When most people think of Japan, they envision the bustling metropolis of Tokyo or the temple and shrine-filled Kyoto. However, as in any other country, there are large swaths of countryside between most major cities. The countryside, or inaka in Japanese, is where you go to get away from it all; or, if you’ve lived there your entire life, it’s where you want to get away from.
Given that the majority of Japan is covered in untouched nature, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous anime series set in the inaka. And, just as anime depictions of Tokyo are accurate representations of the city, anime depictions of the Japanese countryside convey the beauty found in these mostly preserved areas. As a result, I’d like to invite you to take a break from the concrete jungle and come relax in the inaka with these thirteen wonderful anime set in the beautiful Japanese countryside! They cover a wide range of genres, so we’re confident you’ll find something you enjoy.
13. True Tears
Shinichirou Nakagami was living the life that other boys his age could only dream of: living with prodigal student Hiromi Yuasa. Hiromi, on the other hand, has been depressed and cold at home since the death of her mother. While he is the object of his peers’ irrational jealousy, rumours begin to circulate when Shinichirou meets Noe Isurugi—a girl known for cursing classmates, curses that always come true.
Noe curses Shinichirou as well, but curses create two pits, and her curse on Shinichirou comes back to bite her in the form of a raccoon to her beloved chicken, Raigomaru. Despite this, she does not cry; Noe’s tears have been stolen. Noe would need the tears of another to be able to cry again, and Shinichirou knows someone whose tears he wishes to take away.
12. Flying Witch
In the witches’ tradition, when a practitioner reaches the age of 15, they must become self-sufficient and leave their home to study witchcraft. Makoto Kowata is one such apprentice witch who departs from her parents’ home in Yokohama in search of knowledge and training. They travel to Aomori, a region favoured by witches due to its abundance of nature and affinity with magic, with her companion Chito, a black cat familiar. They start their new life with Makoto’s second cousins, Kei Kuramoto and his younger sister Chinatsu.
While Makoto appears to be a typical adolescent, her whimsical and eccentric involvement with witchcraft sets her apart from others her age. Makoto’s peaceful everyday life is filled with the eccentricities of witchcraft that she shares with her friends and family, from her encounter with an anthropomorphic dog fortune teller to the peculiar magic training she receives from her older sister Akane.
11. Waiting in the Summer
Kaito Kirishima sees a blue light streaking across the sky while testing his camera on a bridge one summer night, only to be blown off the railing seconds later. Just as he is about to pass out, a hand reaches down to grab a hold of his own. Kaito wakes up the next morning dazed and confused, wondering how he ended up back in his own room with no apparent injuries or recollection of the night before. As Kaito goes about his normal school life, he and his friends discuss what to do with his camera, eventually deciding to make a film with it during their upcoming summer vacation.
Noticing Kaito’s interest in new upperclassmen Ichika Takatsuki, his friend Tetsurou Ishigaki invites her and her friend Remon Yamano to join them in their film project.
In what turns out to be one of the most entertaining and exciting summers of their lives, Kaito and his friends discover that their time spent together is about much more than making a film, and will force them to confront their true feelings and each other.
10. Kaze no You ni
Sanpei is a young beekeeper who is the sole survivor of a tragic accident that killed his entire family. Sanpei meets Chiyo, a girl who is stung by a bee and moves to her village to start a new life. Sanpei eventually cultivates the land that the villagers had abandoned, and then vanishes. Chiyo waits in the flower-filled land, hoping Sanpei will return.
9. Hanasaku Iroha
Ohana Matsumae is a boisterous adolescent who lives in Tokyo with her carefree single mother. Suddenly, her mother decides to flee with her new boyfriend from debt collectors, leaving the young girl to fend for herself in rural Japan, where her cold grandmother runs a small inn, in accordance with her mother’s “rely only on yourself” philosophy. Ohana is driven to adapt to the tranquil lifestyle of the countryside, and she faces and overcomes the challenges of working as a maid, as well as meeting and making friends with fascinating people at her new school and the inn.
8. Taisho Otome Fairytale
Pessimist by nature Tamahiko Shima lives alone in the Chiba mountains after losing use of his right hand in the same car accident that killed his mother. He has been forced into exile after his father and other wealthy relatives deemed him incapable; he spends his idle days reading and his sleepless nights with uncontrollable angst. Tamahiko is resigned to his new duty—stay in the mountains and wait for death to end his suffering—true to the Shimas’ famous pride and determined not to disgrace his family.
On one snowy night, however, Tamahiko’s sleep is broken by a knock at the door. He then meets Yuzuki Tachibana, a 14-year-old girl who announces that she has come to be his future wife! Tamahiko suddenly recalls his father promising to send him a bride to help him with day-to-day problems.
Despite the fact that she was sold as a bride to repay her family’s debts, Yuzuki demonstrates thoughtfulness, diligence, and devotion to Tamahiko. Will the world-weary adolescent be insensitive to the rare breeze of kindness she brings to his mundane existence?
7. Poco’s Udon World
Souta Tawara returns to his hometown of Kagawa, taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Though his parents are no longer present, his former home and family-owned udon restaurant serve as reminders of the times when his family was still together. Souta enters the udon restaurant, reminiscing about his childhood, and discovers a filthy young boy sleeping.
