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
Lucky Star character birthday
The character birthday for Lucky Star Hīragi twins Kagami and Tsukasa has for many years involved much fanfare in Washinomiya. This year was especially eventful. The actual birthday is July 7, but celebrations were held July 4, the Sunday prior. The high level outline of the proceedings is available here on the Kuki City Chamber of Commerce Washinomiya Branch website. As in 2020, due to Covid-19 the large group live event was replaced by a livestream. The recording is available for playback, but because of how Nico Nico works, you either have to have reserved the “time shift” in advance, or sign up for a premium account to access it retroactively. Eruru (えるる @erukuma) wrote a detailed report describing all parts of the livestream.
Perennial featured guest and Tsukasa voice actor Fukuhara Kaori (福原香織) was again a big part of the festivities, and this year had two special announcements to make. The first was that she has been appointed a goodwill ambassador for Kuki City. The second was the launch of the Tsukasa Project (つかさ☆プロジェク), which appears to be a crowdfunding campaign planning multiple projects, the first of which is creating a kigurumi for Tsukasa. Washinomiya has had a Kagami kigurumi for appearances at public events since 2014, but due to budget constraints, a second costume for Tsukasa had not been part of the plan, until now.
In addition to the headline items, the livestream included self-introductions from devoted Lucky Star fans, who were invited to produce and submit videos prior to the broadcast. Seminar students of contents tourism researcher Okamoto Takeshi created a retrospective presentation on Lucky Star machi okoshi (town revitalization) in Washinomiya. Okamoto himself also provided a silly video of him sprinting up seven flights of stairs at Kindai University to wish the sisters a happy birthday.
Local confectioner Edelweiss (洋菓子倶楽部エーデルワイス) will make illustrated mini birthday cakes which can be reserved between July 4 and 10.
Birthday cards have been printed and can be picked up by visitors at both Edelweiss and the Kuki City Chamber of Commerce Washinomiya Branch.
The Chamber of Commerce official car and several Kuki post office delivery vehicles have been decorated with large stickers that look like the ema offered at Washinomiya Jinja, with an illustration of the Hīragi sisters.
Lucky Star themed snack bar Jungle Kinenbi (ジャングル記念日) will host a party on July 7. Reservations are required.
— 福原香織 (@FukuharaKaori) July 4, 2021
Lucky Star mikoshi
The display box prepared by supporters of the Lucky Star mikoshi (らき☆すた神輿) is now installed and can be viewed at the Kuki City Tourism PR Exhibition (久喜市観光PR展示), held on the first floor of the Saitama Prefectural Government Office from July 1 to 30. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4
Because Yasakasai (八坂祭), which is normally held in Kuki during July, was cancelled for the second year due to Covid-19, there will be no procession of the Lucky Star mikoshi as well.
K-On! character birthday
K-On! fans held a character birthday party for Kotobuki Tsumigi at former Toyosato Elementary School (豊郷小学校旧校舎群) on July 2. Photos: tweet 1
Eizan Electric Railway (叡山電鉄) exhibited headmarks from past manga and anime marketing collaborations on July 3, a different set of two on each round trip, swapping them out at the Yase-Hieizanguchi Station terminus, covered previously. This included a line up of all the headmarks together on the platform, a really neat thing to see. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3
Minobu Yuru Camp event
Gojōgaoka Activation Promotion Council (五条ヶ丘活性化推進協議会) will host an overnight camping meetup for Yuru Camp fans at former Shimobe elementary and junior high schools in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture on July 17 and 18. As a precaution to mitigate Covid-19 spread, all participants must register in advance, capacity is capped, and visits to the school buildings will be flow controlled. Participants interested in the full package, including overnight camp, can register here. Participants only interested in a visit to the school buildings, which will be scheduled in the afternoon on the second day, can register here.
Anime Regional Development School
There is a new free seminar in a series of online panel discussions from the Anime Regional Development School (アニメ地域おこし学校). A live stream featuring contents production and PR support specialist Miura Yumiko (三輪由美子) is scheduled July 18 at 10:00 JST. Miura works at the Kyoto City Industrial Tourism Bureau Creative Industries Promotion Office (京都市産業観光局クリエイティブ産業振興室), facilitating networking between creators, content companies, Kyoto based businesses, and Kyoto locations such as shrines and temples. As with the rest of this series, the talks will be hosted by “seichijunrei producer” Kakizaki Shundō (柿崎俊道) and Oda Yasuo (小田恭央). Oda is the CEO of SSS, the company that manages local character and vocaloid Tōhoku Zunko.
Yōkoso Festival (ようこそフェスティバル)—a Hibike! Euphonium fan organized event in Uji—announced a date and launched a website for its third convening, planned for December 11 at the Uji City Cultural Center (宇治市文化センター). This time, the event will include dōjinshi spot sales, music ensemble performances, itasha exhibition and cosplay.
Nishinomiya bikeshare pilgrimage
Hello Cycling (ハローサイクリング) is one of several bikeshare operators in Japan. Its bicycles are meant primarily for local trips, but the policy is that they can be returned to any docking station nationwide. After 50 new bicycles featuring artwork promoting the Suzumiya Haruhi no Chokkan light novel were deployed in Tokorozawa, the Hello Cycling Twitter account, likely only in jest, suggested taking one of the bicycles on a pilgrimage to Nishinomiya. One Haruhi fan, who goes by the handle Bakamono (ばか者 @aul_52I), made this a reality. He rented one of the cycles from Kaihin-makuhari Station in Chiba City, cycled to Tokyo Port, and boarded a ferry to Tokushima Port, arriving in Tokushima City the next day. From there, he cycled through Tokushima and Kagawa prefectures, boarding a second ferry from Takamatsu East Port to Kōbe Port, then cycling the remaining distance to Nishinomiya.
