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Anime Adventures Await: Following the Trail of Iconic Character Statues

© Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha

Anime statues bring a touch of fantasy to real-life Japanese locations while honoring popular characters and supporting local economies. Explore a different side of Japan and snap some photos with your favorite characters!


Exploring permanent anime collaboration art around Japan

For anime and manga   fans around the world, visiting Japan is a dream come true. Besides indulging in sushi and swinging samurai swords like popular characters, fans can explore areas that have inspired backgrounds and locations featured in many popular anime. There are statues of popular anime characters across Japan, often with connections to the region they’re found in. While limited-time anime collaborations pop up occasionally, you can check out these permanent anime statue installations across Japan anytime.


Meet anime legends at Oizumi Anime Gate

Oizumi Anime Gate can be found on the pedestrian deck at the north exit of Oizumi Gakuen Station in the Nerima City in Tokyo. Opened in April 2015, this permanent anime collaboration comprises a collection of statues that symbolizes Nerima’s pride as the birthplace of Japanese animation. In fact, Nerima is home to Toei Animation, Mushi Productions and several other studios.


Paying homage to legendary anime produced by these studios, the collection features life-sized bronze statues of Astro Boy, Joe Yabuki from Ashita no Joe (lit. Tomorrow’s Joe), Hoshino Tetsuro and Maetel from Galaxy Express 999, and Lum from Urusei Yatsura. Each statue is accompanied by a plaque with a synopsis of the anime and the creator’s signature. Anime fans can visit Toei Animation Museum nearby, which features a small exhibition space with character model sheets and an interactive touch screen that plays openings and closing animations from different Toei Animation productions.

While younger generations might not be familiar with the titles, these anime are arguably the most legendary works in anime history. 
©Tezuka Productions
©Leiji Matsumoto/Leijisha, Toei Animation
©Asao Takamori, Tetsuya Chiba / Kodansha
©Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan

Become a Hokage shinobi master at Nijigen no Mori

Naruto fans can make their shinobi dreams come true at the NARUTO & BORUTO SHINOBI-ZATO (Shinobi Village) attraction of Nijigen no Mori, an outdoor anime theme park on Awaji Island, just southwest of Osaka in Hyogo Prefecture. Here, fans are given two ninja scrolls with missions to complete, and life-sized statues of Naruto and Boruto assist along the way. True to becoming an actual ninja, these missions will require a mixture of ninjutsu (“ninja skills”), physical prowess and wit to overcome obstacles and solve mysteries to restore the missing seals.


If you master the five ninjutsu, you can get your face put on the Hokage Rock! 
© Masashi Kishimoto Scott / Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Piero

Adding to the excitement, you can download the Hokage wo Mezase (lit: “Aim to be Hokage”) smartphone app to take pictures of yourself performing ninjutsu at multiple AR photo spots inside the park. Another attraction that you won’t need technology for is enjoying a hot bowl of ramen at Ramen Ichiraku, Naruto’s favorite ramen stand. 


Complete your shinobi training by devouring a bowl of shio-ramen at Ramen Ichiraku.
© Masashi Kishimoto Scott / Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Piero


Join the One Piece Straw Hats and help revitalize Kumamoto

Following a powerful series of earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture in April 2016, Eichiro Oda (author of hit series One Piece and Kumamoto native)   launched the One Piece Kumamoto Project in a message of support to help the economy bounce back from the disaster. Through this initiative, ten bronze statues of the Straw Hat Pirates were installed in affected areas of Kumamoto, beginning with Luffy in 2018 and ending with Jinbei in July 2022. Today, tourists from around Japan and the world flock to Kumamoto for pictures with the Straw Hat crew!

A Luffy statue was installed in the Kumamoto Prefectural Office Promenade in November 2018.
© Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha

Furthering the One Piece boom in Kumamoto, in 2022, a special performance of seiwa bunraku, a kind of "ningyo joruri” doll performance unique to Kumamoto prefecture, collaborated with One Piece and held a special public performance. Minamiaso Railway – which was damaged in the earthquake – will also celebrate fully resuming operations in summer 2023 with a special One Piece collaboration (details forthcoming).  


The ONE PIECE x Ningyo Joruri puppets used in the performance were featured in a special exhibition at the Kumamoto Prefectural Government Office.
© Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha ©SBJ

The anime adventure continues: New statue installations across Japan

Japan’s permanent anime collaborations are slowly but surely growing in number! Recently in March 2021, bronze statues of the Eren, Armin and Mikasa of Attack on Titan appeared at Oyama Dam in Hita, Oita Prefecture.


Besides being great photo spots and inspiring travelers to venture outside of Tokyo, these anime collaboration art pieces are a great boon for local economies in Japan’s countryside. With the popularity of anime and manga continuing to rise, which characters do you think will be honored next?




    About the author


    Author: Melanie Sweeney
    Profile: Born and raised in the United States, Melanie moved to Japan in 2014 and has stayed ever since. You can often find her exploring the city, enjoying afternoon tea with friends or investigating the latest cultural event nearby.





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