Kyoto was the model for Zelda Breath of the Wild’s map

The Japanese signature of Kyoto is scattered throughout the kingdom of Hyrule

If you’ve already stepped on the plains of the magnificent Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’ll agree with us when we say that the art direction is truly remarkable. Especially the life given to the wilderness surrounding us. And now, we understand better why it is all so bewitching, thanks to an interview given by The Verge to Hidemaro Fujibayashi (Game Director) and Satoru Takizawa (Art director) of the Nintendo teams behind the game.

In it, we learn that the Japanese city of Kyoto – where Nintendo headquarters are – was the main inspiration to create the Hyrule as we know it in Breath of the Wild. The ancient capital of Japan is full of gardens, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. Which plays indeed a major part in the landscapes of the game. But it also helped them map the distances between important points in Hyrule.

“When I first started looking at this game, I had Link in an empty game field and I would just walk around and try to map out and get a feel for the distance and where landmarks should be. What helped me with this was my hometown, Kyoto. I took a map of Kyoto and overlaid it on the game world, and I tried to imagine going to places that I know in Kyoto. I’d think ‘It takes this much time to get from point A to point B, so how does that translate to the game?’ And that’s how we started mapping out the world in Breath of the Wild.

When we were talking to the staff and saying, for example, the distance from this point to the next tower is just like the distance from these points in Kyoto, it made the conversation go a lot smoother and faster. Whether it’s walking to a certain place or riding my motorcycle or driving a car, I’ve done those things in real life in Kyoto, so I know about how much time it will take.” – Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Game Director


“One thing that made it really easy is that there are so many tourist spots in Kyoto. You have all of these famous temples and shrines and whatnot. If I’m going from famous spot A to famous spot B and it takes me this long, it made it really easy to envision how that would translate to the game map.” – Satoru Takizawa, Art director



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