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
With concerns about rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Japan, new year visits to shrines (初詣 hatsumōde) have understandably been depressed. In some cases, shrines have minimized or cancelled formal new year events, though encouraged the public to consider a longer time window for individual visits to avoid crowding (hatsumōde usually happens over the first several days of the new year). Nevertheless, there were still more than a few stops at shrines that feature in or are adjacent to anime settings. Washinomiya Jinja has long been a favorite, but there are many to choose from.
Kuzuharaoka Jinja (Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture – Just Because!): tweet 1
Awashima Jinja (Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture – Love Live! Sunshine!!): tweet 1
Ose Jinja (Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture – Love Live! Sunshine!!): tweet 1
Zentokuji (Nanto, Toyama Prefecture – True Tears): tweet 1
Yuwaku Inari Jinja (Yuwaku, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture – Hanasaku Iroha): tweet 1
Kamo Jinja (Kyoto – Uchōten Kazoku): tweet 1
Kibitsu Jinja (Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture – Oshi ga Budōkan Ittekuretara Shinu): tweet 1
— 霜築 (@shimohayu1924) December 31, 2020
Catching the first sunrise of the new year (初日の出 hatsuhinode) from a favorite anime location requires a little more precision planning than a shrine visit, but many seichijunrei-sha do this as well. Haruhizaka has long had a small crowd, but while in the early days it was mostly just diehard Haruhi fans, recently locals and students from Nishinomiya Kita have joined in. The more the merrier.
Washinomiya Jinja (Kuki, Saitama Prefecture – Lucky Star): tweet 1
Nebukawa Station (Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture – Love Live!): tweet 1
Bonus sunset at Bentenjima Seaside Park (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture – Yuru Camp): tweet 1
Uchiura (Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture – Love Live! Sunshine!!): tweet 1,
Takehara coast (Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture – Tamayura): tweet 1
— いなずま (@thunder_cycle) January 1, 2021
Tamako character birthday
A fan-organized Tamako Market character birthday for Kitashirakawa Tamako hosted by Shin Keihan (しんけーはん @shinkeihan6350) was held December 31 in Demachi, Kyoto. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3
Contents tourism researcher Kawashima Tarō wrote a piece on the significance of shrines in seichijunrei and specifically the presence of “ita-ema” (痛絵馬)—votive tablets on which visitors have drawn illustrations of manga or anime characters. Shrines are considered as part of the seichi by default if appearing in a work, but may also be treated as such if fans have ascribed this designation through some other connection, such as proximity to a seichi or location of significance, or because a shrine shares a name with a character or story element. Recently, this has happened often with Kimetsu no Yaiba. Ita-ema first came to prominence at Washinomiya Jinja following the 2007 broadcast of Lucky Star. It is not known when or where the practice originated, but it is clear that fans were visiting shrines long before this, as early as 1992 to Azabu Hikawa Jinja for Sailor Moon. The amount of ita-ema at a location potentially gives an indication of how many seichijunrei fans are visiting. Some observers use the number and content on the ema for research. Media coverage: With News
Washinomiya Jinja ema
Since 2008, the year following the broadcast of Lucky Star, anime fan volunteers have taken on the work of disassembling and burning the previous year’s votive tablets (絵馬 ema) at Washinomiya Jinja (鷲宮神社) in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture. This year, volunteers noted fewer ema than usual, which they attribute to Covid-19, but noted many tablets included prayers for the return of Comiket or drawings of characters from Kimetsu no Yaiba. Media coverage: Saitama Shimbun
Anime location survey
Sony Life Insurance released the results of its 47 Prefecture Lifestyle Awareness Survey 2020 (47都道府県別 生活意識調査2020), which included a question asking respondents to name their favorite “local anime”—an anime work set in the prefecture where they currently reside. The survey collected responses from 100 people in each prefecture between the ages of 20 and 59. It’s important to note this is a survey of the general public, not just anime fans, and it is not asking about seichijunrei intention, just awareness. Still, the presence of classic series like Tenchi Muyō! and Slam Dunk, and multiple Kyoto Animation series beginning with Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! in 2012 and later, highlights conspicuous gaps in the annual Japanese Anime 88-Spots lists put out by the Anime Tourism Association. Media coverage: Anime Anime, Futabanet Manga Plus, Crunchyroll News, Anime News Network
Iwami Free! emigrant
NHK morning TV program Asaichi (あさイチ) featured a special report on Iwami, Tottori Prefecture and Free! seichijunrei, including interview with a fan who emigrated to Iwami from Kanagawa Prefecture.
Kimetsu no Yaiba “bottom-up” seichijunrei
Kawashima Tarō wrote a piece on the recent trend of Kimetsu no Yaiba fans designating real world locations as seichi due to shared names or other loose connections, not because they were used as models for the setting, which has been discussed previously. He notes the similarity between this and the Tōhō Project, and characterizes these as one type of “bottom-up” seichijunrei, along with the more prevalent real location based butaitanbou and seichijunrei. Even the first small scale collaboration between a local government and rights holder, with Washinomiya and Kadokawa following the 2007 broadcast of Lucky Star, still had its origin as fan-initiated bottom-up seichijunrei. This contrasts with “top-down” seichi, which began gradually during the 2010s and accelerated greatly in the past few years, where the anime production collaborates directly with local organizations and the setting location is announced in advance. Media coverage: With News
Tabayama Kimetsu no Yaiba tourism
Tabayama village (丹波山村), at the foot of Mount Kumotori on the Yamanashi Prefecture side, is considered to be the model for the birthplace of Kimetsu no Yaiba protagonists Kamado Tanjirō and Kamado Nezuko. The village is employing staff at tourism information center and rest area Michi-no-eki Tabayama to promote its connection to the series. Media coverage: Mainichi Shimbun
Majo Minarai wo Sagashite locations
Majo Minarai wo Sagashite is a film meant to mark the 20th anniversary of the Ojamajo Doremi children’s series, but features adult characters, more mature themes, and real world locations, including Kamakura, Gifu, Hida-Takayama, Shirakawa-gō, Kyoto and Nara. In the narrative, the journey by the cast is framed as seichijunrei to locations from earlier works in the series. Hida-Takayama and Shirakawa-gō have plans to use the film to drive tourism. Media coverage: Abema News, Chūnichi Shimbun
Kushiro Omoide no Marnie map
Kushiro General Promotion Bureau (釧路総合振興局) released a map of film locations in the area, including for Studio Ghibli’s Omoide no Marnie. Media coverage: Hokkaidō Shimbun
Ashikita Teibo collaboration
Ashikita, Kumamoto Prefecture is offering a Hōkago Teibō Nisshi clear file as a furusato nozei (ふるさと納税 hometown tax) gift for payments made after 2020 December 16. Hisatsu Orange Railway began running a train wrapped with characters from the series 2020 December 19. Media coverage: Official Twitter account, Mainichi Shimbun
Fujisawa Assault Lily collaboration
Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture is offering dolls of characters from Assault Lily as furusato nozei gifts for payments made after 2020 December 1 on a first-come, first-served basis. Enoshima and Fujisawa Station appeared in the anime adaptation Assault Lily Bouquet. Media coverage: Kanagawa Shimbun
Current Season Pilgrimage
@626shin made a pilgrimage to Koganei and Tokyo Dome City, Bunkyō Ward (both Tokyo Metropolis); Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture for Ochikobore Fruit Tart Episode 7/Episode 8, Episode 9, Episode 10, Episode 11 and Episode 12.