Souta initially dismisses the chance encounter and provides the boy with food and clothing. To his surprise, the boy suddenly sprouts a pair of furry ears and a tail! Souta soon discovers that the nameless boy is the rumoured shapeshifting tanuki who has been residing in Kagawa for many years. He decides to take in the boy and name him Poko because he believes he has been living a lonely life.
Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari follows the endearing relationship between Souta and Poko, and during their time together, Souta reflects on his own past, the place he left behind for the city, and his relationship with his father.
The neighbouring provinces of Shin-Ou and Tai-Kou have been at peace in Ryoza. Ryoza is ruled by Queen Shinou, and her most powerful general, Grand Duke Taikou, defends the kingdom with his army of powerful war-lizards known as the “Touda.” Despite the two regions’ long-standing alliance, rising tensions threaten to spark a bloody civil war.
Erin, a bright girl who spends her days watching her mother Soyon, the village’s head Touda doctor, works in Ake, a Tai-Kou village tasked with raising the Grand Duke’s army. A disastrous incident befalls the Grand Duke’s strongest Touda while under Soyon’s care, and the peace that Erin and her mother had been enjoying vanishes as Soyon is severely punished. Erin falls into a river and is swept towards Shin-Ou in a desperate attempt to save her mother.
Erin, unable to return home, must learn to live a new life with completely different people, all while searching for the truth about both beasts and humanity, with tensions between the two regions constantly rising.
5. Natsume’s Book of Friends
While most fifteen-year-old boys have secrets related to girls, Takashi Natsume has a peculiar and terrifying secret involving youkai: he has been chased by these spirits for as long as he can remember. Natsume soon discovers that his late grandmother Reiko left him the Yuujinchou, or “Book of Friends,” which contains the names of the spirits she possessed. The book, which is now in Natsume’s possession, gives Reiko’s grandson this power as well, which is why these enraged beings now haunt him in the hopes of gaining their freedom.
Natsume is looking for solace—a place where he belongs—after losing his parents and a loving home and constantly being pursued by hostile, merciless youkai. His only companion, however, is a self-proclaimed bodyguard named Madara. Madara, also known as Nyanko-sensei, is a mysterious, pint-sized feline spirit who has his own reasons for remaining with the boy.
Natsume Yuujinchou is an unconventional and supernatural slice-of-life series based on Yuki Midorikawa’s critically acclaimed manga that follows Natsume as he works with his infamous protector Madara to free the spirits bound by his grandmother’s contract.
4. My Neighbor Totoro
Tatsuo Kusakabe and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move to the countryside in 1950s Japan to be closer to their mother, who is hospitalised due to a long-term illness. Mei encounters a small, bunny-like creature in the yard one day as the girls become acquainted with rural life. As she pursues it through the forest, she encounters “Totoro,” a giant, mystical forest spirit whom she soon befriends. Soon after, Satsuki meets Totoro, and the two girls’ lives are suddenly filled with magical adventures in nature and fantastical creatures of the woods.
3. Non Non Biyori
To most, Asahigaoka appears to be typical, boring countryside; however, no day in this village can ever be considered colourless, thanks to five students of varying ages occupying the only class in the town’s only school. Renge Miyauchi, the youngest student, brings unadulterated wit, curiosity, and her trademark catchphrase, “Nyanpasu!” The Koshigaya siblings are the quiet ninth grader and elder brother Suguru, the diminutive eighth grader Komari, and the mischievous seventh grader Natsumi.
Hotaru Ichijou, a Tokyo-raised fifth grader who appears overdeveloped for her age and thus naturally holds an air of maturity, completes this lively and vibrant group of five classmates.
Non Non Biyori is based on Atto’s manga, which chronicles the not-so-normal daily lives of this group of friends as they engage in their own brand of fun and frolic, as well as playfully struggle with the realities of living in a rural area.
Seishuu Handa is a rising calligrapher who is young, handsome, talented, and, sadly, a narcissist. When a veteran calls his award-winning piece “unoriginal,” Seishuu loses his cool and suffers severe consequences.
Seishuu’s father exiles him to the Goto Islands, far from the comfortable Tokyo lifestyle the temperamental artist is accustomed to, as punishment and also to aid him in self-reflection.
Seishuu must now try to find new inspiration and develop his own unique art style in a rural setting—that is, if boisterous children (led by the rambunctious Naru Kotoishi), fujoshi middle schoolers, and energetic old men stop barging into his house! The newest member of the small and eccentric Goto community just wants to get some work done, but the islands are far from the peaceful countryside he expected. The arrogant calligrapher learns far more than he could have imagined thanks to his eccentric neighbours who are completely incapable of minding their own business.
1. Wolf Children
Hana, a dedicated college student, falls in love with a mysterious man who attends one of her classes despite the fact that he is not a student. He, too, is not truly human, it turns out. He transforms on a full moon night, revealing that he is the last werewolf alive. Despite this, Hana’s love endures, and the two eventually decide to start a family.
Hana gives birth to two healthy children, Ame, who is born during rain, and Yuki, who is born during snowfall, both of whom have the ability to transform into wolves, a trait inherited from their father.
All too soon, however, Hana’s life is shattered by the unexpected death of her lover, leaving her to raise a strange family entirely on her own. The stress of raising her wild-natured children in a densely populated city, all while keeping their identities hidden, leads to a decision to relocate to the countryside, where she hopes Ame and Yuki can live a life free of society’s judgments. Wolf Children is a heartwarming storey about the difficulties of being a single mother in today’s harsh world.
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