Inatori, which is where the road leading to Hosono Plateau is located. Here, a faint haze can be seen in Yuru Camp△ 2, and more impressively, Google Street View displays smoke in roughly the same spot. It is not lost on me that C-Station could have thoroughly researched most of their locations with Google Street View alone if they so chose: the amount of detail is impressive, and equipped with the Oculus Quest, I was able to replicate the drives with near-perfect accuracy to what Yuru Camp△ 2 presented.

  • Here, the Outdoors Activity Club and Rin reach Hosono Plateau Tree House Village, a delightful campground located a short 3.8 kilometres north of Inatori. Featuring actual tree-houses and nestled in a forest, visitors report that this campground is a particularly pleasant one. The managers are very attentive, the facilities are well-maintained, and the location makes it suited for stargazing. Not shown in Yuru Camp△ is the fact there’s a golf course adjacent to the Tree House Village.

  • This segment of the drive reminds me a great deal of Bragg Creek, a hamlet half an hour west of the city situated at the confluence between the creek the hamlet is named after and the Elbow River. Bragg Creek boasts to have the freshest air this side of Alberta, and is located in a forested area. As Minami and Rin travel down this road, the vegetation thins, and soon, the forests give way to wide open fields.

  • The grassy plains of Hosono Highland are located just a few hundred metres from the Tree House Village: the area is evidently windy, as there is a wind farm just on the hill. Known as Kawazu Wind Farm, this installation belongs to Eurus Energy, a Japanese company dedicated to clean energy production with wind and solar farms in five continents. Kawazu entered operations in May 2015 and generates 16.7 MW of energy. Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s final destination lies close to the wind farms, being the Mount Musujiyama trail that takes viewers right to the summit in fifteen minutes. Because Google Street View doesn’t extend far enough, I’ve chosen not to provide screenshots of the view from the summit.

  • The general rule for my posts are that I can only showcase locations retrieved from Google Street View or Google Places: this is to remain as faithful as possible to my Oculus Quest-only searches: for the foreseeable future, I would not count it a responsible decision to put boots on the ground for the sake of a few more photos and comparisons, and to be as fair as possible to readers, I’ve restricted my location hunts to what is available to everyone. Here, I’ve fast forwarded a little, after the group prepares to head to their campsite. According to Google Maps, to reach this spot, one will need to undergo a 44.5 kilometre drive that cuts across Izu’s mountains along route 15 on a lonely road. The intersection above is indeed located two kilometres from their destination, in the town of Nishiizu.

  • After Minami gives the girls the go-ahead to find an onsen (on the condition that it be nearby and close to the campsite so Rin doesn’t freeze or fall asleep from the drive), the group stops at Dōgashima. There are three hotels here home to onsen, making it easy to determine that Seiryu Hotel is where the girls go to unwind after a long day’s drive. With beautiful views from each room (in addition to the bath) and friendly staff, Seiryu Hotel accommodates English speakers and is located mere minutes away from Dōgashima, as well as the Sanshirō Island Tombolo. From here, Camp Koganezaki is an eleven minute (eight kilometre) drive to the north. I’ve got no comparisons of Camp Koganezaki simply because by the time Rin and the others arrive, it’s dark (and darkness makes it difficult to really pick out details in comparative screenshots).

  • Instead, I will jump ahead to Sawada Park, which is located on the northern side of Nishiizu and offers a gorgeous view of the sea. The smooth rocks at the edge of the parking lot are reminiscent of the hoodoos in Southern Alberta and were presumably formed by erosion. However, the scenery isn’t the main attraction: there’s an open-air bath here that costs 600 Yen for adults. While the baths are tiny, only allowing four to five occupants at a time in their calcium and sodium sulfate waters, the view is unmatched: in March and September, the sunset lines up perfectly with the baths, creating a one-of-a-kind experience. When Rin arrives in the morning, it’s much too early for such a treat, but in exchange, she’s early enough to have the whole place to herself.

  • Google Street View does offer viewers a chance to climb onto the footpath at Sawada Park and check things out for themselves, which was a fantastic experience within the Oculus Quest: I was able to drop myself to the same spot Rin passes through without any difficulty. It is amazing that some places do have complete Google Street View coverage, whether they be smaller parks or the interior of museums: Indoor Street View has made it possible for me to explore locations that would otherwise require an in-person visit, and it was with such coverage that I was able to get the images needed for Tsukuba’s JAXA Space Centre Exhibition Hall for my Koisuru Asteroid location hunt. I do note that while the technology exists, there is no substitute for being there in person: I imagine that this technology is primary intended to give visitors an idea of a spot’s layout and help out in planning out group excursions.

  • For brunch the next morning, Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club hit Dōgashima Dining Hall, a seafood restaurant just north of Nishiizu, twelve minutes south of Camp Koganezaki. Despite its unassuming appearance, Dōgashima Dining Hall has a pleasant atmosphere and delicious fare: the fish is supposed to be amazing. When I watched the twelfth episode of Yuru Camp△ 2, I hadn’t bothered to locate this restaurant, but now that I’ve found it, I can identify what everyone has. It appears that Aoi ordered the 俺のぶっかけ丼 (Hepburn ore no bukkake donburi), a delicious rice bowl with sashimi and egg. Minami’s gone with the 地魚刺身定食 (Hepburn jizakana sashimi teishoku, literally “Local fish sashimi set meal”). Akari is seen eating tokoroten (a sort of jelly made from seaweed); Dōgashima Dining Hall offers all-you-can-eat tokoroten with every meal, serving it with either black honey or vinegar and soy sauce.

  • Dōgashima itself has a striking coastline, and here, the group visits the hiking trail surrounding the Dōgashima Sea Cave: similar to Ryugu Sea Cave, erosion and weathering eventually caused a segment of the land to sink and collapse into the caverns below. While Chiaki mentions it’d be nice to hop right in to cool off during the summer, and Rin counters that there’s probably no way out. In reality canoe tours are offered, allowing one to actually get into the flooded caverns below to see the natural skylight. There’s a dock near the parking lot where visitors can register for the cave tour. While Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club don’t do such a tour, they do make use of the hiking trail to take in the unique scenery at Dōgashima.

  • Sanshirō Island displaces the onsen-enjoying capybaras as the most long-awaited destination for Akari: it’s located ten minutes north of Dōgashima on foot (totally 650 metres of road distance), and this island chain consists of three islands (Denbei, Nakano, Okinose and Taka). While there are no grilled meat vendors here per Aoi’s suggestion, the site is incredibly beautiful, and at low tide, enough of the water recedes so that one could walk to the islands without getting their feet wet. I imagine that Akari and the others arrived a little before the tide was lowest (one hour before and one hour after low tide), so they ditch their shoes and wade across. As Yuru Camp△ 2 states, the islands are so-named because depending on the perspective, there are either three or four islands.

  • With the list of geospots to visit for the day finished, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin head back into Nishiizu to pick up some ingredients at Food Store Aoki, which is located right beside Nishina River. Rin and Minami had actually passed by Aoki earlier en route to Seiryu Hotel, so it makes sense for the group to swing by here for groceries. Visitors note that while things are a little pricier here, the quality and selection is solid, so the Outdoor Activities Club have no trouble finding the materials they need to whip up an impressive birthday dinner for Aoi and Nadeshiko at Aoki before heading off for their final destination of the day: Darumayama-Kogen Campground.

  • The route that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club take to reach the campground is the same one that Google Maps recommends: they travel back up Route 136 past Camp Koganezaki and make a right onto Route 410. This particular crosswalk is located near a fork between the Ugusu and Ohisasu rivers – it is quite unremarkable save for the fact that it took a little bit of effort to locate. In this location hunt for Yuru Camp△ 2, I’ve chosen not to go with too many road shots because there’s also a considerable number of attractions to highlight. With this being said, the attractions and stops are generally easy to find, since they’re named after their real-world counterparts or offer identifying characteristics. Conversely, various stretches of road require a bit more patience to find and may not always allow for the most exciting of remarks to be made.

  • With this being said, every location for a location hunt post, I’ve found independently using only Google Maps, Google Street View and the Places API, plus a handful of computer vision techniques that are available to me. The reason for not delving further into pilgrimages on Japanese SNS for interior shots and the like is because those experiences aren’t always readily accessible for folks overseas: the aim of these Oculus Quest powered location hunt posts is to provide starting points that readers can check out straightaway. Thus, the only rule I have is that my location hunts must be something readers can also access. Here, Rin and Minami ascend a switchback, passing by Nishi-Amagi Plateau Branch House, a guesthouse that is known for its soft-serve ice cream and soba.

