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
This year’s Hajisai (土師祭 official site) at Washinomiya Jinja in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture was held on September 3. The recent tradition of the Lucky Star mikoshi proceeding through the city alongside the others, as well as attendance and volunteer work by legions of anime fans, continues unabated at the tenth anniversary of the original broadcast of the anime adaptation. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5
Washinomiya Lucky Star seichijunrei
Japan Times published an article explaining the history of seichijunrei, using the case study of Lucky Star and Washinomiya, and including discussion of the Anime Tourism 88-Stop Pilgrimage. None of the information is new, but it’s notable that this much detail is presented in an English language article and is primarily based on an interview with Okamoto Takeshi, a leading researcher in anime tourism.
Seichijunrei awareness and habits
DeNA Travel released the results of an online survey it conducted on seichijunrei awareness and habits. Survey respondents ranged from minors to septuagenarians. Rankings include a broad range of anime and live action films and television series, domestic and overseas locations. Additional commentary by Netorabo (article).
Koe no Katachi mangaka
Chūnichi Shimbun published an article about an award given to Koe no Katachi creator Ōima Yoshitoki by the city of Ōgaki, Gifu Prefecture in recognition of her efforts to promote local culture through her work.
Nanto and Manoyama
Mainichi Shimbun published an article about the use of Nanto, Toyama Prefecture as a model for fictional Manoyama in Sakura Quest.
Anime Tourism Association
J-Cast News published an article collecting the range of reactions to the Anime Tourism Association’s Anime Tourism 88-Stop Pilgrimage, and includes non-specific explanations for why the final list deviated widely from web survey results.
(サクラクエスト Sakura Kuesuto)
A local craftsman builds a new mikoshi for the planned revival of Manoyama’s festival. In Japan, when you visit temples and shrines, even the large and historic ones, you often aren’t seeing the original structures. Wood decays over time, and in some cases is abruptly destroyed by fire or earthquakes. Mikoshi also fatigue after years of use. Periodically renewing these sites both maintains the traditions and craft of woodworking, and makes the sites a kind of living history
Cafe used as third place. Anji and the cafe regulars talk at length about career aspirations, and whether or how they can be realized in a small town like Manoyama.
When Erika develops a toothache and needs pain medicine late at night, a series of phone calls leads to the owner of the pharmacy in the shōtengai opening the shop after hours for Sanae and Yoshino. The owner isn’t bothered by being called into special service even though it’s only a minor emergency. In a subsequent discussion, Shiori points out that this level of service is something you can only find in a local shōtengai with small merchants.
When Anji goes missing, community members are quickly mobilized to assist in the search.
The cafe becomes a physical communication hub during the search.
Fortunately Anji is fine, discovered and brought to the closest kōban by Sandal. Kōban are small police substations embedded in communities.
The regulars try to persuade Erika that she can achieve her goals without leaving Manoyama, but they are still deaf to the reality that the declining town has become a place where children like her cannot imagine a future for themselves, causing her to breakdown and lash out.
The middle aged community members, at least this trio, understand for the first time that the hollowing out of the town has occurred in part on their watch, and that in order to change the direction of the trend they are obligated to “make this a town kids will want to live in”.
On a walk though town, the team considers the fate of the shōtengai, whether it will continue to fade away or if something should be done to interrupt the decline.
When I’m not writing about anime, I’m usually photographing and writing about shōtengai in Japan or things that function like shōtengai where I find them in other countries. I’m happy that Sakura Quest has turned back to the matter of its shutter shōtengai after this remained a side story for most of the series. P.A.Works president Horikawa has also been sharing interesting and relevant news articles about town revitalization throughout the broadcast, just this week tweeting an interesting piece about one strategy for turning around defunct shōtengai by filling empty spaces with cafes, lodging, izakaya, offices, daycares and other services. The catch with this approach, although it does bring back life of a sort, is that very few of the new generation of tenants are actually shops, so the street no longer really a shōtengai.
Shiori has the idea to install the traditional lanterns used in a local village along the shōtengai, so that the night view will appear less desolate even with the shutters closed. It’s a cosmetic measure, but it’s a start.
(ニューゲーム!! Nyū Gēmu!!)
Sun Street Kameido (サンストリート亀戸) in Kameido, Kōtō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis