One Japanese Anime named Haikyu ACG ( “ハィキュー”) has become worldwide famous. As the author is originally from Sendai, many of the events and locations within the story are named after or based on real locations around Sendai City. Even some of the characters are named after popular tourist attractions! As such, many Anime fans chose to pay them a visit – or even come to see them all on a Haikyu Pilgrimage!
Out of all the places and events mentioned, those that bring the most Anime fans to Sendai are the ‘Hikari no pageant’ festival of lights in December, Sendai City Gymnasium and Aoba-jo (former site of Sendai Castle).
Hikari no pageant is held every year in December (every day from 17:30-22:00). This event is often ranked first out of all the annual events held in Miyagi and really deserves at least one visit. In the Haikyu Anime series, there is one episode/volume named “部活帰りのイルミネーション” (Illumination on the way home from club) which is about the activity of the team “青葉城西”. The cover includes pictures of the Hikari no pageant festival.
When I went to the Hikari no pageant festival for the first time, I enjoyed a short magic performance in nearby Kotodai Koen (park) with the lights offering a really beautiful backdrop. I enjoyed it so much, along with my friends who came along. When it was approaching 19:00, all the lights in the trees were suddenly turned off for about 1 minute…then suddenly turned back on at exactly 19:00! As I missed the initial lighting at 17:00 o’clock, this one really surprised me! People around me also couldn’t help being amazed and caught up in the excitement. So, if you miss out on the first lighting, be sure to hang around until 19:00 to experience this unique atmosphere.
Transport to the event is also very convenient. The event is held along jouzenjidoori (定禅寺通り, Jozenji Avenue), which you can reach either on foot from Sendai station (about 20 mins walk) or you can take the underground subway Nanboku line (南北線) and get off at 勾当台公園駅 (Kotodai Koen Station) (200 yen from Sendai station).
Many of the volleyball matches in the Anime are held at Sendai City Gymnasium. The photos below were taken one year ago, and now the name has been changed from “仙台市立体育館” to “カメイアリーナ” (Kamei Arena), which made Haikyu fans a little bit sad. But the building is still there and almost exactly the same as the one in the anime. The scenery of the subway station is also really accurate. When you enter the gymnasium, I think the similar facilities and surroundings will definitely remind you of the scenes which made you laugh and cry.
This place is located at “仙台市太白区富沢一丁目4番1号” and is opened between 9:00～21:00. It is very easy to access – you can take underground subway Nanboku line (南北線) and get off at 富沢駅 (Tomizawa Station), (300 yen from Sendai station). What’s more, if you’re lucky, you might catch a beautfiul sunset from the subway station.
The last place on our pilgrimage is Aoba-jo (青葉城跡) (former site of Sendai castle) which is a very famous tourist attraction in Sendai City. This is the former castle of samurai lord Date Masamune (伊達正宗) a long time ago. In the anime “ハイキュー”, the high schools are also named after many typical Miyagi words. Besides the characters’ name that I mentioned above, the high schools like “青葉城西” (Aoba-Jyosai), “伊達工業” (Date-kougyo) and so on, we can see the key words “青葉” (Aoba), “伊達” (Date), “仙台”(Sendai) also appear frequently. I think the author may also want to attract his readers to come to visit his hometown, as Miyagi is a really nice place with beautiful scenery and interesting history.
The Aoba-jo castle site is located on Aoba mountain and can be seen from the main city of Sendai. There’s also a partial castle wall left, which exactly symbolize why the high school 伊達工業’s (Date Kogyou) member is called “伊達の鉄壁” (Date no Ishigaki – ishigaki means rock wall). The local visitors come to Aoba-jo mainly for the beautiful night view over Sendai, while tourists who come mainly visit the “青葉城資料展示館” which is a museum exhibit history story and collections of the Date period. With many priceless collections on offer, this place is highly recommended for a visit. When you first come to Aoba-jo, you can also see the statue of Date Masamune riding on a horse. This statue is also very well-known and attracts tourist to take their photo in front of it.
The entrance fee for the “青葉城資料展示館” is 700 yen for regular visitors, 500 yen for high school students and 300 yen for primary school students. The access is also very convenient from Sendai Sation. You can walk there (which may take around 20 minutes), or you can take the underground Tozai Line “東西線” and get off at International Center Station “国際センター駅”. The fee is 200 yen.