  • The West Izu Skyline is a stretch of road that cuts across the highlands and that offers unparalleled views: Izu also has the Izu Skyline, a toll road located to the east. Both roads are frequented by folks looking for a phenomenal drive or cycling adventure. Before setting off, Minami asks Rin to be careful and not be too distracted by the scenery – this is a known problem for drivers, and on the road trips I’ve done, I usually have another driver so we can take turns driving and checking out the scenery. Of course, when there are sights that call for it, sometimes, it’s a better idea to stop and really take a closer look. This particular spot on the road, facing south, is located quite close to the Nishi-Amagi Plateau Branch House, and I found it simply by following the West Izu Skyline a ways, using the curvature of the road and the Oculus Quest’s ability to let me look around in 360º to confirm I’d found the spot. I realise that the Google Street View version of the West Izu Skyline doesn’t have the road markings seen in Yuru Camp△ 2 – the latter clearly denote one-way traffic and no passing, whereas in the Street View images, I get the impression that one can change lanes.

  • I’ll conclude this post with a view from Darumayama Observatory, located just half a kilometre from the Daruyama-Kogen Campground. This marks the end of the twelfth episode’s travels, as the remainder of the day is dedicated to preparations ahead of Aoi and Nadeshiko’s birthday. As Yuru Camp△ 2 shows, Mount Fuji can easily be spotted from this viewpoint. While I’d originally intended to write this post after the finale to showcase all of the locations of Yuru Camp△ 2, the revelation that there’d be a thirteenth episode in conjunction with the large number of spots visited during Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s excursion to the Izu Peninsula meant it made more sense to cover off some of the locations now before their number made writing a post too daunting. With this done, I plan on writing one final location hunt post for Yuru Camp△ 2 once the finale is in the books to check off any remaining locations, as well as some sights in and around the Minobu valley to round out the season.

With this latest set of locations in the books, I think that readers now have enough information to draft out a complete Yuru Camp△ 2 tour: attesting to Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club maturing, the scope and scale of their travels has increased considerably since Yuru Camp△. Whereas Yuru Camp△‘s settings remained largely within Yamanashi and Nagano, oftentimes within the range of mass transit options, Yuru Camp△ 2 represents a much bolder series of adventures that requires more extensive planning, and perhaps private transportation to make reaching said locations easier. While such a trip is not the most responsible decision I could make right now, I will note that the Oculus Quest has again come through here; several locations in Yuru Camp△ 2‘s final third were found by capitalising on the 360º view that a VR headset offers. With Yuru Camp△ 2 providing the locations Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club visits, the key attractions were found without difficulty, and the superior spatial awareness that VR provides meant being able to very easily travel up and down a stretch of road to find nearby spots that were unnamed in the anime. In this way, from the segment of road travelling through a cave, to the restaurant that everyone stops for sashimi at and even the shop where Minami picks up a spiny lobster, each and every spot within this post was located without difficulty. Having now fielded the Oculus Quest on no fewer than seven location hunts, I finally feel like I’ve gotten proper use out of the complementary headset that I received from F8 2019. For the longest time, the Oculus Quest sat unused because VR still felt like a very niche function, being more of a novelty than a practicality. However, after demonstrating the Oculus Quest’s versatility with the Houkago Teibou Nisshi location hunt, it’s become evident that this headset’s very much become an indispensable part of my anime location hunting arsenal: while I lack familiarity with locations in Japan as a resident would and do not possess a strong enough command of the Japanese language to hunt for locations with the same speed as a local, advanced technology has certainly helped to close this gap, enough for me to hopefully have created a post that is interesting and useful for readers.

The Real Life Locations of The Outdoor Activities Club, Rin and Nadeshiko’s Excellent Adventures: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part II

“The journey not the arrival matters.” –T.S. Eliot

For Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second third, the Outdoor Activities Club, Rin and Nadeshiko explore a plethora of locations in Yamanashi and Shizuoka as they continue to respectively carry out club activities and explore new horizons. During the course of the girls’ travels, they cover a vast amount of turf: a grand total of 247 square kilometres of map data was scoured to put this post together, and during the course of compiling a list of all locations, it become clear that each of the Outdoor Activities Club, Nadeshiko and Rin each have their own unique footprints as a result of how they choose to travel and have fun, using the modes of transportation available to them. With Chiaki, Aoi and Ena, their trip to Lake Yamanaka is primarily driven by whatever places they can reach by bus and on foot. Finding the spots they visited proved to be the easiest of everyone because Chiaki had organised their itinerary such that they’d be able to hoof it for the most part, using the bus to reach Camp Misaki as their first day drew to a close. Nadeshiko’s first-ever solo camping trip was similarly small-scale – thanks to Rin’s advice, Nadeshiko is keeping it simple for her excursion to Fujinomiya and Nodayama Health Green Space Park in Fujikawa sees her walking to most places, and taking the train to get close to her chosen campsite. Being more inquisitive and armed with Sakura’s suggestion, Nadeshiko’s footprint is slightly larger than that of the other girls, but the places she visits are still relatively easy to find. Conversely, with her experience and moped, the area of the minimum bounding box for the area Rin visits is the largest of everyone’s, and correspondingly, pinpointing where Rin visited proved to be the most time-consuming. However, because Yuru Camp△ 2 continues in its predecessor’s footsteps in using (mostly) real-world locations, even the most remote corners of Yamanashi can be easily found: the narrow mountain roads Rin travels along limits the search space, and with a bit of patience, I’ve been able to identify enough of the places for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second third to have a post worthy of readers.

  • When Sakura invites Nadeshiko out to dinner one evening, Nadeshiko is seen sprinting past Caribou to reach this restaurant, but a cursory look around Minobu shows no such place. Instead, it’s set at Fujiyoshi Pure Handmade Soba in Kofu – like Caribou, which was modelled after Sven in Hamamatsu and named after Elk (which is fifteen minutes south). Minobu is a little too small to host things, so I’m guessing that Yuru Camp△ has taken a few liberties with its locations to make it easier for Nadeshiko and her friends. In real life, Fujiyoshi makes solid, homemade soba noodles and chicken, but as Yuru Camp△ shows, they do in fact have a prawn tempura dinner set, as well. Customers are generally impressed with both the food and the service, making this a worthwhile destination to visit.

  • I’ve fast-forwarded ahead to the Outdoor Activities Club’s visit to Fujiyoshida, which is the starting point for their camping trip to the shores of Lake Yamanaka. With its distinct glass façade, Mount Fuji Station is the terminal for the Fujikyuko Line and was given its current name in 2011. It services about fourteen hundred passengers daily, but for Chiaki, Aoi and Ena, I imagine they would’ve taken a bus to get here from Kofu: this is the fastest way, entailing a one-and-a-half hour long bus trip.

  • Here, as Ena, Aoi and Chiaki run for their bus, a roller-coaster can be seen in the background. This rollercoaster belongs to Fuji-Q, an amusement park that opened in 1968 and is particularly well-known for its roller-coasters. Beyond this, Fuji-Q also has several themed attractions, including one for Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, amusement parks are not the objective in Yuru Camp△, speaking volumes to what’s on Chiaki, Aoi and Ena’s mind for this camping trip.

  • I did attempt to capture a screenshot of the building where Chiaki, Ena and Aoi grab their transit passes, but because of limitations in Google Street View, I was not able to get close enough to get a clean image. Like my previous Yuru Camp△ location hunts, I’ve exclusively used the Oculus Quest and Wander: its API hooks into Google Street View and its awesome capabilities, allowing me to find everything for these posts much faster than using a desktop or mobile version of Google Maps. My general rule is that if a location cannot be reached on Google Maps and has no information from Google Business, then I cannot feature the spot in these location hunts.

  • The large Caribou store in Yuru Camp△ 2 is actually a Montbell, and sells branded Mount Fuji gear that cannot be purchased at any other Montbell locations. Unlike Yuru Camp△, however, there is no Caribou-kun standing watch at the doorway – instead, there’s a giant bear at the doorway instead. Customers report an impressive selection of outdoors products, and its proximity to Mount Fuji makes it a fantastic place to pick up any last minute gear before continuing on a hike or camping trip.

