Ever since Kyoto’s establishment, humans live in the city, the quirky tanuki crawl the earth, and the noble tengu fly the skies, maintaining a delicate balance in Japan’s former capital. At least that’s how the world works in P.A. Works’ contemporary fantasy anime – The Eccentric Family 2.
While the show’s supernatural story revolves around the co-existence of these mythical creatures and their complex underground societies, its setting is very much grounded in reality. This is true to such an extent that The Eccentric Family has even been appointed as Special Goodwill Ambassador by the city of Kyoto in recognition of the amount of awareness the show has raised for the town – including leading to a significant increase in tourism. There are currently a couple of cross-promotional collaboration events running throughout the city, blurring the line between anime and real life even further. And thanks to the much-needed sequel that started airing just last week, we’re getting another chance to dive into The Eccentric Family’s mystical version of Kyoto, which gives me the opportunity to take a look at the many real-world locations used in the show.
*All images were taken with GOOGLE STREET VIEW
The Eccentric Family 2 starts off with an adorable flashback about how Yasaburo’s parents met and where they married. As it turns out, these events occurred at the very appropriately named Tanukidani Fudoin Temple, located in the northeast of Kyoto. Surprisingly, the temple nowadays seems to be popular for its car blessing ceremonies.
There are a lot of these ceramic tanuki statues – which you’ll also find all across the country – scattered around the temple grounds, and also around the monument at the base of the temple here. Sadly, these ceramic statues just aren’t as cute as the tanukis in the anime.
The mid-way plateau leading up to the temple.
Yaichiro gets thrown off his automated rickshaw in this shot showing the famous Shijo Street, which is running along Kyoto’s largest shopping district. The eastern part of Shijo Street, located across the Kamo River towards Yasaka Shrine, is mainly lined by a lot of smaller shops selling local specialty foods and crafts.
Meanwhile, Yashiro walks over Kamo Bridge, crossing the Kamo River, which is Kyoto’s main river and runs from north to south straight through the center of the city. In the background you’ll notice the Kamogawa Delta, which is where the Kamo and the Takano River meet.
And Yasaburo is just lazing atop Mount Daimonji, enjoying the view and life itself, while at the same time posing as the kanji “dai” (大), meaning great or large. This is not a coincidence, since Yasaburo is lying amid the bonfire stakes forming the giant “大” during the yearly Daimonji Festival. Formally known as Gozan no Okuribi, Daimonji is a festival celebrated in Kyoto to mark the end of Obon season, which is the time of year when the spirits of one’s ancestors visit this world. And on the last day of the three-day Obon Festival, during the Daimonji event, the spirits get sent back to the spirit world guided by five massive bonfires, each with their own distinctive shape, that have been cut into the mountains surrounding Kyoto.
To the left are some of the burning areas that make up part of the character “大”. The horizontal stroke is 80 meters long, the second one curving from the top to the bottom left measures 160 meters, and the bottom right one 120 meters. The Daimonji Festival was already shown in the fourth episode of The Eccentric Family’s first season, where the whole family admired the festivities from their flying teahouse.
Yasaburo and Yashiro are coming up with their plan to catch a tsuchinoko (a snake-like being from Japanese folklore) outside of the Shimogamo Shrine. The shrine was also one of the first season’s main locations, due to the Shimogamo family living in the Tadasu Forest surrounding the shrine. It’s located right behind the already mentioned Kamogawa Delta, and is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The relatively small – at least by Kyoto standards – Rokudou-Chinnouji Temple is where Yajiro’s well is located. However, the well is only accessible to the public on certain days.
Benten informs Yasaburo about her spontaneous cruise around the world while they're strolling along the riverbank of the Kamo River. The specific spot here is also close to the Kamogawa Delta. The show’s visually striking painted photography backgrounds have always been a feast for the eyes, and I'm glad that also holds true for the second season.
The already mentioned Shijo Street. If you look closely at the second building on the right side, you’ll notice that the actual buildings look quite different compared to the ones in the anime. That’s because the buildings shown in the anime here have been demolished and replaced between 2013 and 2015, right after the first season aired. This could mean that this is just another old shot being reused by P.A.Works (which is totally fine, especially since they are putting out two fantastic shows this season), or that they are still basing some of their backgrounds on photos they took during their location scouting for the first season. After all, the show’s director, Masayuki Yoshihara, spent a whole month living in Kyoto in preparation for the first season of The Eccentric Family.
One of the many side streets of Shijo Street.
The Yasaka Clinic in the anime is actually a small restaurant called Izura in real life.
Kyoto Hotel Okura is where Master Akadama’s son, Nidaime, is staying during his visit.
Another one of the first season’s main locations was the area around Shijo Bridge, which makes sense since the many fancy rooftop restaurants seem like the perfect place to dine for the tengu. The Tohka Saikan was built in 1926 and now houses a Chinese Restaurant, which is where Iwayasan had dinner in the first episode of the second season.
Located diagonally across the Tohka Saikan is the restaurant Kikusui, where the Kurama Tengu are spending their evening.
And right of that, on top of the oldest kabuki theater in Kyoto, the Minami-za, is where the showdown between Master Akadama and his son Nidaime is going to go down next episode.
I’ll try to keep the map updated over the course of the season:
After finally getting to watch The Eccentric Family 2’s first episode, I realized just how much I was missing this show, and also came to the conclusion that there is still a lot for me to do and see in Kyoto, even though I’ve been there three times already.
Have you ever been to Kyoto yourself, and did you maybe recognize a couple of the locations shown in The Eccentric Family 2? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow Wilhelm on Twitter @Surwill.