Fruits Basket フルーツバスケット

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

Agata Matsuri
Hibike! Euphonium fans journeyed to Uji, Kyoto Prefecture on June 5 for Agata Matsuri (県祭 or 縣祭), which was depicted in the first season of the series. Since 2016, each year the city has coordinated with Kyoto Animation to create a unique character panel that is displayed at Daikichiyama for several days surrounding the festival. Media coverage: Kyoto Shimbun, Rakutai Shimbun 1, Rakutai Shimbun 2

On the day of the festival, the panel begins the day at the Daikichiyama observation platform.

At 4:00pm, the panel moves down to the mountain trail head, where it stays until 9:00pm.

This year, the Eupho fan interest support group operated out of Kyoto Bunkyō University (Uji) operated a cafe and rest area.

Though there is plenty going on during the day, the actual festival procession happens near midnight, when the street lamps are shut off, shrouding the city in darkness. Businesses and homes are expected to darken their lights as the procession passes. Some Eupho fans like to observe from the Daikichiyama perch, while others get right up close to the unusual nighttime ceremony.

This is the ritual Bonten Togyo (梵天渡御), in which the mikoshi (portable shrine) Bonten is carried through parts of the city between shrines.

Tatebayashi Yorimoi-Edo map mashup
@kochizufan published an article about exploring Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture simultaneously through Sora yori mo Tōi Basho pilgrimage and historical maps from the Edo period. Both the Yorimoi and Edo maps are part of Buratto Tatebayashi (ぷらっと館林), a GPS-enabled smartphone app created by the city tourism department. Tatebayashi was once a castle town, and though the castle and its moat are no longer extant, the map allows explorers to pinpoint where these and other features would have been using modern landmarks. Some man-made features, such as shrines, still exist. Kochizufan walks through the city, pointing out the historical places that correspond to Yorimoi pilgrimage locations.

This is a example of what some observers have dubbed metatourism (メタ観光), though I personally hesitate to describe an activity of this depth and engagement intensity as tourism. But the general idea of metatourism is that travelers can attribute multiple layers of meaning to physical places in a variety of ways. Contents tourism, specifically that involving games, films and animation, is a very active layer within metatourism, but is part of a wider scope that also includes geographical and historical filters. The act of tagging locations through social media platforms—or in this case, a bespoke application—with photos, coordinates and information specific to the filter creates metadata. Potential tourists can use that metadata to create travel itineraries, and visitors can access it in real time and on the spot using smartphones, allowing them to simultaneously experience real and virtual content on their journeys.

Haruhi Tanabata cookies
Each summer, Nishinomiya bakery Chez Inoue sells a seasonal run of cookies shaped and iced as the orange, panda adorned t-shirt Haruhi wears on Tanabata evening in the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu. The 2019 cookies are now available, and can be picked up in store, reserved or shipped until the end of August.

The modest but meaningful efforts by local businesses to engage with Haruhi anime pilgrims, such as the cookies, hosting exchange notebooks and tobidashi, or humoring both planned and impromptu otaku gatherings (not to mention melon cream soda on the secret menu) at Cafe Dream, long predate the organized, polished and relatively well-funded commercial promotion of anime tourism that is now becoming ubiquitous. It has been my observation that butaitanbou-sha and seichijunrei-sha consider legacy efforts like these in Nishinomiya and elsewhere to be more genuine and heartfelt than most contemporary tie-in promotions.

Current Season Pilgrimage

@Roan_Inish (post) and @tianlangxing (updated post) made pilgrimages to Asakusa, Taitō Ward; Hinode Pier and Takeshiba Pier in Kaigan, Minato Ward, including shots aboard and from the Tokyo Cruise waterbus (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Sarazanmai Episode 9.

@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage to (new post) Shinjuku 3-chōme, Shinjuku Ward for Fruits Basket (2019) Episode 9; and (updated post) Denenchōfu, Ōta Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Episode 10.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@hiro_senritu made a pilgrimage to Taketomijima and Ishigakijima, Okinawa Prefecture for Gekijōban Non Non Biyori Vacation.

@kimamanidance made a pilgrimage (post 1, post 2) to Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture for Yurucamp.

@626shin made a pilgrimage to Actpal Uji in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture for Hibike! Euphonium.

@rica0867 made a pilgrimage to Takayama, Gifu Prefecture for Hyōka.

@mikehattsu made a pilgrimage (post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6, post 7) to Kyoto for K-On!