  • Yamanakako Onsen (Benifuji no Yu) is a hot springs located 5.3 kilometres southeast of Montbell. It’s a 55-minute walk to get here on foot from Montbell, but since Chiaki, Aoi and Ena picked up transit passes, they can simply board a bus and arrive within fourteen minutes. Visitors are have nothing but good things to say about Yamanakako Onsen: although the staff aren’t too familiar with English, the best experience is to be had if one has a Japanese speaker in their group. The onsen are comfortable and peaceful, offering beautiful scenery, and the cafeteria itself is also excellent. offering meals in addition to ice cream.

  • Admissions to Yamanakako Onsen is 800 yen per adult, but one can get a ten percent off discount if they bring in a special flier handed out by the tourism office. Credit cards aren’t accepted, so one should bring cash if they wish to visit. Beyond the outdoor pools seen in Yuru Camp△ 2, Yamanakako Onsen also has indoor pools, a sauna and steam room on site. This onsen is open every day of the week except for Monday and Tuesday, from 1000 to 2100, and while not shown in Yuru Camp△ 2, there’s also a small gift shop here, as well. From what I’ve read of Yamanakako Onsen, one could comfortably spend a half day here just taking in everything, although reception closes after 2030.

  • Ogino Supermarket is only 800 metres away from Yamanakako Onsen: it’s under ten minutes to walk here from Yamanakako Onsen. Yuru Camp△ 2 renders the supermarket as Hagino. I’ve previously mentioned that my thoughts immediately strayed to Hinako Note because Hagino happens to be the surname of the landlady to Hitotose, and in a curious coincidence, her first name happens to be Chiaki, as well. Unlike Chiaki Ōgaki of Yuru Camp△, who is energetic and spirited, Chiaki Hagino is soft-spoken and reserved, although also quite kind. Looking around Ogino, it looks like they sell locally made wines, and generally speaking, they have a wide selection of fresh produce and ready-to-go meals that are less pricey than their counterparts in the Tokyo area.

  • Misaki Camping Ground is located 4.9 kilometres east of Ogino, at the eastern edge of Lake Yamanaka. There aren’t too many attractions nearby (everything is located on the southern side of the lake), and the nearest convenience store is a 7-Eleven about 1.8 kilometres away, the camp ground itself is quite beautiful. Yuru Camp△ has traditionally presented the campsite managers as being friendly people, so it was a little surprising to see Yuru Camp△ 2 present the manager as being more intimidating. Having said this, visitors report the camp’s staff are friendly, and during the summer, the camp’s location makes it great for swimming. The site’s facilities, while not extensive, are adequate, and campers generally have an excellent time here.

  • Yuru Camp△‘s sixth episode remained largely on the shores of Lake Yamanaka and didn’t take viewers to new destinations, but by the seventh episode, things felt more like an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe: between Nadeshiko and Rin’s travels, a lot of turf was covered. With the pair’s solo adventures kicking off, Rin visits Akasawa Village, a centuries-old stopping point for visitors visiting Keishin Temple. Today, Akasawa is a quiet place: the narrow mountain roads are too narrow for larger vehicles, and Akasawa itself is perched on the mountainside between fields of tea trees. Here, Rin travels down a side street leading into Akasawa’s old town.

  • The aesthetic of Akasawa is reminiscent of Magome, the forty-third of the Nakasendō’s sixty nine stations, rest areas located along the route between Kyoto and Edo. Prosperous in its heyday, Magome briefly fell to ruin after the Chūō Main Line railway opened in 1889, but has since been restored to its former glory. Unlike Magome, which is now a popular spot for tourists, Akasawa remains tranquil: the owner of Shimizuya remarks that the average day sees about a hundred visitors at most, and even during the afternoon, when the sun bathes the village in a strong light, the place remained peaceful. This viewpoint overlooks the old town, and to the right, Shimizu-ya can be seen.

  • Shimizu-ya is the cafe that Rin visits while in Akasawa, where she sits down underneath the kotatsu and begins melting from the comfort. She ends up ordering a mamemochi (豆餅) and amazake: the former is, per its name, a mochi with soybeans inside, whereas the latter is a sweet drink made from fermented rice. I’ve always found that Japanese sweets have a gentler flavour to them compared to confections I’m used to, and this allows for more subtle flavours to be tasted, as well. Unlike most places, Shimizu-ya’s staff are fluent in English.

  • After her stop in Akasawa, Rin travels north up route 37 towards the westernmost reaches of Yamanashi. Route 37 runs along a narrow valley deep in the Minami Alps, and there are very few intersections or alternate routes, making it relatively easy to find everything. For Yushima Great Cedar Tree and Naradanosato Hot Springs that Rin visits up here, it was a matter of following the route north and doing a search for these attractions. Thus, even without precisely knowing the names of the places Rin visited, I was able to find everything without too much difficulty. Here is the same bridge Rin passes over from Akasawa en route to her next stop.

  • Yushima Great Cedar Tree is thought to be the oldest tree in Japan: scientists estimate that it is anywhere from two to seven thousand years old, and despite not being particularly tall, its trunk is five metres across. Rin only stops to check out the most famous of the cedars here, which was spared from the axe on account of its impressive dimensions. The area is host to numerous other noteworthy trees, but a full hike takes up to ten hours. After swinging by, Rin heads off for her next destination and spots Sakura’s car after she reaches the trailhead, which is marked by a sign visible both in anime and real life.

  • Rin subsequently heads north and stops at Sotoryo Temple, seven kilometres north of the trailhead leading to Yushima Great Cedar Tree. This temple, however, is not Rin’s final destination: she’s making use of the parking lot out front, and subsequently takes a walk around Hayakawa, the small village where Naradanosato Hot Spring is located. Adjacent to this hot springs is Cafe Kagiya. Tucked away on the forest’s edge, Cafe Kagiya offers a selection of sweets: Rin ends up trying their Shiso cheesecake, which has a sharp, citrus-like taste.

  • Sakura’s decision to take a dip at Naradanosato Hot Springs was meant to accentuate her similarities to Rin. Because of its remoteness, the price of entry to Naradanosato Hot Springs is 550 Yen for adults, and as Sakura notes, the waters here are a bit cooler than the typical onsen‘s. Moreover, the facilities are a bit older and not wheelchair-accessible. Having said this, the atmosphere at Naradanosato is unparalleled, and much as Sakura had experienced in Yuru Camp△, the scenery from the baths are fantastic. Locals note that the lower intensity of the onsen‘s temperatures means that one can bathe for longer, allowing for the scenery of the mountain valley below to really be enjoyed.

  • Forty seven and a half kilometres from Naradanosato Hot Springs as the mole digs, is Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha Shrine. Here, Nadeshiko passes by the torii at the front gates, having disembarked from Fujinomiya Station, which is only ten minutes away on foot. Located on the Minobu Line, Fujinomiya Station opened in 1903 and serves about 2400 passengers daily. From Ide Station in Nanbu, it’s a half-hour ride costing 320 Yen to Fujinomiya. Nadeshiko’s first solo camping trip isn’t particularly challenging: to go from Ide Station in Nanbu to Fujikawa Station only requires a single transfer from the Minobu Line to the Tkaido Line, and takes around 72 minutes in total one way.

  • Dating back to 806 AD, Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha is a Shintō shrine that is said to have been built to appease the gods during a time when Mount Fuji was an active volcano. Although historical records for this shrine only date back to the ninth century, Mount Fuji only went dormant in 1707, giving this legend some basis in scientific fact. The shrine is intensely associated with Mount Fuji, and people visit here prior to ascending the mountain to pray for a safe journey. Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha’s hongen (main hall, seen here) was constructed in 1604, but has since undergone several renovations and repairs.

  • After finishing her shrine visit and praying for a safe solo camping experience, Nadeshiko heads off for lunch. Right at the doorsteps of Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha, she finds a yakisoba place called Fujinomiya Yakisoba Antenna Shop – with a regular plate of noodles going for 450 Yen, portions are generous, and the noodles themselves are delicious. This does look like a pleasant place to stop, but Nadeshiko resists the temptation to have lunch here and head off – Sakura had left her with a recommendation from a place she likely visited previously on her own road trips.

  • This recommendation is for a place called Okonomishokudō Itō (お好み食堂伊東, literally “Favourite Restaurant”), where Nadeshiko finds a lineup upon her arrival, which is located three kilometres away from Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha. The special she orders here is the Gomoku Shigure-yaki, a variation on the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki where the yakisoba noodles are swapped out for Fujinomiya-style yakisoba noodles, and nikukatsu (rendered pork fat) is added, resulting in an incredibly rich and hearty okonomiyaki. Despite the generous portion sizes, okonomiyaki here only cost around 750 Yen, and so, Nadeshiko is able to order a little something extra, too. Credit cards are not accepted here, so visitors should be mindful of this and bring cash (which is never a problem for Nadeshiko and her friends).

