As I mentioned in my previous post, Day 33 was very unique as we were going to go to a place where no grown men with balls would go to unless they were tasered and brought against their will. Luckily J.C. and I couldn’t care less (can’t say the same about Brownie though). Ladies and gentlemen, we were going to the K-on! school! Well…more specifically we were going to Toyosato, home of the school that inspired the school setting in the K-on! anime series.
For those who do not know, K-on! is one of the most popular anime series in Japan from 2009 to 2011. It featured a group of four high school girls who reformed the “light-music” club…just so that they can spend their days drinking tea and eating cake, talking about nothing, and being cute just for the sake of being cute. Oh yeah, it also features a teacher who has a screw loose in her head, and Azu’nyan’ (the fifth member of the group that joined in its second year). The series does not fall to the level of having flower petals mysteriously falling from nowhere, but there is enough fluffiness to make a billion woolen sweaters.
THE POINT OF NO RETURN
The moment we got off the train in Toyosato, we knew that there was no turning back. Right away we saw a large amount of fliers advertising events such as birthday parties for the K-on! characters at the school on the windows of many shops in the area. There were also a number of street markings featuring the K-on! characters. It was time to shed away our manly spirits, and become fan-boys for the next few hours.
THE SCHOOL EXTERIOR
The K-on! school was based off the old Toyosato elementary school, which has since been converted to a library. The exterior of the old elementary school was definitely reminiscent of the main school building from the K-on! anime series. There was also a statue of a man who I presumed was either the founder or the principle of the school. It was very similar to that from the K-on! series too.
THE HALLWAYS AND STAIRWELLS
We entered the school building, and slowly walked along its hallways. It was a strange feeling exploring the school, as I slowly recalled the many scenes from the anime series that took place in these locations. A lot of detail was captured in the series, such as the yellow semicircle around doors, the rabbit sculpture on the stair railings, the arrangement of windows, and much more. Even the green frog statue that Yui kept on displaying outside the clubroom to try and recruit more students to join the club was there (probably left there by a fan)!
THE CLUB ROOM
We entered the door right next to the green frog and stepped into the “club room”. It was almost as if we had stepped straight into the anime series itself. Majority of the scenes in the anime series were based in this room, as the girls would often sit at the group of tables at the back and have tea and snacks. Some visitors had left an array of wax food models and tea cups to bring the atmosphere to life.
The blackboard in the club room was full of messages from fans and visitors alike. Just shows how popular this place has become. No doubt that tourism in Toyosato has increased significantly since the release of the anime series. There was a corner with figurines of the characters and other small items.
Die-hard fans have left hilarious homages to the series lying about the room. This included a tank with a small toy turtle in it (representing Ton-chan, the turtle mascot of the second season of the series), and a model of Azusa’s tea cup.
One of the stranger homages that Brownie had no idea what it was about was an electric fan sitting in a corner with a triangular headband on it (usually worn by the deceased). This was a homage to an episode in the second season where Ritsu hogged the fan to herself and turned it on max, causing the fan to break and the blade to go flying around the room, almost decapitating Ritsu in the process.
There was a small hallway connecting the club room to an adjacent room. In there, there was a clothes rack featuring many cosplay outfits. This was a homage to that owned by Sawako, the club’s advisor and home-room teacher of the four original band members’ final year at school in the anime series, as she likes dressing the girls up (particularly Mio and Azusa) in these outfits.
THE STORAGE ROOM
Finally, the adjacent room featured a small stage at one end, and storage of musical instruments at the other. This room was featured in several episodes of the anime series. Most notably, the tea party for Mio’s fanclub was held in this room in the second season.
After exploring for a while longer, we headed down to the public library on the ground floor (the real library, not the one from the anime). We spent a surprising amount of time here just looking through several books in the library. The new Toyosato Elementary school lies just across the courtyard from the old school building, and can be viewed from the library. Just as we were heading back to the train station, we noticed another building to the right that appeared to resemble the library from the anime series. We entered that building and were greeted with a collection of goods from the anime series. This ranged from showcasing models of the guitars used in the anime series, figurines and cardboard cut-outs of the main girls, and a collection of cards sent by fans.
There was also a shop selling some goods from the anime series, such as ton-chan shaped red bean buns, plagues with designs of the main characters, and also a bowl with a very familiar pattern…
BACK TO THE TRAIN STATION
As we were heading out, we came across some girls cosplaying as characters from the anime series. J.C. and I were half-tempted to go stalk these girls, but Brownie got completely freaked out by the cosplaying that he demanded we return back to the train station! J.C. and I had explored enough anyway, so we headed back. Unfortunately we completely missed the school hall in the process, and just missed the train, but we had heaps of fun nonetheless!
Safe to say that this side trip we took is not for everyone, especially for those who are not familiar with K-on! But for those who are, I highly recommend taking some time out of your schedule and come visit, especially if you are on the JR pass so that majority of your train costs are covered. There is nothing more special than wandering around a location you have seen many times in series which you love, and being right there in person makes it that much more meaningful. I wasn’t a huge fan of the series prior to the trip (though I have seen all the episodes), but now that I have visited the school, it has climbed up my favourites list quite significantly. Anyways, I will end this post with Azunyan…just cause I can:)