The List 7 Anime Pilgrimage Sites to Check Off Your List
by Lynzee Loveridge,
Anime pilgrimages, the act of going to real-life locations depicted in a show, have always existed to some extent but they seemed to really take off with the Lucky Star shrine. The Washinomiya Shrine has drawn close to half a million people on New Year's. Since then, shows have become less subtle with their locale tie-ins, to the point where the trend has become meta; shows specifically about anime characters representing their agricultural prefecture like Idol Incidents and Sakura Quest are now normal.
A hit anime can draw tons of money for local economies but can also cause a headache when the influx of tourists creates trouble for small town locals. This week's list looks at some of the most successful tourist spots for anime pilgrimages.
Hakone, Kanagawa (Neon Genesis Evangelion) To natives, Hakone is best known as a holiday trip destination with many high quality hot springs. The area gets its beautiful views thanks in part to Mt. Fuji and its location near the Hakone volcano. Otaku making the trip out are there for another reason; the resort area was the inspiration for Neon Genesis Evangelion's Tokyo-3 and has embraced its designation as the future capital. Hakone has also set up Evangelion bus tours, electric car charging stations, an Evangelion classroom, an iPhone app, a tourist map, and an Evangelion merchandise store in the train station.
Oarai, Ibaraki (Girls und Panzer) Few areas have benefited from an anime tie-in to the degree of the fishing town Oarai. The town has merged its annual Angler Fish Festival with the Girls und Panzer anime, drawing as many as 100,000 participants. The series' voice actresses and tank models continue to draw enthusiasts while merchandise raises millions of dollars in tax revenue. Not bad for a town with a population under 20,000.
Hida, Gifu (your name.) Makoto Shinkai's your name. film is a smashing success, breaking records set by Studio Ghibli in Japan and abroad. It comes as no surprise then that the film's locale is earning big money. Tourists have brought in 18.5 billion yen (about US$164 million) to the local economy around Hida. Approximately 750,000 fans have visited the area since the film opened to see the Hien Shrine, abandoned bus stops, and the local library. Not everyone is tickled about the success though. Shinkai mentioned that people have flocked to a footbridge from the film that he actually used to frequent but is now avoiding it because of all the people.
Numazu, Shizuoka (Love Live! Sunshine!!) The hotspring seaside town is an example of how an influx of tourists can lead to less than desirable results. Fans of the Love Live! Sunshine!! idol anime series have flocked to the aquarium for organized events and rode the itasha trains. That didn't become an issue until fans also sought out the real high school that serves as the basis for the school the characters attend in the series. Locals have had to continue to issue warnings that visitors should not take photographs of the high school girls.
Karatsu, Saga (Yuri!!! on Ice) Yūri's anime hometown of Hasetsu is based on the real-life city of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture and the place is going all out to bring in fans of the new hit series.Tokyo's Meiji Jingu Gaien Skating Rink will transform into Yuri's home rink from the show, and visitors can also buy exclusive merchandise. More will be rolled as times goes on, but those planning to make a trip can check out Karatsu's website to find side-by-side photos of shots from the show and their real life counterparts.
Kasukabe, Saitama (Lucky Star) Arguably the first major anime pilgrimage site, Kasukabe city is home to the Washinomiya Shrine which continues to attract visitors ever since its anime counterpart appeared in Lucky Star in 2007. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the shrine to celebrate New Year's Day. The local vendors have adjusted to their otaku clientele, changing some of their menu items' names to represent characters from the show.
Shirakawa, Gifu (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) Most otaku pilgrims are in search areas that recapture a special moment in their favorite anime. If their favorite anime involves ax-wielding yandere school girls, than historical Shirakawa is the place for them. The homes feature gassho-style (steeply thatched) roofs to prevent collapse under heavy snow and are a key feature in the isolated fictional mountain town of Hinamizawa in the anime and games. Many other aspects were also represented in the show. Sisters Mion and Shion's house is based on the Wada residence and Irie Clinic takes its design from the Shirakawa Clinic. Suspiciously absent from the real location: a well-laid conspiracy that gets any gumshoe detective-types thrown in the swamp.
The new poll: Which contender for Best Animated Picture should win the Oscar this year?
The old poll: hat's your favorite monster girl species type?
- Succubus/Demon/Devil 23.2%
- Vampire 18.9%
- Dragon 14.8%
- Dullahan 13.5%
- Witch 13.4%
- Yuki-Onna 13.0%
- Mermaid 12.1%
- Kitsune 9.2%
- Werecat 7.9%
- Dryad/Nymph 7.6%
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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