  • With lunch done, and shopping taken care of, Nadeshiko disembarks from Fujikawa Station and sets off for her campsite at Nodayama Health Green Space Park. Fujikawa Station would be a station one would pass by if they were headed for Hamamatsu, but Nadeshiko’s destination is a bit closer this time around. The station opened in 1889 as Iwabuchi, but was renamed in 1970, and today, it averages around 1500 passengers daily.

  • The underpass that Nadeshiko uses is about four hundred metres west of Fujikawa Station and are known as “subways” in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. This creates a bit of confusion for folks from North America. In Hong Kong, whenever I saw such signs during my earliest visits, I imagined they were for the MTR, which is the underground rail mass transit system: upon coming down the steps to these subways, I was always confused that there was no entrance to the MTR. Underpasses are a bit rarer in my neck of the woods, but I am glad that the nearby park uses these to make it easier to get here without crossing a busy road.

  • Nadeshiko soon ascends up a switchback that offers a stunning view of Fujikawa below. Because there’s only one way to ascend from Fujikawa Station to Nodayama Health Green Space Park, following the most optimal route will allow one to retrace Nadeshiko’s route with perfect accuracy, allowing one to gaze upon the same scenery that Nadeshiko gazes upon. This walk is no joke, being 5.5 kilometres in length and seeing an elevation gain of around 477 metres. On its own, this would be a decent entry-level hike, but considering Nadeshiko is carrying a full complement of camping gear totally between 20-30 pounds, it speaks to her incredible endurance and stamina that she’s able to make it up here and continue to sing without becoming short of breath at any point.

  • In both the anime frame and the real-world equivalent, Mount Fuji can be seen behind the solar array at the intersection. From here on out, the path isn’t provided with Google Street View: Nadeshiko makes her way onto a trail to finish the climb, and it’s about 2.8 kilometres up to the campsite from here. As the mole digs, it’s only 1.8 kilometres up, but the switchbacks, intended to lessen the slope, adds distance. Drivers need to take an alternate route to get up to Nodayama Health Green Space Park, accessible north of the E1 Expressway, although with a vehicle, the elevation gain wouldn’t be noticeable at all.

  • This pair of tunnels proved to be the trickiest spots to find for this Yuru Camp△ 2 location hunt: I initially thought they were located on a mountain pass on the edge of a cliff, but another frame later revealed that the tunnels were actually located at the base of the mountain. With this in mind, I decided to search for bridges alongside the Haya River, and ended up at the Yamanashi Hayakawa Hydroelectric Station. This is actually as far as Google Street View goes, but unlike the closed main tunnel Rin finds, the Street View imagery shows the tunnel is open, with the secondary tunnel being closed instead.

  • Yuru Camp△ 2 presents Rin as having a very abbreviated drive from the tunnels back down to Amehata, which is thirty kilometres (forty minutes) away. Thanks to Yuru Camp△ 2 providing a hint here, I was able to pin down the last set of locations for this post, which is located on the shores of Lake Amehata. It does strike me that the locations Rin visits on her latest trip are quite out of the way, and for folks without their own scooters or cars, reproducing this trip could prove to be more challenging: as far as I can tell, there are no public transit options into this part of the mountains.

  • The consequence of this is that the Amehata area is remarkably calming, a perfect visual representation of Rin’s own personality. Like Rin, I greatly enjoy visiting obscure, relatively out-of-the-way places that few would visit: last year, I drove out to a remote grain elevator and abandoned mining town in the prairies for fun, knowing that the mountains would be busy. In Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin marvels at the calm beauty that is Lake Amehata here: she’s got clear skies and turquiose lake waters, whereas in the Google Street View equivalent of the same spot, the lake’s got a mirror-like surface instead.

  • The suspension bridge over the Amehata River is about 120 metres in length, and according to the satellite images, leads into a dense forest. One cannot fault Rin for wanting to turn back, since the trail does look a bit tricky. Rin’s reaction to the swaying span of the suspension bridge was an endearing one, and I’ve always found the best way to cross them without being overwhelmed by the motion is to plant one’s feet firmly before taking the next step.

  • This is Villa Amehata, the onsen that Rin ends up stopping at while in Amehata, an older mountain inn with friendly staff and a cozy atmosphere, but more limited amenities. Like Naradanosato, the location means that the cost of admissions is reduced compare to facilities in more well-travelled areas: getting into the onsen at Villa Amehata is 550 Yen for adults, and the baths are open from 1100 to 2000 on weekends. This time around, Rin’s not shown enjoying her soak in the waters, which are sulfur-rich and of a neutral pH.

  • Instead, Rin is shown hanging out in the common area’s massage chairs: like the real-world equivalent, Yuru Camp△ 2 faithfully portrays the busy interior of this space, bringing it to life, right down to the cat who’s fond of staring at patrons inside the room from outside. With Villa Amehata covered off, I believe I’ve checked off all of the more notable Google Street View-accessible spots for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second third. I will be returning once the second season’s come to a close to deal with the final third’s locations, and in the meantime, I hope readers do enjoy this post, which kicks off the month of March.

The sheer variety of places that Yuru Camp△ 2‘s covered between its fourth and eighth episodes is impressive: from hot springs and tea shops, to train stations and remote mountain roads, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s given off the distinct vibes of a food and travel show – the gentle vibes and incredibly faithful portrayal of real world locations gives Yuru Camp△ 2 a feel not unlike that of Rick Steves’ Europe and Man v. Food, with a hint of Great Continental Railway Journeys and You Gotta Eat Here!. The end result is an anime that, on top of conveying an incredibly cathartic and meaningful thematic piece, also doubles as a light travel show that highlights some of the best that Yamanashi and Shizuoka have to offer. The pacing in Yuru Camp△ 2 suggest that while some truly spectacular locations can be visited if one had a vehicle, there’s still an impressive range of destinations that can be reached on foot and via public transit – the visitor without a moped or car will therefore still be able to enjoy the okonomiyaki that Nadeshiko tries, and enjoy an ice cream following a blissful soak in the onsen near Lake Yamanaka, while folks with access to a vehicle will really be able to drive right into the narrow switchbacks of the Minami Alps to check out Hayakawa. As Sakura so elegantly puts it, travel shows do often inspire people to check out local attractions, and Yuru Camp△ 2 has done a fantastic job of showing off some of the best places in the area, to the point of inspiring readers to visit for themselves. With two thirds of the Yuru Camp△ 2 in the books, I am looking forwards to one final location hunt as the series gears up for its big finish.

The Real Life Hawaii of Japan and Beach Volleyball on the Shores of Okinawa: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Harukana Receive

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication just like any pro sport. Especially for beach volleyball, you don’t have to be tall or as fast as other sports. You just have to have the skills.” –Misty May

We’re now deep into the winter, and this is the most miserable time of year in my area for weather – where I am, February has an average daily temperature of -6ºC, and is the second cloudiest month of the year. Hence, the goal of this post is to provide a bit of light in response to those dreary-looking statistics, which sees a return to Harukana Receive – when Haruka Oozora transfers to the island of Okinawa from Tokyo, she reunites with her cousin, Kanata, and begins to develop an interest in beach volleyball. On the beautiful white sands beaches and blue skies of Okinawa, Haruka and Kanata hone their skills with the sights on the National Tournament. Harukana Receive originally aired during the summer of 2018, and during its run, highlighted a variety of locations in Okinawa: this southern island is famously known as the Hawaii of Japan thanks to its warm, tropical climate, extensive beaches and unique cuisine. Numerous anime, ranging from Azumanga Daioh to Non Non BiyoriAno Natsu de Matteru and even Koisuru Asteroid, have visited Okinawa, capitalising on the island’s beautiful sights as the backdrop for vacationing – white sands, turquoise waters and palm trees are all quintessential aspects of what one would imagine a vacation to be like, after all. With a population of 1.5 million, Okinawa officially became a part of Japan in 1879, and in World War Two, saw some of the fiercest fighting as the American forces invaded during the Battle of Okinawa, resulting in casualties to a third of the island’s population. Today, the island retains its distinct culture and cuisine: common places to visit include Shuri Castle and the numerous beaches the line the island’s coasts. Karate also has its origins in Okinawa: I practise Gōjū-ryū (the hard soft style), which was developed from the Naha-te style, named for its origins in the city of Naha and characterised by the fact we chamber our off hand tight to the armpit (in contrast with martial art styles that chamber the off hand by the hip). However, because Haruka has moved to Okinawa, more touristy aspects of the island have been set aside, as focus is on Haruka and Kanata’s experiences around beach volleyball.

