We’ve visited the real-world location for the pivotal scene in the anime event of the summer, but it’s about to disappear forever.

Right at the beginning of Makoto Shinkai’s newest anime film, Weathering with You, we watch as female lead Hina climbs to the top of a dilapidated building in Tokyo. Standing silently in the rain, the structure is wrapped in such a palpable atmosphere of loss and loneliness that it almost seems like something that’s been conjured up by Hina’s heavy heart.

But Shinkai’s directorial style isn’t just to create stunningly emotionally provocative background art, but also to meticulously research real-life locations in which to set his films. Much like Shinkai’s 2016 hit Your Name, much of Weathering with You takes place on the west side of downtown Tokyo, and the building we see in the opening scene, which turns out to have a deep significance, is an actual place in real-world Tokyo.

Called Yoyogi Kaikan, the eight-story building stands just a short walk from Yoyogi Station, adjacent to the railroad tracks of the Yamanote Line which circles the city center. Originally built in 1969, Yoyogi Kaikan had a brief brush with fame in the 1970s, when it was used as a filming location in the TV drama Kizu Darake no Tenshi (“Heavily Injured Angel”), but quickly faded from the limelight, becoming just another of Tokyo’s semi-skyscrapers filled with cheap restaurants, pachinko parlors, and dusty bookstores. It was also briefly the home of Tokyo’s super-affordable “No Name Sushi Restaurant,” which has since moved to the adjacent Shinjuku neighborhood.

The weathered facade of Yoyogi Kaikan isn’t at all misleading, either. Inside, a rusty handrail guides you up a tightly spiraling staircase (technically, the layout of the steps forms a triangle), and the landlord seems to be pretty lenient as far as using the stairwell for storage.

Making the whole thing especially surreal is that the building isn’t stuck in some forgotten corner of the city. Like we said, it’s right by Yoyogi Station, which is itself just a quick two-minute train ride from Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world. You can actually see Shinjuku Station from the Yoyogi Station platform, and just over the tracks from Yoyogi Kaikan is the towering headquarters building for telcommunications giant DoCoMo, which was built in 2000 and at 272 meters (892 feet) tall is one of the distinguishing icons of the Tokyo skyline.

Once Hina reaches the top of the building in Weathering with You, she finds a Shinto shrine. However, Yoyogi Kaikan doesn’t have a shrine on its roof, and its rumored that the one that appears in the anime is modeled after Asahi Inari Shrine, which is located on a rooftop in the Ginza neighborhood.

Rooftop shrines aren’t all that uncommon in Japan, and ones dedicated to Inari, the god of commerce, are pretty easy to find on the top of office buildings, so it’s hard to say if this is the exact one that inspired the Weathering with You setting. On the other hand, a number of fast food restaurants that show up in film are easier to confirm, such as the McDonald’s branch where Hina works and first meets male lead, Hodaka, which is the Seibu Shinjuku Station branch

…and the Shinjuku Kabuki-cho branch of ramen chain Tenka Ippin, where Hodaka gets questioned by the cops during his stint as a homeless teen living on the streets.

Several other locations in the movie are also taken from actual Tokyo geography, such as the sloping road just outside the south exit of Tabata Station, where Hina lives with her younger brother Nagi, the benches of Shiba Park where the teen leads hang out with Hodaka’s boss Keisuke, and the plaza at Odaiba where Hina has her first gig guaranteeing sunny weather for a flea market.

Shinkai’s amazing use of color and mood makes the real world feel immensely emotional, and after watchingWeathering with You, odds are you’ll want to run straight out of the theater and visit as many of these spots as you can. It definitely makes for a unique tour of Tokyo, but you’ll want to start with Yoyogi Kaikan, since the building is scheduled to be torn down starting in August. If you want to see it for yourself, now’s the time, so grab a Makoto Shinkai iced tea and brave the summer heat to see this slice of anime cinematic history.

Building information
Yoyogi Kaikan / 代々木会館
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 1-35-1

Reference: Haikyo Kensaku Chizu, Naver Matome
Weathering with You image: YouTube/東宝MOVIEチャンネル
NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building image: Wikipedia/Rs1421
All other photos ©SoraNews24
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