Shinto shrines in Japan are often about ritual, quiet reflection and purchasing small charms of good fortune. Visit the Suga Shrine in Tokyo however, and you’re likely to encounter groups of people taking pictures—of the staircase.
At first glance, there’s nothing special about this set of winding stone steps lined with a metal pipe railing. But to these young adults, it’s part of their holy pilgrimage of a different kind of sacred site: locations featured in their favorite anime.
The practice of visiting these sites is called seichi junrei, and the art of taking photos that closely match the source material as much as possible is called butaitanbou. In the case of the Suga shrine, it was featured in the smash hit anime film Your Name back in 2016. Many of the locations shown in the movie, like train stations, museums, and even bus stops, were based on real places in Tokyo, Gifu, and Nagano.
But what’s so special about a staircase? It was featured on the poster for the movie, though that particular scene as portrayed did not actually happen in the film. However, more importantly (spoiler), the big reunion between our star-crossed protagonists Mitsuha and Taki happens here in the film’s final moments, and it’s that hopeful and joyous feeling that these fans come to capture.
Know Before You Go
The closest Tokyo Metro station is Yotsuya-Sanchome. To see various other locations from this scene you should walk down Shinjuku Dōri and make a left, followed by another left at the crossroads.