  • I break tradition with an anime and real life pairing that isn’t 1:1 with one another in order to discuss how I originally determined where the early events of Harukana Receive were set: on Gushikawa Beach in Uruma. I appreciate Haruka’s best assets as much as the next person, but what is useful about the image above is the presence of a red tower and what appears to be a cable-stayed bridge in the left-hand side of the image. While Harukana Receive initially does not give up its location easily, with this red tower as a landmark, I have a starting point to go from. I subsequently found that this belonged to the Kaichu Doro Bridge, which is visible from the beach Haruka and Kanata train on. This bridge is a 4.7 kilometre long causeway that links several smaller islands with its span. Originally constructed in 1972 as a two-lane road, it was expanded in 1999 to accommodate four lanes of traffic.

  • Gushikawa Beach, being located a ways away from more populated and well-travelled areas, is counted as being a peaceful, secluded beach. The trade-off for the lack of crowds is that there aren’t any amenities on the beach, and the beach is not quite as picturesque as it appears in Harukana Receive during low tide: seaweed and algae line the shore, making it a bit unpleasant to swim in. Whereas the beach in Harukana Receive is pristine, resembling the white-sands beaches and turquoise waters of Cancún, in reality, the beach could prove a little disappointing if one is looking to take a dip in the warm waters of Okinawa here.

  • Initially, even knowing which side of Okinawa Gushikawa Beach was on did not prove to be too helpful: there’s still a bit of shore to search, even with the power of Google Maps’ satellite view. However, as it turns out, there was one more landmark I could use: a chimney in the background when Narumi is getting ready to practise. This chimney is belongs to Gushikawa Thermal Power Station, and incidentally, water discharge from the plant elevates water temperatures even further, which explains the algal growth. Fortunately, for Haruka and Kanata, their beach remains pristine and unspoiled. This was, at least, the process I took – it is by no means a proprietary technique, although I will note that a few weeks after I wrote my post, the same methodology appeared, verbatim, in another location hunt post done elsewhere.

  • Here is about as close as I can to the ramp leading down from the side of the road to Gushikawa Beach. I have noticed that folks who do location hunts are often secretive about the locations they find: beyond images comparing anime with real life, they do not offer addresses or links to Google Maps. This is especially true for Japanese bloggers who write location hunts, and I get why this is the case – if locations were given away, then there’s always the chance that hordes of eager visitors might show up at a spot, and depending on where said spot is, create a hassle for the residents. With this being said, I write for English-language speakers: the goal of these posts are to allow readers to recreate the experience in Google Street View or help them to organise a trip to these locations for themselves.

  • Haikyo explorers operate along a similar credos: the location of an abandoned building or structure are usually not disclosed to prevent vandals from desecrating the site. In anime location hunts, however, the locations I feature are generally open to the public and easy to access (such as attractions and roads). As for locations like Kanata’s house, anime studios tend to place them in familiar areas, but use fictional structures. There is, simply put, a vacant field where Kanata’s house should be, and so, there is no chance of people flocking to the real world location to cause any grief for residents.

  • After Haruka becomes fired up about beach volleyball following their encounter with Ayase and Narumi, the pair walk back home along the seawall. Because Gushikawa Beach and its surroundings are comparatively out-of-the-way, one might need to rent a car to get around more easily. Fortunately, there is a few places for renting vehicles close to the airport, so folks really looking to explore Okinawa beyond the tourist spots might benefit from having a vehicle. Folks from North America may struggle with driving on the left hand side of the road, however: it takes around two weeks to get used to the switch.

  • Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire attend Maehara High School (Uruma High in Harukana Receive), located about fifteen minutes away from Gushikawa Beach on foot. Finding this location was a simple exercise: given that I had Gushikawa Beach as a starting point, I simply did a linear search for all schools within walking distance (under an hour) of the beach. Aside from minor differences in Maehara High Shcool’s façade and colours, it is clear that we have a match. A fifteen minute walk to school isn’t too bad – for me, it would’ve been a twenty-minute walk to my elementary school, and thirty five minutes to reach my high school on foot. While this doesn’t seem too bad, the thought of carrying twenty pounds of textbooks in -20ºC weather that distance would be nightmarish, and hence, taking the bus had always been my way of getting to school.

  • To purchase new bikinis as their team uniform, Haruka and Kanata visit the Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, the single largest shopping centre in Okinawa. This mall is very friendly for English-speakers, mirroring how in Okinawa in the aftermath of World War Two, the American military was stationed here. To accommodate them, the locals learnt English, and despite being reluctant to use it, there are plenty of English signs. On top of this, major hotels, shops and restaurants, especially those near a military installation, will be English-friendly, and signs around the island are also written in English, as well.

  • In front of the Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, are shisa, an Okinawan cultural artifact derived from Chinese guardian lions (石獅, pinyin shí shī, literally “rock lion”). These particular shisa were crafted by ceramists from Yomitan. Much as in Chinese culture, shisa are placed in pairs – some folklore suggests that one statue sports an open mouth to ward off evil spirits, while the other has a closed mouth to keep in benevolent spirits, whereas in other variations, the statue with the closed mouth is keeping out evil spirits, and the open-mouthed statue is inviting in benevolent spirits. Shisa are ubiquitous in Okinawa, and here, aspects of Okinawan architecture can be seen: distinct red-tiled roofs and stone walls of dwellings in Okinawa are a result of constructing buildings to resist typhoons.

  • With four floors, over two hundred shops and restaurants, Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom also features a movie theatre and a small aquarium, home to a thousand tropical fishes. Foreign visitors report having no trouble with navigation, as the mall possesses English signage. Both Japanese and American brands can be found here at Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, which opened in 2015 and is built on the site of the former Ryukyu Command base’s golf course that occupied the site previously. Some shops will offer a ten percent discount to visitors with a foreign passport. The mall is open all days of the year, and most shops open from 1000 to 2200.

  • To get to Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, one can always drive there: the mall is located at the intersections of routes 85 and 330. For folks like Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily, mass transit options exist, as well: there are a variety of buses that stop here. Folks from Naha can board buses at Naha Terminal, which is about an hour’s journey from the mall. Buses 21 and 92 stop directly outside the mall, whereas the 23, 27, 31, 77, 80, 90, and 110 buses stop at Higairibaru, which is located about five minutes away on foot from the nearby stations.

  • While Harukana Receive might be an anime with beach volleyball at its focus, its locations are vividly rendered, faithful to their real-world counterparts. No matter how often I do these location hunts, there’s always something novel to discover (and share) with readers. Here, I will note that it was starting with Yuru Camp△‘s location hunts that I used images sourced from Google Street View: prior to that, friends from my dōjō, interested in sharing their travels in an incognito fashion, sent their photos to me for location hunts. These posts still manage to capture the spirit of the anime, but because traditional cameras didn’t have latitude and longitude data, I wasn’t quite able to provide links to the corresponding spots. While using Google Maps means not being able to get the same precise angle, it does offers me the ability to share locations more easily with readers.

  • Haruka and Kanata compete at Nishihara Kira Kira Beach, located in Nishihara Marine Park. With a beach 550 metres in length, this beach has full access to amenities such as showers, changing rooms and equipment rental shops, as well as a concession stand. Unlike Gushikawa Beach, the waters here are much clearer and conducive towards swimming – the combination of its location (about half an hour from Naha Airport) and amenities means that Nishihara Kira Kira Beach is a ways more crowded than the more private beach that Haruka and Kanata train at.

  • Visitors to Nishihara Marine Park (free admissions!) are not limited to just beach activities like building sand castles or chucking a Frisbee around: swimming and water-skiiing are also an option. The site is indeed set up for beach volleyball, as well – nets are visible in the Google Street View image, and folks can rent courts for 540 Yen per hour if they wish to play beach volleyball as Kanata and Haruka do. From the air, the beach is divided into two sides: one is dedicated for marine sports and the like, while the other is for beach-goers.

  • Finding Nishihara Marine Park was a simple exercise because the location name was given in the anime. Coupled with the fact that Google Street View extends from the pavilion entrance right down to the beach itself, I was able to trace the path that Haruka and Kanata walk down on their first match against Ai and Mai: the VR experience means that I cannot feel the tropical sun beating down on me, or here the crowd noises as a beach volleyball match is in session, but I am now able to wander the area for myself with unprecedented freedom far surpassing what photographs alone can do.

