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.
(3月のライオン Sangatsu no Raion)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Shimada talks about his upbringing in a rural part of Tōhoku, where he had few same age peers and had to travel to the nearest town center just to find a shōgi venue beyond the retirees that first introduced him to the game. At the same time, when he began his periodic trips by overnight bus to attend tournaments, Tokyo seemed a distant and imposing place. What’s interesting is that stories of the hollowing out of smaller towns and villages across Japan as young people, sometimes reluctantly, seek opportunities elsewhere are something we now hear often, but Sangatsu is set roughly in the early 2000s, with an adult Shimada, so the situation he describes during his childhood would indicate awareness of these shifts goes back at least a couple of decades, if not more.
Tendō Station (天童駅) in Tendō, Yamagata Prefecture
Tokyo Station (東京駅)
As in Honey and Clover, the anime based on Umino’s earlier work, I’m really impressed by the amount of attention given to the details and atmosphere of rail travel here. The visuals are comprehensive, but the Foley work, which sounds like it includes on-location sound recordings, completes the immersion. It was actually the trip from Ueno to Sapporo by the Cassiopeia night train in Honey and Clover II that was my butaitanbou awakening, when it first clicked for me that I was seeing real places faithfully recreated in anime settings.
Tōkaidō Shinkansen (東海道新幹線)
Tokyo International Forum (東京国際フォーラム)
Lake Hamana (浜名湖), spanning Hamamatsu and Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture
Kyoto Station (京都駅)
Kiriyama, who has only traveled to Kyoto once, on a school trip, is unsure of the location of station exits. Shimada appears likely to have made this trip many times, and is familiar with the orientation of the station and connections to local transit options.
Kyoto Tower (京都タワー)
For the Kyoto chapter in this episode, I’ve noted all of the places that butaitanbou practitioners have identified or that I recognized off the top of my head, but there are still a few missing. Feel free to help us fill in the holes.
Sanjō Ōhashi (三条大橋), but the buildings are flipped about the east-west axis. What is in reality on the north side of Sanjō-dōri is now on the south.
Kyoto Hotel Okura (京都ホテルオークラ)
Jishō-ji (慈照寺), known commonly as Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺)
Ippōdō tea shop, main store (一保堂茶舗)
Shimogamo Jinja (下鴨神社), though this is a synthesis of several elements from different areas of the sprawling grounds
Probably kawayuka over the Kamo River, along the backside of Pontochō
Possible Pontochō or Gion
(小林さんちのメイドラゴン Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon)
Cursory depictions of Comiket in manga and anime are fairly commonplace, nods to shared experiences familiar to a portion of the fan base, so common that I often ignore them. However in this episode there appears to be a concerted effort to convey a deeper picture, including crowd behaviors and norms, as well as the sheer scale of the venue. Tōru stops several times over the course of the Comiket portion of the episode to interpret the social behaviors she observes.
Tōru makes a new acquaintance when her human form is mistaken as cosplay. She presses him to give an interpretation of the force that brings all of the participants together for Comiket. His take is that it is ephemeral, it only exists when people come together in this space, which makes it desirable. I think this may, in a way, be a discussion about ba (場), a nebulous confluence of ideas about physical meeting space and mutual understanding through shared interests. Over the years, as I’ve dug around for answers to similar questions when I spend time with butaitanbou-seichijunrei friends, I’ve always come back to the thought that, at its heart, anime tourism is about using an activity anchored on tangible places as a platform for shared experiences, discussion and understanding. I feel this myself when I participate, and it’s the force that keeps me coming back to it.
Comiket is mentioned as a formal collaborator in the ending credits for this episode.
Sakura Bridge (桜橋), spanning the Sumida River between Taitō and Sumida wards, Tokyo Metropolis
Meiji-za (明治座) in Nihonbashi-Hamachō, Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Media and General Interest
Asahi Shimbun published an article speculating whether Miyamizu Jinja in Hinokage, Miyazaki Prefecture (the only shrine with this name in Japan) provided inspiration for Kimi no Na wa. The film’s female lead is named Miyamizu Mitsuha. Several shrines in Gifu Prefecture have been identified as contributing some visual elements to the film setting, though there are still yet unknown details. The shrine in Hinokage does not appear to match up with any from the film.
animate Times published an article about a new line of Love Live! Sunshine!! figures released by Banpresto, each of which comes in packaging that features the figure photographed in locations relevant to that character in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, which was used as the model for the work’s setting.
Gifu Shimbun pusblished an article about the special award granted by Location Japan magazine under its 7th Location Japan Grand Prize to Hida, Gifu Prefecture, for the city’s proactive and welcoming response to the sudden influx of tourism induced by Kimi no Na wa.
Other Current Season Pilgrimage
@touyoko_com (post) and @anime_pq (post 1, post 2, post 3) made pilgrimages to multiple locations in Tokyo inner wards and Mount Dodaira in Ogawa, Saitama Prefecture for just released film Sword Art Online -Ordinal Scale-.