This trip took much longer, cost more money, and involved far more wear and tear on the body than one that connects those end points via train and shinkansen. Bakamono notes that the real attraction to travel like this is to be able to have new encounters, to experience the atmosphere of the area and partake in its sights and specialties, which would not be possible if taking public transit. Ultimately, the journey is the destination. Media coverage: J-Cast News
Chez Inoue Haruhi Tanabata cookies
Nishinomiya bakery Chez Inoue (西北菓子工房シェイノウエ) is selling its seasonal run of cookies shaped and iced as the orange, panda adorned t-shirt Haruhi wears on Tanabata evening in the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu. This year, there is also a special twin panda version to celebrate the twin cubs born at Ueno Zoo in June. Chez Inoue’s cookies and many other unofficial Haruhi anime pilgrim engagement efforts by local businesses long predate the organized, polished and relatively well-funded commercial promotion of anime tourism that is now becoming ubiquitous. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2
Hitoyoshi Ryokan rebuilding
Repair work is moving forward at Hitoyoshi Ryokan (人吉旅館) in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture. An interim goal is to have eight rooms on the second floor ready for pre-open by early October. The traditional inn is a national registered tangible cultural property, and one of many locations that sustained extensive damage during the 2020 July flooding and mudslides in the Kyūshū region. It is also a popular lodging among Natsume Yūjin-chō fans visiting the area for seichijunrei. After the disaster, fans sent messages of support via social media. A crowdfunding campaign to assist with repairs and reconstruction raised over 15 million JPY, more than three times the target amount. Media coverage: Jiji.com
Davao Gundam setting
ABS-CBN News published an article about the use of Davao, Philippines as the setting of Kidō Senshi Gundam: Senkō no Hathaway. The article was published back in February based on promotional images available at the time, but resurfaced recently after the film was released in theaters in Japan and online streaming in other markets. Media coverage: ABS-CBN News
Shibuya Station Jujutsu Kaisen locations
Urban Life Metro published an article about the Shibuya Station scenes that appear in Jujutsu Kaisen, and the history of how the station and its surrounding transit integrated development came to be so complex. Media coverage: Urban Life Metro
Yuwaku Bonbori Matsuri
Writing for Yahoo News Japan, contents tourism researcher Koarai Ryō published an article about the Yuwaku Bonbori Matsuri (湯涌ぼんぼり祭) and the challenges it has faced due to Covid-19. Media coverage: Yahoo News Japan
Initial D car enthusiasts
Auto Messe Web published an article about Japan domestic market vehicle enthusiasts inspired by the series. This includes owners of the Toyota AE86, particularly those modified cosmetically and mechanically to resemble the series’ featured vehicle, but other cars as well. The article briefly mentions seichijunrei and promoted anime tourism in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture. Media coverage: Auto Messe Web
Tachikawa Railgun video
Tachikawa, Tokyo Metropolis produced a video featuring Toaru Kagaku no Railgun main character Misaka Mikoto’s voice actor Satō Rina narrating a tour of the city. I just learned of this a few days ago. The video will apparently be taken down after July 7, so the day this weekly is published will be the last chance you have to see it.
Chichibu Anohana special
As part of multiple activities celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana), a TV special broadcast June 27 featured voice actors Kayano Ai (Menma), Tomatsu Haruka (Anaru) and Hayami Saori (Tsuruko) touring Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture and talking about memories from the production. Aniplex released a video of a segment that was cut from the final program, in which Kayano Ai goes on a tour of Chichibu Distillery.
Shibukawa Intial D stamp rally
Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture and Initial D will collaborate on a digital stamp rally using smartphone app Butaimeguri (舞台めぐり), held from 2021 July 3 to 2022 March 31. Media coverage: Goo Net, Robot Start
Yakumo new season
Yakunara Mug Cup mo will get a second season, planned for broadcast in 2021 October. The next installment will continue the split episode format, with an animated A-part and live action B-part promoting tourism to Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture. Mayor Furukawa Masanori continues to communicate publicly that inducing seichijunrei is an explicit goal of the production. Media coverage: Crunchyroll News, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun
Yuru Camp seichijunrei guide
JTB Publishing will publish Rurubu Yuru Camp Season 2 (るるぶゆるキャン△ SEASON２), the imprint’s second seichijunrei guide for the Yuru Camp series, on July 29. This edition covers locations featured in the second season of the main series, including Minobu, Izu, Hamamatsu and Yamanakako. It also includes contents from the Heya Camp spin-off series. The first edition of this guide was published in 2020 February. Media coverage: Animage Plus, Akiba Sōken, Anime Anime, Famitsu.com
Bitonyan anime locations
Through cooperation with the Anime Tourism Association, developer Real World Games added anime locations drawn from the Association’s list into its location based game app Bitonyan (ビトにゃん). Media coverage: Press release
Hakodate Love Live! tour
JALPAK, a tour agency affiliated with Japan Airlines, originally offered a Love Love! Sunshine!! tour package to Hakodate, Hokkaidō Prefecture from November 1 to 2021 May 10. The availability period has been extended to September 30, with final sales on September 28.