Calling all Sailor Moon fans! Have you watched the new Sailor Moon Crystal
? Disproportionate limbs and tediously long transformations aside, the remake has done one thing really well: added contemporary animation's shine to a 90's childhood classic.
Raised on a healthy diet of anime, Japan felt like home when I first arrived. The "cartoons" that depicted neighbourhoods, homes, and people from a different world turned out to be accurate depictions of real life in Japan. Below are some examples of Sailor Moon's locations inspired by Tokyo's compact Azabu-Juban
Sendaizakaue intersection -- Image Courtesy of
Azabu-Juban was established in 1962 (the Showa era
) as a smaller neighbourhood in the Azabu area. Juban roughly translates to "the ten"
and, in this case, refers to the samurai residences from the Edo period
. The extensive properties have since been subdivided, but the area still has large residential plots by Tokyo standards. Like most Tokyo neighbourhoods, Azabu-Juban also has its own commercial area. Ichinobashi to Sendaizaka is a shopping area and even boasted one of Tokyo's only natural hot springs until 2009.
Azabu-juban Station on the Metro and Toei subway lines -- Image Courtesy of Donican Lam
Located close to Tokyo's embassy area, Azabu-Juban is one of Tokyo's trendiest and most sought after residential neighbourhoods. The area is also close to the Tokyo Tower
and commercial areas such as Roppongi Hills
, and Hiro-o.
Azabu-Juban Station street view -- Image Courtesy of Donican Lam
The cobble-stoned commercial street at Azabu-Juban -- Image Courtesy of Donican Lam
Azabu-Juban's small residential alleys, cobblestone streets, and independent shops give this central pocket of Tokyo a peaceful village-like ambience.
Akai-kutsu-no-kanojo (The Girl with the Red Shoes) -- Image Courtesy of Donican Lam
The Girl with the Red Shoes
is inspired by the Japanese nursery rhyme "Akai Kutsu" (Red Shoes), written in 1922 by Japanese poet Ujo Noguchi. The poem is popularly believed to be based on the life of a young girl, Iwasaki Kimi, who died of tuberculosis at the Toriikazu Church in Azabu, Tokyo. When Kimi's mother, Kayo, married Shiro Suzuki and moved to Hokkaido, she arranged for American missionaries to adopt her 3-year-old daughter, who could not adjust to the harsh farming life up north. Kimi contracted tuberculosis just before her adopted family, the Hewitts, decided to return to the United States. At the time, tuberculosis was incurable, so the Hewitts left her with the church orphanage. Kimi died in 1911 at the age of 9 and her mother never found out. It is said that Ujo Noguchi met Kimi's stepfather, Shiro Suzuki, and composed the poem in 1921. In 1973, Shiro and Kayo's third daughter claimed that the girl in "Akai Kutsu" was her half-sister, Kimi.
Image Courtesy of Donican Lam
The shrine Rei and her grandfather take care of is based on Azabu's Hikawa Shrine (氷川神社). The animators also made a clever kanji (Chinese character) substitution in the anime. The character for ice (氷) has been replaced with the word fire (火), but as both characters are pronounced hi, the name of the shrine remains the same.
Hikawa Shrine -- Image Courtesy of Donican Lam
If you're coming to Japan soon, make sure to check out the real-life locations for your favourite animes!
Plan a trip to Azabu-Juban and see the Sailor Moon real-life locations for yourself!
This Sailor Moon post is adapted from images posted on the blog Doni Has Wanderlust with the author's permission.