Table of Contents
Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, sees almost 2.4 million people using it every day. Now imagine it completely eerily empty. Set in the heart of the dystopian ghost town of Tokyo, Netflix’s Alice in Borderland is a science fiction eight-part thriller series. It stars a close-knit trio that finds themselves in an abandoned, empty Tokyo after a mysterious bang. To survive, they must take part in several deadly games that put their wits, strength, and emotions to the test.
After its premiere on December 10, 2020, Alice in Borderland took to Netflix’s box office charts in close to 40 territories. The series ranked in the top ten most-watched shows in Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Outside Asia, it has found top ten positions in Germany, France, Portugal, Austria, and Greece.
While we eagerly wait for Season 2 of Alice in Borderland to hit our screens, discover the filming locations of the series’ most famous scenes. See how you can venture through the empty Shibuya Crossing or test your wits in one of the show’s deadly survival games. Spoilers ahead!
Alice in Borderland’s origins
The hit series is based on the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Haro Aso. The manga first appeared in Shogakukan’s Shōnen Sunday S magazine and has grown in popularity. At its highest, 1.5 million copies of the manga had been in circulation. Find Alice in Borderland and many other manga comic books at Shosen Book Tower, a multi-level book shop for all anime and manga lovers.
Find Shosen Book Tower here: 1 Chome-11-1 Kanda Sakumacho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0025, Japan
Before the Netflix series, the manga’s first spin-off was a three-part original video animation (OVA). An OVA refers to Japanese animated films and series made specially for release in home video formats without prior showings on television or in theaters. These episodes were bundled together with limited editions of the manga.
Experiencing the series’ survival games
The nail-biting challenges and survival games featured in Alice in Borderland is not like anything you have seen before. From a deadly game of “Tag” where players have to run away from a killer to a twisted round of “Hide-and-Seek” where only one survives, Arisu and his friends push the limits of their physical and emotional boundaries to survive.
If you’d like to experience these games for yourself, minus the dangerous survivalist aspect, head to one of Tokyo’s many escape rooms. We recommend InSPYre, the city’s latest spy-themed escape room. Located in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho, this escape room adventure puts you in the shoes of a spy where you must infiltrate and escape. Try your hand at InSPYre’s mind-boggling riddles, immersively-themed rooms, and have a blast with your friends!
Relive the gripping thriller by visiting these filming locations in Japan. We let you in on the series’ secret of getting an empty Shibuya Crossing.
The world-famous Shibuya Crossing needs no introduction. Located just outside the bustling Shibuya Station, Shibuya Crossing is an iconic scramble intersection that sees over 3,000 pedestrians crossing each time. Each crossing sees a hive of activity — from the busy salaryman hustling to get to his next meeting to the curious tourist soaking in the crossing’s sheer scale, Shibuya Crossing is an unmissable destination when you visit Tokyo.
Alice in Borderland strips the busy intersection from all its life as Arisu and his friends come out onto a completely different Shibuya Crossing after a mysterious bang. The streets are dead quiet, and no life is to be seen or heard, a stark contrast to the otherwise busy and vibrant intersection. Curious to find out how the series did it? Read on to find out more!
Ashikaga Scramble City Studio
Step into Ashikaga Scramble City Studio, a sprawling 6,585 ㎡ replica of the popular Shibuya scramble intersection. That’s right, Alice in Borderland achieved the almost-impossible clearing out of the bustling Shibuya Crossing by using this film set located in Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture.
The production team built the public restroom of the Shibuya station, the ticket gate, and the road, and everything else was added using CGI. Who knows, the next onscreen scene you see of Shibuya Crossing might be filmed right here!
Toshimaen is one of Japan’s oldest family-friendly amusement parks, first opened in September 1926. Sadly, Toshimaen is now permanently closed to make way for a new Harry Potter theme park slated to open in 2023.
Alice in Borderland features the iconic merry-go-round of Toshimaen. Made in Germany in 1907, this wooden carousel was brought to the park a year later. This intricately designed work of art is just one of the over 30 rides in the amusement park. In addition to the carousel, the park also featured a 350-meter doughnut-shaped pool introduced in 1965, which was said to be the world’s first lazy river pool. Though Toshimaen is only shown in passing in Alice in Borderland, the nostalgic-filled theme park’s appearance in the series is a good reminder of the memories of Toshimaen.
Bask in the flashing neon lights of Kabukicho, Tokyo’s famous entertainment district known for its vibrant adult-orientated nightlife. Kabukicho sets the stage for some of the most death-defying and thrilling survival games.
Beyond the series, Kabukicho is Shinjuku’s red-light district previously known for its infamous reputation due to the many Yakuza-owned establishments in the area. While Kabukicho still retains some of its seedy past with host and hostess clubs and love hotels, the district is still well-loved by locals and tourists alike. Kabukicho features an eclectic collection of uniquely themed restaurants and bars located in the popular Golden Gai area. In addition, the unique Samurai Museum and Ninja Trick House are must-visits during the daytime. If you’d like to read more about Tokyo’s unique neighborhoods, read our guide on Tokyo’s coolest neighborhood, Shimokitazawa.
Alice in Borderland’s version of Odaiba is overrun with weeds and wild animals, setting the scene for the series’ gripping survival games. In reality, Odaiba is Tokyo’s high-tech futuristic entertainment island, best known for its life-sized 18-meter tall Gundam Statue.
Originally built from reclaimed land in the 1850s, the island served as an important defense post for the city of Tokyo. Today, this bustling entertainment island features some of Tokyo’s best attractions, including a replica of the Statue of Liberty, a 155-meter-tall Ferris wheel, and, as seen from Alice in Borderland, the Rainbow Bridge.
The colorful Rainbow Bridge features heavily in the series as a symbol of hope. Arisu and Usagi, a mountain climber who befriends Arisu, meet at the Tokyo Bay area overlooking the Rainbow Bridge. The bridge’s mesmerizing dancing colors often frame their discussion of survival strategies for the upcoming games.
Beyond the series, the Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans from northern Tokyo Bay between Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront development. Every night, the bridge lights up in a dance of red, white, and green lights powered by solar energy from the day. Catch this spectacle of lights and colors from the bay or walk across the bridge from Shibaura-futō Station.
If you’re traveling in the near future, check out our handy resource, The Ultimate Guide to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, to remain up-to-date with regulations around the world.