Town woos ‘cosplayers’ for tourism

Kyodo

Officials in Minamiechizen, Fukui Prefecture, are accepting applications from “cosplay” aficionados for the town’s third annual dress-up photo shoot.

The one-day event, to be held this year on June 8 at the town’s “seiyokan,” or Western-style house, is intended to boost tourism. The house, built as a villa in 1935, is listed as one of the country’s tangible cultural properties.

The seiyokan was built by the Ukon family, owners of commercial ships that sailed around Japan, stopping at ports around the Seto Inland Sea from the Edo Period into the Meiji Era. Now owned by the town, the house features brown Spanish roof tiles and a balcony overlooking the Sea of Japan. Inside, a fireplace, chandelier and piano give the hall a classy atmosphere.

About seven years ago, the local board of education, which administers the building, was asked if the facility could be used to host a cosplay photo shoot.

At the time the board turned down the request, saying it wasn’t “in keeping with the image of a historical building.”

When the town’s industry promotion section took over administration of the building in April 2012, officials decided to hold a cosplay event that year to attract tourists.

However, only two people showed up for the first cosplay event at seiyokan that October.

After deciding to switch the day of the event to a weekend, the next event, held on a Sunday the following June, 19 cosplay fans turned up, drawn in by ads at university campuses and other locations in the prefecture. Dressed up as game or anime characters, the participants enjoyed taking commemorative photographs.

Town officials said they can accept up to 30 participants this year. The cutoff date for applications is May 26.

“A photo shoot at a modern Western-style house is a priceless opportunity,” said a town official. “I hope many people will come to the event.”

The venue will be available for photo sessions from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is ¥500 per person.

Applications can be downloaded from Minamiechizen’s official website: www.minamiechizen.com/tabid/191/Default.aspx.

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