This past weekend I went on a short trip to the Kansai area of Japan, with the goal of visiting Nishinomiya in the Hyogo prefecture. This city is famous for being the location where the anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya takes place. I decided that it would be fun to try to find some of the locations from the anime and compare them to real life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit all of the locations I had wanted to because of time restrictions, but I did get a lot of great highlights!
A little after I got to Nishinomiya and explored the outside of the station (the meeting spot for Kyon, Haruhi, and friends during the infamous “Endless Eight”) I decided to go to a nearby mall. In the bookstore in the mall I actually found this map hanging up on a wall:
I asked if I could buy the map, but the clerk said the map was from a special promotion (which I later found out was from 2011), so I couldn’t buy it. So I took a picture of it instead, which is why the quality is kind of poor. However this map is so useful, as it has every single real-life location Haruhi and the rest of the SOS Brigade went to in the anime. The bookstore also sold the most Haruhi novels I had ever seen, which I imagine is pretty fitting since the store is in the town where the anime took place. Below this is a more close up picture of the detailed locations, for anyone planning a potential Haruhi pilgrimage.
So the first real location I saw was the meeting spot I mentioned earlier outside of Nishinomiya station. Unfortunately, the spot was renovated somewhat recently, and looked a lot different. However! There was a cute little Haruhi painting, as well as a nice plaque talking about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
The next and last stop on my Haruhi journey was also my favorite, and that was the cafe the SOS Brigade spend their last moments in during the “Endless Eight” called 珈琲屋ドリーム (kohiya dream). I was actually kind of shocked it really existed, but really happy it did! Outside the cafe is also another small character from the show, this time Mikuru in a maid outfit.
Once we got inside, I made it my mission to find and sit at the table the SOS Brigade sat at all those times in the anime. Fortunately, the table was vacant and soon became mine! At first I didn’t notice, but there was some Haruhi memorabilia scattered about the cafe, such as a picture of Haruhi and Nagato on the wall.
But the part that got me really excited was a special fan exclusively at our table, with the characters of Haruhi painted beautifully on both sides. Unfortunately it also says not to take the fan, so I wasn’t able to add it to my collection.
There also looked to be a special(?) Haruhi blend of coffee, but I am not much of a coffee drinker so I passed.
A word of warning though, if you go to the cafe: each person in the group is forced to order a drink and the drinks are pretty pricey, with a normal black coffee being around 400 yen. I got a lemonade-esque drink that was about 500 yen. It was pretty expensive for just drinks, but the food is cheaper, so I suppose it evens out. Also, I would have just paid for the experience alone, since it was so much fun and so cool to see the cafe, exactly like it looked in the anime. I highly recommend going if you are ever in the area, or even in Japan!
I also would like to give a TON of credit to two blogs for assistance with this trip to Nishinomiya, or Haruhi town as I called it all weekend. First is Otaku Pilgrimages’ post of Haruhi locations in Nishinomiya, which is what first sparked my interest in trying to find them. Second is The Infinite Zenith’s post which shows all of the locations in an even greater detail. Their post is infinitely better than mine, with a huge attention to detail being paid to each image. They even go as far as to make sure the angles exactly match those scenes from the anime. I feel I was able to get some pictures and info to add to those two amazing and informative blog posts, which makes me happy.
I hope that any of you in Japan or planning to go are able to make use of this and take your own pictures of locations from the anime in real life! This has by far been one of my favorite things I have done in Japan so far, and that is really saying something. An overall 10/10 experience.