If we’re being honest, a lot of what we know about Japan we learned from watching anime, and we were excited to see how actual life in Japan compared. Fortunately, we ended up staying in Nerima. It was the perfect place to get a taste of anime in real life.
Nerima is a suburb on the northern side of Tokyo and has been described as the quintessential Tokyo suburb. It also happens to be home to some of the top anime studios in Japan, including Toei Animation, Studio Gallop, and Mushi Productions. As a result, Nerima is often used as a setting for anime productions. Ranma ½, Digimon Adventure, and Doraemon all take place in Nerima or a suburb modeled after the town of Nerima. As we were walking around we could see how the neighborhood bore a resemblance to so many we had seen onscreen. At one point we walked past a high school. It was exactly like the high schools we had seen portrayed in the movies, which is very different from a typical American high school. (Sorry, no pictures. There were students around and taking a picture seemed like a real creeper thing to do).
Nerima’s neighboring towns are also pretty nerd-famous. Mitaka, for example, is home to Studio Ghibli. While we would have loved to visit the Ghibli Museum, we did not get our tickets far enough in advance. If you’re interested in visiting the Ghilbli Museum, be sure to book your tickets ahead of time. You can find information about purchasing tickets on their website.
Just south of Nerima, in Suginami, we were able to visit the Suginami Animation Museum. It costs absolutely nothing (even the English-language audio guides were free!), and it was one of the nicest free museums we’ve visited. In addition to learning about the history and production process of anime, the museum also allows guests to try their hand at dubbing, drawing, and creating an anime. There is also an anime library and cinema at the museum. The cinema generally does not have English dubbing or subtitles, but the library has a decent collection of titles available in English if you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Nerima is not in the heart of Tokyo. It’s not the best place to stay if you’re looking for a big city experience, but if you don’t mind commuting it’s one of the loveliest suburbs around. We didn’t specifically choose to stay in Nerima-it just sort of turned out that way-but we’re definitely glad we did.