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
The third convening of the Yōkoso Festival (ようこそフェスティバル)—a Hibike! Euphonium fan-organized event in Uji—was held December 11 at the Uji City Cultural Center (宇治市文化センター). Though Eupho and its seichi in Uji is the primary theme, the festival embraces Kyoto Animation works broadly. This time, the event included dōjinshi spot sales, music ensemble performances, itasha exhibition and cosplay.
Itasha photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6, tweet 7, tweet 8, tweet 9, tweet 10, tweet 11, tweet 12, tweet 13, tweet 14, tweet 15, tweet 16, tweet 17, tweet 18, tweet 19, tweet 20, tweet 21, tweet 22
— そんそん @5/29 ARCC見学 (@sonson_Eupho) December 12, 2021
Concurrent with the main event, a second convening of Kitauji Scenery (きたうじシーナリー)—a gallery exhibition of photography and illustrations on the theme of Uji and Eupho—this time called Kitauji Scenery refrain (きたうじシーナリー refrain), was held December 11 and 12 at event space Naka Uji yorin (中宇治yorin). This is similar to the arrangement at the previous Yōkoso Festival in 2020, though at that time the gallery exhibition did not have a specific name. The first Kitauji Scenery was a standalone exhibition of longer duration that took place during 2021 Spring.
— ひろゆき@ぷに (@puni_rs) December 13, 2021
In a wrap up note, the festival organizer expressed thanks for the entirely volunteer staff that make the event possible. They also brought up two points of concern. The first was the organizer’s impression that the event was not on par with a professionally managed equivalent, and that this was seen as a deficiency by some parties. They stressed that Yōkoso Festival is purely a labor of love by and for fans, an amateur effort, and they were sorry for anyone who had been disappointed after arriving. The second was the organizer’s claim that some have suggested the festival should do more to “give back” to Uji in the form of financial flows to local businesses for services rendered attributable to the event. The organizer mostly dismissed these comments, saying it was too high an expectation given the relatively small scale and informal nature of the event.
Comment: My thought on the first concern is that in this case a lack of polish, whether real or perceived, is something to be celebrated. This is what authenticity looks like. In listening to feedback from everyone I know personally that has attended one of these events, and reading the many comments posted on social media, it seems people are overwhelmingly supportive of this event and there is little confusion about its nature. I think the festival is already wonderful as it is. Its quirks and hominess make it inimitable by any commercial undertaking and should be cherished. On the second point, I agree that the comments should be dismissed, not because the festival can’t support that kind of remuneration but because it is already doing it. People travel to Uji from far away for this event. Some stay in local hotels. Most at least have a meal or two while in town. At the most recent event, a local shokudō prepared bento lunches for sale at the venue. For an event of its scale, Yōkoso Festival is already generating a proportionally appropriate financial return to the city. It should give itself more credit and be proud of this.
Chitanda Eru tobidashi restoration
Eki-chan Honey (えきちゃんハニー @821kg) completed repainting of the Chitanda Eru tobidashi and returned her to the Honmachi Sanchōme Shōtengai (本町三丁目商店街) in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture on December 9. Eru-taso has already had several visitors come to welcome her back. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6, tweet 7
— ✨えきちゃんハニー👑 (@821kg) December 9, 2021
Tatebayashi Yorimoi cafe closing
The owner of Cafe de Staël (カフェ・ド・スタール) in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture made the decision to close the business due to his declining health. The cafe’s final day of service was December 11. It was popular with locals as well as anime pilgrims, who began patronizing the cafe and using it as a meeting place after it appeared as a setting in Sora yori mo Tōi Basho. Media coverage: Jōmō Shimbun, Anime News Network
Nanjō free buses
Nanjō, Okinawa Prefecture is utilizing funding from the Japan Tourism Agency to operate two free buses, one from Naha Airport to Nanjō, and a second that operates a loop to multiple tourist locations within Nanjō. Some of these locations appear in the setting of Shiroi Suna no Aquatope. The free buses are part of a demonstration experiment among four bus companies in Okinawa that will operate until 2022 February 20. Media coverage: Viewpoint
Yamanashi Yuru Camp Ekimemo collaboration
Rail stations and other Yuru Camp locations in Yamanashi Prefecture will feature in a digital stamp rally through a collaboration with location-based game Ekimemo! (駅メモ！), which will run from 2021 December 15 to 2022 March 15. News release: Mobile Factory. Media coverage: Dengeki Online
(白い砂のアクアトープ Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)
Chatan (北谷町), Okinawa Prefecture