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
Sazae-san Tokyo locations
Since 1974, the opening credits of Sazae-san have introduced locations from all over Japan. Beginning with the new sequence for the 2020 Spring season in April it features Tokyo landmarks for the first time in ten years. Classic postcard spots like Tokyo Station, Kaminarimon, and Yanaka Ginza (with obligatory sunset) are included alongside newcomers like Toyosu Market, the new National Stadium, and Takanawa Gateway Station. Media coverage: Sports Hōchi
Sen to Chihiro seichijunrei
Hōnichi Lab published an article looking back at the popularity of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away), which premiered 19 years ago on July 20, was shown in theaters in China for the first time in the past year, and was recently re-released in Japan along with several other Studio Ghibli films. The piece introduces three popular pilgrimage locations in Japan: Dōgo Onsen main building (道後溫泉本館) in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture; Kanaguya (金具屋) in Shibu Onsen (渋温泉), Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture; and the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (江戸東京たてもの園) in Koganei, Tokyo Metropolis. It briefly mentions Jiufen (九份) in New Taipei City, Taiwan, which is a popular destination among travelers broadly, including Japanese tourists.
Iwami minshuku and Free!
Asahi Shimbun published an article about Beach Inn Take-sō (ビーチインたけそう) in Iwami, Tottori Prefecture. This is a minshuku (family-operated lodging) run by Taketa Tomoichi (武田智一), who is also head of the Iwami Tourism Association (岩美町観光協会). Taketa talks about how fans visiting Iwami for Free! seichijunrei increased visitor traffic to the seaside town, particularly at times outside of the typical high season. He offers a reduced price “Free! Plan” for young customers traveling long distance to stay in Iwami. Over time, photographs and Free! paraphernalia left by guests accumulated into a display that takes up a good portion of a wall. Taketa describes how, through lengthy evening discussions with fans, he came to develop close relationships with many of them, even serving as a witness to a marriage registration. He credits Kyoto Animation for having created this opportunity for him to have the sense of feeling young again.
Shari Jinja and Tsurune
Shari Jinja (伺去神社) in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture features prominently in the setting of Kyoto Animation series Tsurune. Fans installed a pilgrimage exchange notebook at the shrine at the time of the original broadcast in 2019 October. Visitors left messages of grief and support for Kyoani following the 2019 July arson attack on the studio. In 2020 July, the shrine setup a display board to introduce its role in the setting of the series. Media coverage: Shinano Mainichi Shimbun
Kishō Jinja and Tenki no Ko
Kishō Jinja (気象神社), a small shrine on the grounds of Kōenji Hikawa Jinja (高円寺氷川神社) in Suginami Ward, Tokyo Metropolis, received a sudden influx of visitors after it appeared in the setting of Tenki no Ko in 2019 July. Its signature feature is its ema (votive tablets) shaped like geta (traditional wooden footwear). In response to the high foot traffic, 700 to 800 people a day on weekends at the zenith, what had originally been just one frame for hanging the geta was expanded to eight. Beyond individual visitors, the shrine receives corporate groups wishing to hold ceremonies for auspicious weather, but like many institutions has seen visitor numbers dwindle the past spring due to Covid-19. Nihon Keizai Shimbun
Tokoname Nakineko special screening
Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu (A Whisker Away) was diverted from a theatrical run planned for June to a Netflix streaming release due to Covid-19. An elementary school student in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, the setting of the film, sent a letter to the mayor expressing disappointment that the film could not be seen together with friends at a theater. Special screenings were then arranged for Tokoname elementary and junior high school students on August 1 and 2 at the Tokoname Civic Cultural Center (常滑市民文化会館). Staggered seating and mask wearing were required. On the first screening day, the mayor gave a greeting to the audience and met with the child who had sent the letter. Due to escalating Covid-19 precautions in Aichi Prefecture, general admission screenings scheduled for August 8 and 9 were cancelled. Media coverage: Animate Times
Tokoname Nakineko locations
Movie Walker Press published an article briefly introducing the Tokoname setting of Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu, with an accompanying video featuring scenes from the film compared with corresponding real locations.
Zonsaga bus departure ceremony
A “departure ceremony” was held at Saga City Hall Main Government Building on August 7 for the Franchouchou-gō (フランシュシュ号), the wrapped vehicle at the center of the marketing collaboration between the Saga City Transportation Bureau and Zombie Land Saga. The bus will operate in the city on Line 10, which passes near several locations used in the series, and will run from 2020 August 8 to 2021 December 31. In addition to the wrapping, the campaign will include in-vehicle announcements by voice actor Hondo Kaede as character Minamoto Sakura, and a limited run of commemorative tickets and clear files. Media coverage: Saga Shimbun, Saga Keizai Shimbun, Saga TV