It had long been a desire of prolific butaitanbou-sha and Kagawa native Lidges (リジス @lidges) to have more anime pilgrims and scene hunters venture down to Shikoku in their travels. His wish came true this fall, as we descended on Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture for the Eleventh Butaitanbou Summit (第１１回舞台探訪サミットin観音寺), held on 2018 September 22. This is the annual all-hands meeting for the Butaitanbou-sha Community (舞台探訪者コミュニティ), or BTC, the highly engaged core of manga and anime-induced tourism in Japan. Kan’onji is the setting of Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru, and Sakaide, the setting of the series prequel Washio Sumi no Shō, is not far away.
Though I don’t plan to do formal Yūki Yūna pilgrimage on this trip, I arrive early in Kan’onji on the day of the meeting to get the flavor of things. That flavor is udon. Tsuruya is the shop where the hero club meets for a meal.
I hadn’t thought until too late to ask if others might be going but, sure enough, as I poke my head in the door there are four friends who have just started to dig in.
They give me a ride over to High Staff Hall, the meeting venue, where I look around before registration time. This nearly brand new event space includes several performance halls, though we’ll just be using a few conference rooms.
I use the little bit of remaining time for a short Yūki Yūna walk around the neighborhood.
And we’re off. This year’s meeting starts with a detailed look at the history of Yūki Yūna settings in the area, local marketing collaborations, and greetings from business operators and other local stakeholders.
Because the newcomer prize considers members that have joined the BTC during the previous 18 month period, it is technically possible though highly unlikely that the same person would win it twice. But as a testament to his hard work, enthusiasm and warm demeanor with everyone he meets, KEIHI (@keihi49) is once again awarded this distinction by his peers.
The grand prize also goes to the same person for the second consecutive year. Yoko (横 @touyoko_com) continues his kinetic pace of butaitanbou activity unabated, this year including both domestic and overseas locations, and sharing all of his findings with his customary generosity.
As winner of the previous year’s grand prize, Yoko is given the opportunity to recognize an individual BTC member’s efforts with a special award. He chooses RON (@RON_crmo0313) for his role as the standard bearer for publishing butaitanbou themed dōjinshi. RON has offered his expertise in self-publishing to fellow members and greatly influenced the practice within the community. The caliber of his work is evidenced by the Maizuru City library including one of his publications in its collection.
Each year, we also vote for the new manga and anime releases that we feel precipitated the best butaitanbou and travel experiences. Here is the top ten ranking:
10th: Just Because!
9th: Shinohayu (manga)
8th: Sakura Quest
7th: Eiga Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! Take On Me
6th: Ryūō no Oshigoto!
5th: Saki (manga)
4th: Tsuki ga Kirei
3rd: (tie) Sora Yorimo Tōi Basho / Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru
1st: Love Live! Sunshine!!
There’s no vote for the next summit venue as only one proposal had been submitted this year. We’ll reconvene 2019 September in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. It’s no secret this is the setting of Hibike! Euphonium, but less well known is that the venue, the Kameishiro ryokan, appears in Clannad After Story.
The main meeting concludes with self-introductions from newly joined members and non-member guests in attendance.
At the banquet I end up sitting next to Katayama Akihisa (片山明久 @bsaku0214), professor of sociology at Kyoto Bunkyō University. This is a great opportunity to redeem myself after I embarrassingly couldn’t stay awake for a late night presentation on parallels between tourism for Genji Mongatari and Hibike! Euphonium he gave the previous year. (If you have small children at home, you’re probably familiar with the up at 5am, pass out by 10pm time schedule.) Though it’s not his primary field, Katayama has published material on contents tourism and is a fixture at panel discussions and other Eupho themed events held in Uji. While contents tourism researchers who interface with anime tourism stakeholders generally take the stance of a neutral observer, Katayama is a deeply engaged friend of the BTC. Having one foot in each world gives him a unique perspective on what we do.
Perhaps the most famous presence at the entire summit is Choko (ちょこ) and her person Kazu (かず @choko_kazu). The playful Shiba Inu known as the Seichijunrei Dog (聖地巡礼犬) regularly accompanies him on anime pilgrimages. I’d followed their adventures on Twitter for years, but never happened to cross paths. I finally get to spend time with them at the end of the main meeting and the entire following day, as a group of us tour Kagawa, the origin of udon, in search of rustic, archetypal bowls of the stuff.
See you next year in Uji!