The Legend of Zelda is one of gaming’s most iconic franchises. Nintendo has been developing entries since 1986, with Link’s silhouette, the Tri-Force, and dungeons being instantly recognizable.
The series’ high fantasy setting gives off vibes of Dungeon & Dragons and Arthurian legend, but the main inspiration was creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s childhood explorations.
Miyamoto was born in Sonobe, Kyoto. The small town is nestled in the Funai District and is surrounding by rolling hills, forests, and ancient shrines.
In an interview with NPR, Miyamoto recalled spending his youth playing in the rice paddies and exploring his hometown’s hillsides.
However, a hiking trip to the Rokkou mountain range planted the seeds of inspiration.
Miyamoto said, “We had gone on this hiking trip and climbed up the mountain, and I was so amazed – it was the first time I had ever experienced hiking up this mountain and seeing this big lake at the top.”
Miyamoto’s other childhood memories include exploring a cave near a forest, wandering through rural villages, and visiting secluded lakes. All of these moments would be incorporated into The Legend of Zelda.
Miyamoto has called the franchise a “miniature garden” for gamers to explore, and it’s thanks to his childhood town of Sonobe.