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
Everyone’s favorite Shiba Inu and seichijunrei companion Choko (ちょこ) has passed away due to natural causes. Whether meeting the friendly “seichijunrei dog” (聖地巡礼犬) and her human Kazu on their home turf in Kagawa Prefecture or on anime pilgrimage adventures farther afield, it was clear to anyone how much the two enjoyed spending time together. She will be missed tremendously. Condolences to Kazu and his family.
Golden Kamuy Ainu culture
Chiba University professor Nakagawa Hiroshi (中川裕), a researcher of Ainu language and supervisor for its usage in Golden Kamuy, wrote the preface to a reprint of a book on Ainu language and culture, Ainu to Kamigami no Monogatari (アイヌと神々の物語), by Shigeru Kayano (萱野茂). In the preface, Nakagawa credits Golden Kamuy, both the manga which began serialization in 2014 and anime adaptation in 2018, as one of several triggers for an unexpected surge of interest in Ainu culture and related travel to Hokkaidō. He mentions specifically the increase of visitors to culture related facilities and seichijunrei in the Nibutani (二風谷) district of Biratori (平取), and Shiraoi (白老). Nakagawa notes that, although Ainu culture is not the primary focus of Golden Kamuy, the works include Ainu characters in active roles, and the traditional world view and customs of Ainu are depicted in detail. Media coverage: Yamakei Online
Hida Kimi no Na wa. seichijunrei
Four years after the theatrical release of Kimi no Na wa., there is still a notable presence of seichijunrei travelers visiting the city. An employee at the city tourism division comments that some anime fans have become repeat visitor “Hida fans” as well. She notes anecdotes of local residents stopping to pick up tired visitors and transport them back into the city from the Ochiai bus stop, which is far from the center of town. She attributes this genuine kindness shown by local residents to visitors—a practice formalized in the “invitation” (呼び引き) of Furukawa Matsuri, where residents call out to strangers on the street to pull them into their homes for various social activities—as a reason for Hida’s success as an anime seichi. One visitor, a 19 year old man from outside Gifu Prefecture, ultimately moved to Hida in order to work as an employee in the city tax department. Media coverage: Gifu Shimbun
I can vouch personally for this kindness, as well. While waiting around for one of the infrequent trains to get from Ochiai back into town, I ended up standing in the middle of street, shooting the breeze for the better part of an hour with someone who lives in the little village in the mountain valley. I regret that I wasn’t able to stay longer.
Hamamatsu Yuru Camp location
Okuhamanako observation platform (奥浜名湖展望台), which overlooks Lake Hamana in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture and is a popular night view spot, is currently inaccessible due to its aging wooden structure. The location will soon appear in the second season of Yuru Camp, scheduled to premiere in 2021 January. Morihiro Ishizaka, the city’s director of tourism and brand promotion, indicated there is a plan to work with the prefectural government to redevelop the site, in addition to other measures Hamamatsu will take to capture the boost in visitor consumption it anticipates as a result of the inclusion of Lake Hamana and other locations in the series, such as developing original products and promoting use of local rail lines. Media coverage: Shizuoka Shimbun
Uji Eupho promotion budget
At its September regular meeting, the Uji city council proffered a draft supplemental budget proposal for 20 million yen of Hibike! Euphonium themed promotional activities, which would draw on national treasury funds meant for countering the impact of Covid-19 on local business communities. The proposal specifically allocates funds for an online wind ensemble festival and digital stamp rally. Media coverage: Kyoto Shimbun
Makinohara Dr. Stone location
Readers of the Dr. Stone manga have been making seichijunrei visits to the Sagara Oil Field (相良油田) in Makinohara, Shizuoka Prefecture after they appeared in volumes 10 and 11 in 2019. The fields were actively used from 1873 to 1955. The city has been using the manga in public relations campaigns, including setup of an exhibit at the Sagara Oil Field Museum that summarizes the manga scenes in which the fields appear. Media coverage: Shizuoka Shimbun, Shizuoka Shimbun (print evening edition front page)
Nishi Nippon Shimbun contributor Nakahara Take published a report from a seichijunrei trip to multiple locations in Kyūshū, emphasizing trains and rail stations that appear in works.
Hōnichi Lab published a brief analysis of popular anime pilgrimage locations in Japan among Taiwanese tourists, Taiwanese photo-oriented use of social media, and the impact of Covid-19 on this group. Unable to travel to Japan, Taiwanese have been searching for and traveling to local places that somewhat resemble specific pilgrimage locations, such as a railroad crossing similar to the one in Kamakura that appears in Slam Dunk.
Taiwan location comics
As part of the 2020 Golden Comic Awards (漫畫金像獎), Taiwan’s annual national award for comic arts, a special exhibition was held in Taipei on September 22 to 29 spotlighting comics with settings based on real locations in Taiwan. The intention was to use seichijunrei as a means to promote tourism in Taiwan and greater awareness of Taiwanese comics. Media coverage: Focus Taiwan
Saza Coffee Garupan collaboration
The Ōarai branch of Saza Coffee (サザコーヒー) became a pilgrimage spot after appearing in Girls & Panzer Gekijōban in 2015. The cafe sold Garupan collaboration goods including packaged coffee beans and, in response to many fan requests, recreated the Mont Blanc cake that appears in the film. At times, demand for the cake was so great that visitors would line up overnight to get one of the limited number made each day. Customer service at the physical store has been suspended due to Covid-19, but Saza began offering the beans and cake through e-commerce in July. Only 20 pieces of cake are available each day and have sold out within three minutes of opening of sales. Media coverage: MyNavi News
Windham Grand Awashima Love Live! promotion
Windham Grand Awashima in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture is offering a Love Live! Sunshine!! promotion featuring luxury rooms outfitted with Mari Ohara character goods, many of which are meant for guests to take home. There are multiple rooms available, including the VIP suite that was used as the model for Mari’s room in the series, which is a real bargain at only 179,300 JPY a night. Media coverage: SoraNews24, Hachimakikō