The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

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

Usagiyama Mochitsuki Taikai 2021 Fall
This year’s Usagiyama Mochitsuki Taikai (うさぎ山餅つき大会) will be held October 10 at Demachi Masugata Shōtengai (出町桝形商店街) in Kyoto. This is a Tamako Market fan organized Mochizō character birthday celebration and mochi pounding event usually held in the fall. Interested participants must register in advance here. Attendance is limited to 15 and attendees must agree to mask wearing, social distancing, and providing contact information to the organizer for the purpose of communication after the meetup in the case of a suspected infection.

Chichibu Anohana events
A series of activities in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana) is being held this summer and fall. The latest activity, which was delayed due to the recent Covid-related state-of-emergency, is a guided audio tour of locations from the series featuring narration by voice actor Kayano Ai (Menma), using smartphone app Locatone.

Nagano Onegai Twins seichijunrei
Voice actor Eguchi Takuya (江口拓也) gave an interview in which he notes the series Onegai Twins and his experience going on a pilgrimage to Nagano Prefecture directly influenced his interest in pursuing his current career. During high school, Eguchi learned of the locations through fan blogs that introduced the setting models and was motivated to travel to Nagano for seichijunrei, his first time traveling alone. At his lodging, he hit it off with another guest after that person approached and asked if he was visiting for pilgrimage. At the end of that trip, Eguchi recorded in a notebook that his dream was to become a voice actor in the future. Media coverage: @Dime

Chōshi Amagami seichijunrei
The back cover of local public relations magazine Kōhō Chōshi (広報ちょうし) 2021 October edition features an article about seichijunrei to Chōshi, Chiba Prefecture for Amagami, a game, manga and anime series that spans 2009 to 2012. It includes a list of locations that host a pilgrimage exchange notebook (交流ノート).

Comment: I think this is a good example of one way local government can authentically engage with seichijunrei fans. You can acknowledge that your city includes a pilgrimage location and that fans are visiting, you can even use words like seichi and seichijunrei, after fans have spontaneously traveled there and have been using those terms. Once this self-initiated behavior begins and gains momentum organically, without official promotion, you have the opportunity to embrace that genuine interest. From there, meaningful engagement can take many forms, even official collaborations with rights holders if done thoughtfully, but the sequence is important.

Kasamatsu Uma Musume seichijunrei
With lifting of the Covid-related state-of-emergency, Kasamatsu Racecourse (笠松競馬場) in Kasamatsu, Gifu Prefecture resumed full attendance admissions (maximum 5,000) from October 1. The majority of reporting in this piece is about the history of the track, hardships faced by track management and racing teams during the pandemic, and promotional efforts that will be undertaken to encourage spectators to return. However, it also mentions recent interest from fans of Uma Musume Pretty Derby, who are particularly attracted to the statue of Oguri Cap at the main gate. The article proposes engagement of Uma Musume fans through a collaboration project, such as installing a “commemorative photo board” (記念撮影ボード)—a background meant to pose before while someone takes your photo. Media coverage: Gifu Shimbun

Tama Mimi o Sumaseba seichijunrei
Runners blog Local Link Lead published an article introducing locations in Seiseki-Sakuragaoka, Tama, Tokyo Metropolis that appear in Mimi o Sumaseba.

Sanseidō Kokugo Jiten seichijunrei definition
The upcoming eighth edition of general purpose Japanese dictionary Sanseidō Kokugo Jiten (三省堂国語辞典), the first revision in eight years, will include the term seichijunrei (聖地巡礼) among approximately 3,500 new words added. Media coverage: Yaeyama Mainichi Shimbun

Zonsaga moped license plates
Saga Prefecture began issuing moped (50cc or less) license plates featuring Zombie Land Saga characters and locations on October 1. Intially, the plates will be available to residents of Saga City, Karatsu and Imari, with a unique design for each location, and there are plans to eventually offer plates to all municipalities in the prefecture. Plates are donated by the production committee, are free of charge to recipients, and can be exchanged for existing regular plates. Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Saga TV, Saga Shimbun

Comment: I like how this was done. It’s tourism promotion, but not a cash grab. Local residents (and only locals) can show their Zonsaga and Saga pride. The prefecture gets free tourism promotion. The rights holders extend exposure for the franchise and the costs are covered by the rights holders’ marketing budget. This was how anime tourism business was initially approached in the earliest cases, such as Kadokawa with Lucky Star, not as a direct profit making venture.

Ogaki Koe no Katachi seichijunrei
Koe no Katachi locations in Ōgaki and Yōrō are introduced in text and video in the latest installment of Seichi@Genzaichi (聖地​@現在地), a recent series by Gifu Shimbun that is essentially advertorial for Gifu Prefecture anime locations. Media coverage: Gifu Shimbun

The Aquatope on White Sand

(白い砂のアクアトープ Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@fragments_sue made a pilgrimage to Nanjō, Okinawa Prefecture for Episode 5 through Episode 8.

Opening Credits 2

It’s a new cour, a new opening sequence, a new everything. The only thing we understand at the moment is the general location of the fictional Aquarium Tingaara, in Kadena. I’ll circle back and fill in missing details as they are discovered.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

@heero_yuy2 (tweet) proposes a vantage point in Ginowan for this view from the apartment window. The apartment itself has been located in Chatan.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Bise Fukugi Namiki (備瀬のフクギ並木) in Motobu (本部町), Okinawa Prefecture [Credit: @fragments_sue, Twitter]

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Episode 13

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Kukuru is living on her own in a new location, presumably close to the aquarium.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

In Episode 9, the aquarium construction site was depicted at the west side of Kadena Air Base (嘉手納基地) in Kadena (嘉手納町), Okinawa Prefecture. This is a fictional facility and campus, and a large one, so I expect a lot of artistic license with regard to how Tingaara relates to the surrounding area.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tsukimi has a new restaurant.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Kamee and its regulars are still lively.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The final scene is Toguchi Beach (渡具知ビーチ), just on the other side of the city border in Yomitan (読谷村), Okinawa Prefecture. [Credit: @fragments_sue, Twitter]

Unless Tingaara were a much taller structure, it’s unlikely that it would be visible from this location. It’s probably best not to assume spatial relationships are literal.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Other Current Season Pilgrimage

@lidges made a pilgrimage to Kan’onji and Mitoyo, Kagawa Prefecture for Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru: Dai Mankai no Shō Episode 1 (also Utazu for Episode 2 PV).

@ad_motsu made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Jingūmae, Shibuya Ward; Meiji-Jingū Park in Kasumigaokamachi, Shinjuku Ward (both Tokyo Metropolis) for Love Live! Superstar!! Episode 10.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@koyoikaze made a pilgrimage to Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture for Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S Episode 12.

@yomikatajiyu made a pilgrimage to Narai-juku in Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture for Super Cub.

@fureshima2223 made a pilgrimage (post 1, post 2) to Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture for Koisuru Asteroid.