Love Live! Sunshine!! Fans Visit Numazu in Anime Pilgrimages
posted on by Amanda Whalen
Fans of the upcoming anime Love Live! Sunshine!! have been visiting Numazu, the city where the show is set, in anticipation of its release next month. Numazu is located along the southeastern coast of Honshu, the main island of Japan. It is southwest of Tokyo, in the eastern part of Shizuoka prefecture, and is just south of Mt. Fuji. Since Numazu was revealed as the show's setting, there has been a surge in fans going on “pilgrimages” to visit places from the anime, such as Uchiura Bay and the Izu Mito Sea Paradise Aquarium. Locals are hoping to promote the area and draw visitors in with new tourist attractions. A somewhat limited guide to Numazu is available in English on the official Numazu website.
Love Live! Sunshine!!, which was ranked the most anticipated anime of Summer 2016, is about a group of 9 girls attending Uranohoshi Girl's High School that create an idol group in order to save their school from being shut down. It will premiere July 2, and several promotional videos have been released. Since last spring, these 9 idols have appeared in magazines, CDs, smartphone apps, and events in an enormous marketing franchise.
Last July, a character area was set up at the locally managed Sannoura information desk facing Uchiura bay. It includes figures of the 9 main characters as well as free maps of landmarks from the show and is independently run by fans. At the beginning of this year, the information desk began keeping a visitor tally. In January, the tally was at 407 visitors, in March, 1367 visitors, and by May it had risen to 1835 visitors. Looking at the notes left behind in the fan corner, there were many people coming from faraway places like Kyoto, Northern Kantō, and the Hyōgo prefecture. The local manager of the information desk was quoted as saying, “This is an area with an aging population, so many residents are bewildered by this sudden anime boom. I have no doubt that the area will become more popular, and from now on the administration will want to plan for further activities.”
The Izu Mito Sea Paradise Aquarium, which will appear in the anime, has released a statement saying, “So far, there has been an unusual increase in groups of young men visiting.” There have also been conspicuous groups of male fans taking pictures of the Izuhakone Railway Sunzu line trains, which have pictures of the Love Live! Sunshine!! characters wrapping across their train cars.
A 26 year old businessman visiting by car from Kumagaya city in Saitama prefecture said, “This is my first time coming here. Along the road, there were many places that appear in the show, so it was lots of fun.” Saitama is home to many sacred places to anime fans, including Lucky Star's Kuki City and Anohana's Chichibu City, but this fan said, “Their scenery is no match for Numazu's.”