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 sacred site pilgrimage) and butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting)—on this website referred to collectively as anime pilgrimage—which are forms of place-based engagement induced by the use of real locations in show settings.
Media and General Interest
Tokyo Otaku Mode
This week, the seichijunrei community was all atwitter (e.g. here and here) over the discovery of a new website aimed at foreigners, that promotes anime pop culture tourism in Japan. Visit Japan is a subsection of the site Tokyo Otaku Mode. The site promotes a wide variety of pop culture products. The Visit Japan feature is divided into three sections: Seichijunrei, what otaku use to refer to manga and anime pilgrimages, as well as touring Akihabara and attending otaku special events.
(有頂天家族 Uchōten Kazoku)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@ye_bi_su made one final Kyoto pilgrimage for Episode 13, wrapping up a full season of incredibly detailed looks at the mishmash of historic world heritage sights and modern urban core that give the city its rich flavor. This fastidious attention to both the big picture and minutiae of the built environment that is common to anime pilgrimage (聖地巡礼 seichijunrei) is something I find endlessly fascinating. I hope that I can eventually understand it enough to bring the knowledge to bear in finding ways get the general population engaged with urban issues.
In the final episode, we get one last romp around the Kawaramachi area, the heart of Kyoto’s modern downtown. Here is looking west at Gion-Shijō Station (祇園四条駅) and Shijō Bridge (四条大橋) from Minami-za (南座).
Lanterns mark the entrance to Ponto-chō (先斗町)
Intersection of Shijō-dōri (四条通) and Kiyamachi-dōri (木屋町通)
Headed south on Kiyamachi-dōri
Toriyasa (鳥彌三), or Sansuiro as it’s called in the show
From Donguri Bridge (団栗橋)
Kiyamachi-dōri, to the south of Shijō Bridge
Intersection of Kiyamachi-dōri and Shijō Bridge
Intersection of Shijō-dōri and Kawaramachi-dōri (河原町通)
The front of Kyoto MARUI (京都マルイ)
Moving west along Shijō-dōri, toward Teramachi-dōri (寺町通)
Now at Shijō-dōri and Gokomachi-dōri (御幸町通)
Though I digested a steady stream of interesting urban spaces during the few months I lived in Tokyo, it was a brief visit to Kyoto, and this area specifically, that I think kick started my interest in and affection for shōtengai. Wandering the awnings and open store fronts that line many of the main streets in Kawaramachi, as well as the famous Teramachi Kyogoku Shōtengai (寺町京極商店街) and other shopping arcades, I sensed that I had discovered the case study that proved there were viable alternatives to my uninspiring, suburban/exurban American upbringing.
Kamo River (鴨川)
Demachi Bridge (出町橋)
(げんしけん 二代目 Genshiken Nidaime)
This season of Genshiken goes out with a bang. Normally limited to movement between the university in Hachiōji and either Akihabara or Tokyo Big Sight on the opposite side of the city, in this final episode the club plans a day trip to an historic site and hot spring town in Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県). The day begins with everyone meeting at Tachikawa Station (立川駅).
In a momentary bout of densha otaku mania, Sue jumps around the platform, photographing the wayfinding aids, clocks and other transit minutiae. Seriously, who does that?
Takeda Shrine (武田神社)
After finishing the afternoon at the shrine, they make their way to Isawa-onsen Station (石和温泉駅) to unwind at a hot spring ryokan. This is the largest hot spring town in Yamanashi Prefecture.
(ガッチャマンクラウズ Gatchaman Kurauzu)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
A call to arms goes out across GALAX, with users waiting for trains at Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) receiving and responding to the message.
I was stumped for a moment on this one, then I realized this is the very newly built section of Shibuya Station (渋谷駅) that connects the recently opened Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line with the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line at a new underground platform. Can’t say that the background art for Gatchaman Crowds wasn’t meticulously researched.
Wayward CROWDS are taken to task by helper CROWDS outside the east entrance to Shinjuku Station.
With Berg Katse safely contained, all is well in Tachikawa.
(境界の彼方 Kyōkai no Kanata)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
There was a good deal of chatter in anticipation of this show, along with preliminary pilgrimage activity starting as soon as the previews were released. Among the Fall 2013 crop, this looks to be at the top of pile for shows to watch for interesting locations and high quality background art. Right off the bat, we start with the main credits showing students using public transit and walking on the commute to school. The school and several other primary settings are located in Kashihara (橿原), Nara Prefecture.
