Ya Boy Kongming! パリピ孔明

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

Nishiki-yu closing
When Nishiki-yu (錦湯) owner Hasegawa Yasuo (長谷川泰雄) announced last week he would be ending business on June 5, it set off a small storm of reactions from sento fans, Tamako Market fans, and many who were just sad to see another piece of history closing its doors. This is a roundup of activity from the past week.

Kyoto Shimbun published an article on the web on May 26, though it was paywalled. Here are images of the print version that went out on May 31 (version 1, version 2).

Hasegawa posed for a photo by a visitor who came to greet him during cleaning time on May 28.

Nishiki-yu is also known for hosting rakugo, live music, and other performances on days when the bath is not operating. The final event was held May 30 at 20:00. Street performer Katō Mikio, who had appeared at Nishiki-yu in the past, published a blog post with photos looking back on past events, and traveled to Kyoto to meet Hasegawa one last time before the closing.

Rakugo performance photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6, tweet 7

Mainichi Shimbun published an extensive interview on May 31 with Hasegawa, who walks through the history of the bathhouse, lingering on some of the many colorful moments it has witnessed. He expresses gratitude for all of the patrons who have used the sento, many of the locals considering it part of their home. He explains that the building was aging, and that although it can be retrofit to keep up operations, it is costly. He wanted to wind down the business while he was still in good health. The article mentions the use of Nishiki-yu as the model for Usa-yu in Tamako Market.

Tamako fan reactions: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6, tweet 7, tweet 8, tweet 9, tweet 10, tweet 11, tweet 12

Tamako fan visits with 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

Minobu Yuru Camp event
Yuru Camp fans gathered at former Shimobe elementary and junior high schools in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture on May 28 and 29 for an overnight camping meetup organized by the Gojōgaoka Activation Promotion Council (五条ヶ丘活性化推進協議会). This was the first of two consecutive weekends on which the event is being held. Media coverage: Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun

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

Time-lapse video: tweet 1, tweet 2

Lucky Star mikoshi
New cloth artwork on the fully assembled Lucky Star mikoshi (らき☆すた神輿) was unveiled to the public on May 29 at the fifteenth Kuki Sōgō Bunka Kaikan Friendship Day (第15回 久喜総合文化会館フレンドシップデー) in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture.

Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6, tweet 7, tweet 8

Numazu Marusan closing
Marusan Book Store Nakamise branch (マルサン書店仲見世店) in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture closed for business on May 31. The details behind the decision were covered previously. Love Live! Sunshine!! fans visited during the final few days for for one last look around. Many gathered outside the entrances at closing time on the 31st in a show of thanks and to record the shutters rolling down.

Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5

Takayama Yonezawa lectures
Takayama native author Yonezawa Honobu (米澤穂信), who received the 2022 Naoki Prize for his most recent novel, Kokurōjō, gave a lecture on writing at his alma mater, Hida High School (県立斐太高校) on June 1. This was the first time the author visited Takayama since receiving the award. The school and city of Takayama are the model for the setting of his debut novel Hyōka, and the Kyoto Animation adaptation based on it. He will give another lecture at the Takayama Citizen Cultural Center (高山市民文化会館) on June 2, announced previously. Media coverage: Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun

Uji Eupho event
Hibike! Euphonium 6th Uji Matsuri Festival (『響け!ユーフォニアム』6回目だよ!宇治でお祭りフェスティバル), originally scheduled for 2020 and postponed twice due to Covid-19, will finally be held June 4 at the Uji City Cultural Center (宇治市文化センター). This is a talk event featuring voice actors from the series. The event has always been scheduled on the weekend closest to or coinciding with Agata Matsuri.

Agata Matsuri
Agata Matsuri (県祭 or 縣祭) in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture will be held for the first time in three years, at its usual schedule on June 5 into the early morning of June 6. Festival stalls will not be setup due to ongoing concerns regarding Covid-19, but the ritual Bonten Togyo (梵天渡御), in which the mikoshi Bonten is carried through parts of the city between shrines around midnight, will go ahead. In the past, this has been a popular event for Hibike! Euphonium fans. Parts of Agata Matsuri were depicted in the first season of the series. Media coverage: ALCO, Kyoto Shimbun

Yuwaku Bonbori Matsuri
After what will be a three year delay due to Covid-19, the tenth Yuwaku Bonbori Matsuri (第10回湯涌ぼんぼり祭り) will be held in 2022 fall at Yuwaku Onsen in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. Last week’s announcement noted only that there would be strict admission restrictions due to ongoing concerns regarding the pandemic.

This week, the full details of admissions caps and schedule and eligibility requirements were released. The lantern lighting ceremony will be held July 17 at 20:00 and is open only to individual sponsors of the lanterns, and guests staying in Yuwaku Onsen on that day. The festival will be held October 22 and is open only to individual sponsors of the lanterns, holders of general admission tickets, and guests staying in Yuwaku Onsen on that day. This year, individual sponsorships are capped at 350 and general admission tickets at 500. Both sponsorships and general admission will distributed by lottery, with applications through the Kanazawa Yuwaku Onsen Official Web Shop beginning May 28.

