There are few places in the world as exciting as Tokyo. One of the most densely populated locations in the world, it is a technological forest filled with bright lights and shining skyscrapers filled with exciting stuff to discover. However, if you’re not a fan of crowded spaces or the incredible expenses that come with travelling, you can still get to know the city through the best anime set in Tokyo.
This list is full of shows that do the world-famous capital of Japan justice. Some depict normal life in the city, while others use the dense concrete jungle as a setting for an epic adventure.
Related: The Best Adventure Anime to Watch
Notable Location: Suga Shrine, Shinjuku
Makoto Shinkai’s critically-acclaimed film Kimi no Na wa is a great way to see Tokyo through the eyes of a newcomer.
The romantic film takes place in two main locations. Mitsuha is a high-school girl living in the Japanese countryside who dreams of being a Tokyo boy in her next life. Taki, meanwhile, is a Tokyo boy attending school and working part-time in an Italian restaurant. One day, the two of them suddenly start swapping bodies, creating a bond between two people from seemingly parallel worlds.
Shinkai’s animated films do a wonderful job of capturing bustling cities through rose-tinted glasses, and Your Name is no different. Many of the locations can be visited, including the famous steps from the end of the film located at Suga Shrine.
Notable Location: Rikkyo University, Nerima
Probably the most famous Tokyo anime, Tokyo Ghoul revolves around a society of human-like ghouls that feed upon mankind.
Much of the story takes place at night, and there are many excellent shots of the city lights. The story also takes the characters into many well-known Tokyo locations, such as Shibuya and Shinjuku.
Die-hard fans of Tokyo Ghoul however will want to check out Nerima. While far away from most tourist locations, this is where the 20th ward is located. Kaneki’s university is based on the real-life Rikkyo University, while Anteiku was based on a now-closed cafe just a short walk from said university.
Related: Where to Watch Tokyo Ghoul
Notable Location: Shibuya
The Persona 5 videogame was hugely popular with Tokyo-philes due to its landmarks and in-game metro system, and the anime also does a good job of capturing the sights.
The story revolves around Ren, a transfer student in Tokyo who discovers the Metaverse, a place where people’s distorted desires materialise. Forming a group with friends known as the Phantom Thieves, they use the Metaverse to combat evil in the real world.
The story uses a lot of popular locations in Tokyo as its setting. Much of the story takes place in Shibuya, the go-to place for young people in the capital, filled with stores and food outlets to discover.
If you want to avoid the tourist trap, though, you can also visit Sangenjaya, the real-world location on which the small neighbourhood where Ren lives is based.
Notable Location: Ōizumi-Gakuen Station Nerima
While the setting is rarely mentioned, Noragami takes place across Tokyo, also!
Noragami is a fantasy series where gods and deities perform wishes for people in a co-existing world known as the Far Shore. When high-schooler Hiyori tries to save a minor god named Yato from a car crash, her soul ends up coming loose from her body, allowing her to move between the real world and that of gods and phantoms. To return her body to normal, she reluctantly agrees to help Yato in his endeavours to become one of the most famous deities.
Noragami shows Tokyo in a modern-day setting, providing a down-to-earth view of life in the capital. Many of the day-to-day shots take place in or around Ōizumi-Gakuen Station, which can be found in Nerima.
Notable Location: Sunshine 60 Street, Ikebukuro
The mystery drama Durarara is something of a love letter to Ikebukuro, using various real-life locations in the district as its settings.
The story revolves around various residents in Ikebukuro’s underground, and three high-school kids that find themselves wrapped up in various weird happenings across the city.
Many people visit Ikebukuro and take pictures of the real-life settings for the hit anime. One of the most popular locations is Sunshine 60 Street, a prominent meeting place for characters in the series.
Terror in Resonance
Notable Location: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Shinjuku
First aired in 2014, Terror in Resonance is another series that depicts a slightly more realistic version of Tokyo compared to some other series. Even still, the city is wonderful to admire.
Terror in Resonance is a cat-and-mouse story, where two children threaten to cause mass panic through terrorist activities in the capital while the police try to hunt them down, unearthing a major conspiracy in the process.
Terror in Resonance predominantly takes place in locations around Shinjuku. A must-visit for fans of the series is the impressive Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the target of the first major attack.
Notable Location: Tokyo Tower, Minato
Another film, this quiet hit by acclaimed anime creator Satoshi Kon was released in 2003, so offers a slightly retro look at the city.