Train-wise, we’re looking at several of the Kintetsu (近鉄) lines that serve Nara Prefecture.
Students cross one of several grade level railroad crossings (踏切 fumikiri) near Kashiharajingū-mae Station (橿原神宮前駅). The school is modeled on real life Seishin Gakuen Secondary School (聖心学園中等教育学校), nearby.
This shot isn’t far from that station, in Nara’s Saidaijikensha Ward (西大寺検車区). With most shows set in cities or relatively urbanized areas, Google Street View has made the work of planning, confirming and exploring anime locations a relatively low-risk affair. While Nara is mostly covered, Kashihara is almost entirely off the map—a true adventure.
This is Sanjo-dori (三条通), a main street near Nara Sation (奈良駅). There is a single, one way lane for traffic, but it is primarily a wide pedestrian street. The Mexican restaurant uses the Saizeriya (サイゼリヤ) here as it’s visual model.
Yamato-Saidaiji Station (大和西大寺駅)
Details on this location are still fuzzy. A few people have found it, but the information they’ve reported back isn’t helping to place it on a map.
Update 2013/10/08: The seichijunrei crowd on Twitter seems to be having a good laugh at my apparent confusion over what’s going on here. ^_^ What I think is happening is that the locations of some private, residential areas are not made explicit, out of consideration for the privacy of the people who live there. (When you try to do research in a language you only barely understand, it is easy to miss the subtleties. Fortunately, I seem to have acquired a small group of people who will diligently pounce on my mistakes—the best way to improve!)
In this shot of the park, you can see the strange sculpture used in the key visual.
Looking forward to this one.
(ゴールデンタイム Gōruden Taimu)
Entrance to Kitanomaru Park (北の丸公園)
The school itself uses Hosei University (法政大学), just down the street, as its model.
The Chūō Main Line (中央本線) skirts along the west edge of the campus, between the school and the sotobori (外濠), remains of what had been the Edo Castle moat.
Obligatory shot of not just Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower, but both!
Ichigaya Station (市ヶ谷駅)
P.A. Works’ (Tari Tari, RDG Red Data Girl, Uchōten Kazoku) offering for the fall season is an interesting twist, with settings both on land and above the water.
Hikari’s older sister operates a market in the city.
One thing that’s interesting in the underwater animation is that buoyancy is largely ignored. Generally, characters walk through the environment and conventions of land based, gravity dependent life, such as stairs and ramps, have just been moved underwater. Schools of passing fish are at times the only things that distinguish this environment from the other.
Post apocalyptic Tokyo. Coppelion, students genetically engineer to tolerate whatever now renders the old capital inhabitable, traverse the ruins in search of survivors.
Looks like a pachinko parlor.
This was once a shōtengai.
A Tokyo Metro station
This one could go either way in terms of interest among the pilgrimage clan. On the one hand, it’s a special challenge to pick out recognizable landmarks and neighborhoods that have been degraded to this extent. On the other hand, it is “just” Tokyo, and there are many interesting shows with unusual locations, competing for pop culture tourism this season. We shall wait and see!
(幻影ヲ駆ケル太陽 Gen’ei o Kakeru Taiyō)
In the season closer, just a few last glimpses of Nagasaki (長崎).
Nagasaki Electric Tramway (長崎電気軌道)
(とある科学の超電磁砲（レールガン） Toaru Kagaku no Rērugan)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@ngwrb made a pilgrimage to various locations around Tokyo Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture that appear in the series: Akihabara, Iogi, Kichijōji, Chūō University, Mukōgaoka-Yūen, Senshu University Ikuta campus, updates to a previous pilgrimage to Tama as well as a new one, and similar for Tachikawa (updated, new).
(たまゆら〜もあぐれっしぶ〜 Tamayura Mo Aguresshibu)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@ts_kobaya made a video pilgrimage to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku Gyoen, Sendagaya Station and a ride on the Yamanote Line for Makoto Shinkai’s Kotonoha no Niwa.
@ngwrb made a pilgrimage to Seiseki-Sakuragaoka in Tama, Tokyo Prefecture for Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya.