Welcome to this week’s review of notable instances of transit, place and culture as rendered in anime currently broadcast in Japan and simulcast internationally via the web. For a detailed outline of the approach, please refer to the explanation in the inaugural issue.
2016 Fall Season Additional Notes
Fune o Amu (Zexcs) was a novel, then a live-action film, and now a broadcast anime series. The first episode features detailed artwork of Jinbōchō street scenes, and I appreciate the attempt to expand beyond cliched narrative with shows from the Noitamina block, so I’ll bring this one into the fold for review.
Girlish Number (Diomedéa) may be of interest, the first episode includes scenes from Akasaka, Daikanyama and Ebisu as well as transit use, but I won’t review week to week.
(響け！ユーフォニアム2 Hibike! Yūfoniamu 2)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Keihan Uji Line (京阪宇治線)
Reina and Kumiko both board at Keihan Uji Station each morning on their commute to school. These trips provide recurring opportunities to isolate the protagonists from the rest of the action while still maintaining a dynamic environment.
Yamashiro Sports Park (京都府立山城総合運動公園), also known as Taiyōgaoka (太陽が丘)
Most likely Ajirogi no michi (あじろぎの道)
Actpal Uji (アクトパル宇治) is an outdoor activity center operated by the city government. Lodging, camping and other accommodations and facilities can be reserved. The center appears to be very accommodating to anime pilgrims, allowing extensive photography of the indoor facilities. It is quite far from the center of Uji and not reachable by public transportation, so visitors looking to make a pilgrimage to this location will require a rental car or help of a friend.
Higashi Uji High School (京都府立東宇治高等学校)
Todō Senior High School (莵道高校)
(3月のライオン Sangatsu no Raion)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
View looking south from Shinkawa (新川), Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Tsukuda 2-chōme (佃2丁目)
Shinkawa and Tsukuda correspond approximately to the work’s Rokugatsu and Sangatsu, respectively.
Chūō Bridge (中央大橋) connects the two districts.
Rei hasn’t used it thus far, but the foreground bridge is the Minami-Takabashi (南高橋), the oldest iron truss bridge in Tokyo.
Takabashi (高橋) connects Shinkawa and Hatchōbori.
In this scene, Rei meditates on how he chooses his route to the shōgi hall, but there’s an error in the Crunchyroll subtitles. Sendagaya isn’t “one stop” from where he lives. He says ippon (一本), meaning he could ride one line without transfers, in this case the Toei Subway Ōedo Line (都営地下鉄大江戸線) from Tsukishima Station (月島駅) to Kokuritsu-Kyōgijō Station (国立競技場駅). But on match days, he prefers to walk to the closest JR station, which is Tokyo Station (東京駅), so that he can look at the river. He says he crosses various bridges along the route, though Takabashi is actually the only one he would encounter if taking a direct path.
After changing at Ochanomizu Station to the Chūō-Sōbu Line (中央・総武緩行線), he can watch the sotobori (外濠) as the train rolls along. Rei’s deliberate attention to both the natural and built environment is a mindfulness practice he uses to calm his mind before shōgi matches.
Rei’s meditation continues through the streets of Sendagaya (千駄ヶ谷).
Hatanomori Hachiman Jinja (鳩森八幡神社)
Japan Shōgi Association (日本将棋連盟)
Rei’s seniors coerce him into an evening of celebration in Ginza (銀座) after winning a match. Ginza, like other popular and high-profile Tokyo locations, is often dropped haphazardly into anime for its recognition value, but here it actually makes sense. The high-end shopping and entertainment district is within walking distance of Rei’s neighborhood.
Ginza Wakō Department Store (銀座和光)
Their venue is a hostess club, where female staff working on commission pretend to be more interested in you and what you have to say than they really are, with the goal to induce customers to buy as many drinks as possible. By law, nothing approaching prostitution is permitted within these clubs, though sexual overtones can certainly be present. Because the hostess Akari has a close relationship with Rei outside of the club and fills a maternal, protective role toward him, this scene is a lot more wholesome than it would be otherwise.
As Rei leaves his apartment for a grocery run, he again demonstrates a high level of awareness of the built environment around him, describing the warehouses and other buildings as he passes.
Rei claims there are no markets or bento shops on Rokugatsu/Shinkawa. As of the time of writing there are several, but perhaps these were not present at the time Umino researched the location, or this is simply a plot device to force Rei out of his isolation from time to time.
