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
Masugata Tamako location hunt
Mainichi Shimbun interviewed Moriwaki Kiyotaka (森脇清隆) from The Museum of Kyoto about his role in facilitating location hunting for Tamako Market and acting as a liaison between Kyoto Animation and the Demachi Masugata Shōtengai (出町桝形商店街). During location hunting, representatives from the shōtengai initially wanted to have more say in how the arcade was depicted, voiced through opinions and requests. Kyoto Animation mostly wanted to depict the environment as they found it. Moriwaki listened to the shōtengai, but at times persuaded them to allow the studio the freedom to craft the story as they saw fit. Later, the shōtengai expressed the desire for promotional activities in the arcade. Moriwaki advised that fans would be looking to experience the space as it was depicted in the work, which in this case mirrored reality, so it would be better not to do things that would disrupt that. Looking back from the present time, shop owners in the shōtengai are pleased that not just the physical space but the culture of the shopping street is conveyed through the series. Fans are happy because when they visit they can experience the warmth of the world depicted in the work. Media coverage: Mainichi Shimbun
Though the topics discussed are familiar—Moriwaki and I talked about these in depth when we met in 2014, which I wrote about here—this is the first time I’ve come across them outside of our conversation.
Kōchi Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime promotion
Various promotional efforts for Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime continue in Kōchi Prefecture.
Yosakoi Net (よさこいネット), a tourism information portal operated by the Kochi Visitors & Convention Association (高知県観光コンベンション協会), launched a dedicated website to promote the film, art exhibitions being held at multiple locations in the Niyodo River basin area, maps and guides to locations that appear in the film, and recommendations for adjacent tourism attractions.
A special free bus service to the Asao submersible bridge in Ochi will run until to September 30, covered previously. In addition, Kenkōhokubu Kōtsū (県交北部交通) will run wrapping buses from Kōchi Station on an existing line that includes stops in Ino and Nyodogawa, and is encouraging visitors to use it for seichijunrei and sightseeing, until the end of 2022 February. Kuroiwa Kankō (黒岩観光) will operate a wrapping bus on a route that serves Sakawa and Nyodogawa until 2022 March 3. Media coverage: Kōchi Shimbun
In the past week, butaitanbou-sha Lidges (@lidges リジス) traveled to Kōchi to update his previous research, which he had started prior to release of the film. His post is linked in the pilgrimage update section at the end of this weekly. Though he seemed to enjoy the time, he made a comment about his experience of using the buses and touring the locations that summed up my thoughts about all of the above, “You can’t call this butaitanbou anymore.” Even the Lawson in Ino has an official tie-up. Indeed, this is a well-orchestrated tourism promotion campaign. I wonder if it can ever become much more than that.
Hamamatsu Evangelion collaboration
There was additional reporting on the Tenryū Hamanako Railroad and Shin Evangelion Gekijōban collaboration at Tenryū-Futamata Station in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, covered previously. Media coverage: Asahi Shimbun
Meitetsu travel service
Meitetsu Kankō Service (名鉄観光サービス) launched Anitabi Otatabi (アニ旅オタ旅), a collection of anime seichijunrei and other contents tourism oriented commercial travel services. Although tours are mentioned several places in the website copy, other than one prepackaged tour and accommodations for Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, there appears to be no actual anime related content, tours or otherwise. It is mostly a search portal for lodging and flights with Meitetsu network partners, filtered down to cities known as popular pilgrimage destinations. The Anime Tourism Association is promoting the service on its website and social media, and Meitetsu acknowledges this, which makes me suspect the Association is involved in some way, however neither entity specifically indicates a business relationship with the other.
(小林さんちのメイドラゴンS Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon S)
From the previews for this episode, I had thought we might see more clues as to whether or not the shōtengai is a real place. We do get new information, but identification remains elusive. I’m still enjoying it, though!
Because Elma is in office attire, I spent some time hunting around for possible cafes near Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō, particular in places near water. I thought I might have been on to something in Sendaiborigawa Park, across the Sumida River in Kōtō Ward. From the satellite images I can see curving stone and concrete walls, rails, terrace seating and trees, but without Street View penetrating the park I can only get a few glimpses from user uploaded images.
The pass-through section of the shōtengai, over Kobayashi’s shoulder, is also interesting. The shōtengai around Teramachi-dōri in Kyoto have several sections that resemble this. I’m also familiar with an arcade in Kōenji, Tokyo that looks a little like this, especially the pillars. This design is by no means unique. There could be hundreds of shōtengai with elements just like this.
Real or not, I’ll always have a soft spot for shōtengai in anime. Each cut has a story.
The traditional candy shop is new this week. A location model has not been identified, though there are many of these still in shitamachi parts of Tokyo.
I like that in Maidragon the candy shop is both a business and a third place for Kanna, Saikawa and other children of the town, as the shōtengai is to Tōru and her social circle. This adds a sense of loss to the news that Aida is considering closing the shop because she can’t find an heir, a fate common to many real small businesses. Ilulu’s offer to work as an employee may or may not be enough to counter the larger factors at play, but at least helps defer the decision and preserve the social space in the meantime.
Students walk home on the afternoon commute from school.
I dig this magic hour light.
(白い砂のアクアトープ Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Entrance of the Chinen Marine Leisure Center (知念海洋レジャーセンター)
Chinen Kaiyō Leisure Center-mae (知念海洋レジャーセンター前) bus stop
Kanjū-eki Nanjō (かんじゅう駅・南城), the local tourism information center, is in the background.
I still haven’t thought of a good shorthand to describe the location of Kamee. It’s the parking space next to Manaia Okinawa (マナイア沖縄), which operates powered paragliding flights. It directly faces the Chinen Post Office. I’ll just call it Kamee from now on.
I do like that Kamee is the operations center for the local social circle into which Fuka has been adopted. It is a great third place.
Nirai Kanai Bridge (ニライカナイ橋)
In this cut, the blue car carrying Fūka is traveling back into Chinen, rather than toward Naha. I wonder if it was a mistake.
The turnaround doesn’t happen until the subsequent cut, which is about 700m further along the route toward Naha.
Azama Sun Sun Beach
The small shrine behind the aquarium looks similar to the one drawn next to Kukuru’s home, though in real life there isn’t one here, either.
I’ve done some surface reading about Kijimunaa (キジムナー). So far, his habits of sitting in banyan trees and playing tricks are true to form. However, while the wood spirits are known to be skilled at fishing, they supposedly only eat one eye, then leave the rest of the fish. Our boy just has a hearty appetite, I guess.
Other Current Season Pilgrimage
@ad_motsu made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Yoyogi Park (Jinnan) and Harajuku (Jingūmae), Shibuya Ward; Omotesandō (Jingūmae, Minamiaoyama), Shibuya Ward and Minato Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Love Live! Superstar!! Episode 3.
Past Season Pilgrimage
@112233aabbccdde made a pilgrimage to Hitoyoshi, Sagara, Nishiki, Asagiri, Yunomae and Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture; Minamishimabara and Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture; Kusu, Ōita Prefecture for Rail Romanesque and Maitetsu.