Haruhi Suzumiya’s real-life school faces an uncertain future due to Japan’s declining population

Original Japanese text written by. Ryuki Ishii
Translated by. Marco Farinaccia

The school featured in the popular light novel, manga, and anime series Haruhi Suzumiya was modeled on real-life Japanese high school Nishinomiya Kita High, located in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture. But this real school may soon be consolidated into another school and cease to exist, Kobe Shimbun reports.

Sources state that due to the declining birth rate problem, Nishinomiya Kita High is expected to merge with another school located around two kilometers away in 2025. As for which of the two locations the new school will be based in, or whether an entirely new school will be built, that will be decided in discussions between both schools and the Hyogo Prefecture Board of Education. A formal plan will likely be announced before the end of the year. The continued existence of Haruhi Suzymiya’s anime pilgrimage site all depends on the location chosen for this new school.

Haruhi Suzumiya is a light novel series that began with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and has been adapted into manga, anime, and more. Following the 2006 anime adaption, Nishinomiya Kita High became a highly popular anime pilgrimage site and is visited by an abundance of fans. The school is the alma mater of series creator Nagaru Tanigawa and served as the basis for Haruhi Suzymiya’s North High, which possesses a nearly identical outer appearance.

Hanshin Electric Railway is currently holding a collaboration event in Nishinomiya city

However, its status as an anime pilgrimage location has at times caused trouble for the school, as some inconsiderate fans have trespassed onto schoolgrounds, and there have even been cases of someone writing “SOS” on the ground using a line marker in an attempt to imitate an episode from the anime. The school told Kobe Shimbun that fan visits have calmed down these days as quite a bit of time has passed since the anime was first broadcast.

In Japan, the birth rate continues to decline, as does the population. In 2021, the recorded rate representing the number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime was 1.30. This rate has continued to fall for six consecutive years, and the number of births is also at its lowest (report from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare PDF link).

In May of this year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported that as of October 2021, the estimated population of Japan stood at 125.5 million people, a decrease of 640,000 from the previous year’s estimate. This is the largest yearly decrease that the country has seen since 1951.

Data from the The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

The number of schools in Japan has also decreased in line with the birth rate. According to data from the The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, there were 4,897 high schools in 2018, down from the 5,511 recorded in 1989. The number of high school students also dropped from approximately 5.8 million to 3.4 million within this period (PDF link). Elementary and middle schools are also following this trend.

As the number of children shrinks, there are many schools that are beginning to merge. Hyogo’s board of education announced that there would be a total of 14 schools within the prefecture that will consolidate in 2025. Nishinomiya Kita High is just one of those schools.

It is still undecided whether the schoolgrounds of Nishinomiya Kita High will cease to exist, but as the birth rate in Japan worsens, we may see similar situations concerning other well-known anime and manga schools.