FEATURE: Anime vs. Real Life – "Barakamon"

Check out the real-life locations of Barakamon

Crunchyroll has been adding numerous new anime titles to the catalog as part of the ongoing "Unbox the Holidays" campaign, one of them being the fantastic Barakamon. The show was one of my favorites in 2014, and now that it’s on Crunchyroll, why not take quick look at the real life locations which inspired the show’s setting.


Barakamon is a slice-of-life anime revolving around the daily life of professional calligrapher, Seishu Handa. After punching an elderly gallery curator who criticized his calligraphy as plain, dull, and copybook-style, Handa is sent to the countryside to cool his head and do some self-reflection. Originally supposed to spend some time in isolation, away from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, Handa soon starts to form relationships with the colorful cast of locals.  A lot of the comedy stems from how Handa now has to adjust to the rural environment.

Speaking of rural, Barakamon’s setting is as remote as it could get. The show is set on Fukue Island, the largest of the five main Goto Islands, off the western coast of Kyushu. The Goto (translates to five islands) Islands are located in the eastern end of the East China Sea, and are part of Nagasaki Prefecture. The islands were a historically important stop-over point for trade to and from China. They are also known for their many Christian Churches; however, none of them were shown during the anime. 

Given the rural setting, there is not a lot to talk about the locations, but I’ll try. Also, most of the time I arrange the images in a chronological order, like they appeared in the anime, but I’ll just sort them location wise today, so here are the real life locations of Barakamon!


*All images were taken with Google Street View


After leaving Tokyo, Handa arrives at the rather small Fukue Airport (or Goto Fukue Airport) on Fukue Island. The airport is classified as a third class airport by Japanese law, meaning it’s a small airport handling only domestic flights. The only airlines serving Fukue Airport are All Nippon Airways’s subsidiary, ANA Wings, and Oriental Air Bridge. One of the two Oriental Air Bridge Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft was also shown in the anime, so keep a lookout for it in the first and seventh episode, my fellow aviation fans. 




Notice how studio Kinema Citrus even incorporated the height difference of the fence in the anime version?





The Goto Islands are also known for their white beaches. Spending exile in a place like that doesn’t sound too bad to me, given that it’s mostly below zero degrees here at the moment. Handa’s village is located at the southern tip of Fukue Island, near the former town of Tomie, which has merged with a couple of other towns in 2004, to establish the city of Goto. 




There he soon encounters Naru. The relationship that forms between the narcissistic city boy, and the free-spirited first grader from the countryside is one of Barakamon’s greatest strengths. She’s often the one who gets him out of his comfort zone and experience new things, which in turn help him find new inspiration and develop his own distinctive art style. 




This seawall is higher in the anime than it is in real life, understandably, since it’s supposed be symbolic of the “wall of mediocrity”, which Handa was not able to climb. 





Mandom (title image). Seeing Naru think she is more mature than she really is, just because she’s now partly able to read Katakana, was one of the funniest scenes of Barakamon. The little store in the background is the Kumi Ai Market. 




The Kinoshita General Store. Handa soon has to find out the hard way, that getting calligraphy ink on the countryside is not as easy as he thinks. Especially when there’s also an up-and-coming horror shounen mangaka in the neighborhood.  






This little barn is located right next to the Kinoshita General Store. Another strong point of Barakamon is the show’s wacky and loveable cast. The local teacher would rather fish all day than teach the kids. 





Might not look exactly like in the anime, but notice the blue house in the background. 




Handa ows Miwa’s father a favor and has to paint the name for his new boat. The name that Miwa’s father chose is rather unique, Yuigadokuson-maru, which translates to ‘I Alone Am Holy‘. Good thing he didn't choose Miwa's name. This image and the next three are all from the Yao Fishing Port. 






Even the blue pick-up is there. 






A local shrine near the Kiminoshita General Store.


If you like lighthearted slice-of-life anime, make sure to give Barakamon a try! For those who have already watched it, how did you like the show? Leave a comment! 


You can follow Wilhelm on Twitter @Surwill.

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