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Fantasy is one of the most popular genres in anime, especially when combined with action and adventure. From Berserk to Sword Art Online, there’s a wide spectrum of fantasy anime you can find out there, all with their own distinct styles of visuals and storytelling. One thing that most of them have in common is that most of them take place in western-style settings. This is especially true for any fantasy anime that features a world of magic, swords, demons, and the like. Still, there are some anime that intentionally include a nice small town/country that is clearly based on real-life Japanese cultures, full of iconic things like onsen, ramen, kimono, and samurai, to name a few. So with that in mind, here are some fictional cities/countries that represent real-life Japanese cultures in fantasy anime.
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5. Kono Subarashi Sekai ni Shokufuku wo from Crimson Demon Village! (Konosuba: God bless this wonderful world!)
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Crimson Demon Village is a small village inhabited by the Crimson Demon race, and it is also the hometown of Megumin and Eunun. Since it is located near the Demon King’s territory, it is officially one of the most dangerous places in the world. However, since everyone in the Crimson Demon Village can perform advanced magic, they can easily defeat any incoming Demon King’s army. Crimson Demon Village resembles a mix of Japanese and Western-style settlements. You can find modest houses made of stone like the ones you see in bigger cities like Axel. On the other hand, you can also find traditional wooden Japanese houses here. These types of houses are also fully equipped with traditional appliances and features that you would see in real-life traditional Japanese homes, such as tatami mats, chobudai (short-legged floor tables), and futon mattresses, among other things.
4. Easy from Isekai wa smartphone to Tomo ni (In another world with my smartphone)
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Similar to other Isekai anime with mouthy titles, Another World With My Smartphone is largely set in middle-aged Western-style towns and countries. However, one of the members of the protagonist’s party is dressed and talks like someone coming from middle age Japan. As it happens, she comes from a country called Ishan in the Far East. Thankfully, we get to meet Eason in Episodes 8 and 9 of the series. When we see Ischen for the first time, it feels like we’ve been transported from an Isekai anime to a period anime. In fact, the similarities actually go deeper than you might think. For starters, the city we visit is named Oedo, and the leader of the nation is called Tokugawa Ieyasu, and he is currently fighting against Takeda Shingen. These are the names of real-life Japanese leaders during the Edo period. Not only that, but even the small details are similar, such as people walking around wearing kimono, using wooden sandals (geta), riding inside wooden palanquins (kagoya), and many others. It’s not even a fictional city at this point. The author simply transposes an actual middle-adult Japanese town into his story.
3. Mikakage from Tate no Yusha no Narigari Season 2 (Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2)
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Mikakage is one of the major cities in the alternate world where Naofumi was summoned. This world is often referred to by fandom as the World of Glass, as opposed to the world of Raphtalia where most of the main story takes place. Unlike the world of Raphtalia where everything looks relatively the same wherever you go, the world of Glass consists of nations with different cultures. One of them is the aforementioned Mikakage. The overall architecture of Mikage city is similar to that of Japan during the Edo period. Not only that, the language, dress, food, and even military garb are incredibly similar to medieval Japan. However, what makes Mikakage different is that all types of races live together in harmony. In addition to humans, there are spirit people, grass people who look just like elves, and jewel people, all living their lives like middle-aged Japanese people.
2. Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken to Rimuru City (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime)
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Rimuru is the capital of the Jura Tempest Federation, a nation led by the demon lord Rimuru Tempest. Despite being the youngest city in the world, Rimuru is on its way to becoming the most advanced of them all. At first glance, Rimuru looks like any other western-style town, with its stone houses, churches and many multi-storey buildings. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll quickly realize that it actually bears a striking resemblance to a Japanese city. That being said, unlike the other cities/countries on this list, this is not middle-aged Japan, as what Rimuru tries to replicate is a truly modern Japanese city. This is why you’ll see streets and buildings that are similar to modern Japanese standards, restaurants and hotels that you might find in larger cities like Kyoto or Okinawa, bakeries that produce traditional Japanese confectioneries and Western cakes, and There are even stores selling Japanese clothing throughout the city.
1. One Country from One Piece
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And now we finally come to the most famous fictional Japanese nation to ever grace the anime world, the enigmatic Forest Country from One Piece. However, Wano is actually a bit more special than the previous cities and countries mentioned on this list. Because in addition to the general surface-level similarities, Wano also has a deep and rich history of its own, complete with its own myths, legends, and heroes. Let us elaborate a bit. Wano is much of Japan during the Edo period. You can find traditional Japanese shops, temples and houses here. You can see people walking around in traditional Japanese clothes, with the nobles wearing clothes that are particularly fancier than the average people. You can also easily find traditional dishes like dango and ramen here. Going even deeper, the name “Wa” was actually what real-life Japan was called thousands of years before it was officially changed to Nihon (Japan). Furthermore, Wano also closed its border during the 16th to 18th centuries to seal itself off from any foreign influence like Japan. So as you can see, Wano Country has taken a lot of inspiration from real life Japan, not only in terms of cultural influence, but also socially, economically, and politically.
There are many other cities/countries that have some Japanese elements that deserve our honorable mention. They are the Eastern Federation from No Game No Life, and the Demiplane Village from Tsukimichi: Moonlight Fantasy. There is also a nation like Vano Country that is actually perfect for this list, but unfortunately has to be excluded because it has not yet been animated when this article is written, which is Hino Country from Black Clover. Do you know any other fictional towns/countries that represent Japanese culture in anime? Let us know in the comment section below.
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