News Estimated 300,000 Visit Lucky Star Shrine on New Year's
posted on 2009-01-02 16:31 EST
Over the first three days of the new year, an estimated 300,000 visitors are coming to the Washinomiya Shrine, the Tokyo area's oldest shrine and a real-life backdrop for the Lucky Star anime series. Otaku have been flocking to this shrine since the 2007 anime featured Kagami and Tsukasa Hiiragi — twin sister characters who supposedly work at the shrine as miko (shrine maidens). This year's attendance estimate is 130,000 higher than the attendance at last year's festivities.
To mark the occasion, the Good Smile character goods company offered exclusive O-Nenga (New Year's Greetings) Capsule versions of its Lucky Star Nendoroid Petit figures. The Brother hardware maker raffled off the official Lucky Star MyMio multi-function printer, a P-touch label-writer, and an original MyMio x Lucky Star clear file to people who filled out a questionnaire. The local Saitama Shimbun paper printed a special edition with a sightseeing guide, an interview by manga creator Kagami Yoshimizu, and a new four-panel comic by him. Bandai offered special presents to people who bought Gashapon character items during New Year's Eve and the following three days. As they have in the past, the local merchants offered 12 different ema-style phone straps in shops scattered (PDF file) across the shrine's entire town. (Ema are the traditional wooden plaques that contain written wishes from shrine visitors.)
The Akibahobby website posted pictures from the site maintainer's New Year's Day visit to the shrine. Akihabara Channel also visited the area and reports on the Lucky Star cafe, which was newly built to resemble a Japanese classroom.
Just east of Washinomiya, the Satte City Chamber of Commerce and Industry is renovating Yoshimizu's former home to resemble the home of Lucky Star's main character, Konata Izumi. Saitama Shimbun reports that the association is planning to reopen the "birthplace" of Lucky Star as a new mecca for fans this spring. Yoshimizu himself moved out of the house in last May, but the association has been leasing it ever since for free. The half-year lease started in December, and the association is exploring the possibility of extending it beyond that.
The plan is to take Yoshimizu's own former room on the first floor and turn it into Konata's room. Nearby will be the room renovated as the character Yutaka Kobayakawa's room and a gallery of Yoshimizu's original illustrations and handwritten memos. The room of Konata's father Sōjirō and their living room will be replicated on the second floor. The desks, chairs, tables, and other furniture in the anime will be reproduced as closely as possible. The site will be open on Saturday, Sundays, holidays, and Japan's traditional seasonal breaks.
Anime News Network's collection of New Year's greetings has grown to include pictures from 35 anime/manga groups and creators, with at least five more to be added on Friday afternoon.
Update: ANN's has added five new images to the New Year's greeting collection for a total of 40.
Images © Kagami Yoshimizu/Lucky Paradise
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