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.
Media and General Interest
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni fan event in Shirakawa-gō
A resident of historic village Shirakawa-gō in Gifu Precture organized an exchange event for fans of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, including a reenactment of the watanagashi (綿流し cotton drifting) scene from the series. Media coverage: Gifu Shimbun
Regional Contents Study Group
Kōbe Shimbun published an article introducing the Regional Contents Study Group (地域コンテンツ研究会), created in 2012 and chaired by professor Yokohama Yuji (横浜雄二) of Konan Women’s University. The group recognizes the tourism potential of seichijunrei, but looks beyond this to examine the relationships between creative works, areas and fans, framing activity in the wider context of regional attractiveness. The group recently published Regions x Anime: Development Through Contents Tourism (地域×アニメ：コンテンツツーリズムからの展開), an analysis of opportunities and challenges of creating or leveraging anime to drive activity in regional and rural areas, explained through the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, including the region, travelers and anime fans. Butaitanbou Archive curator and Butaitanbou Community member Ōishigen (おおいしげん @genoishi) is the lead author.
Anime Tourism Association white paper
Anime Tourism Association published Anime Tourism White Paper 2019 (アニメツーリズム白書2019). This edition includes anime tourism market analysis by contents tourism researcher Okamoto Takeshi (岡本健), as well as tourism case studies and an Association activity report based on events of 2018, and presents data provided by local governments for each of the locations selected for the 2019 edition of the Anime Seichi 88 list.
Yamamoto Yutaka interview
Cinemarche published an interview with director Yamamoto Yutaka (山本寛), in which he discusses the process of creating the story, characters and setting of just released film Hakubo. The film is set in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, which was intensely impacted by the nuclear accident in neighboring Ōkuma in 2011. As with Blossom and Wake Up, Girls!—the other two works in what Yamamoto calls the “Tōhoku triology”—Hakubo was created with the intention to draw attention to the hardships endured by victims of the 2011 March earthquake and tsunami, and support the recovery of affected areas. Yamamoto states clearly that precipitating seichijunrei was an explicit consideration in selecting locations while creating the setting, and he envisions fans traveling to Iwaki to purchase limited edition goods, shop in stores in the city, and patronize a local onsen.
Yamamoto’s statements reflect a broader shift in the anime industry toward commercialization of seichijunrei, in which it is considered as an input as early as the concept development phase, rather than something a local government and rights holder may react to and engage with after fans have voted with their feet. However noble the intention may be—and I think supporting Tōhoku is a wonderful cause—I find it somewhat worrisome when a creator unabashedly admits choices were made simply to drive transactions.
Location Tourism Council
Representatives from local governments, tourism-oriented businesses and filmmakers attended a meeting of the Location Tourism Council (ロケツーリズム協議会) on May 17 in Tokyo. The predecessor to this organization was created in 2008, and the current Council has been supported by the Japan Tourism Agency (観光庁), part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (国土交通省), since 2016. The Council brings together the goals of film commissions, which promote the use of local assets as film locations, and tourism promotion organizations which, not surprisingly, want to attract tourists. The aim of the Council is, by combining these, to increase the impact cascade of on-location filming and engineer long-term regional revitalization stemming from it, rather than a transient popularity boom. Though the Council is focused on live-action drama filming, awareness of anime seichijunrei is apparent. As Council members, representatives of Hida, Gifu Prefecture share their experiences with Kimi no Na wa. Media coverage: Chūnichi Shimbun
Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni tourism promotion
Nihon Keizai Shimbun published an article about a nonprofit organization in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture that aims to promote regional activation, and which has setup facilities to introduce locations from Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni to visiting tourists.
Gunma and Yama no Susume collaborations
Two locations in Gunma Prefecture launched official marketing collaborations with Yama no Susume. Maebashi City and Maebashi Tourism and Convention Association (前橋観光コンベンション協会) published a hiking guide map to Akagisan, which featured in season 3, episodes 8 and 9. The map cover uses the key visual from season 3, which depicts the summit of Akagisan Jizōdake. Shibukawa Ikaho Onsen Tourism Association (渋川伊香保温泉観光協会) also published a map, a guide to the hot spring town featured in the same two episodes, which includes frame captures from the anime set together with corresponding photographs from the actual locations. Media coverage: Tokyo Shimbun
Aobuta stamp rally and Sakurajima Mai ambassadorship in Fujisawa
The Shōnan Fujisawa Film Commission (湘南藤沢フィルム・コミッション) launched an official marketing collaboration surrounding the June 15 release of film Seishun Buta Yarō wa Yumemiru Shōjo no Yume o Minai, including a digital stamp rally using anime pilgrimage smartphone app Butaimeguri which will run from from June 1 to July 31 in Fujisawa, and a symbolic appointing of lead character Sakurajima Mai as the Film Comission’s 2019 Summer PR ambassador. Media coverage: Comic Natalie, Social Game Info, Anime Tourism Association
Saga Prefecture and Zombie Land Saga collaboration
The Saga Prefecture Tourism Federation (佐賀県観光連盟) will launch a comprehensive tourism marketing collaboration with Zombie Land Saga (press release 1, press release 2) beginning July 1, with certain parts of the campaign active until October. Trains wrapped with new illustrations featuring Franchouchou will run on the JR Karatsu Line from late July to the end of October. A stamp rally with stamps installed at 101 tourist facilities and shops, 97 more at lodging facilities, will be active from July 1 to September 30, and feature prizes that include original anime goods, lodging coupons and local products. The Karatsu City Museum of History and Folklore (formerly the Mitsubishi Joint Stock Company Karatsu Branch building)—a key location in the series that is not normally accessible to the public—will host special openings on July 26-28, August 18, September 15 and October 20. Media coverage: Netorabo, Comic Natalie, Saga Shimbun, Akiba Sōken, Nishi Nippon Shimbun
Future Season Pilgrimage
Current Season Pilgrimage
Past Season Pilgrimage
@yomikatajiyu made a pilgrimage (part 1, part 2) to Tokyo; Katsuragi, Wakayama Prefecture; Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture; Nagoya and Hida, Gifu Prefecture; Kita-Akita, Akita Prefecture for Kimi no Na wa.