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 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

Haruhi dōjinshi event in Tokyo
Suzumiya Haruhi dōjinshi circles and fans gathered for Suzumiya Haruhi no Dōjinshi Sokubaikai (涼宮ハルヒの同人誌即売会)—a fan-organized exchange event and spot sale—on June 30 at the Ōta Ward Industrial Plaza PiO in Tokyo.

Butaitanbou-sha @keyboar and @nonki_tw offered pilgrimage focused volumes as participants at the sale.

Tobidashi in Toyosato
Line Travel published an article exploring the Shiga Prefecture origin of tobidashibōya (飛び出し坊や jumping out boy)—wooden cutout figures shaped and painted to resemble small children darting into traffic-bearing streets. Tobidashi first appeared in the 1950s as cars were introduced in Japan to warn drivers of points where visibility is impeded and extra caution is warranted. Though there are now many designs and tobidashi are found throughout Japan, the original design of a small boy with red sweater and yellow pants was created in Yōkaichi, now part of Higashi-Ōmi, and is still manufactured by a signboard company there.

Among the many variations in tobidashi types, the likenesses of anime characters are often found in pilgrimage locations for the series from which they are taken, typically hand-made by butaitanbou-sha or seichijunrei-sha fans and donated for installation at local businesses and public places. The article makes special note of the town of Toyosato, which neighbors Higashi-Ōmi, and is known for its unusually high density of tobidashi. These include archetypal examples, as well as many characters from K-On! associated with the series’ location model, the former Toyosato Elementary school, and even anime characters from other works.

Seichikaigi 26
Seichikaigi Issue 26 (聖地会議26) has been published, featuring an interview with Kanda Myōjin head priest Kishikawa Masanori (岸川雅範) and analysis from editor Kakizaki Shundō (柿崎俊道) of various efforts by the shrine to engage with anime pilgrims for Love Live!

Tenki no Ko and Toei marketing collaboration
The Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation will launch an official marketing collaboration campaign coinciding with the premiere of Tenki no Ko (Weathering with You), featuring tie-up posters and video appearing in trains, buses and in stations, and three wrapped buses running between Shibuya Station and Shimbashi Station, and a special website indicating where and when you can find all of these materials.

Clannad After Story and Aomori marketing collaboration
Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture based Otaku Bar Guild and NPO Nanohana Trust, along with Asakusabashi, Tokyo based Groove Garage, will organize an official marketing collaboration with Clannad After Story coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the original broadcast of the anime adaptation of the Visual Art’s/Key visual novel, featuring a location map and limited edition goods highlighting pilgrimage to rape blossom fields in Mutsu and neighboring Yokohama. (That’s a mouthful.) The campaign was originally scheduled to coincide with the flowering season, which is when most pilgrims and general tourists visit the area, but was pushed out to run from July 5 to August 4 “due to various reasons”. Media coverage: MyNavi News

Yama no Susume stamp rally in Hannō
Hannō, Saitama Prefecture will host a Yama no Susume stamp rally, scheduled to run from June 22 to August 28, featuring limited edition goods.

Sarazanmai tourism promotion in Taitō
The Taitō Ward Tourism Division released what it calls a “butaitanbou map” for Sarazanmai locations in Asakusa and Kappabashi, produced under the supervision of the anime production committee. A distribution launch event was held June 29 at the Sumida Park Riverside Gallery. @krissy297_ph attended the event, followed the course laid out by the map, and published a report that includes some wonderful photography.

I’ve gotten used to tourism-oriented bodies co-opting the term seichijunrei, conflating promoted tourism with fan-initiated pilgrimage. Seichijunrei originally referred to temple and shrine visits by religious pilgrims, but in contemporary usage, it can mean just about any kind of travel to a place of meaning for someone. Anime pilgrims are but one of many groups borrowing the word. Its use in a commercial context isn’t unanticipated. Butaitanbou, on the other hand, is a very specific term coined by scene hunters that gave rise to the subculture, for the purpose of differentiating what they do, searching for and traveling to locations without reference material, which until recently wasn’t widely available. An officially sanctioned printed pamphlet is about as far away as you can get from the ethos of butaitanbou, short of a commercial guided tour. As Krissy notes in her report, the Sarazanmai map is suitable as a guide for casual pilgrimage, but the level of detail is lower than what she covers in her own location hunts.

I don’t begrudge local governments and tourism promoters for wanting to tap into emerging growth of interest in seichijunrei outside of niche groups. Indeed, when done well, which generally means considering input from multiple stakeholders, including fans, engagement efforts can lead to meaningful exchanges between locals and visitors. But using the language of the subculture core in what is simply a tourism advertisement, makes me wonder if any of the people involved in the map’s creation have ever communicated with butaitanbou-sha.

Future Season Pilgrimage

@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage to Kabukichō, Nishi-Shinjuku and Tsukijimachi, Shinjuku Ward; Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward; Kishō Jinja in Kōenji-minami, Suginami Ward; Takada, Toshima Ward; and Tabata, Kita Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Tenki no Ko (Weathering with You) PV.

@touyoko_com updated a previous pilgrimage to Tokyo with additional PV and CM images from Tokyo Teleport Station in Aomi, Kōtō Ward; Odaiba Seaside Park in Daiba, Minato Ward; Shibuya scramble crossing in Shibuya Ward; Shinjuku Station east exit and Manboo Yasukuni-dōri shop in Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward for Tenki no Ko.

@Roan_Inish made a pilgrimage to Yoyogi, Nishi-Shinjuku and Kōenji-minami for Tenki no Ko PV.

Current Season Pilgrimage

@tianlangxing made a pilgrimage (updated post) to locations in Taitō and Sumida wards, Tokyo Metropolis for Sarazanmai through final Episode 11.

@Roan_Inish made a pilgrimage to Yokoami, Sumida Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Sarazanmai Episode 3.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@kimamanidance made a pilgrimage to Tokyo for Kimi no Na wa.

@mikehattsu made a pilgrimage (post 1, post 2, post 3) to Takayama, Gifu Prefecture for Hyōka.

@mikehattsu made a pilgrimage (post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5) to Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture for Hanasaku Iroha (TV and film).