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
After 95 years of operation, owner Hasegawa Yasuo (長谷川泰雄) took down the noren at Nishiki-yu (錦湯) one last time at the end of its final day of business, as a bathhouse at least, on June 5. Fans of Nishiki-yu, whether as a sento or seichi, coming from afar or just down the street, flocked to the local institution for one last soak in its final week. There was also a surprise. Many assumed the rakugo performance on May 30 was the last. Not only was there one “truly the last” performance on June 6, four separate sources including the organizer (tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3/post, tweet 4) floated the possibility that more events could be held in the future, perhaps on weekends.
Yomiuri Shimbun (article) and Asahi Shimbun (article, print) both published stories about Nishiki-yu, including interviews with Hasegawa, covering much of the same information as Mainichi Shimbun last week. This includes the use of the sento as the model for Usa-yu in Tamako Market, and visits by fans and tourists for seichijunrei. They also bring up the issue, which I forgot to mention previously, that Hasegawa indicated the building would ultimately be demolished. The time frame isn’t specified, and if they are intending to have additional live performances for some period of time, it is perhaps not imminent. The main issue seems to be that the building is, by virtue of its age, not up to current earthquake resistance standards. Retrofitting it would be cost prohibitive.
Mainichi Shimbun published a review (article, print) of 18 year old (and now out of print) book Kyoto Gokuraku Sento Guide (京都極楽銭湯案内), written by Hayashi Hiroki (@kyoto_sentolove). The book includes discussion of Nishiki-yu and Hasegawa.
Former Kyoto City Assemble member Murayama Shōei conducted a tour of Nishiki-yu and interview with Hasegawa, publishing them first as a video on his YouTube channel, then as an article on Maidona News. An interesting point that comes up, although he had been mulling the idea of when to close the sento, Hasegawa did not want to use Covid-19 as an excuse to do so, thinking it cowardly. He wanted to wind down the business on his own terms, at a time of his choosing.
— ノムラ (@nomu1010) June 5, 2022
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, tweet 13, tweet 14, tweet 15, tweet 16, tweet 17, tweet 18, tweet 19, tweet 20, tweet 21, tweet 22, tweet 23
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, tweet 19, tweet 20, tweet 21, tweet 22, tweet 23, tweet 24, tweet 25, tweet 26, tweet 27, tweet 28, tweet 29, tweet 30, tweet 31, tweet 32, tweet 33, tweet 34, tweet 35, tweet 36, tweet 37, tweet 38, tweet 39, tweet 40, tweet 41, tweet 42
— しんけーはん まーけっと* 5/8 Rhodanthe* (@shinkeihan6350) June 5, 2022
Rakugo performance video: tweet 1
— 座錦湯 (@zanisikiyu) June 7, 2022
It would be nice if there were at least a few more “next times” before the story truly comes to an end.
Tokorozawa Totoro forest conservancy
Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture will launch a crowdfunding campaign in September to purchase and preserve 3.5 hectares of green space that includes the forest used as the basis for the setting of Tonari no Totoro. Studio Ghibli is providing, free-of-charge, reproductions of background art used in the film as the reward to backers. The reward is a set of five reproductions, offered at 25,000 JPY. 1,000 sets will be produced for the first run. Media coverage: Sankei Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Otakomu, Sora News 24, Crunchyroll News, Anime News Network
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 Takayama Citizen Cultural Center (高山市民文化会館) on June 2. Together with a lecture the previous day at his alma mater, Hida High School (県立斐太高校), 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. Media coverage: NHK
San’yōdō Shoten Takayama branch (三洋堂書店高山店), a bookstore where Yonezawa worked part-time for two years after graduating college while he was writing Hyōka, set up a sales table for the new novel at the June 2 lecture venue, as well as in the store. Yonezawa visited the store and left an autograph. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2
Lucky Star mikoshi
The Lucky Star mikoshi (らき☆すた神輿) was carried in procession for the first time in three years, at a youth conference (日本青年会議所第52回埼玉ブロック大会久喜大会) in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture on June 4. For the third consecutive year, Yasakasai (八坂祭) in Washinomiya, Kuki was cancelled as part of Covid-19 mitigation measures. As a consequence of the cancellations in 2020 and 2021, the Lucky Star mikoshi (らき☆すた神輿) also did not appear. However, for 2022 organizers selected this alternative event to display and carry the portable shrine as a temporary measure to give fans and supporters of the mikoshi an opportunity to stay involved.
— コリン🌸🍊絵馬描き人 (@Corin8187) June 4, 2022
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, was held June 4 at the Uji City Cultural Center (宇治市文化センター). This was 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. This year, an adaptation of the “Ensemble Contest” arc from one of the novellas as a theatrical and disc release in 2023, and a TV broadcast third season in 2024 were announced.
Minobu Yuru Camp event
Yuru Camp fans gathered at former Shimobe elementary and junior high schools in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture on June 4 and 5 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 second of two consecutive weekends on which the event was held. Media coverage: NHK
Time-lapse video: tweet 1
Super Cub character birthday
Hokuto Anime Tourism Council (北杜アニメツーリズム協議会) organized a Super Cub character birthday celebration for Koguma on June 5—the Sunday before the actual birthday on June 6—at Michikusa (みち草) in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture. Though it wasn’t specifically a cycle meet, nearly everyone arrived on two wheels, most of them Honda Super Cubs. Media coverage: Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun
— 北杜アニメツーリズム協議会【公式】 (@HAC_hokutoanime) June 5, 2022
Agata Matsuri (県祭 or 縣祭) in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture was held for the first time in three years, at its usual schedule on June 5 into the early morning of June 6. Festival stalls were not setup due to ongoing concerns regarding Covid-19. The ritual Bonten Togyo (梵天渡御), in which the mikoshi Bonten would normally be carried through parts of the city between shrines around midnight, was held while being limited to Agata Jinja grounds. Hibike! Euphonium fans were among those observing the scaled down festivities. Parts of Agata Matsuri were depicted in the first season of the series.
