Welcome to this week’s review of notable instances of public transit use and urban design, as well as discussion of place identity and culture, through anime currently broadcast or screening in Japan and simulcast internationally via the web. This review also documents seichijunrei (聖地巡礼 holy land pilgrimage) and butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting), which are pop culture tourism and place-based engagement induced by the use of real locations in show settings.
Special Note: This issue combines two weeks into one post. We had a good time catching up with friends in Tokyo, did a little shopping at Nakano Broadway, then stopped in Hakodate on the way up to Sapporo for the snow festival. We even managed to catch a ride on the Snow Miku tram on our first try. While in Sapporo, I walked over to Hokkaido University one day for a meeting with Yamamura Takayoshi and Philip Seaton, the two preeminent researchers in contents tourism. We talked extensively about butaitanbou, community engagement and the recent trend of commercializing seichijunrei behavior by both rights holders and local tourism organizations, which potentially increases interest among casual tourists in the short term, but also introduces the risk of deterring the highly-engaged butaitanbou core which spearheads this behavior. I’ll write more on this after I have a chance to digest it a bit.
(小林さんちのメイドラゴン Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Koshigaya (越谷), Saitama Prefecture
Elementary school children with high visibility yellow hats walk to school on their morning commute.
After it is decided Kanna will attend the local school, the three set out on a trip chain around town to find and purchase all of the needed materials. The result is a survey of common retail business settings, beginning in the shōtengai.
The small, likely independently owned stationary shop in the arcade has the necessary supplies, but the shop is cramped and old fashioned, and per Kanna the stock isn’t “cute”.
Tōru is momentarily distracted by the thought of plucking quill feathers from birds at a pet shop outside the arcade.
A newer, spacious and brightly lit stationary store with contemporary offerings has everyone seeing stars.
The next stop is the big box shopping center co-located with the train station, modeled on the Koshigaya Twincity (越谷ツインシティ). This arrangement is common in suburban commuter cities and exurban towns in Japan. Twincity appears to be a one-off, not part of a group. Aeon is a prolific developer of this retail model, and has been criticized for depressing local businesses with its volume-price advantage, and environmental runoff issues and increased car use resulting from its large surface parking lots.
The last stop is the school designated store for purchasing uniforms. Shops like this often sell to a captive audience, thus have little reason to charge competitive prices vis a vis general and discount clothing, creating financial burden for some families.
On the first day, Tōru guides Kanna on the walk home, through a residential neighborhood in Higashi-Koshigaya 7-chōme (東越谷7丁目).
The “文” character on a green label on the utility pole marks a designated school walking route (通学路). Students commuting to school are expected to follow these routes, at first with help, later unassisted. The markings alert people living and driving along these routes to be aware of the presence of children, and also to take note if students deviate from the route, which can result in disciplinary action. This aspect of daily life for Japanese children is a result of both parents conditioning children to learn independence from an early age, and an implied social contract in which everyone in the community can be called on to provide help or guidance if needed.
Before long, Kanna is already walking home with a classmate instead of a supervising adult. This is another portion of the same walking route, also in Higashi-Koshigaya 7-chōme.
Higashi-Koshigaya Peony Park (東越谷ボタン公園) boasts eight types of tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa), about 150 trees in total, though no blossoms are depicted on the trees in the artwork. This is in Higashi-Koshigaya 2-chome (東越谷2丁目), but very close to the Higashi-Koshigaya 7-chōme Shīnoki Park, which appears in Episode 2 and again in Episode 5.
Conflict between different groups over use of the park ends up with dragons being called in to overpower the human contenders in a dodgeball challenge, to comedic effect. In China, where public parks are often used up to or over capacity for group activities, conflict over space can sometimes become heated and require police intervention.
Higashi-Nihonbashi (東日本橋), Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
This view is looking south from the pedestrian footbridge at the Higashi-Nihonbashi intersection (東日本橋交差点).
I still want Tōru’s Usagiyama Shōtengai bag.
Tōru spots Fafnir as she passes from the shōtengai, through the bus and taxi rotary toward the train station. This co-location of shōtengai and transit nodes creates bulwarks for walkable urban commons where activity is concentrated, allowing for the creation of civic space and increasing the probability of chance encounters like this.
On a subsequent trip, Tōru leads Fafnir on a walk from Higashi-Koshigayta back toward the center of town. They begin walking along the bank on the north side of Motoara River (元荒川).
