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
Minobu Yuru Camp events
Yuru Camp fans gathered at former Shimobe elementary and junior high schools in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture on March 13 and 14 for an overnight camping meetup organized by the Gojōgaoka Activation Promotion Council (五条ヶ丘活性化推進協議会). Photos: tweet 1
Kuonji (久遠寺) in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture held a second Shima Rin themed traffic safety prayer ceremony (ゆるキャン△ 身延山久遠寺で志摩リンの愛車仕様のバイクと一緒に安全祈願会) on March 14. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5
Pop culture webinar
Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth will host online discussion panel Japanese Pop Culture’s Response to COVID-19 on March 18 at 7:00 pm US Central Daylight Time (March 19 9:00 am JST). Roland Kelts plans to include topics under virtual tourism and anime tourism in his portion of the talk. Media coverage: Fort Worth Magazine
Kan’onji Yuyuyu dōjinshi event
Yusha-bū Kokoroe 15 (勇者部心得、じゅうごーっ！), the latest installment of Yūsha-bu Mankai (勇者部満開)—a Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru fan-organized exchange event and dōjinshi spot sale—will be held March 20 at High Staff Hall in Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture.
Kesennuma WUG ryokan
Ōnabeya (大鍋屋) is a ryokan in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture that was heavily damaged when much of the city was wiped out by the tsunami in 2011, but resumed operation four months after the disaster, later appearing in extended scenes of Wake Up! Girls in 2014. Ōnabeya representative Kumagai Hironori (熊谷浩典) gave an interview in which he described discovering that the inn had been used in the series, which accounted for the then recent unexplained increase in young male guests, and the support of WUG fans over the years of recovery through their patronage and messages of encouragement left in the pilgrimage exchange notebook. Ōnabeya was also impacted by the evaporation of revenue resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and launched a crowdfunding campaign offering tickets for discounted future stays, some of which were purchased by WUG fans. Kumagai comments that he was “able to create a non-transient relationship with people who care about the ryokan because of the anime.” Media coverage: Sankei Shimbun
Washinomiya Jinja torii rebuilding
Washinomiya Jinja (鷲宮神社) plans to complete reconstruction of its torii by the end of 2021, in time for hatsumōde. The historic gate, which collapsed in 2018 August, is an iconic location used in Lucky Star. Media coverage: Saitama Shimbun
Tajimi Yakumo promotion
Gifu Shimbun has taken a lead from the Yakunara Mug Cup Mo production and Tajimi mayor in forcefully promoting the idea that, because the Yakumo comic and upcoming anime have been put out into the world, that Tajimi becomes a seichi as a matter of course. The article describes the measures that have been taken to promote tourism to the city, which is the sole reason for the existence of the series. Media coverage: Gifu Shimbun
Yakumo released a preview of Yakumo no Hōkago, the live-action segment featuring the series’ voice actors touring Tajimi that will comprise the B-part of each episode. Media coverage: Crunchyroll News
Urasoe City, Okinawa Prefecture hired media company Gyorai Eizō (魚雷映蔵) to produce a short anime explicitly to promote local tourism sites (not Shuri Castle but the lesser known Urasoe Castle ruins). In an Engadget piece authored by the company, they express at several points the view that through the work, called Ryūkyū Timeline, they are “creating a seichi.” Media coverage: Engadget Japanese
So, editorial time. Even for a typical anime series, where there is no deliberate goal to induce tourism, local governments and promotion organizations should be cautious about initiating use of words like seichijunrei and butaitanbou. It’s a little like giving yourself a nickname. It’s kind of awkward, a bit presumptuous, and doesn’t carry anywhere near the weight of having other people bestow such a designation. Sometimes, creators or producers will ask a location not to use those terms. However, once fans begin using words like these spontaneously, of their own accord, you can potentially relax a little and incorporate them judiciously in the right context. Yakumo (above) is a hybrid, conceived of as a marketing vehicle, but lovable in how it (the comic) was low budget, locally made, and developed a modest following. Because parties in Tajimi are forthright about the series’ purpose of promoting tourism, they ought to be extra careful about using these words. Ryūkyū Timeline, which is literally a commercial, really ought not to use these words!