Rei smells smoke as he approaches Sangatsu/Tsukuda. He doesn’t realize the source at the time, but this is straw being burned for obon (お盆). On the first day of obon, straw is burned to create mukaebi (迎え火 welcoming fire) to guide spirits of the deceased back to their families, then again on the last day for okuribi (送り火) to send them off on the return journey to the afterlife.
Maruetsu Tsukuda shop (マルエツ佃店)
Straw for obon
A chance meeting with the Kawamoto sisters at the market changes Rei’s plans for the remainder of the day. Instead of cup noodles for a solitary dinner, he is invited once again to share a meal at the Kawamoto home. Obon stresses remembrance and honoring of the dead. For Rei and the sisters, who have all lost immediate family members, throughout the year but especially at this time, having the community of each other and a physical environment that facilitates these frequent interactions are precious things.
Tsukuda (small) Bridge (佃小橋)
(舟を編む Fune o Amu)
Jinbōchō (神保町), Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Jinbōchō was where I lived and attended graduate business school as an exchange student. Though I’ve visited many places in Japan, this is the only one in which I’ve had the sense of being “home”. It doesn’t boast anything particularly remarkable beyond its cluster of bookstores, but as it has special meaning to me, I’m interested to see the treatment given to it in this adaptation.
Update 2016/12/21: Shussei Inari Jinja (出世稲荷神社) in Hongō
(うどんの国の金色毛鞠 Udon no Kuni no Kin’iro Kemari)
Hayashimichi Station (林道駅)
Poco is perplexed by the fumikiri, inspecting the gearbox to determine if there is a creature inside operating the arm.
Riding the train evokes memories of Sōta’s upbringing in Takamatsu.
Back in the present, Sōta meditates on the passing scenery of fields, homes and trees as he and Poco approach the city center. Though Sōta left for Tokyo to pursue his career, the regional city remains a part of his place-identity and evokes strong feelings of fondness.
Takamatsu Tokiwachō Shōtengai (高松常磐町商店街)
Sanbiki no Kobuta (三びきの子ぶた) anchors the east entrance to the shōtengai.
Sōta’s imagined reunion with his first and unrequited love in a cosmopolitan setting clashes with the actual chance meeting in a shōtengai in Takamatsu.
(ユーリ!!! on ICE Yūri on Aisu)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
— スカイＤＪ (@sky_dj_) October 13, 2016
Karatsu (唐津), Saga Prefecture
Maizuru Bridge (舞鶴橋)
Iizuka Ice Palace (飯塚アイスパレス)
Karatsu Castle (唐津城)
Karatsu Station (唐津駅)
Kyōmachi Shōtengai (京町商店街)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Miyanomori (宮の森), Chūō Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaidō Prefecture
Media and General Interest
Toyo Keizai published an article about town revitalization (町おこし machi okoshi) through anime tourism. It discusses recent trends and includes several examples, but takes the position that factors leading to a successful outcome (from the town’s perspective) are too fluid and uncertain for meaningful control.
Nikkei Construction published an article analyzing settings and narrative elements of Kimi no Na wa. from the perspective of architecture and civil engineering.
NHK News Web published an article about pop culture tourism to Hida and Ōgaki, Gifu Prefectre for Kimi no Na wa. and Koe no Katachi, respectively. It goes on to discuss Kadowkawa’s efforts to create a promotional tour based on popular anime pilgrimage locations, the perspective of tourism agencies on anime-induced travel, and its alignment with the Cool Japan strategy to increase inbound tourism.
Mainichi Shimbun published an article about a planned special screening of Kimi no Na wa. at the Hida Cultural Exchange Center. Locations in Hida feature in the film setting, but the city no longer has an operating movie theater.
Chunichi Shimbun published an article about efforts by the Ōgaki Tourism Association to promote pop culture tourism for Koe no Katachi.
Sankei Shimbun (article) and Kahoku Shimbun (article) published stories about pop culture tourism to Maeda-Minami Station in Kita-akita, Akita Prefecture for Kimi no Na wa. The Akita Nairiku Line express trains normally pass this stop, but are temporarily adding a stop at Maeda-Minami until November 6 to induce more use by anime fans.
Gifu Shimbun published an article about pop culture tourism to Gifu Prefecture for Kimi no Na wa., Koe no Katachi, Hyōka and Rudorufu to Ippaiattena.