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
Mihama Chūnibyō seichijunrei
Chūnichi Shimbun ran an article about pilgrimages to Higashi-Mihama Station in Mihama, Fukui Prefecture from the first season of Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai!
Toyosato K-On! seichijunrei
Chūnichi Shimbun ran an article about perennial visits by anime fans to Toyosato Elementary School in Toyosato, Shiga Prefecture for K-On!
(中二病でも恋がしたい!戀 Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Chūnibyō generally sticks close to home, rarely venturing beyond Shiga Prefecture, with the occasional visit to the Wakasa Bay coast in nearby Fukui Prefecture. In an abrupt change of scenery, this week’s school trip takes us west to the island of Kyūshū (九州), with a few stops en route to the final destination of Kagoshima City (鹿児島市), Kagoshima Prefecture at the southern end. First, charter buses take the students from school to Kyoto Station (京都駅).
Rikka ensures that the shinkansen comes to a complete stop at the platform. The Sanyō Shinkansen (山陽新幹線) connects Shin-Osaka Station and Hakata Station in the north of Kyūshū, but since they board in Kyoto this is probably one of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen (東海道新幹線) Nozomi or Hikari services that begin in Tokyo and continue west all the way to Hakata on the Sanyō tracks.
Arita Porcelain Park (有田ポーセリンパーク) in Arita, Saga Prefecture
Though there are quite a few remnants of Yayoi settlements, this is the Yoshinogari site (吉野ヶ里 遺跡) in Saga Prefecture, one of the larger and more notable of these archaeological sites.
Sakurajima (桜島) is an active volcano that was once its own island in Kagoshima Prefecture, but lava flows now connect it to Kyūshū via the Ōsumi Peninsula.
Nakahara Bessou Onsen Hotel (温泉ホテル中原別荘) in Kagoshima City
Some cute use of forced perspective, with the camera angle looking up from the ground, to make it look as if Rikka and Yūta are holding back the volcano
(ウィザード・バリスターズ〜弁魔士セシル Wizādo Barisutāzu – Benmashi Seshiru)
This week’s episode revolves around a murder that takes place at a bowling alley supposedly in or near Akihabara (秋葉原).
Akihabara Denpa Kaikan (秋葉原電波会館) is one of several electronics components markets under and near the rail viaduct on the west side of Akihabara Station. Its neighbor, Akihabara Radio Center (秋葉原ラジオセンター), one of the biggest markets and an Akihabara landmark, permanently closed on 2013 November 30. I wrote about this market ecosystem in a photo essay of Akihabara.
Cecile and and Kamakiri work their way around Akihabara, interviewing potential witnesses in the defense of the accused.
The two sit down for a lunch of Hakata-style ramen at a park of food trucks.
The bowling alley exterior is a real place, though not in Akihabara. This is the Round1 Ikebukuro location.
Kamakiri gestures for Cecile to take the seat next to him in the priority seating area, reserved for individuals with physical disabilities or special needs.
Cecile is not amused.
This is Nezumizaka (鼠坂), “Rat Slope” in Kohinata, Bunkyō Ward.
Bicycle parking behind the bowling alley
A small scooter parking area behind Butterfly Law Offices, just off Ameya-Yokochō (アメヤ横丁)
The Google satellite photos aren’t clear enough to determine if this little terrace exists in the middle of the viaduct between the two directions of Yamanote Line and Keihin-Tōhoku Line tracks, but it would make for a train spotter’s heaven.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@R_ada_cchi examines the stone lanterns at Fushimi Inari Taisha that appear in the title cards before and after commercials, and made a pilgrimage (part 1 and 2) to Fushimi Inari Taisha and the residential neighborhood between the shrine and Fushimi-Inari Station for Episode 4.
Inari and Touka regularly use the grounds of Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) as a shortcut between their home and other parts of the neighborhood.
If the train is the Obama Line, the swimming beach would have to be somewhere on the Sea of Japan.