NTT exhibition
ICC Annual 2022: Life/Likeness (ICCアニュアル2022生命的なものたち), an exhibition of art installations on the themes of technology, media, and their usage in modern society, will be held at the NTT InterCommunication Center in Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo, as well as through online virtual tour, from 2022 June 25 to 2023 January 15. This iteration of the exhibition includes a video work by Petra Szemán (@petra_szeman) titled The Openings, a follow-up to their work from the 2021 exhibition, which explores the overlapping and intersecting of real and fictional worlds through seichijunrei for anime and games. Additionally, it will examine the liminal nature of railways, used temporarily in the process of moving in time or space, which suggests a motivation for their frequent use in game loading screens and anime openings. Press release: Nippon Telephone and Telegraph East Corporation

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. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2

Yama no Susume Tankentai
The first installment of Yama no Susume Exploration Party (ヤマノススメ探検隊) was released May 27. This is a live-action promotional series leading up to the anime fourth season, Yama no Susume Next Summit. Senjuin Koharu voice actor Iwai Emiri (岩井映美里) introduces real life locations that appear in the series. The guest for the first episode is Onozuka Hikari voice actor Gibu Yūko (儀武ゆう子), touring locations in Hannō, Saitama Prefecture. In the first of what appears to be two parts, they visit a temple in the town before hiking Tenranzan and Tōnosuyama.

Eiden Deaimon mangaka visit
A promotional campaign for Deaimon is currently active on the Eizan Electric Railway (叡山電鉄) in Kyoto. Series creator Asano Rin (浅野りん) visited the railway, autographing the decals and headmarks installed on one of the trains. Photos: tweet 1

Wakayama Summer Time promotion
There was additional reporting on the vigorous marketing promotions utilizing Summer Time Rendering in Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, covered previously here, here, here and here.

Real Sound published a review of the series that mentions some of the marketing efforts, including a newly released digital guide, which is titled Seichi Wakayama no Tabi (聖地・和歌山の旅), featuring voice actors Nagase Anna (Kofune Ushio) and Shirasu Saho (Kofune Mio). This joins the map, smartphone app and other materials already available at the Summer Time Render dedicated subsection on the Wakayama Prefecture Official Tourism Site.

Wakayama Shimpō published advertorial about the series and the marketing promotions, emphasizing the guide, and including a call to action from the Wakayama Prefecture Tourism Federation: “It would be great if people could visit not just the anime locations in Wakayama City but the entire prefecture.”

Sankei Shimbun published an article that covers the promotions in general.

Comment: All this pushing is a bit too much for my taste. But regardless of my preferences, to do this at a time when even viewers in Japan have limited access to the series, due to the distribution arrangement with Disney+, to say nothing of the patchwork of staggered international releases, seems not well thought out.

Takagi-san shrine visit
As a promotional effort for Gekijōban Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san, voice actor Takahashi Rie (Takagi-san) and vocalist Ōhara Yuiko, whose music has been featured throughout the series, made a visit to Takagi Jinja (高木神社) in Oshiage, Sumida Ward, Tokyo on May 28 to pray for the film’s success. Takagi Jinja is not part of the setting of the series, but because of the shared name it is a popular location for fans. The visit was filmed and is viewable online at the MAiDiGiTV YouTube channel. Media coverage: Nikkan Sports. Photos: tweet 1

JR Central Gotoyome promotion
There was additional reporting on the JR Central (JR東海) and Eiga Go-Tōbun no Hanayome marketing promotion that will run from May 24 to July 31, covered previously. The new story focuses on activity at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, including comments from visitors. Media coverage: Chūnichi Shimbun

Anime Tourism Association voting
Voting has opened for the Anime Tourism Association Japanese Anime 88-Spots 2023 Edition list (English, 日本語).

Anzai Chika seichijunrei talk
Anime Tourism Association will host a second talk event of what it is calling Voice Actor Anime Seichi Stories (声優アニメ聖地語り), this time featuring Anzai Chika (安済知佳), at Animate Annex in Higashi-Ikebukuro, Tokyo on July 3. Tickets for the event are available here, through advance sale lottery from May 30 to June 5, and general sales beginning June 18. The previous talk event featuring Tokui Sora was part of the promotional campaign for Anime Seichi 88 Walker 2022, in which Tokui was a content contributor. The connection to the book is not made explicit in this second talk, but the Twitter account for the series is again promoting the event. Kadokawa heads the Anime Tourism Association and publishes the Walker series.

Comment: I am interested to know if and how Anzai handles the question of why no Kyoto Animation series from Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! forward have ever been selected for the Anime Tourism Association 88-Spots lists. Anzai is the voice actor for, among other roles, Kōsaka Reina in Hibike! Euphonium. She has been involved in pilgrimage-oriented video specials and live events in Uji for that series over the past seven years. At past publicity events for the Anime Tourism Association, invited guest presenters, mostly social media influencers, have unwittingly created awkward situations when they spoke about series that have been excluded from the lists.

Rurubu Evangelion guide
JTB Publishing will publish Rurubu Evangelion (るるぶエヴァンゲリオン), a travel guide to locations in Hakone, Hamamatsu and Ube that have appeared in the series, on July 6. Following a previous announcement, more details about the book contents and cover image have been released. News release: JTB Publishing. Media coverage: Akiba Sōken, Anime Anime, Owarai Natalie, Nijimen

Current Season Pilgrimage

@_xckb made a pilgrimage to Noborito, Tama Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture for Paripi Kōmei Episode 8.

@ad_motsu made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Haneda Airport in Ōta Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai Season 2 Episode 9.

@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Mita, Minato Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Ultra Romantic Episode 7.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@niceboathime made a pilgrimage (post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6, post 7, post 8, post 9) to Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture for YuruYuri San Hai!

@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage to Chōshi, Chiba Prefecture for Amagami SS.