This is Sangenjaya •

With its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass, I was tempted to revisit Persona 5 Royal. I had literally devoured the “Vanilla” version of the JRPG when it was released and was very satisfied after just over 100 hours of gameplay. Of course, like so many others, it’s the varied gameplay, the well-written characters and gripping story that carried me through the massive game. But there was one little thing that fascinated me incredibly about Persona 5, and it fascinated me every time I played it—Session Made You Smile: The residential neighborhood where the title takes place. The main character of Persona 5 lives in Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo (Image source: Atlus) This area, called Yongen-Jaya in the game, is located in the southwest of Tokyo and consists of a set of alleys dense with several residential buildings, small shops and other amenities. And it’s an easy way to get me. I love alleys. The charm and romance of Yongen – coupled with the jazzy soundtrack – always covered me in a warm blanket of melancholy as the days in the game world of Persona 5 drew to a close.

Yongen-Jaya’s real name

During my visit to Japan in 2019, I spent just over a week in Tokyo. There I met a friend who had been living in the city for a year for research purposes. He too had already played Persona 5 and explained to me that Yongen-Jaya is not a fictional place. In real life, the area is called Sangenjaya. When he suggested I start a little personalized guided tour there, of course I was hooked. Sangenjaya photographed from the Carrot Tower in Tokyo (Photo material: Matthias Regge / Atlus) As already explained, Sangenjaya is a district of Tokyo. It’s to the southwest, under Shibuya, next to Meguro. The buildings in the neighborhood are quite old and low rise. This is mainly due to the fact that this district is criss-crossed by the alleys already mentioned, some of which only offer space for two people walking side by side. In Japan, the maximum height of a building is limited by the width of the adjacent streets. That’s why you always see the tall buildings on the main roads and highways. Due to its old buildings, Sangenjaya sometimes has an almost dilapidated appearance. However, this gives the residential area its own charm. If you’ve ever been to the shiny Japan of Shinjuku or Shibuya, you can lift the curtain here and get a glimpse of a world away from tourism. The alleys of Sangenjaya don’t offer much space (Artwork: Matthias Regge) Fans of Persona 5 can find a few places in Sangenjaya that they’ve also visited in the game. The biggest of course is Cafe LeBlanc, which functions as the protagonist’s home. However, you won’t find a cafe serving curry and coffee here in Sangenjaya. There used to be a bistro here, but it’s now permanently closed. Before the “LeBlanc” I had to drink a coffee. (Image material: Atlus/Matthias Regge) The Laundromat, where you clean your gear found in dungeons, also exists in the real world. Here it is exciting to see which locations have been transferred from Sangenjaya to Yongen-Jaya by the developers. In the meantime, the fact that this washing lane is frequently visited and photographed by Persona tourists has become a small problem. The rendering of the laundromat in Persona 5 is incredibly close to the original. (Photographic material: Atlus / Matthias Regge)

A glimpse of the “real” Tokyo

Persona 5 fans should definitely check out Sangenjaya. Even if it’s just to feel the game in real life. But the area is also exciting for a “regular” Japanese tourist. Because here one has the impression of a real residential district away from high-rise buildings and shops, which one will find if one stays more in the city center.

Related Articles

Back to top button