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
Jigen no Hashi Project
Shinano Mainichi Shimbun published an article about Jigen no Hashi Project (じげんの橋プロジェクト), a fan-led initiative in Chino, Nagano Prefecture that provides guidance on locations used in the Saki series and promotes local food businesses. The Project was formed in 2018 December in response to the dissolution of the Chino Tourism Association, which had offered seichijunrei tours.
Seichijunrei origins and development
Fuji News Network published an article, essentially an interview with contents tourism researcher Okamoto Takeshi (岡本健), exploring the origins and development of seichijunrei broadly, and recent growth in interest among foreign visitors specifically. The key point Okamoto makes is that though in Japan there is clear differentiation between traditional tourism and pop culture tourism, foreign tourists generally don’t make as strong a distinction. Thus there are opportunities to use one type as a trigger for interest in the other, and vice versa.
Contents Tourism Research
A revised edition of Contents Tourism Research (コンテンツツーリズム研究) by Okamoto Takeshi, originally published in 2015, will be released by Fukumura Shuppan on April 11.
AnimeJapan 2019 was held March 22-24 and included several anime tourism related booths and sales of collaboration goods from pilgrimage locations. Most notable was the highly visible presence of the Anime Tourism Association, a large Numazu map display of Love Live! Sunshine!! locations, and the announcement that the Kuki Chamber of Commerce has initiated a donation campaign to rebuild the collapsed torii at Washinomiya Jinja, a key Lucky Star pilgrimage image and emblem of seichijunrei broadly. Media coverage: Social Game Info, Anime Anime, IGN Japan
Chinese tourists and local culture
Buzzap published an article about interest among Chinese tourists in what are called “cold gates” (冷門), which in this context are locations away from heavily trafficked tourism routes that offer interesting local culture, using the case study of the Tamako Market, Uchōten Kazoku and K-On! settings and shōtengai in Demachi, Kyoto.
Chinese tourist seichijunrei
Nico Nico News published an article highlighting recent content on Chinese news platform Toutiao that explains the premise of anime and manga seichijunrei and notes its increasing popularity among Chinese tourists visiting Japan.