Japan boasts a number of world-famous video games such as Super Mario, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series. Though these games feature imaginary worlds, there are other popular video games that are based on actual locations in Japan.
If you are the biggest fan of these video games, it will be very exciting to see the locations in real life! From one of the busiest streets in the heart of Tokyo to a small remote island in the countryside, here we introduce the popular video games and real-life locations in Japan!
Yakuza series(Ryu ga Gotoku)
“Yakuza series (Ryu ga Gotoku in Japanese)” is an action-adventure game series which is widely recognized as one of the most famous video games produced by Sega. Since its first release in 2005, it has been selling more than 1.4 million copies (including online downloads) in total as of 2020. Players control the main character and gain fighting skills through combat with his enemies. Many people might learn the word Yakuza from this game (in case you don’t know, it means Japanese mafia).
The fundamental setting of Kamurocho, an imaginary city which appears in the story, is said to be based on the red-light district of Kabukicho area in Tokyo, and here are the actual locations from the game;
Kabukicho and Golden-gai (Tokyo)
Lively areas featuring a number of Izakaya bars, restaurants and karaoke, Shinjuku is a typical nightlife spot in Tokyo. Kabukicho and Golden-gai are the popular drinking streets in Shinjuku, and Kamurocho took inspiration from Kabukicho.Golden-gai served as inspiration for Champion Street on the game. If you played the game before coming to Japan, you will be surprised how they create such a resemblance on the game; some people say you get the sense of the direction and know where to go even though it’s the first time to visit Shinjuku.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 features another fictitious area called Sotenbori, which is undoubtedly inspired by the Dotonbori area in Osaka. This vibrant area features many shops and restaurants with the lively atmosphere. You can easily discover a number of iconic landmarks that you see in the video game such as a moving crab at “Kani Doraku”, a famous crab restaurant. It will be an exciting experience to explore the area while comparing the real townscape with the setting of the game!
Ghost of Tsushima
In July 2020, SONY released a new big title which has later become recognized as an extraordinary video game around the world. “Ghost of Tsushima” is an open-world action-adventure game which features the beautiful landscape of Japan back in the middle ages around the 13th century. Players control Samurai warriors to combat enemies trying to invade the country from outside. The story mainly takes place in Tsushima, a real existing island located to the north of Kyushu region. This beautiful island is accessible in 35 minutes by domestic flights from Fukuoka airport.
You can find several real locations that appear in the video game as you walk around the small island. Here are the most remarkable spots that you should not miss;
Scenic sandy beach which actually exists along the western coast of Tsushima island. It is known as a battleground for the Mongolian invasion which occurred in the 13th century, which is basically the original story of this video game. Komoda Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the warriors who lost their lives during the battle, and an annual festival is held in November to console their spirits.
Iconic peak standing 519 meters in the central northern part of the island. It boasts a unique ecosystem created by a diversity of plants including both Japanese indigenous and continental. The steep trail is suitable for intermediate or advanced hikers. Along the trail, you can find scenic spots, including Shiratake Shrine with an impressive torii gate silently standing in nature. Visiting there will remind you of the impressive scene in the game featuring torii gates and a small shrine on the summit of a rocky mountain!
“Persona” is a popular video game series developed by Atlus, a Japanese video game developer based in Tokyo. It is basically a role-playing video game, and the story takes place in real modern Tokyo areas such as Shibuya. Players can control the main character called Joker, a male student who spends an ordinary high school life during the day, and alternatively transforms into a phantom thief at night. It has also been made into an animation series and received high reputations and reviews around the world. There are several spots which appear in the story that you can visit in person around Tokyo;
Shibuya Center-Gai is an iconic center of youth culture and fashion trends packed with countless numbers of small shops. It is accurately reproduced in the game as Shibuya Central City. Every detail of a real bookstore, lottery shop, narrow streets and even vending machines is elaborately created in the scenes.
Sangenjaya is a peaceful area which is a 5 minutes train ride from Shibuya on the Tokyu Denen-toshi Line. In the Persona series, it is called Yongen-jaya and “Café Leblanc”, the main spot in the game as well as a residence for the main character is located there. You can visit the small hostess bar which is used as a real model of the imaginary café at Sangenjaya.
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency offering guided tours in Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we will organize the best tours for you! If you want to explore around Japan to learn more histories and backstories of the area, our knowledgeable and friendly guide will happily take you to the best spots!
Also, we can provide you with any assistance for your upcoming trip in Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions/need some help!
- Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
- Tokyo Virtual Highlight Tour
- Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Tour
For video game lovers, visiting real-life locations will bring an unforgettable and exciting experience. It will allow you to directly feel the atmosphere that you can usually feel only through a screen. It also will give you an opportunity to discover impressive hidden spots that are rarely featured on guide books!