Meanwhile back in Kyoto…
Touka makes a stop at the Daily Yamazaki konbini directly opposite the outermost torii of the road that leads east to the shrine. Kyoto has shrines and temples of all shapes and sizes, and located everywhere from dense, modern, urban neighborhoods to secluded mountain ledges. Location-wise, Fushimi Inari Taisha straddles the two extremes. Its entrance and main grounds are tightly nestled among urban residential areas, but long paths lead up the mountain (also called Inari) to the inner shrine.
Sendai City Youth Cultural Center (仙台青年文化センター)
The show has firmly established Sen’ichi-ya (仙壱屋) as the preferred location for the Green Leaves management meetings after the meetings.
Sendai Station (仙台駅)
Sendai City Youth Cultural Center
Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)
Cafe Bijou (喫茶ビジュゥ)
Amakusa is approached by a talent scout in the famous scramble crossing in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo.
Her quick escalation from modeling to an idol career (which turns out to be a dream sequence) includes common examples of advertising media you’ll find in Tokyo and in cities around Japan.
Hanging banners in subway and train cars
The jumbotron that overlooks the Shibuya scramble crossing from the QFRONT building
Small billboards along sidewalks with high foot traffic
The second half of the episode is a separate, unrelated story that includes a discussion of personal safety and self-defense measures. They include not walking through areas that are unlit or have little pedestrian traffic late at night.
They also caution against going to the “bad” parts of town. This is illustrated with a scene meant to invoke Japan’s version of a seedy urban neighborhood, which would often have businesses like love hotels, massage parlors and soaplands.
This part of the episode would be a good jumping off point for a discussion of how media portrayals affect general perceptions of danger associated with cities. Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind Humans of New York, gave a TEDx talk about how the criteria that drive the selection of an attention getting story skew our perception of places to negative stereotypes such as drugs, crime and violence. He was talking specifically about news media, but we would probably find many parallels in fiction and pop culture, as well.
(世界征服 ～謀略のズヴィズダー～ Sekai Seifuku: Bōryaku no Zvezda)
If you look around the battle participants, you can notice a few interesting elements of this arterial road in Tachikawa. In the far distance there is an enclosed pedestrian bridge connecting two large buildings. Along the sides and in the center divider of the road, trees and shrubs are used as traffic calming measures.
Asuta, Komadori and other students walk to school on the morning commute.
The final confrontation of the episode takes place at a construction zone depicted adjacent to Tachikawa Station (立川駅).
Hiyori runs into friends while out running errands and looking for Yukine.
Yukine, Yato and Hiyori eventually come together in the single lane streets of a residential neighborhood.
The group disperses and flees an attack by Bishamonten. Yato leads her on a chase through a neighborhood shōtengai.
The Kishamichi Promenade is a 500-meter boardwalk created from a repurposed abandoned railroad track that connects Yokohama’s Nihonmaru Memorial Park and Shinko area.
Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery (横浜外国人墓地)
The second half of the episode includes views of Minato Mirai 21 (みなとみらい21) from the northeast, locations that would be built on reclaimed land or artificial islands in Tokyo Bay.
(銀の匙 Gin no Saji)
Episode 6 (Season 2)
Hachiken donates his change to the Tōhoku recovery efforts.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
The credits sequences hint at some level of interaction with the community, but this is the first scene in Minokamo (美濃加茂) that is set outside the school grounds and satellite fields.
Tanabata (七夕) festival
@626shin made a pilgrimage to Kumano and the former town of Kiinagashima (now absorbed into Kihoku) in Mie Prefecture for Nagi no Asukara, the second person to do so after the details of this elusive background model came to light through collaborative effort between several people in the butaitanbou community. Last week, @kai881 was the first to report back with a pilgrimage from Kumano and the former town of Kiinagashima (now absorbed into Kihoku). @sky_dj_ has a post of research in progress, which is awaiting future pilgrimage travel to complete.
@lidges made a pilgrimage to Yokohama for the advanced preview of Episode 1 of the two part OVA Zetsumetsu Kigu Shōjo: Amazing Twins, which will air widely on 2014 February 26 and 2014 June 2, respectively.