Yosuke’s top 8 places to visit in Kansai for Anime fans!
Have you ever been to Japan, or are planning a visit in the near future? From Osaka (大阪) to Hyogo (兵庫), this article will sum it up nicely for you anime and manga fans! There is no better itinerary than one that truly matches your interest, and here’s mine. While I have personally been to Japan a couple of times, there’s a list of places that I’ve wished I had visited while in the Kansai Region. If you’re an anime and manga lover like me, these eight must-visit places should be right up your alley. Let’s get started!
1. Nipponbashi, Osaka
Located in the Naniwa Ward, Nipponbashi (日本橋) is a shopping district also known as “Den-Den Town”. Much like Tokyo’s Akihabara, you will be able to find many shops centred around electronics, anime, manga, and collectables.
Cosplayers dressed up as Rozen Maiden characters. (Image credit: kanon_7 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
If you are there in Spring, you might even be able to catch a cosplay parade! The Nipponbashi Street Festa (日本橋ストリートフェスタ) takes place annually every March, you can expect to see your favourite characters alive and maybe even have a photo together (with permission, of course!).
The street which will be cordoned off for Nipponbashi Street Festa. (Image credit: Map data © 2019 Google)
Osaka Nipponbashi Denden Town (でんでんタウン 日本橋電器街)
Address: 4-12 Nipponbashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka 556-0005
Nearest station: Ebisucho Station (恵美須町駅) on the Sakaisuji Line / Nipponbashi Station (日本橋駅) on the Sakaisuji and Sennichimae lines
Opening hours: 24 hours
Tel: +81 666-55-1717
2. Universal Studios Japan, Osaka
The magical and enchanting Harry Potter show in USJ. (Image credit: Rochelle)
If you love your rides and anime heroes, you must definitely visit Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan (USJ). You can’t say you have been to Osaka unless you have been to this amazing amusement park. The amusement park, which celebrated its Universal Cool Japan’s 5th-anniversary last year, has done multiple collaborations with games, anime, and manga series. You might just find yourself meeting Godzilla or the heroes from EVANGELION, Attack on Titan, Lupin the Third, and even Detective Conan. Now get on the ride, Shinji!
Here’s one of the past One Piece collaboration menu items in USJ. Can you hear Luffy shouting “Niku!!”? (Image credit: Skye)
A past seasonal attraction in USJ, featuring one of the classics: EVANGELION. (Image credit: Skye)
Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン)
Address: 2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka 554-0031
Nearest station: Universal-city Station (ユニバーサルシティ駅)
Opening hours: 8:30/9:00–19:00/21:00 (*Longer opening hours on weekends and public holidays)
Tel: +81 570-200-606
3. Free! Anime Pilgrimage, Osaka
Kindai University, the inspiration for the fictional high school in the anime “Free!”, Samezuka Academy (Image credit: Map data © 2020 Google)
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of “Free!” (フリー！ Furii！), a swimming anime by Kyoto Animation. If you happen to be in Osaka, you might want to check out these amazing photo spots! The fictional high school in the anime, Samezuka Academy, is actually modelled after Kindai or Kinki University (近畿大学 Kinki Daigaku). Located 10 minutes away from Nagase Station (長瀬駅 Nagase-eki) you will find yourself in front of the familiar medieval architecture. Who knows, you might bump into Rin Matsuoka or Sousuke Yamazaki?
Kindai University (近畿大学)
Address: 3-4-1 Kowakae, Higashiosaka, Osaka 577-8502
Nearest station: Nagase Station (長瀬駅)
Opening hours: 24 hours
(Image credit: Map data © 2019 Google)
Another familiar location recognisable by many “Free!” fans is the Namihaya Dome (なみはやドーム Namihaya Dōmu). This is the indoor sports arena where the swim clubs have competed in the national swimming competition. You are also most welcomed to take a dip in the swimming pool, which is open to the public, and have your own splash Free! Moment!
Namihaya Dome (なみはやドーム)
Address: 3-7-16 Mitsushima, Kadoma, Osaka 571-0015
Nearest station: Kadoma-Minami Station (門真南駅)
Opening hours: 09:00–21:00
Tel: +81 72-881-3715
4. SAN CENTER PLAZA, Kobe, Hyogo
(Image credit: おいけい / Google Maps)
If you’re planning to visit Kobe (神戸) in Hyogo, not only do you need to sink your teeth in some Kobe beef, you definitely need to drop by SAN CENTER PLAZA (サンセンタープラザ) as well. Located 5 minutes away from Sannomiya Station (三ノ宮駅 Sannomiya-eki), this is a crowded destination even on weekdays. If you’re into anime collectables, one of the shops you should visit is Animate. Animate is an anime and manga speciality store where you can find a large variety of character goods, from keychains and gachapon (ガチャポン capsule toy) machines to even audio-related products like CDs and DVDs. With a wall of gachapon machines outside Animate, you can try your luck in getting your favourite items! On the 3rd floor of the same building outside of Animate, you will find yourself amidst a world of colourful gachapon machines awaiting your challenge.
(Image credit: O Tama / Google Maps)
In the connected West building called CENTER PLAZA WEST, you’ll find the Taito F Station Sannomiya West Shop (タイトーFステーション 三宮西館店) where anime fans gather to test their wits, skills, and luck on the most intense and extreme sport of claw machines. Over here, you can try your hand on winning some limited-time special anime-related goods! There is also a wide range of arcade games to enjoy and have a great time with.
SAN CENTER PLAZA (サンセンタープラザ)
Address: 1-9-1 Sannomiyacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0021
Nearest station: Sannomiya Station (三ノ宮駅)
Opening hours: 10:00–22:00 (Differs according to branch)
Tel: +81 78-332-2768
CENTER PLAZA WEST (センタープラザ西館)
Address: 2-11-1 Sannomiyacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0021
Nearest station: Sannomiya Station (三ノ宮駅)
Opening hours: 11:00–20:00 (Differs according to branch)
Tel: +81 78-331-5311
5. Kyoto International Manga Museum, Kyoto
(Image credit: Marco Togni / Google Maps)
Imagine a whole library lined with shelves of manga back to back. This is not a dream, but somewhere you can actually visit! With a small fee of ¥900 for adults, ¥400 for high school and junior high school students, or ¥200 for elementary school students and younger, get ready to submerge yourself into a different world. The museum not only has a large collection of mangas you can read but also features temporary exhibitions on various themes. The Wall of Manga also features about 1,000 English translated manga which you can locate easily through the museum database’s touch screen device.
Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュージアム)
Address: 452 Kinbukicho, Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0846
Nearest station: Karasuma-Oike Station (烏丸御池駅)
Opening hours: 10:00–18:00 (Last admission: 17:30)
Admission fee: ¥900 (Adults), ¥400 (High school & Junior high school students), ¥200 (Elementary school students and below)
Tel: +81 75-254-7414
6. Toei Kyoto Studio Park, Kyoto
Walk down the streets of olden Japan and live as a Samurai at Toei Kyoto Studio Park. (Image credit: Dominic Ko)
Have you ever wanted to be a ninja or Samurai? The Toei Kyoto Studio Park (東映太秦映画村 Tōei Uzumasa Eigamura) is for you! Get ready to be immersed in the only Jidaigeki (時代劇 Period Drama) theme park in Japan. Inspired by the Edo period, you will find yourself wandering down the streets of olden Japan. A variety of activities await you upon your arrival in this park—try catching some interesting performances and ninja shows, or enrich yourself in the art and history of movies, Japanese traditions, and cultures. The park occasionally hosts cosplay events, which presents another chance for you to meet your favourite characters once again! The tickets cost ¥2,400 for adults and ¥1,200 for students. Perhaps you’d be able to get a photo of Sakata Gintoki (of Gintama) this time around?
(Image credit: Map data © 2020 Google)
Toei Kyoto Studio Park (東映太秦映画村)
Address: 10 Uzumasa Higashihachiokacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8161
Nearest station: Uzumasa-Koryuji Station (太秦広隆寺駅)
Opening hours: 10:00–17:00
Admission fee: ¥2,400 (Adults), ¥1,400 (High school and junior high school students)
Tel: +81 75-864-7716
7. Teramachi and Shinkyogoku, Kyoto
One of the many alleys of Shinkyogoku. (Image credit: 歲月之歌 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The two shopping arcades of Teramachi and Shinkyogoku form the heart of downtown Kyoto’s main shopping district. The eastern street Shinkyogoku (しんきょうごくどおり Shinkyōgoku-dōri) is filled with souvenir shops for your omiyage needs, and the western street Teramachi (寺町通 Teramachi-dōri) is known for its art galleries, bookstores, and fashion shops. Along with the many stores, you can easily find food and snacks to fill your stomach on your journey! If you’ve missed the chance to visit Animate in Kobe, consider yourself lucky that Animate’s Kyoto branch is just nearby.
Address: Between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0001
Nearest station: Shijo Station (四条駅)
Opening hours: 24 hours
Tel: +81 75-223-2426
Animate Kyoto (アニメイト京都)
Address: Kyoto Yoshimoto Building 2F Passaggio 525-1, Higashigawacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8046
Nearest station: Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station (京都河原町駅)
Opening hours: 12:00–20:00
Tel: +81 75-252-1460
8. Nijigen no Mori, Awaji Islands, Hyogo
(Image credit: Uce Diary / Google Maps)
Awaji Island (淡路島 Awaji-shima) in Hyogo is known for its beautiful nature, historic culture, cuisines, hot springs, and of course the famous Nijigen no Mori (二ジゲンノモリ) Anime Theme Park! While there were plans to launch a new Godzilla-themed area in Summer 2020, that has unfortunately been postponed. Nonetheless, I’m sure true fans would not mind waiting a little longer for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to zipline straight into life-sized Godzilla’s mouth! In the meantime, I’ll recommend visiting the Naruto and Boruto attractions, which opened in the park sometime in 2019. Other special attractions include the Crayon Shin-chan Adventure Park and Night Walk Hinotori; the entry fee differs according to the attraction. Remember to get a picture with the Hokages!
Nijigen no Mori (二ジゲンノモリ)
Address: 2425-2 Kusumoto, Awaji, Hyogo 656-2301, Japan
Nearest station: JR Akashi Station (明石駅). From Akashi Station, walk 10 minutes to Akashi Port, and hop on the High Speed Ship Genoa Line (高速船ジェノバライン), which takes 13 minutes to get to Iwaya Port (岩屋港). Lastly, board the shuttle bus from Iwaya Port to Nijigen no Mori.
Opening hours: 12:00–21:00 (Weekdays), 10:00–21:00 (Weekends and Holidays)
Admission fee: Differs according to attractions
Tel: +81 0799-64-7061
And this concludes my eight recommended places to visit in the Kansai region. Besides immersing yourself in a well-deserved anime adventure, I hope that you will have a great time enjoying Japanese food and culture while meeting like-minded people along the way! I can’t wait to visit these places on my next trip to Japan—and I hope you have gained some new ideas for your itinerary too!
Header image credit: Yosuke Sora
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