Tokyo Godfathers follows three homeless people during Christmas who suddenly come across an abandoned baby and try to reunite them with their parents. While a good Christmas movie, it can be enjoyed all year round.
The story takes the main characters across various lesser-travelled parts of Tokyo. A prominent feature in promotional material is Tokyo Tower in Minato, which looks particularly beautiful on a cold winter night.
Notable Location: Kanda Myoujin Shrine, Chiyoda
Love Live is one of the biggest anime franchises out there, with an almost endless amount of series to enjoy.
Most of the Love Live anime series follow high-school girls who dream of being school idols. One of the most memorable locations from the series is Kanda Myoujin Shrine, which serves as a training ground for the idol group μ.
Kanda Myoujin Shrine, located just outside Akihabara, is a location in multiple anime, including Steins;Gate. As a result, the shrine often hosts anime exhibitions.
Notable Location: Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku
Death Note remains for many people the best anime of all time. It’s also a great anime for location-hunting in Tokyo, as many of its locations are true-to-life adaptations.
For those that don’t know, Death Note follows disillusioned high-school student Light Yagami who stumbles across the Death Note, a notebook that causes the death of people whose names are written inside. The majority of the series is a chase between Light, enacting his form of justice on the world, and L, a detective tasked with hunting him down.
There are many locations in Tokyo where you can recreate scenes from the anime. My favourite is Shinjuku station, where Light stands behind and talks to Raye Penber. You can picture the tension, especially when it gets super busy during rush hour!
Notable Location: Radio Kaikan, Akihabara
The famous science mystery anime is another series that professes its love for the capital city, particularly its technological and cultural hub Akihabara.
Steins;Gate follows Rintarou Okabe, a self-proclaimed mad scientist who spends his days trying to create ‘future gadgets’ with his friends. Then, one day, he somehow creates a Phone Microwave that allows him to send messages to the past, altering the flow of time. The discovery attracts the attention of various scientists and other organisations that seek to either help or harm him and his friends.
The most notable location in Steins;Gate is Radio Kaikan, the building where much of the first episode takes place and where the time machine crashes in the series. Radio Kaikan is one of the most recognisable buildings in Akihabara, and while the original building was demolished in 2011, a replica was built in its place a few years later.
Notable Location: Takeshita Street, Harajuku
Jujutsu Kaisen takes place in a lot of locations across Japan. However, the first season shows just how exciting the capital city can be for people who have never visited, particularly Nobara!
Jujutsu Kaisen revolves around young Jujutsu sorcerers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School. These people are tasked with hunting down and killing Curses, monsters formed from human malice.
One of the new Jujutsu sorcerers, Nobara, seeks her dream city life and makes the most of Tokyo’s many shopping and fashion hubs. A particular point of focus is Takeshita Street, one of the most popular locations in the capital for young teenagers.
Related: Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Confirmed, Release Window Announced
The Girl that Leapt Through Time
Notable Location: Gakushuinshita Station, Toshima
If you’re looking for a different, quieter side of Tokyo, then this popular film is a great choice!
The Girl that Leapt Through Time, as the title suggests, follows aimless high-schooler Makoto who suddenly discovers an ability to time travel. While enjoying her newfound power, she soon discovers the consequences that time travel can have.
Despite its seemingly simple plot, The Girl that Leapt Through Time remains one of the most popular and recognised anime films of all time. Much of The Girl that Leapt Through Time takes place in locations far away from normal Tokyo landmarks. The steep hill near where Makoto lives, for example, can be found in the area around Gakushuinshita Station, which can only be reached by tram.
Notable Location: Azabu-Hikawa Shrine, Minato
For many fans, Sailor Moon is the pinnacle of anime. It’s certainly one of the most recognisable shows and a foundation of the hugely popular magical girls genre.
The popular anime follows Usagi Tsukino, an everyday schoolgirl who, after saving a cat with a crescent moon from danger, is told that she has been chosen as Sailor Moon, a guardian with the power to protect the Earth.
There are various real-life settings in Tokyo from the series, but by far the most recognisable is Hikawa Shrine, named Azabu-Hikawa in real life and home to Sailor Mars in the anime.
While the anime dramatises its appearance a bit, the giant stone gate is real, making it a must-see destination for fans of Sailor Moon.
If these series have you wanting a different kind of escape, check out our list of the best historical anime that will transport you through time!