National

Anime group launches tourism pilgrimage inspired by Shikoku Henro

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

More than 80 cities, towns and wards have been selected as destinations in what is being dubbed the “Anime Tourism 88-Stop Pilgrimage,” an anime industry association announced Saturday.

The municipalities listed contain sites that were depicted in or inspired scenes for anime productions. The campaign was named after the Shikoku Henro, the 1,200-km spiritual journey that encompasses 88 Buddhist temples on Shikoku.

The municipalities include Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo and the city of Hida, Gifu Prefecture, both of which are linked to the new hit movie “Your Name.”

Also appearing is the town of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture, which served as the setting for the “Girls and Panzer” series.

The spots were selected based on votes solicited from about 50,000 anime fans worldwide and discussions with municipalities, according to the Anime Tourism Association, which is running the project.

For many Japanese anime fans, visiting places depicted in their favorite animations has become a common custom dubbed seichi junrei, meaning “pilgrimage to sacred place.” The concept behind anime tourism is nearly the same as seichi junrei.

Since Japanese anime are popular overseas, there are probably many non-Japanese fans eager to go on such pilgrimages but unsure of where to start because of the limited amount of information in other languages, said Fumiyuki Kakizawa, the public relations chief of the Anime Tourism Association.

He also said the list of places will likely be renewed annually from now on.

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