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

K-On! character birthday
A K-On! fan organized character birthday party for Hirasawa Yui and Nakano Azusa was held November 28 at former Toyosato Elementary School (豊郷小学校旧校舎群) in Toyosato, Shiga Prefecture. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6

Chichibu Anohana events
Multiple activities and events celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana) have been held over the past year and some will continue into 2022, covered previously. A late addition to this collection, Chichibu Railway (秩父鉄道) will again run a special service of the steam locomotive SL Paleo Express (SLパレオエクスプレス), called SL Anohana 10th Anniversary Final Express, for one day only on December 26, with a head mark featuring the anniversary illustration (PDF). As with all of its services, seats for the steam locomotive are all reserved and require advance reservation.

Asahina Mikuru tobidashi rebuilding
Work on Mikuru-chan “Unit 2” is underway, however Tesra (テスラ @tesra1141) seems unsatisfied with initial progress, saying he inadvertently omitted a step, and has sanded the surface to begin again. Let’s send him some encouragement. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2

Chitanda Eru tobidashi restoration
Eki-chan Honey (えきちゃんハニー @821kg) is putting the final touches on the Chitanda Eru tobidashi. It seems the original scheduled December 1 return to the Honmachi Sanchōme Shōtengai in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture will be delayed a little, but it’s hard to put a value on finding just the right shade of purple. Photos: tweet 1

Flying Witch Neputa
Witch Association Hirosaki Branch (魔女協会弘前支部)—a Flying Witch fan club based in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture—successfully exhibited its neputa at Danborian 4 (ダンボリアン4), a festival for people who create things with cardboard, on November 28. In addition to the large main float, they also displayed several miniature versions with different artwork. In its reporting on the event, Mainichi mentioned the neputa, anime series and setting by name. Media coverage: Mainichi Shimbun. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4

Washinomiya Jinja torii rebuilding
This week, anchor stones were installed at the base of the pillars of the new torii at Washinomiya Jinja (鷲宮神社). Work is scheduled to be complete December 3 and visitors will be able to pass through the torii the following day. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2

Shimane Kamiarizuki no Kodomo collaboration
Kamiarizuki no Kodomo is set primarily in Izumo and Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, but also includes scenes in Tokyo and Hakuto Jinja in Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture. In the film, the protagonist Kanna is led by Shiro, a white rabbit based on the Hare of Inaba (因幡の白兎), from Tokyo to Izumo. A dual premiere in both Tokyo and Izumo with venues linked by a relay broadcast was held on October 2. Full theatrical distribution began October 8. A stone statue depicting Shiro was installed on the grounds of Izumo Taisha (出雲大社). The original author and a producer met with the Tottori prefectural deputy governor on October 12, when the film began screening in Tottori. The deputy governor thanked them for the appearance of the rabbit and indicated he would be interested to offer assistance with activities such as facilitating seichijunrei. Tourism and regional revitalization magazine Location Japan nominated Izumo and Matsue for the 12th Location Japan Grand Prize (第12回ロケーションジャパン大賞), the results of which will be announced in 2022 February. A promotional campaign for Shimane Prefecture that includes a printed “location map” (ロケ地マップ) and guidance through smartphone app Butaimeguri is being held from October 10 to December 31. Media coverage: San’in Chūō Shinpō 1, TSK San’in Chūō TV, San’in Chūō Shinpō 2, San’in Chūō Shinpō 3

Zonsaga collaboration
Saga Shimbun published a review of marketing collaborations between Zombie Land Saga and cities and businesses in Saga Prefecture that have launched in the past year, and those that will continue into or commence during 2022. A secondary roll out of moped (50cc or less) license plates for residents, already available in Saga City, Karatsu and Imari, will bring them to Tosu, Kashima and Ureshino beginning in 2021 December. Installation of character manhole covers in 14 locations is complete. The wrapping bus Franchouchou-gō (フランシュシュ号) increased its number of services. Zonsaga Blu-Ray disc and CDs are being offered as gifts in exchange for furusato nōzei (hometown tax). An event at Boat Race Karatsu (ボートレースからつ), the venue depicted in second season Episode 6, will be held in 2022 February. A digital stamp rally that began October 8 will continue until 2022 January 31. Imari-based Drive-in Tori (ドライブイン鳥) launched tie-up packaged frozen foods available at grocery stores in Saga Prefecture. Media coverage: Saga Shimbun