  • Another part of the island can be seen across the harbour. In my more recent posts, I remarked that camera properties mean that the Google Street View photographs I use have a larger field-of-view, resulting in a more zoomed-out image. The end result is that Street View makes landmarks and objects feel more distant, whereas in the anime itself (and real life), things comparatively feel closer. This is one of the disadvantages about using something like Google Street View for location hunts, since there will inevitably be some variance between the spot from the anime, and its real-world equivalent.

  • While the Nishihara Marine Park building is much quieter on my virtual tour of the area, it is brimming with activity on the day of Haruka and Kanata’s tournaments. The major competitions both happen here: in their first attempt, they manage to best Ai and Mai before being knocked out by a more experienced team, while towards the season’s end, Haruka and Kanata inevitably face off against their friends, Claire and Emily. This final match spanned two-and-a-half episodes, corresponding to a full volume of the manga. After Harukana Receive‘s airing, the English-translated mangas became available for purchase at my local bookstores, and at the time of writing, I have five of the six available volumes.

  • Given that the manga’s tenth volume features Haruka on the cover, and sees her squaring off against Narumi and Ayase with Kanata at the national level, I imagine that this is going to be the finale. With this in mind, a second season of Harukana Receive would not be unwelcome: the anime had grown on me very quickly after I began watching it, with its simple but sincere and honest messages about friendship, competition and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, even a full two years after its airing, an official animation guidebook was never released. I’m particularly fond of these guidebooks because they show concept art and storyboards, as well as the cast and director’s commentary.

  • As the tournament draws to a close, the sun sets over Okinawa, casting the land in shadows and the skies in vivid hues of red, orange and yellow. The last light of day does not obscure the Nishihara Marine Park pavilion, whose distinct round structure and railings are still visible here. My image is framed a little lower: in the anime, the sign in front of the building (on the lower left of the Google Street View image) can just barely be seen.

  • While Haruka and Kanata’s performance is not competition-ready yet, as the pair are still working on adjusting to one another as partners, Haruka indicates that this experience was fantastic: she’s all sparkles after the competition. The single biggest joy in Harukana Receive was found in Haruka, who consistently brought optimism, positivity and energy into the series. Kanata herself struggles with her short stature and the loss of her parents, and this originally led her to quit beach volleyball. However, with Haruka, Kanata begins to rediscover her old love of the sport and begins to move forwards, spurred on by Haruka.

  • The building immediately behind Emily and Claire is home to a few businesses that sell beach toys and equipment, and adjacent to this shop, are a pair of cafés, Moon Terrance Café and Café Solesta. I imagine that for visitors who’ve spent an entire day playing beach volleyball or watching a tournament, these would be great places to wind down: Café Solesta offers several delicious-looking rice bowls on top of coffees and teas, while Moon Terrance sells salads, pastas and desserts with their coffees and teas. While Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire don’t swing by, I imagine that for visitors, having a late lunch here could always be an option.

  • Behind the group, the corner of Dolphin Park is visible. It is named for the Dolphin-themed playground, but also features plenty of green space. This site also has bathrooms available, which is especially good if one intends to spend a morning or afternoon with children. The actual playground is not visible from this image, but instead, is located a hundred metres northeast of this spot. The park itself is not dog-friendly, and on that token, Nishihara Marine Park also prohibits pets.

  • The last bit of the Nishihara Marine World pavilion I will showcase is the interior: Google Street View even allows viewers to see what it looks like from the inside. In the corresponding moment in Harukana Receive, Akari looks on at the group, seemingly too anxious to approach them and strike up a conversation. Akari was a bit of a mystery throughout the first parts of Harukana Receive, and I imagined her to be a coach of sorts. However, as it turns out, she was a child actress in a well-known drink commercial (“waku waku shequasar!”) and wanted to join the beach volleyball club to become more idol-like, but eventually takes on a managerial role and comes greatly treasure her friendship with everyone.

  • This still has Akari standing in front of the seawall by Gushikawa Beach. Perspective means the seawall looks much larger in the anime than it does in the equivalent spot in Street View. Looking back, since it has been a shade more than two years since Harukana Receive‘s airing, I imagine that intrepid folks could have already visited Okinawa and tread on the same beaches that Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire train on: I had ascertained the locations in this anime while watching it back during the summer of ’18, but one thing led to another, and I never found the time to compile a locations hunt post. This post thus comes to the party two years too late, but I’d figure it would be easier to get it done now, while I’ve got that location hunt momentum going from Koisuru Asteroid and Yuru Camp△.

  • For the New Year, the Beach Volleyball Club visits Futenma Shrine, which sees upwards of a hundred thousand visitors on New Year’s Day. The shrine itself dates back to the Ryukyu era and is estimated to have been built in 1450. Besides being a popular spot for New Year’s, Futenma Shrine is also home to a 280 metre long limestone cave system. Cave tours are run by Futenma’s miko (shrine maidens) and last about half an hour. The first tour begins at 1000, and tours end at 1700. The caves are said to be especially beautiful on sunny days, when sunlight streams into the cave from openings in the ground above, and folks interested in visiting must register to do so.

  • Besides the caves, Futenma also offers ema, wooden plaques visitors write wishes onto. It is here that Akari’s got a surprise for her friends, and despite having drawn bad luck earlier, she’s still in fine spirits: it turns out that bought enough ema for everyone (they’re 300 Yen each). However, during the shrine visit, Kanata catches wind that Ayase and Narumi are preparing to fly out. Not wanting to miss this, Claire asks her mother, Marissa, for some support: moments later, she arrives in a hummer, rearing to take Claire and her friends to the airport to catch up with Ayase and Narumi.

  • Here is a comparison of Harukana Receive‘s portrayal of the gate to Futenma Shrine, with its tori gate. The real world path leading up to the shrine is a bit more ornate, whereas Harukana Receive uses a simpler stone tiling for the floor. However, beyond this minor difference, the commonalities between Harukana Receive‘s portrayal of the real Futenma Shrine are apparent. Futenma Shrine is located sixteen kilometers north of the heart of Naha, near Camp Foster and Camp Buckner.

  • Marissa’s driving takes the girls through the heart of Naha, but despite her efforts, they get caught in a traffic jam. An Eneos Gas Station (“Emcos” in Harukana Receive) can be seen on the right hand side of both images. Initially, finding this spot was tricky, but I ended up working out where it was based on which bridge Kanata sprints across: she is seen running alongside Prefectural Road 221 en route to the airport. In my original post for the eighth episode, I highlighted the methodology for how I came to locate everything. Naha Airport is the constant here, and backtracking from the airport, I ended up using Google Maps’ 3D photogrammetry to check bridges over the Kokuba River to find a match. Once I had the bridge, working backwards allowed me to find the gas station.

  • As far as I can tell, the bridge is not named, but the railings and the fact that another bridge can be seen to the east means I’ve found my mark. The methodology I’d utilised back in ’18 also allowed me to quickly plot out how long the run for each of Kanata, Haruka, Claire, Emily and Akari would’ve been. From the Enos Gas Station to the entrance at Naha airport is a 3.9 kilometre distance, and since the girls are in reasonable shape, it is not difficult to imagine that they could run the distance in under half an hour – as I noted in the original post after episode eight’s airing, 8 km/h is the average jogging speed, and 13 km/h is the average running speed, so covering this distance within the span of 20 minutes or so to reach Narumi and Ayase is not particularly remarkable or implausible.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with a screenshot of the overhead rail line belonging to Yui Rail, which leads to Naha Airport: Emily and Claire can be seen running underneath here. The parkade seen in the background of the real-world location belongs to Toyota Rent-a-Car, and there’s a Nissan adjacent: some visitors looking to do their own tour of Okinawa with a Harukana Receive flair to it might find that driving could be easier than mass transit, on account of how spread out the different locations are. With this in mind, it’s great to finally have my latest location hunt post come to an end, During my original run through Harukana Receive, I’d already located the central locations, but never got around to consolidating everything into a single post for readers until now. It did appear that the locations I found were compiled by another site some time later (they’re dated after my episodic posts) without attribution, but this is completely fine – Google Maps is available to all users, and it’s not as though anime locations should be regarded with the same secrecy as something like launch codes!

Rather than taking viewers to popular destinations, Harukana Receive takes viewers to places that locals know about; as with slice-of-life anime that make extensive use of real world locations, Harukana Receive‘s faithful reproduction of Okinawa serves an important purpose in the anime, namely, to accentuate that the path Haruka and Kanata take towards reaching the National Tournament is framed in reality. Having Kanata and Kanata compete at real venues gives credence to the idea that, with the right mindset and training, promises can be renewed, and dreams can be pursued with one’s fullest efforts. With this in mind, location hunting for Harukana Receive was not a particularly easy task – while the island’s relatively small size and the presence of 3D photogrammetry data makes it straightforwards to find all of the locations without difficulty, I concede that Harukana Receive‘s chosen activity made it challenging to focus on the background and locations: I’d originally made the decision to watch and write about this series entirely on the basis that Haruka had been an interesting character, and I had been curious to see her journey throughout the series. The fact that she has a stunning figure certainly helped, and by the time she and Kanata participate in a smaller tournament, Harukana Receive had definitely made a strong showing with its portrayal of beach volleyball. However, as with my previous location hunts, a desire to push my Oculus Quest further led me to return to the shores of Okinawa. This time, with a renewed determination to find the locations, I believe I have succeeded in laying the groundwork for folks who wish to see for themselves what locations Haruka and Kanata make use of as a part of their journey to fulfil a longstanding promise and reach the National Tournament.

The Real Life New Year’s in Minobu, Camping Grounds of Rin and Nadeshiko’s Shizuoka Excursion: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part I

“But, rest assured, this will be the fourth time we have written one, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.” –The Architect, The Matrix Reloaded

With Yuru Camp△ 2 now in full swing, and in the interest of not accumulating a large number of anime locations to sift through, I’ve decided to try something a little different this season. Previously, with Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Koisuru Asteroid, I had demonstrated that the Oculus Quest has been an immensely powerful tool for doing anime location hunts while I’m still in my pajamas, before my first cup of Earl Grey. Yuru Camp△ 2 continues to prove the power of VR-powered location hunting. Right out of the gates, this second season takes viewers to the Shizuoka prefecture, as Rin longs to camp by the ocean for a change of scenery. Her journey takes her to Ryukyokayo Koen Auto Camping Ground, and when an unexpected snowstorm prevents Rin from returning home to Yamanashi, she visits Nagisaen Camping Ground in Hamamatsu, near where Nadeshiko lives. By a serendipitous turn of events, Nadeshiko had been, in fact, set to visit family in Hamamatsu, and upon learning that Rin’s here, she visits a day earlier, treating Rin to some of the finest eel in the area before taking her to visit her grandmother and childhood friend, Ayano. The aesthetic of Yuru Camp△ 2 is distinct from that of its predecessor, but the lessons remain strikingly familiar, and Rin’s adventures see her visit attractions that only locals know of, including Kimikura Teahouse near Kakegawa and Shizuka Confectionery in Kanzanjicho. Concurrently with Rin’s adventures, Chiaki and Aoi visit Mount Minobu in order to check out the first sunrise of the year. Par the course with my previous location hunt posts, everything in this post was done using the Oculus Quest and Wander, which makes extensive use of the Google Maps API to retrieve Street View data and project it into a 360° environment, where the immersion makes it easy to really feel as though one were wandering the same places Rin, Nadeshiko and the others pass through. Having previously used the Oculus Quest for location hunting, I’ve found this tool to be remarkably efficient for making posts like these; unlike the location hunt for Koisuru Asteroid, where I’d spent upwards of five hours tracking down everything, this time around, locating the places Rin and Nadeshiko visit in Shizuoka (and Mount Minobu for Chiaki, Aoi, Akari and Minami) only required an hour of searching inside the Oculus Quest.

  • After my Koisuru Asteroid location hunt, I feel like I’m on a streak for location hunting, and so, I’ve opted to write this post sooner so that the locations are still fresh in my mind. This time around, I begin with a rather more ordinary location closer to the girls’ home: Minobu Post Office (2483-37 Umedaira), which is where Nadeshiko takes up a part-time job delivering letters to fund her desire to purchase some serious camping gear. This post office is located across the river from where the girls had stopped after their visit to Caribou during the first season. After the first episode aired, I swiftly found this location by doing a brief search for every post office in the Minobu area that was located near a river: my strategy this season is to locate spots as episodes air, mention them in the episodic post and then do a location hunt post afterwards, consolidating the spots under a post.

  • I appreciate that the post title for these location hunt posts sound very obtuse, but it’s done deliberately to increase search engine visibility – these posts do take a bit of effort, and so, I would like more folks to have a chance to check them out. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin begins her trip for Shizuoka and travels down Route 10 by early morning, crossing a bridge just north of Nambu while heading south. One of the pluses about the Yamanashi area is that the valley is relatively narrow, and there are fewer routes one can take going north-south. This makes it easy to trace the routes that Rin and the others take to their destinations: since Rin was heading into town here, I worked backwards and travelled north from Nambu to find this spot, located around six hundred metres north of the starting landmark.

  • After arriving in Nambu, Rin runs into Nadeshiko near New Yamazaki Daily, a convenience store at the heart of Nambu: Nadeshiko moved to Nambu from Hamamatsu at the start of term (roughly in September or October), and while she’s spent some time in the area, Yuru Camp△ has her spending a great deal of time in campsites. Heya Camp△ remedies this by having Chiaki and Aoi bring Nadeshiko to local attractions. I originally found this spot by hunting down Nambu Bridge East, which a sign had been pointing to. However, I think this post would be quite unexciting if I stayed in Yamanashi the entire time.

  • So, it’s time to kick things upstairs, and travel some 79 kilometres south south east to Cape Omaezaki, where Rin takes in the beautiful ocean sights. This is the southernmost point in Shizuoka, and there’s a lighthouse here (visible in this image): a lighthouse has existed here since 1635, although it wasn’t until the Meiji Restoration that the modern structures were built. The parking lot Rin makes use of is visible in this scene, as is the lighthouse itself: now a tourist attraction open to the public, the lighthouse had sustained damage during the Second World War, and in 1949, was re-opened with an upgraded Fresnel lens after undergoing repairs.

  • After satisfying her desire to enjoy the ocean (and taking a bunch of photos in the process), Rin travels west along Sun Road to her next destination, a tea shop. This seaside path is indeed beautiful: while Rin’s westbound path takes her away from the ocean, heading eastbound gives drivers an even nicer view of the ocean. The scenery here brings to mind gentler sections of Taiwan’s Hualien-Taitung Coastal Highway (Provincial Highway 11) on the country’s eastern coast. Overlooking the Pacific, Highway 11 passes through some of Taiwan’s best sights, running along narrow cliffs overlooking the ocean’s edge below, but other portions of the highway just north of Taitung are easier to negotiate, presenting a gentle ride along the coast to drivers.

  • After Cape Omaezaki, Rin heads for Kimikura Teahouse. This is a drive of around 30 kilometres, taking an estimated 40 or so minutes to complete. The end result is well worth it: despite being located a bit out of the way, the store sells a variety of teas (senchahojicha and matcha), along with tea sets and other items. Rin runs into a familiar face here: the hiker she’d encountered during the first season happens to work here. After Rin buys tea for her mother, the lady working her suggests that Rin check out the second floor, which is home to a tranquil teahouse that serves a range of teas and Japanese sweets, as well as ochazuke (a simple but tasty rice bowl with savoury ingredients steeped in tea). At the time of writing, it appears that a honey-strawberry parfait is their seasonal special. Kimikura’s tea shop is typically open from 1000 to 1900, and the teahouse itself opens from 1030 to 1800.

  • While Rin worries that the teahouse’s relaxing atmosphere may prevent her from leaving, the prospect of doggos sees her set off for her main event in Iwate: Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine, home of Shippeitarou III. Here, I’ve shown the position of the gate leading to the shrine, which is a 21 kilometre drive from Kimikura Teahouse (assuming Rin takes the routes without tolls, this is a 20 minute journey). Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine is open from 0830 to 1700, and as Yuru Camp△ presents, is home to the spirit of a dog that vanquishes a monkey spirit to keep the nearby village safe. The shrine is also visited by folks praying for academic success.