Shin-Heiwa Bridge (新平和橋)
At the end of the bridge on the south side of the river is the beginning of a long, continuous overhead trellis with flowering vines that wraps around the corner, heads north past Koshigaya City Hall (越谷市役所) and continues for a considerable distance along the river. The two continue heading west into the city core.
Ogihara Dental Office (オギハラ歯科医院)
Once they pass the Saitama Resona Bank Koshigaya branch (埼玉りそな銀行越谷支店), they’ve almost reached the east side of Koshigaya Station. The densest concentration of commercial activity in Koshigaya is between the river and rail station, though there are smaller, secondary nodes surrounding adjacent stations on the Tōbu Skytree Line.
We still don’t known if the real estate office exists or not.
Higashi-Koshigaya 7-chōme Shīnoki Park (東越谷七丁目しいの木公園)
Takigyō (滝行) is a special meditation practice that involves prolonged standing under a waterfall in an effort to clear the mind of thought.
(3月のライオン Sangatsu no Raion)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@Roan_Inish reports that, though Rei reads out an address in Sendagi, he found no slope resembling this in that neighborhood, and suspects Shimada’s house is either fictional or pulled from some other location. But he did discover that Fudō-zaka (不動坂), just to the north in Tabata, has a set of stairs and old home that have some of the flavor of the scene depicted in the work.
Shinkawa (新川), Chūō Ward
Chūō Bridge (中央大橋)
Shogen River City shop (書原 リバシティ店) is an actual bookstore in Tsukuda (佃). Inish confirmed that they do indeed carry books on bird watching.
Tsukuda Bridge (佃大橋)
Chūō Bridge (中央大橋)
Tabata, Kita Ward inspired
Cafe used as third place
Kabuki-za (歌舞伎座) in Ginza, Chūō Ward
The manager talks with Yotaro about pressure to rebuild the theater, which is worn down and does not meet earthquake resistance codes. But he laments that, while it can be rebuilt with modern materials, the intangible qualities, created by accretion over decades of use and patrons’ emotional attachment to the space, would be lost. Similar can be said about attitudes toward architecture and urban development in general in Japan. Other than historic, protected sites like shrines and temples, there is a penchant for constant renewal which often results in demolition and rebuilding of building stock and entire commons in the name of modernization, but also destroys unique and irreplaceable spaces.
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (東京地下鉄銀座線)
Ueno Station (上野駅)
Media and General Interest
Tōyō Keizai Online published an article that looks at the local response in Hida, Gifu Prefecture to tourism induced by Kimi no Na wa., then goes on to examine how this has triggered a larger rethinking of tourism marketing strategy across the prefecture and led to a surge in cooperative arrangements with long-distance express bus operators.
Gifu Shimbun published an article about an exhibition at the Gifu Prefectural Library in Usa, Gifu City, featuring artwork from animated films featuring locations in the prefecture, including Kimi no Na wa., Koe no Katachi and Rudorufu to Ippaiattena.
Sponichi Annex published an article about ongoing efforts to leverage Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru to drive tourism and local activation in Kan’onji, Kagawa, including an exhibition of character panels, marketing posters and a special event featuring voice actors from the series. @lidges published a report with extensive photography of the marketing materials and event.
Kyoto Shimbun published an article about a symposium on seichijunrei for Hibike! Euphonium held at Kyoto Bunkyō University in Uji. One of the three presenting faculty members, Katayama Akihisa (片山明久 Academic profile, Twitter: @bsaku0214) is a friend of the butaitanbou community and frequent organizer of offline meetings in Uji. @ye_bi_su attended the symposium, relaying the high-level idea at the center of Katayama-sensei’s talk—seichijunrei as one of many varieties of people using hobby interests as a trigger to rediscover engaging with others in a public sphere:
— 夷（ゑびす）@ナルキッソスツーリング巡礼 (@ye_bi_su) February 12, 2017
Future Season Pilgrimage
Other Current Season Pilgrimage
@teo_imperial made a pilgrimage to (post 1) Takinogawa, Kita Ward; and (post 2) a cluster of locations between Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku Ward; and Mejirodai and Sekiguchi, Bunkyō Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for BanG Dream! Episode 1 and Episode 2.
@touyoko_com made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station in Koto Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for One Room Episode 5.