Ōno 2.43 collaboration
Ōno Chamber of Commerce and Industry Youth Department (大野商工会議所青年部) launched several measures to promote tourism to Ōno, Fukui Prefecture through a marketing collaboration with 2.43 Seiin Kōkō Danshi Barē-bu, including release of a “seichijunrei map,” a series of cards that use the anime characters to introduce tourism spots and local foodstuffs, a volleyball event on November 6, and a digital stamp rally. Media coverage: Fuji TV 1, Hokuriku Shin’etsu Kankō Navi, Fuji TV 2

Yamanashi Kamisama collaboration
Yamanashi City Tourism Association (山梨市観光協会) released updated advertising posters and a “butaitanbou map” for Kamisama ni Natta Hi featuring a new illustration to commemorate the passing of one year since the series premiere. These were available at tourist information centers and kiosks in the city beginning November 20. Media coverage: Yamanashi Nichichi Shimbun, Yamanashi Nichichi Shimbun (print)

Shizuoka Yuru Camp collaboration
The marketing collaboration between Shizuoka Prefecture and Yuru Camp—formalized as Yuru Camp x Shizuokaken (『ゆるキャン△』×静岡県)—has geared up for a new campaign. This one is centered on a prefecture-wide stamp rally and new editions of two maps, but also incorporates local events and other promotions.

The Shizuoka Prefecture Model Location Map (静岡県モデル地マップ) and Shizuoka Prefecture Camp Location Map (静岡県キャンプ地マップ) have both been updated to include places that appeared in Yuru Camp Season 2. These will be distributed at the sites that appear in the maps. The 2022 edition of the Shizuoka Prefecture Citizen’s Notebook (静岡県民手帳) will also include the “model location map.” News release: Shizuoka Prefecture 1, Shizuoka Prefecture 2. Media coverage: Travel Watch

The stamp rally (『ゆるキャン△』×静岡県 スタンプラリー) will run from 2021 November 12 to 2022 January 10. It includes two courses, a more advanced course covering the Enshu and Lake Hamana areas (遠州・浜名湖堪能コース), and a lighter tour of the Fujisan foothill area (富士山麓周遊コース). Fureshima (蜃気楼の如く @fureshima2223) published a report with photographs from parts of the Fujisan tour. News release: Shizuoka Prefecture. Media coverage: SBS TV (video), SBS TV (text)

The Mount Fuji Shizuoka Airport Rental Car Campaign (富士山静岡空港レンタカーキャンペーン) that had been active since 2020 December has been extended to 2022 March 21.

Iwata City released a pamphlet (image, collaboration site, distribution locations) that introduces Yuru Camp locations and local dining recommendations. It hosted an event called Tent de Market (テント de マーケット) (collaboration site, Iwata City site) featuring local food vendors at Ryūyō Kaiyō Kōen Auto Campground (竜洋海洋公園オートキャンプ場) on November 28.

Mitsuke Tenjin (見付天神) in Iwata will offer ema with an image of Shima Rin printed on them, with an initial run of 300 from December 1, and a second run of 700 from December 31.

Iwanuma Bakuten!! furusato nōzei
Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture is offering Bakuten!! goods and local foodstuffs that appear in the series as gifts in exchange for furusato nōzei (hometown tax). The proceeds will be used to fund collaboration tourism promotion assets, such as a “seichijunrei map,” character panels, and public relations video for the city. Bakuten!! is one of three anime works under Zutto Ōen. Project 2011+10… (ずっとおうえん。プロジェクト 2011+10…), itself part of broader efforts by Fuji TV to support disaster recovery in the Tōhoku region following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The series will get a film release in 2022 Spring. Media coverage: Comic Natalie, Anime News Network, All About News, Kahoku Shimpō

Nanjō Aquatope furusato nōzei
Nanjō, Okinawa Prefecture is offering Shiroi Suna no Aquatope goods, local foodstuffs, and stay vouchers for local hotels as gifts in exchange for furusato nōzei (hometown tax). The proceeds will be used to fund projects related to touring the areas featured in the series’ setting.

Narita Anime Deck
A reporter for Tokyo Shimbun visited the Narita Anime Deck at Narita Aiport Terminal 2, which includes an Anime Tourism Association information corner. Media coverage: Tokyo 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 Motobu, Yomitan, Kadena, Yaese, Naha and Nanjō, Okinawa Prefecture for Episode 15 through Episode 20 and a recent promotional event.

@hiro_senritu made a pilgrimage to Naha and Nanjō, Okinawa Prefecture for multiple episodes.

Episode 21

The use of composite settings combining parts of multiple real locations and some fictional elements has been evident from early in the Aquatope series. This intensified in the second cour and appears to have reached a new height in Episode 21. My question is why. It’s not at all unusual for anime to use composites, rearrange spatial relationships, or add fictional elements. This poses no issue when the setting is fictional, but Aquatope explicitly identifies Okinawa as its setting, so the choice to deviate so far from reality seems strange. Nanjō was the most tethered to real world spatial relationships, probably due at least in part to the hope that the series could play a role in tourism promotion to that area, but even it did not escape some rearranging. With the second cour, everything feels disconnected and adrift, a little bit like our protagonist.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

As of this week, there are two theories for this cove location.

@heero_yuy2 (tweet) earlier proposed Shirumichu Beach in Uruma, though only for general atmosphere and similar elements, not a direct match. @fragments_sue (post) proposes Gushichan Beach (具志頭浜) in Yaese, but only as a potential reference, not a direct match. Many beaches in Okinawa have rock formations of this type.

I’ll refer to this as “dolphin cove” for the time being.

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 consensus is that, at least in these establishing shots, this is Iejima (伊江島). [Credit: @unimaru_, tweet 1, tweet 2; @fragments_sue, tweet 1]

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The bit of arch in the upper left of this telephoto shot suggests we’re looking at Iejima from Kaiyōhaku Park (海洋博公園), the large seaside park that includes Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu (本部町). This is consistent with their real world spatial relationship.

The distinctive rock formation is Shiroyama (城山) in standard Japanese, Gusukuyama in Okinawan language, or Tatchū (タッチュー) in Kunigami language. It appears often in the background and keeps the setting notionally anchored to Iejima.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

But once we get to ground level, I think all bets are off. There are several confirmed matches with locations not on Iejima and unrelated to each other, and many unknowns. I’ve only noted known locations from this point forward.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

It seems clear that the boat is modeled on the Kudakajima Ferry (久高島フェリー). [Credit: @JuantheMad_, tweet]

This ferry only runs a direct service between Azama Port in Nanjō and Kudakajima.

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

Kafū-Banta (果風バンタ) in Uruma (うるま市) [Credit: @heero_yuy2, tweet]

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

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

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

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Dolphin cove

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

Kukuru notionally hasn’t left the island, but this and the following cut are the Bise Fukugi Namiki (備瀬のフクギ並木) in Motobu, which appears in the second cour opening credits. [Credit: @fragments_sue, tweet]

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

@fragments_sue (tweet) proposes this is Kudakajima Yōhaijo (久高島遥拝所), a place meant for worship from afar, within Sefa-Utaki (斎場御嶽), a sacred site in Chinen, Nanjō that overlooks Kudakajima. This is very close to Gama Gama. More background about this location here (post 1, post 2).

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

Kamehaus is the real life Kuroshima Research Station (黒島研究所) on Kuroshima (黒島), administratively part of Taketomi (竹富町). [Credit: @honokuni, tweet]

It seems the center itself was unaware it had been used as a location model prior to broadcast of the episode.

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

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

Other Current Season Pilgrimage

@lidges made a pilgrimage to Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture for Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru: Dai Mankai no Shō Episode 9.

@teo_imperial made a pilgrimage to Higashi-Yamatoshi Station in Higashiyamato, Tokyo Metropolis for Puraore! Pride of Orange.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@626shin made a pilgrimage to Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture for Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S OP and Episode 6.

@fureshima2223 made a pilgrimage to Minobusan in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture for Yuru Camp Season 2.

@kimamanidance made a pilgrimage to Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato Ward; Kakinokizaka, Meguro Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Bakemonogatari.