  • Rin’s final destination for the day is Ryuyokaiyo Koen Auto Camping Ground. Located on the eastern branks of the Tenryū river (Japan’s ninth longest), Ryuyokaiyo Koen offers a variety of camping options for visitors, ranging from RVs and cottages to sites for tents. The “free sites” that Rin camps at doesn’t mean “free of charge”, but rather, refers to an open site that allows a camper to set up their tent wherever they wish on the grounds. Renting a spot here overnight costs 3140 Yen, but since Rin is camping here on a weekday, a 900 Yen discount lowers her price to 2240 Yen.

  • While Ryuyokaiyo Koen is doubtlessly a scenic sight, and the wind farms are visible, much of the path that Rin takes while exploring the coast isn’t covered by Google Street View. As such, I’ve briefly returned the party to Minobu: this is Kaisando (常護堂), a Bhuddist Temple perched on the summit of Mount Minobu. It is here that Chiaki, Aoi, Akari and Minami pray for happiness and success in the New Year ahead of the first sunrise of the year. These are the stairs that everyone climbs en route to the temple itself, replicated faithfully to their real world counterparts.

  • At the top of the steps is the temple proper. Folks looking to visit Kaisando can do so by boarding a tram at Minobu Ropeway. Ascending to a height of 763 metres during its 1665 metre long, 7-minute trip, it would cost Chikai, Aoi and Minami 1500 Yen each for a round trip ticket (Akari’s ticket costs 750 Yen). After reaching the top station, it’s a relatively short walk to Kaisando, and behind the temple is an observation deck overlooking the valley below, perfect for enjoying the first sunrise of the year.

  • With the Minobu sunrise behind us, the next destination is Hamamatsu itself as Rin heads here ahead of Nadeshiko’s arrival. She travels down Route 301, which is adjacent to both the Tōkaidō Main Line and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen; the latter is actually visible in both Yuru Camp△ and the real-world counterpart. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen bullet train began operating in 1964 and could reach speeds of up to 285 km/h, connecting Tokyo to Osaka. The original trains had a maximum speeds of 210 km/h, but upgrades to the technology allows the trains to operate at their current speeds.

  • Because Hamamatsu has 3D buildings, I was able to utilise the Shinkansen’s placement, coupled with rudimentary of geographical features in the area, to locate most of the spots that Rin visits. Knowing that Rin’s path followed the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line, I simply followed this in Google Maps’ 3D mode until I found an underpass matching the one Rin passed by, then switched over to the Oculus Quest, allowing me to find the bridge Rin crosses en route to her next destination, Nagisaen Camping Ground.

  • Nagisaen Camping Ground is located on an artificial island on the southern edge of Lake Hamana. Rin is charged 420 to make use of a free site (again, free as in “FFA”, not “free of charge”), although the website for Nagisaen now gives the price as being 410 Yen. I imagine that the location on an artificial island means that Nagisaen is a veritable oasis amongst the urban bustle of Hamamatsu (a city of around 800 thousand people). There’s an aquarium on this island, as well, but given Rin’s funds remaining, she chooses not to visit (320 Yen per adult), instead, heading off to see the ocean. Details of the main building are faithfully replicated, right down to the placement of vending machines.

  • Kaishunro Hotel is located on the island Rin had entered earlier, being adjacent to Bentenjima Seaside Park. From this site, Bentenjima Red Gate can be easily seen: after Rin enjoys a relaxing onsen soak here for 800 Yen, she comes upon a crowd gathered to see the sunset. Visitors report that the onsen‘s waters are very pleasant, and while the hotel offers both indoor and open air baths, the latter are a mixed area, so one must bring a swimsuit to use it. Rin, on the other hand, is content to enjoy the onsen in a traditional manner through the indoor baths. After returning to her campsite, Rin begins looking at buying a little something for Nadeshiko.

  • The next morning, Rin has the instant noodles Nadeshiko had given her (they did come in handy, after all!) before setting off for Kanzanji. Upon her arrival, she’s greeted by the sight of streets full of restaurants serving unagi (eel), and in a moment reminiscent of the 1945 film The Lost Weekend, struggles with the idea that she doesn’t have enough funds to try the area’s eel out. However, she does get what she came for: here at Shizuka Confectionary, the strawberry daifuku are indeed something the shop is famous for, but should these sell out, it is fortunate that the shop’s other products are excellent, too.

  • While Rin is panicking about the crowds of shoppers equally as excited as she is about the strawberry daifuku, Nadeshiko swings by Fujita, a confectionary store near Kiga Station – this store has been around for just a shade over half a century and is very well-known in the area. Nadeshiko picks up custard cream filled imagawayaki (今川焼き), a pancake-like dessert that originated from the Edo-period. Besides a cream filling, this shop also offers imagawayaki with anko (red bean) paste. Fujita’s imagawayaki is said to be particularly delicious, being flavourful without overwhelming the palette and going for 120 Yen apiece (hence Nadeshiko’s ordering two!). Visitors should keep in mind that the shop is closed between June and September.

  • Hamanako-Sakume Station is located only twenty minutes away from Kiga Station, and it is here that Nadeshiko meets with Rin. While an otherwise unremarkable location in Yuru Camp△, the actual station is indeed home to flocks of black-headed gulls. The original station was constructed in 1938, and since 1970, the station no longer has any active staff. This station is probably one of the quietest I’ve written about, averaging around 25 passengers a day.

  • Sakume is just across the road from Hamanako-Sakume Station, and this unassuming building is home to a brilliant unagi restaurant. As Yuru Camp△ portrays, eels are prepared live in front of patrons: they are gutted, cleaned and then grilled over charcoal. The resultant eel is said to be melt-in-your mouth and has an excellent taste owing to how fresh it is: it is unsurprising that Rin finds herself in flavour heaven after taking her first bite. Yuru Camp△ appears to have changed some details slightly, having the restaurant serve different qualities of eel: in reality, Sakume offers two types, and three portion sizes for each. Further to this, the prices seen in Yuru Camp△ are a bit more conservative than they are in reality.

  • After lunch, Nadeshiko and Rin continue down the road (Route 310), past a railway crossing. The elevated freeway above is a part of the Tomei Expressway, a toll road. These small details serve to reiterate that Yuru Camp△ is very much about providing the most authentic experience possible, and with the exception of the characters’ houses, everything is rendered with a very high degree of precision, right down to the patterns on the barriers and railway signs at this crossing. Locations such as these, ordinary intersections or sections of road, are normally much trickier to find, but fortunately, this spot was located a shade under three hundred metres from Sakume, and so, proved very easy to find.

  • I’ll close off this first part with a screenshot of what the actual site of Nadeshiko’s grandmother’s house looks like compared to its anime counterpart: there’s a vacant lot here instead of a small, cozy-looking house. I found it by following Route 310 along the shores of Lake Hamana until I found this building, with its distinct x-railing guards and red roof. Because this is a vacant lot, there are no residents to hassle, but folks who visit this area for real should still be respectful of folks who live in the area. With this post in the books, I will be returning to write about Yuru Camp△ again once the fourth episode airs, and in the meantime, it’s time to focus my efforts on a reflection of Left 4 Dead 2, now that I’ve finished the original campaign, as well as my thoughts on Black Mesa‘s first act.

This post is likely to be the first of several Yuru Camp△ 2 location hunts; because the series has previously indicated it would be faithful to real-world locations, it stands to reason that the remaining episodes in the series will take viewers to hitherto-unvisited locations, all of which have their own history and special features worth sharing. Location hunt posts are always fun: in the current climate, these Oculus Quest powered ones demonstrate how a little imagination and powerful hardware can confer upon folks adventures to tide them over. Under ordinary conditions, location hunt posts give readers an idea of where everything in an anime is located, allowing folks to plan out their own excursions to Japan and experience the things that are portrayed in a given anime. Whether it be my location hunt posts, or those from other bloggers and writers, I do hope that readers will find the information contained in these posts useful for anything from creating dinner conversation to drafting out plans for an actual visit. Of course, having now seen Yuru Camp△‘s presentation of specialties in Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, viewers are better prepared for their own travels should they decide to check out Nadeshiko’s hometown: for instance, since real-life visitors won’t have the equivalent of a Nadeshiko around, they would do well to carry some extra cash if they’re interested in sitting down to a delicious eel special for lunch (it’s always useful to have a little extra cash in Japan, since some of the smaller shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards). Having showcased some of the attractions Yuru Camp△ 2 takes viewers to, I will be returning periodically to explore other locations; so as long as Google Street View or Google My Business, and its associated photographs and 360° images, are available for said locations, it would be possible to immerse oneself in Yuru Camp△ from the comfort of a good chair, without digging out one’s passport, which is the next best thing to being in Japan in person.