How Similar Is the Sailor Moon World to the Actual Azabu-Juban?

Disclaimer: this is not a real photo

Disclaimer: this is not a real photo

One thing that I’ve always loved about the world of Sailor Moon just how how much of the real world Ms. Takeuchi, and later the anime staff, included into the series. You can really feel tell that she really did live in Azabu-Juban before choosing it as the backdrop for her series in how detailed and alive the various locations are.

Today, we’re going to talk about something near and dear to my heart – real life locations that appear in the world of Sailor Moon! For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be talking about Sailor Moon Crystal today, but I do plan on sitting down to write an article about the old 90s series and manga once I get enough old pictures together.

Well, let’s get started!


First off, we can see the entrance to the OSA-P through the Azabu-Juban shopping district.

You can see in the distance that the OSA-P is… well, obviously not a jewelry shop owned by the Osaka family. So let’s take a closer look!

And here is the OSA-P up close. The actual building at that location is a bakery/confectionary called “Tokyo Rusk.” The place above it is a separate Italian restaurant.

Looking once again at what would become the OSA-P from a different angle, here we find the Statue of Kimi-chan, otherwise known as the “Red Shoes Girl.”1 This statue made frequent appearances in the original 90s anime and manga as well, so I’m glad to see it coming back. It’s also interesting that they went so far as to include the flower pots.

The more you look, the more you realize that the Crystal animation staff actually did a pretty decent job at recreating the real-world Azabu-Juban. It not only makes their job easier by not having to create a whole new world (and keep the locations straight), but it also adds a sense of realism to everything.

Some more of the interesting architecture around the Azabu-Juban area. I’m not totally sure what these first floors are, but the rooms above look like condominiums/apartments.

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And the same building, but from a different angle.

Here you can see that they even went so far as to copy seemingly insignificant background objects, such as the… power… box… thing? Whatever that big black thing is, and even the sign advertising a business above it.

 

Ami and Usagi chat in front of a very-real… well, it’s either a not-park, or it’s the world’s saddest park. I’ll let you decide that one. But ignoring for a second the sad nature of this outdoor… place, it’s definitely real!

Back to Ami, we can see that the clinic in the background has gotten renamed (for obvious reasons) from the real world Baba Clinic to a generic __ta Clinic. And again, that black… box… thing makes its television debut.

Seen from a slightly different angle, you can see that the animation staff sometimes does actually make some fairly significant changes to the location, especially in terms of scale. In this case, everything got shrunk down quite a bit, especially the shop with the teal in the background.

Finally, we find ourselves at Azabu-juban Station! Or, as Sailor Moon Crystal calls it, Jyuban Station. Now, why is that, you ask?

Good question! As far as I can tell, there are no trademarks on any of the actual train line names in Japan, so they can be used freely. Also, considering the fact that stations are almost always named after the location in which they operate (for obvious reasons), there’s no way that there could be any trademarks on that either.

My best guest is that they at least wanted to somewhat separate this from the real world, because otherwise it could take the viewer out of the experience if it’s literally the same station you go to on the way to work every day.

Here you can see that though they didn’t bother to draw a lot of the clutter, this is generally a pretty faithful recreation of the area in front of the Azabu-Juban station, even down to the colors of the Resona bank in the background.

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Last but not least, here we have a nice close-up on the other side of the Azabu-Juban/Jyuban station entrance.

If you look at the logo on the station signboard, you can see an actual case of the Crystal staff being careful to avoid trademark infringement, with the Tokyo Metro logo being changed to a stylized diamond and its name changing from Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ) to the generic Metro (メトロ). Though, to be fair, most people in Tokyo simply call it Metro anyway…

They’ve also removed the reference to Tokyo Subway, which suggests that this station is actually only connected to one mode of transportation rather than the two in the real world. Though that’s not too important.

The Crown as it Appeared in 1993

The Crown as it Appeared in 1993

As I mentioned at the beginning, though this was mostly a look at what many of the locations in Sailor Moon Crystal look like in real life, including real world locations — like the Crown Game Center —  has been a part of the series since the very beginning. A lot of those old locations no longer exist, or exist in a very different form, so I think they deserve a more thorough writeup on them.

If you had a chance to visit any Sailor Moon location, real or fake, where would you want to go? To be completely honest, the very first time I came to Japan (back in 2004!), I absolutely went to Azabu-Juban, though I didn’t recognize anything at the time. I did, however, make a trip to Tokyo Tower purely because of its prominence in anime and manga.


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4 thoughts on “How Similar Is the Sailor Moon World to the Actual Azabu-Juban?

  1. I love the first screencap of the bridge there… Which episode was that from?

    It’s amazing how faithful the backgrounds are!

    I think if I were to visit, aside from Tokyo Tower, I’d want to check out the shrine(s?) that inspired Hikawa Shrine :).

  2. I want to go to Rei’s Temple like is that a real place? I want to go there, is really the only place in the Anime I’m just so drawn to, well that and the Moon Castle but you know that’s sorta impossible to go to.

  3. Totally the Crown Café, if it still exists up to this day and one of the parks… this is so cool!

  4. This was so interesting! My Japanese family lived in Minato-ku for several years and it was only recently I put it together that it’s where Sailor Moon took place, even after I visited years ago and passed a fountain that I recalled seeing in Sailor Moon. Made me so sad that they moved farther out from Central Tokyo after I made that realization haha but I’m living with them now so ill have to go back there sometime and look around some more 🙂

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