“The mountains of Hakone are... the steepest in the world!” And towering right behind them is the marvelous Mt. Fuji, making the Hakone Ekiden, a university relay-marathon held at the begging of every year between Tokyo and Hakone, not only one of the most prestigious sporting events in Japan, but also an especially scenic race. Runs along the coast, across mountains, all the while with Mt. Fuji lingering in the background–I absolutely can’t wait for Haiji and his team to finally run the tradition-steeped race in the anime, and see all of these locations animated.
But for now, I’ll have to stick with all the real-life locations shown in Run with the Wind so far, meaning mainly their training route from the dorm to the river, so let’s take a look at them!
First of all, the track team’s run-down dorm and the nearby bathhouse don’t seem to be real, but the anime makes it look like their close to Soshigaya-Ōkura Station, in the southwest of Tokyo.
The station building has been animated quite faithfully, which surprisingly doesn’t hold true for most of the remaining locations.
Some of the locations along their training route do exist, and while it’s clear that these have been the inspiration for the backgrounds, they simply look different in real life. The fence and bollards are there, but the street and fence are not nearly as curved, and the manhole cover is missing as well.
In this one, the small staircase has been displaced, and the grass is completely overgrown.
The same goes for their route’s end point along the Tama River, which wasn’t accessible due to the overgrown grass. I unfortunately can’t really say if that’s any different in the summer months, but it’s definitely the right spot, due to the matching buildings on the opposite side and the trees to the right (picture below).
However, just like in the anime, it really is about a five kilometers distance from Soshigaya-Okura Station to the spot along the Tama River here. In order to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden, each and every one of them will have to run these five kilometers in less than about 14:30 minutes, which seems absolutely insane from my layman’s point of view. That’s less than three minutes per kilometer, or as King explained it: one kilometer in the time it takes to prepare cup noodles!
I have to abashedly admit that I did not actually run these five kilometers to the river, since I’m not even certain that I can match Prince’s 30-minute mark. Instead I just took the train from Soshigaya-Okura Station to Izumi-Tamagawa Station, which is the closest one to this place right here.
The shopping street they often pass through is just north of Soshigaya-Okura Station, and is called Ultraman Shopping Street. The studio producing the iconic Ultraman show was located in the area until ten years ago, explaining how the street got its name. There’s a bunch of Ultraman statues in the area as well, but none have found their way into the Run with the Wind anime yet.
Just like with most of the show's backgrounds, there are also some slight changes and variations found here, e.g. the utility pole is missing in the anime.
The stop line here in the bottom left of the picture is slightly misplaced in the anime.
A few brand names along the street have also been changed, and it’s always fun to see the creative (or uncreative) brand knock-off names anime come up with. 7-Eleven has been turned into 9-Five.
The real Soft Bank is called Hard Bank in the anime.
The flower shop Hanaya here got to keep its name, though.
This little spot is about a good kilometer north of the station.
There have been several playgrounds in the show so far, but none of them seem to be real (or I haven’t been able to find them), except for this cozy little spot here. The place is called Minna no Mori, which literally translates to Everyone’s Forest.
On the other hand, the nightclub Yukihiro visits in the third episode is real, and modeled after clubasia in Shibuya.
However, it’s called club aiai in the anime.
The area around the club has also been animated quite faithfully.
And lastly, the most important comparison shot of them all. I wasn’t even running and was still exhausted from all the location hunting that day, so I truly get Prince’s pain.
Who has been your favorite character in Run with the Wind so far? Sound off in the comments below!
Wilhelm is an anime tourist, who loves to search for and uncover the real-world spots he sees in anime. You can talk with him on Twitter @Surwill.