Ibaraki Prefecture's Oarai Angler Fish Festival Draws Record 140,000 Attendees
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
The coastal town of Ōarai in Ibaraki prefecture's annual Angler Fish Festival has seen a huge influx of visitors ever since it merged with the Girls und Panzer anime in 2013. The event is nothing short of an all-star example of how local tourism can merge with entertainment. The area suffered greatly after the March 2011 tsunami but attendee turnout for the festival helped bring revitalization to the town. An event that originally hosted 25,000 attendees has since grown to over 100,000 people. This year was no exception with a record 140,000 attendees.
The 23rd annual Ōarai Festival was held on November 17 with activities both fish and otaku oriented. A local chef filleted an angler fish while it hung from a line, a traditional form of cutting fish that are too slimy to handle on a cutting board. The fish was used to make a soup that was served to attendees for 100 yen per bowl.
The event's anime-related offerings included big tie-ins with Girls und Panzer. The Ōarai train station greeted visitors with panel cut outs of the characters to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Girls und Panzer: Senshadō Daisakusen! mobile game. Flyers with a code to get Miho in a train uniform were distributed at the station. After arriving at the Oarai Marine Tower, visitors could line-up to explore the docked Nippon Maru museum ship. The ship was outfitted with Anko Team and the Oarai Girls' School logos.
The Oarai High School Marching Band performed for the crowd and included the song "Senshamichi Kōshinkyoku! Panzer Four!" in their set list. The nearby shopping district featured more character cut-outs, an itasha dedicated to the show, a bus that welcomed fan art all over its exterior, and themed food.
The lines for the food stalls and merch stalls were long this year. The latter was thanks to the Garupan Mini Mini Hobby Show where visitors could pre-order the home video release for the second Girls und Panzer das Final film. Suitable to the foodie-friendly event, the film release will include a special OAV titled "Taiyaki War!"
The film opened in Japan on June 15. The movie sold 118,000 tickets to earn 145 million yen (about US$1.33 million) and rank #4 in its opening weekend.