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OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) A closed elementary school in the town of Toyosato, Shiga Prefecture, once on the verge of being demolished is now drawing hordes of fans who believe the historic structure is the model for a school in an “anime” story.

Crowds of more than 500 people a day have been visiting the building, which fans of “Keion!” (“Light Music!”), a TV series featuring a group of high school girls who join a school band, say resembles the fictional school.

The building, designed by U.S. architect William Vories and built in 1937, was due to be destroyed after the town government decided in 2001 to construct a new school building. However, opposition to the move led to the recall of the mayor.

“I came on a pilgrimage,” a 23-year-old man from Tokyo said after arriving at the building following an eight-hour car ride with other fans he met via the Internet.

Fans taking pictures of themselves dressed as characters from the anime in blond wigs and school uniforms have become a common sight. Some write messages on blackboards in classrooms or leave figurines of the characters and guitars at the school.

The building is now used as a library and a gallery, and allows free access to visitors.

A weekend cafe in the former school’s annex has also proved successful, attracting several hundred customers a day, said Hiroshi Miyagawa, 40, of the local chamber of commerce.

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