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This week’s featured article

SHUSUKE MURAI, THE JAPAN TIMES

Anime and manga are set to play a bigger role in promoting tourism across Japan under an initiative launched Friday to make better use of the nation’s pop culture.

Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, vice president of the Anime Tourism Association and the chairman of publisher Kadokawa Corp., said increasing global recognition of both art forms meant they are “what Japan needs to take advantage of to drive its economy.”

“It is impressive that the presence of Japan’s pop culture in the world has grown into something that can be on par with Hollywood,” Kadokawa said, citing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s performance at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics, where he appeared on stage in a Super Mario costume.

Initially, the group, which is backed by stakeholders including Kadokawa Corp., JTB Corp., Narita International Airport Corp. and Japan Airlines Co., will select 88 popular locations in Japan that have been featured in anime and manga based on a survey asking fans about their favorite spots. Package tours will then be created that include visits to the locations.

Yoshiyuki Tomino, the group’s president and an anime creator best known for the Gundam robot series, said they wanted the anime experience to be not just something people watched but something they traveled to see in person.

Japanese animation is already a key motivation behind visits to Japan for many foreign tourists, with some spots featured in Japanese animation becoming popular sightseeing locations.

In one example, a railroad crossing on the scenic Kamakura coastline has been visited by fans of the popular anime series “Slam Dunk.” Many overseas visitors stop by the site to take photos at the spot featured in the anime. In a more extreme case, a stairway to a shrine in the middle of a Tokyo residential area has been overrun by fans of the mega-hit anime movie “Your Name.”

Although there are still issues to overcome, promoting tourism in lesser-known areas is essential if Japan is to stand as a tourism-driven country, said Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Akihiko Tamura. “Despite the increasing number of tourists, we haven’t taken full advantage of the abundant resources in rural areas,” Tamura said. “To lure more foreign visitors to lesser-known areas, I believe promoting tours featuring anime locations can be a good thing.”

First published in The Japan Times on Sept. 17.

Warm up

One-minute chat about comics.

Game

Collect words related to travel, e.g., travel agency, ticket, hotel.

New words

1) stakeholder: a person/group with an investment or interest in something; e.g., “You must get the stakeholders’ approval.”

2) lure: to attract or tempt; e.g. “They lured him with a good offer.”

Guess the headline

A_ _ _ _ and manga to play bigger role in luring t_ _ _ _ _ _ _ to Japan

Questions

1) What is going to be used to boost Japanese tourism?

2) What is happening at some places shown in anime and manga?

3) What does the tourism agency hope the strategy will do for lesser-known areas?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you like Japanese anime or manga?

2) What do you think about the current popularity of anime and manga overseas?

3) What do you think needs to be done to boost tourism in Japan?

Reference

日本のポップカルチャーブームは衰えることを知らず、むしろその勢いを 増して国の事業における役割も大きくなってきました。

歴史的な町や建造物ではなく、アニメや漫画に登場した場所が多くの 観光客を呼び込むことはもはや珍しいことではなくなり、これをきちんと ビジネス化しようという動きが出てきたようです。観光立国を目指す日本にとって、熱狂的なファンを持つアニメや漫画の力というのは大きな武器と なることでしょう。しかし、本来観光地でない場所に観光客が訪れることも 想像できるため、受け入れ側の準備も必要となりそうです。

観光客の心をとらえる日本の姿はどのようなものになっていくのでしょうか。

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