Interest Aya Hirano Celebrates New Year at Lucky Star Shrine (Updated)
posted on 2011-01-03 20:46 EST by Egan Loo
Voice actress Aya Hirano celebrated New Year's Day at Washinomiya Shrine, the Tokyo area's oldest major shrine and a real-life backdrop for the Lucky Star anime series. Hirano, who played the main character Konata Izumi in the anime, appeared on a specially constructed stage in front of the shrine's traditional red torii gate at about 1:00 a.m. A Fuji TV variety program aired her appearance, complete with the distinctive red-and-white attire of a miko (shrine maiden), live.
As part of a longstanding custom in Japan, people visit a shrine during the first three days of the year. Washinomiya Shrine predicted that about 500,000 people would visit it to mark the new year in 2011. 90,000 came in the first three days of 2007 (before Lucky Star aired), and 450,000 visited during the same three days last year.
The last day of 2010 was the first day of sales for two new varieties of kimchi-flavored "Tsundare Umakara (Sweet-and-Spicy) Sauce" inspired by Lucky Star's miko characters: Kagami's gekitsun spicy flavor (spicy level 3) and Tsukasa's balsamic vinegar flavor (spicy level 1). Local shops and makeshift booths at the shrine's parking lot sold these sauces and many other Lucky Star goods. Also in the parking lot were 31 itasha (vehicles decorated with anime characters and other printed images).
Update: The Mainichi Shimbun paper's Mantan Web site reports that a record 470,000 people visited the shrine over the first three days of the new year. That is 20,000 more than last year, and it is the fourth straight year that attendance increased. 220,000 visited on January 1, 150,000 visited on January 2, and 100,000 visited on January 3.
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