— ひかげさん (@YONAKA88) June 5, 2022
After what will be a three year absence due to Covid-19, the 50th Komoro Citizens Festival “Dokansho” (第50回こもろ市民まつり「ドカンショ」) will be held August 6 in Komoro, Nagano Prefecture. Recruitment for the Natsumachi Ren (なつまち連) will begin June 10. After the original broadcast in 2012, fans of Ano Natsu de Matteru were integrated into the long-running local event, forming one of the groups (連 ren) that make up the celebratory procession through the city. Though the festival was officially cancelled in 2020 and 2021, the counter in the event name skips over what would have been the 48th and 49th meetings, arriving at the 50th this year. News release: Komoro City
Lucky Star character birthday
Kuki City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Washinomiya Branch (久喜市商工会鷲宮支所) will organize events to mark the July 7 birthday of Lucky Star characters Hīragi Tsukasa and Hīragi Kagami scheduled July 3 and July 7. There are few details available at this time, and the content and schedule are subject to change in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but it appears the approach will be similar to 2021. There will be a live streamed talk stage on July 3, and potentially small scale, informal, distributed events locally.
Golden Kamuy exhibition
The Museum of Kyoto (京都文化博物館) will hold an exhibition of materials related to Golden Kamuy from July 9 to September 11. The exhibition will include illustrations and folk implements (民具) that appear in the work.
Kimidori Emiri tobidashi
Tesra (テスラ @tesra1141) retrieved Kimidori Emiri, one of several tobidashi he created based on characters from the Suzumiya Haruhi series, after a tip from a fan that she had sustained damage. The Haruhi, Mikuru and Nagato tobidashi are located in front of shops in Nishinomiya and watched carefully by the staff. They tend to be better protected, and when they do need maintenance, the call for help happens sooner. Kimidori is one of several that are in street side positions in higher traffic areas, where tobidashi are traditionally installed, so damage is more likely to happen, but also less likely to be reported. Tesra notes it seems the locals had been trying their best to keep her patched up with masking tape. Photos: tweet 1
Takayama library photography
It isn’t clear if this is a new policy or just a reminder of an existing one, but Takayama City Library Kanshōkan (煥章館) is letting Hyōka fans know they can take photos inside the facility if they apply for permission, which can be done on site and takes about ten minutes. Visitors are encouraged to speak with someone at the counter and indicate “I’ve come for seichijunrei!”
Wakayama Summer Time promotion
There was additional reporting on the digital guide Seichi Wakayama no Tabi (聖地・和歌山の旅), produced by the Wakayama Prefecture Tourism Federation, covered previously. Media coverage: Asahi Shimbun, Agara
Nagisaen Yuru Camp goods
Nagisaen (渚園) in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture announced the launch of a second line of official Yuru Camp goods. The first line launched in 2021 and highlighted Nagisaen itself. This new line will include scenes from locations around Lake Hamana and will be available beginning June 4 at four locations in the city, including Nagisaen. Media coverage: Shizuoka Shimbun
Yama no Susume Tankentai
Episode 1 Part 2 of Yama no Susume Exploration Party (ヤマノススメ探検隊) was released June 3. 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 second of the two parts, they visit Chōjuan (長寿庵) and Yumesaika Suzuki (夢彩菓すずき) in Hannō Ginza Shōtengai. At Suzuki, they make mont blanc cake with patisserie owner Suzuki Michihiro (鈴木康弘), then have a picnic at the Hannō-gawara (飯能河原).
Shiroi Gunfufu promotion
The official Gunjō no Fanfare “seichijunrei map” (群青のファンファーレ 西白井巡礼マップ) published by Shiroi City, Chiba Prefecture is now available as a PDF download from the city’s website. There was reporting about the map, displays of posters and character panels, and other efforts to promote tourism to the city through the series. Media coverage: Asahi Shimbun
Comment: The mayor of Shiroi is quoted in the article. As is often the case when local officials talk about anime tourism, he speaks only about the tourism, nothing about the anime. My challenge is not knowing if this is because he really doesn’t care about the content of the anime or fans’ interests and motivations, or if the quotes are missing the context of the full interview, in which many aspects may have been discussed.
Odaiba Love Live promotion
Shopping mall Decks Tokyo Beach (デックス東京ビーチ) in Daiba, Minato Ward announced new elements of its planned series of promotional tie-ups coinciding with the anime second season broadcast of Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai. The promotion began April 2 and is anchored on “jacking” the entire facility with illustrations related to the series and a mockup of the club room, covered previously. The new elements, announced June 8, include a new illustration featuring the characters in summer clothes, which is added to the visual marketing collateral already deployed, and is used as the basis for trading cards, available June 15 to July 3, and acrylic photo frames, available July 4 to 24, given as gifts to shoppers who purchase 1,000 JPY or more at participating stores. Media coverage: JMAG News