When a fan uses the word seichi, it implies some level of feelings of endearment. It’s a distinction that is earned, not declared by fiat. After fans come to regard a place as a seichi, the seichi grows and becomes richer over time, through engagement between fans and locals, and ultimately the involvment or at least blessing of rights holders. When a local promotion organization matter-of-factly announces it has become a seichi, recently a practice happening even before the series is released, a statement like “we’re anticipating fans coming to our city to experience seichijunrei” starts to sound like “we want people come for a brief visit, spend some money, plug us on Instagram, then go home.”
(ゆるキャン△ SEASON2 Yurukyan Season 2)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@Surwill published a Street View tour and archive images of locations in Minobu, Nanbu and Fujikawa, Yamanashi Prefecture; Omaezaki Kakegawa, Iwata and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture for Episode 1 through Episode 3.
We certainly covered some distance this week! Episode 10 is a barnstorming drive around tourism sites on the Izu Peninsula, heavy on personal vehicle use. It might have been nice to linger a bit longer at some of the more interesting locations, but it still makes for a fun ride.
Unless I’ve misattributed something, all of the natural sites visited in this episode are considered part of the Izu Peninsula Geopark (伊豆半島ジオパーク), a UNESCO certified global geopark, and most are of volcanic origin. The geopark official site has helpful background information about each location in multiple languages, however only the Japanese version appears complete. Other languages cover only a small subset of the locations.
Ose Jinja (大瀬神社)
Osezaki Juniper Forest (大瀬崎ビャクシン樹林)
Kami Pond (神池)
Jaishi Pass (蛇石峠) in Minamiizu
At first, I thought the name was a poetic description of its looping ramps as waterfalls that allow for transit across the change of elevation. There are actually seven waterfalls nearby.
Shimoda is a familiar location for butaitanbou-sha and seichijunrei-sha, as it was the main setting for Natsuiro Kiseki in 2012. Several of the locations in this episode were also used in the earlier series.
Ryūgū Sea Cave (龍宮窟) in Tōji also appears in Natsuiro Kiseki.
Not depicted but adjacent to the cave is the Toji Sand Ski area (田牛サンドスキー場), which also appears in both Natsuiro Kiseki and Koisuru Asteroid.
Kawazu Sakura Matsuri (河津桜まつり) in Kawazu
The early blooming cherries are usually at their zenith between early February and early March. The festival was cancelled this year due to Covid-19.
Kawazu Ideyu-bashi (かわづいでゆ橋)
Kaiyū Footbath (海遊の足湯) also appears in Natsuiro Kiseki.
Cafe & Hamburger Ra-maru (カフェ＆ハンバーガー ラーマル) is one of the tenants at Michi-no-eki Kaikoku Shimoda Minato (道の駅開国下田みなと) in Sotogaoka (外ヶ岡), Shimoda. It’s known for its burgers made with spendid alfonsino (金目鯛), a local specialty foodstuff. Ra-maru also appears in Natsuiro Kiseki.
Shin Shimoda-bashi (新下田橋)
Maxvalu Izu Shimoda shop (マックスバリュ伊豆下田店) in Nishihongō (西本郷), Shimoda
Manpō Shōten (万宝商店) in Kakisaki is a himono (干物 dried fish) specialty shop.
Tsumekizaki Lighthouse (爪木埼灯台)
Tawaraiso (俵磯) is the name given to the outcropping of columnar joints (柱状節理) that make up part of the shoreline at Cape Tsumeki.
俵 = bale (of straw)
磯 = rocky beach
Hiroi Sake-ten (広井酒店) in Itō
Kominato No. 1 Tunnel (小湊第1隧道) in Kawazu
Izu Orange Center (伊豆オレンヂセンター) in Kawazu
Higashiizu (東伊豆町), Shizuoka Prefecture
Hosono Kōgen Tree House Village Campground (稲取細野高原ツリーハウス村キャンプ場) in Inatori (稲取), Higashiizu
Hosono Kōgen (細野高原)
The Yuru Camp official site published guidance on how to navigate the multiple routes through the highland. The currently permitted routes differ somewhat from what is depicted in the manga and anime, and are subject to change based on local conditions, so it’s best to check the information put out by the Higashiizu Tourism Association before going.
(のんのんびより のんすとっぷ Non Non Biyori Nonsutoppu)
Former Takahashi Shōten (高橋商店) in Kosuge, Katsushika Ward, Tokyo Metropolis